Notes from the back row 

The critic responds

Everyone’s a critic these days. After 5 years of churning out reviews I got my first written complaint last week.

Turns out not everyone likes the new Batman movie, although Mr. Rolo Tomasi’s comments about the ‘jumpy, unwarranted’ editing and the ‘Technology vs. Story’ argument seem unfounded to me. And lets not forget that I am a trained professional while Rolo Tomasi (who is calling for me to be fired) is just a made-up name stolen from the movie L.A Confidential. But I’ve already wasted enough column space on that idiot so lets move on to The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which opens Friday at the Village 8.

Arguably the worst movie of the summer, The Mummy re-stars Brendan Fraser as Rick, an archeologist who this time must team his wife, son, and dimwit brother-in-law with a Chinese sorceress and her daughter to fight an evil emperor seeking to bust out of his tomb, climb a hill to Shangri-la to take a dip in the pool and achieve immortality.

Grand master of Kung-Fu awesomness Jet Li plays the mummy and Michelle Yeoh steps in as the sorceress. Other than a single decent fight sequence up the mountain, however, both actors are underused and, compounded with weak or derivative story elements (the father/son archeological thing worked a lot better in Indiana Jones 4) the film ends up as a mashed and confusing jumble of action set pieces. Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen has never really been all that great and it looks like he’s the guy who’ll kill the $800 million-worldwide Mummy franchise with this sub-par family/actioner crapfest.

Down south, our American neighbours are in an election year so at least Swing Vote, also opening Friday, has timing going for it. Irresponsible and hard-drinking father Bud (Kevin Costner) gets drunk and fails to vote so his overly smart 12-year-old daughter does it for him (not as improbable as it sounds these days). Costner/Bud later learns that the race was so tight his fraudulent vote is the only one that matters and, since he’s allowed to re-vote in 10 days, he becomes the centre of media and political attention nationwide.

Kinda reminiscent of the 2000 botch-up in Florida, Swing Vote doesn’t preach any particular political ideology but focuses more on the importance of informed voting and responsible citizenship. Sound boring? For sure, but the flick does paint a somewhat grim portrait of America – from deadbeat parents to cannibalistic media to flip-floppy politicians. Usually a political movie relies on satire for its humour but Swing Vote doesn’t really deliver in that arena, or any. Costner pulls off the ‘dumbass dad’ role well enough but for a family comedy that’s low on laughs or feel-good moments this flick shouldn’t expect much in the way of critical or financial returns.

Killing it at the box office however, The Dark Knight has now made over $313 million bucks and had the biggest domestic opening weekend of all time. Heath Ledger, (whose chaos-loving, psychotic rendition of the Joker is one reason the film is doing so well) is slammed by Rolo Tomasi in last week’s letter. Easy to pick on the dead guys isn’t it Rolo? And it’s easy to call for me to be fired when you hide behind a fake name, eh?

Do me a favour ‘Rolo Tomasi’ – take the first letter of every sentence in the body of this review and write them in order on a piece of paper, then read it and then do it and don’t bother wasting our time with your “I hate Feet Banks because I’m not Feet Banks,” pissy, moan-y, wannabe letters anymore.

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