Better than the Critics Say, 10 August 2008
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
After the critical kicking this film received upon release ,I was prepared for the worst. The reality, fortunately is not as bad as some would have you believe.Firstly, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. Brendan Fraser is half hearted as lead Rick O’Coonor. Maria Bello is spectacularly miscast as his wife. Her English accent is appalling, her acting wooden, there is no sexual chemistry between her and Fraser, and they both look too young to be the father of Luke Ford who plays their son, who again produces no chemistry with his “parents” and is hopeless. Mindful of the fact that Ford is 27, and Bello and Fraser 40, this is not surprising.The dialogue is risible,( Rachel Weiz saw the script, laughed and turned down the chance to reprise her role) and John Hannahs comic cameos descend into pastiche. But………………
The action sequences are terrific. Although Director Rob Cohen clearly struggles with acting and drama, give him a big budget, and plenty of CGI and he delivers, as befits his track record with “The Fast and The Furious” and “XXX”. Jointly financed with the Shanghai Film Corporation, the release date coincides with the Olympics to shamelessly exploit an interest in all things Chinese. the action shots in Shanghai are colourful and fast moving, the set piece battles a visual treat. Jet Li as “baddie” Emperor Han is excellent, but is sadly entombed for much of the story, making his contribution somewhat limited.Michelle Yeoh plays his nemesis, Witch Zi Juan, with considerable aplomb.
Although the plot does not bear any sort of scrutiny, the running time just short of two hours does not outstay its welcome.The humour, narrative warmth and style of the first installment in particular is missing. In it’s place is an all action ride which offers brashness and speed pretty much at the expense of everything else.