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Third time is NOT the charm, ack

Recently, I watched two films that were third installments in separate film franchises and both were, to put it bluntly, disappointments.

The first was one I'd eagerly anticipated, Mummy 3: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. The first in the Mummy series is one of my all-time favorite films. I can't help but watch it every time I come across it on television (even though I own the DVD). It is campy, fun and makes me feel good every time I see it. I even own an original poster from the film.

But this third installment was a disappointment. Maybe my expectations were too high, but if so, so were the expectations of the majority of the critics out there (the film got an 11% rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes). While I've got nothing against Maria Bello (who takes over the role of Evelyn), she didn't have near the chemistry Rachel Weisz had with Brandon Fraser, whose performance felt (as my husband puts it) like he "mailed it in." And most of the truly funny moments were in the trailer so even they felt a bit anti-climatic when they occurred on screen.

The film isn't without its moments. Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh were actually pleasures to watch; in fact, I found myself looking forward to their scenes. Not that either of them haven't had poor performances in their careers (I still cringe when I think of Silver Hawk) or that these roles stretched them by any means. But they were bright spots in a otherwise sigh-inducing film.

The other film was the straight to DVD Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, the second sequel to the 1997 Starship Troopers, which was a very loose adaptation of the Robert Heinlein novel. I never saw the second one, and most of me wishes I hadn't seen the third, either. But I was curious due to some early hints at potential religious themes in the film, and, well, they were there. About as subtle as a two-by-four. (For more on those themes, see this section on the film's Wikipedia site, which gets it pretty much right, though takes it a little too seriously, imho.) I must admit, however, that I did like finally seeing the battle armor (above photo), as that was a big part of the novel and hadn't appeared in first film. But it was in about all of two minutes of the film so even that didn't make this one worth the time, either.

(Image: Universal and Sony Pictures)