The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Official Site: themummy.com
Rated: PG-13 for adventure action and violence.

Swanner: Brendan Fraser is once again fighting mummies in yet a third movie. Probably because they just didn’t cover everything they needed to in the first two. Alex, the son of Rick (Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello), is now a grave robber himself and has come across the burial grounds of a infamous Chinese Emperor. Unbeknownst to him there is a bad guy who wants to find this Emperor too so he can raise him from the dead and rule the world…basically he’s a Chinese Karl Rove.

Judd: I didn’t see the first two so I was soooooo confused with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I watched the movie and picked up on the basic plot but there had to be so much more that I was missing out on. Right?

Swanner: No. I mean there is a back story like the kid was a 10 years old; Fraser and Bello were in and out of love…blah, blah, blah. Of course there was the first mummy but he came back for the second one. I don’t think you really needed to see the first ones.

Judd: The Mummy from the first returns in the second? How did they tie him in with the third? That’s what I couldn’t figure out. Was the first Mummy the Dragon Emperor? Where they related, like cousins or something? I just don’t get it. I was entertained for the most part, but I thought the special effects looked a bit cheap.

Swanner: The first mummy doesn’t have anything to do with this movie. You know the narration at the beginning? That’s all you needed to know. Christ…you’re like talking to a bag of hammers. The special effects did look a lot like Van Helsing from a few years ago…too many, too fast and way too often. It was nice when they didn’t have a big action sequence on screen. Still, as summer movies go it moved really well and “I” thought the story was easy to follow.

Judd: So why did they call it The Mummy 3, if the mummy from the first two wasn’t in the third? In fact, none of the bad guys in this movie were really “mummies”. They were soldiers that were cursed and turned into clay. I’m so confused. Why would they make a movie that isn’t based on the first two except for the leads who actually could have been just about any male/female adventure partners? I mean, they could have called this movie Romancing the Jewel of the Nile and it would have been the same thing.

Swanner: Exactly, I didn’t want to bring up the point that it’s not really a mummy but now that you did…the emperor isn’t really a mummy. There, I said it. Now with that being said I still thought the movie was entertaining. This is the perfect example of a popcorn movie, light, airy and best served with extra butter.

Judd: So you’re telling me The Mummy 3 isn’t about a mummy at all and the studio is just cashing in on the name? Oh. My. God. I feel so manipulated and used. I thought the movie was OK—mediocre summer fair that’s worth a rent—but how could Universal do this to me?

Swanner: Get over it…it’s not like you paid anything!

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars

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Swing Vote

Official Site: aceshowbiz.com/movie/swing_vote
Rated: PG-13 for language

Judd: Every once in awhile we see a movie that is so horrible, so hack, such an unbelievable waste of time it makes me wonder why I review movies. Seriously. There are better things I can do. I can rent movies that I want to see and know I will enjoy. Swing Vote is one of these insufferable movies that I made question why I do this. And at the end of the evening after I’ve had to drink myself to sleep, I wake up and I know why I do it I do it for you, dear reader. I bear through the agonizing, the excruciating, the painful, and the truly offensive so that you don’t have to.

Swanner: I can’t believe we saw the same movie. It was a lovely little attempt at Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Kevin Costner plays Bud Johnson, an out of work, trailer park living single father that drinks to much and cares about nothing but his 12 year old daughter. After the presidential election ends in a dead tie one vote didn’t get counted correctly…Bud’s. So now one man’s vote will choose who runs this country. Don’t listen to Brian, the movie was good.

Judd: Let me translate: it’s about a shit kicking redneck whose vote is supposedly going to break the tie for president—because it’s not like ballots ever go missing or results are “influenced” in some way shape or form. Swing Vote is politics stripped down to its lowest common denominator so that the movie is appropriate only for naïve middle school civics classes. I mean for heaven’s sake the Democratic nominee (Dennis Hopper) was named Donald Greenleaf. GREENLEAF!!! I’m surprised the Republican incumbent (Kelsey Grammer) wasn’t named General Destructo.

Swanner: You are funny today. It is approached from a middle school civics class since that’s how the movie starts out, from his daughter’s point of view. Once the plot device kicks in it’s all about both sides trying to romance him for his vote and how they hang on every word he says like it’s the gospel even though he has no idea what he or anyone is talking about. The movie really captures the vileness of politics but also the shameless apathy of this country’s general public. All that with a great cast and an important message.

Judd: Swing Vote hits every film school stereotype possible. The Republicans use NASCAR and football to court Bud. The Democrats throw him an awkward black tie event with a white trash buffet. Every scene with Bud opens with his daughter waking him out of a drunken stupor and there’s the newscaster with heart who makes a sacrifice. The whole movie is a cast of one dimensional characters going through the predictable motions to come to a predictable conclusion.

Swanner: Granted, but the movie is about Bud changing from a one dimensional character…which he does, to finally except his responsibilities to his country but more so to himself and his daughter. Of course the political characters are one dimensional…it’s a comedy. The black tie event was really gross but these lame ass politicians have no idea what it’s like to be an average American and that’s part of the message of the film. Politicians look at average people as hurdles to the white house. Say or do whatever you have to to win. The movie showed very nicely how ugly politicians can get to win.

Judd: Do you notice that instead of saying why the movie was good you’re justifying why the movie shouldn’t be considered so bad? Swing Vote is one of those movies—like Hancock—that need to be given negative stars because the movie is so bad it actually makes the viewer forget that good movies are out there.

Swanner: You had me on the defensive from the beginning. I liked the movie. I liked the cast and as always I liked Kevin Costner. It’s not a great movie but it has a good message and a good heart.

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: No Stars

The X-Files: I Want To Believe

Official Site: xfiles.com
Rated: PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material

Swanner: After a female FBI agent goes missing, Mulder and Scully are called back to help find the missing agent and capture the person or persons responsible. Chris Carter is at the helm of The X-Files: I Want To Believe to bring one more story to X-Filers, but will they be there for this movie after so many years?

Judd: Of course they’ll be there, wearing stained “The Truth Is Out There” T-shirts and action figures clutched in their sweaty, pudgy fingers. They’ll line up around the theatres days ahead of time arguing X-Files trivia, sharing each other’s Gillian Anderson fantasies and playing the X-Files RPG to kill time until tickets finally go on sale.

Swanner: I wanted a “The Truth is Out There” t-shirt but they weren’t in my size. Imagine that? I think that I physically match the majority of most X-Filers out there. Don’t you’d think there would be a few XL’s out there for me?

Judd: XLs? You mean 3XL. I’m sure all of those were snatched up and scalped on eBay. Why don’t you tell our readers about the movie, since I didn’t see it? The ushers wouldn’t let me into the theatre. I guess my hair wasn’t greasy enough and my skin doesn’t have the pallor of the undead.

Swanner: Shut up with your sci-fi geek slanders. I knew I should have washed my hair before the movie—it was a 10am screening. The movie was good. Well made and all the acting was good but there was nothing scary in the movie. I know that not all the episodes were scary but they still had something creepy happening. This is a kidnapping by humans…no extra-terrestrials. I just wanted a slug monster or something!!!

Judd: Were there at least religious whackos? I know the show liked to delve into the occult every once in awhile. During the first blowjob I ever gave, X-Files was playing on the guy’s TV and there was some whacko religious snake-handler going on about sin. Which is a funny coincidence seeing that I was supposedly sinning while handling this guy’s “snake”.

Swanner: Thank you for sharing that—interesting story—with us. Never do that again! Yes, the only supernatural aspect was a pedophile ex-priest having visions of the missing girl. There wasn’t enough spooky for me. I wanted a scary story with a monster and I got a well-made CSI episode. Where’s the werewolf or vampires? I think fans will be happy to see their old friends on screen but this fan was disappointed.

Judd: Fans will be happy to see their “only” friends on screen.

Swanner: Please, with all the folks out there playing World of Warcraft, they have plenty of friends and don’t you forget it.

Swanner: 2 Stars

Step Brothers

Official Site: sonypictures.com/movies/stepbrothers
Rated: R for crude and sexual content, and pervasive language.

Swanner: When couples get married they sometimes bring children to the marriage. In Step Brothers, an older couple gets more than they expected when they bring their two houses together. Both parents have a child still in the home…a 40 year old child. Will Ferrell and John C Reilly are those two…children.

Judd: For anyone who was unfortunate enough to see The Brother Solomon, you may be hesitant to see another movie about goofy middle-aged adults playing social simpletons. Fortunately The Step Brothers is nothing like The Brothers Solomon. The Step Brothers is a quickly paced movie with some very funny scenes and a must see for any Will Farrell fan.

Swanner: Absolutely, I didn’t want to see the movie. The preview looked like crap and after Semi Pro I really was afraid. Once the movie started I tried to hate it. I even held back a few laughs till I just couldn’t do it anymore. I laughed and I laughed. I felt like a 13 year old boy giggling over a fart. What was interesting happened when I got home, I just forgot about the movie. As much fun as I had watching it was gone by the time I got home and watched Wipeout.

Judd: That’s the weird thing about The Step Brothers. It’s the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy. It’s light. It’s fun. But once you’re done with it you’re left with a 10 minute rush and then nothing. There is only one scene that strikes me as memorable, and it involved John C Reilly’s drum set and Will Ferrell’s testicles. Even then it remains only partially distinguished from the rest of the movie.

Swanner: I think the film will do well with anyone who wants to feel like a teenager again. All the angst, laughs, friendship and ultimately having everything you’ve always dreamed of destroyed. That’s everything I was feeling during the film and I’m so glad I’m not a teenager…maybe I’m reading too much into the film. Thoughts?

Judd: I don’t think you were reading too much into the film, you’re just making it sound weightier than it was. I actually had a hard time getting into the groove of the film because Farrell and Reilly were acting like 12 year olds. I didn’t really get into it until it got so ridiculous I was forced to laugh—a lot. My problem with the movie is that after this review I’m never going to say, “Hey Tom, do you remember that scene where Reilly and Farrell…” It’s like the movie was a funnier, bigger budget Napoleon Dynamite without the impact.

Swanner: 2 1/2 Stars
Judd: 3 Stars

The Dark Knight

Official Site: thedarkknight.warnerbros.com
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace
Runtime: 2 hrs 32 mins

Swanner: Things in Gotham City are falling apart as the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, takes office. There’s a new villain in town named The Joker and he’s one freaky psychopath…can Batman defeat this new criminal or is Gotham City doomed? All these questions and more will be answered in the new film The Dark Knight.

Judd: The first Christopher Nolan Batman (Batman Begins) was dark, but The Dark Knight is downright sinister. The Joker, as played by Heath Ledger, is a maniac whose M.O. is to give people choices that will end badly no matter how they choose. Before we go any further, I’d like to hear what Tom thought of Ledger’s Joker. Was it worth the hype to you?

Swanner: I did like his performance but I thought Aaron Eckhart was equally as good. Both men played their roles very well. Ledger was scary ’cause he didn’t really seem to care for the value of human life where as Eckhart was his polar opposite, he cared too much. They both played real characters; it never felt like a superhero film. It was a really great crime drama with excellent special effects.

Judd: I actually liked Aaron Eckhart and his version of Two Face better than I liked the Joker. And the makeup/special effects they used for Two Face was amazing. It was horrific but at the same time I couldn’t stop looking at him. I certainly don’t know where all this talk of Ledger’s Joker being Oscar worthy came from—it was good, but he wasn’t that good. Though this is the first role I can remember where he didn’t mumble his way through it, so maybe that counts for something.

Swanner: See, I was thinking the same thing. Ledger was always a little hard to understand so here when he did mumble it worked for the character. Was he Oscar worthy? As much as Eckhart is deserving. I’m glad you brought up the Two Face makeup. I was blown away on how they did it. I also found myself watching him (looking for mistakes) until I stopped thinking about it and it really just became the character. So props for the make-up people on that. I think the real winner is Nolan the director. He gave us a really solid story that might really happen and not some silly spiderman storyline that has you rolling your eyes through the whole movie. I felt tense because The Joker is just a terrorist, but with a really sick sense of humor.

Judd: Absolute props to Nolan, this certainly isn’t your Adam West‘s Batman. The only real problem I had was with his choice to alter The Joker character. Traditionally, The Joker was a normal man who fell into a vat of chemicals—which explained his bleached skin and green hair—and went crazy. This Joker was a demented clown—nothing more, nothing less—and Nolan purposefully left out any back story. I didn’t need some dragged out story, but some explanation would have been nice.

Swanner: I actually liked it. As he tortures people, he keeps telling a different version of how he came to be. That worked well for me because his character had so many layers and was constantly changing and sometimes it’s OK to just except that someone is evil without having to know why. Where as I can see that they had to explain Two face since his character is created in the text of the film. Also at 2h 32m, I didn’t want the movie any longer than it needed to be. I really liked the movie because it showed that you can have a great story and then add in the special effects instead of the other way around.

Judd: Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree about the backstory. As for 2h 32m, it didn’t feel that long and I only checked my watch once toward the very end of the movie, so it moved very, very well.

Swanner: 3 1/2 Stars
Judd: 3 Stars

Mamma Mia

Official Site: mammamiamovie.com
Rated: PG-13 for some sex-related comments

Swanner: With her wedding day quickly arriving, Sophie contacts three men her mother wrote about in a diary knowing that one is her real father. This is the plot of the new musical comedy Mamma Mia. After a very healthy run on Broadway and touring the world, this ABBA based romantic comedy sings and dances its way to theatres this week.

Judd: Oh, the HUMANITY! I’m still recovering. My head reels from thoughts of Meryl Streep jumping on the bed, and her whacky friend making pratfalls, the awful sets, horrible editing and who, WHO thought it was a good idea to cast Pierce Brosnan? I haven’t heard singing like that in a movie musical since Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls.

Swanner: I will agree with you on the Pierce Brosnan comment. It was painful at best. The rest of the movie FUN! I guess since you never saw the staged musical you just didn’t get that it’s a campy farce with songs of ABBA. You hated the sets? Really, most was shot outdoors in the Greek isles…what’s to hate? And all those Greek boys with very little on? I’m I alone here? Beside Streep and Brosnan you also have Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski.

Judd: The scenery was gorgeous and so were the boys, but that hotel set stunk. There wasn’t enough skin from the Greek guys to overpower the postmenopausal gynocentric essences that surged from the screen and crashed over me scene after scene. It was like watching an ABBA inspired douche commercial. When I walked out of the theatre, even my labia were chaffed from personal dryness.

Swanner: You are stupid. My vagina was moist with pleasure. It was all so joyous. The scenes between the mother and daughter were amazingly emotional and the three guys were so good. I was surprised that Julie Walters wasn’t a lesbian. Baranski can do no wrong in my eyes. The worst part for me will be the wait for Blu-ray.

Judd: Julie Walters? You mean the pruney Tracy Ullman? I thought for sure she was the whacky lesbian character. In her first introduction she told us how she hates men and likes being a “lone wolf”—and then she howled because she was just that whacky! I thought the amount of live singing in the movie was a bold and admirable choice, but I don’t think it paid off. It made the transition to the pre-recorded vocals extremely noticeable.

Swanner:You should have taken your Pamprin before the movie. You had a stick up your butt before the movie started. I know you secretly liked it and you watch, one day you will own it and watch it all the time in your bathrobe while you paint your toenails and sing along. I see it now!!!!

Judd: I didn’t have a stick up my butt before the movie, but I did have a stick of reefer in the parking lot. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t blown away. From a technical aspect the movie was awful, but most people aren’t going to notice. When it comes down to it, I would recommend this movie to anyone who’s ever gotten really, really stoned and thought, “Dude, what if they, like, took Rocky Horror with the music of ABBA and the cast of the Golden Girls?” The answer would be Mamma Mia.

Swanner: 3 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars

Meet Dave

Official Website: Meet Dave
Rated: PG for bawdy and suggestive humor, action and some language

Swanner: Just hearing there is a new Eddie Murphy coming out either makes you deliriously happy or shutter with fear. It’s always a crap shot but this time it’s a winner…if your 12. What I mean is that Meet Dave is 90 minutes of pratfalls, over the top stereotypes and a simple story of finding friendship…everything a 12-year-old looks for in a comedy. The storyline is an orb to that is sent to earth to find water but after it goes MIA, a spaceship follows to find it.

Judd: What Tom didn’t mention is that the spaceship is Eddie Murphy manned by a miniature Captain Eddie Murphy and his crew and that the orb is found by a 10 year old boy. Recently, I’ve used the phrase “I wanted to like it more than I did,” to describe several movies. With Meet Dave, I wanted to hate it more than I did. When the movie started I was ready to check my watch, sigh and roll my eyes – and I did for the first 10 minutes, but when I realized that this movie was a kids movie I found myself understanding and appreciating the humor for what it was.

Swanner: I felt the same way. I even looked over at you half way expecting you’d climb over me to get out but then it clicked that this was a movie for tweeners (which I have been accused of being) and I looked at it in a very different way. Yes I did forget to mention about the spaceship looking like Eddie Murphy but I was excited it wasn’t a stupid adult movie. It was a stupid kid movie. How did you like the over the top stereotypes?

Judd: You mean the fat bully, the gay guy and the war mongering Republican? The stereotypes didn’t bother me. The gay character was waaaaaaay over the top, but at the same time he was the weapons engineer and butched it up when he needed to. I think is a good way of relaying to kids that gay guys aren’t always screaming queens – but we all have our moments now and then. What I did like about the movie was Eddie Murphy. Meet Dave isn’t art by any means, but I think it really showcases Eddie’s strengths as a physical actor and what he’d be capable of with a decent script.

Swanner: It is rated PG for bawdy and suggestive humor, action and some language. There was drinking in the film and that couple that was making out was pretty gross. I liked Eddie too. He really knows how to deliver a movie and if I remember right, you and I were the only critics that liked Norbit. I also think the actors that played the aliens were all really good. They played it broad and they played it for laughs. I also thought Scott Caan was extremely cute.

Judd: You thought Scott Caan was cute? He’s lost weight in recent years, you know. He may only be getting skinnier. I think the thing about Meet Dave that also kept me from hating it completely is its unapologetic low-budget mentality. The set was low budget; the special effects were low budget; the costumes were low budget; the props were low budget and yet the movie will play very well to its target audience.

Swanner: I saw Scott naked in a really mediocre movie and it was worth it…if you know what I mean. My favorite line in Meet Dave was when that bookwormy girl confronts Dave and he said “Vaporize the child!” That made me laugh out loud…I’ll be using that comment all the time

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 2 Stars