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Review: Chinese-Australian action-adventure ‘7 Guardians of the Tomb’ delivers spiders, spiders and more spiders

Kellan Lutz, from left, Bingbing Li and Wu Chun in the movie "7 Guardians of the Tomb."
(Gravitas Ventures)

Arachnophobes and haters of cliches beware. “7 Guardians of the Tomb” will provide plenty of nightmare fuel with its thousands of CGI-rendered spiders and nearly as many moments that will give audiences feelings of movie déjà vu.

When her brother disappears, scientist Jia (Bingbing Li) joins a group to find him, following her father’s greedy business partner Mason (Kelsey Grammer) and strapping, spider-fearing dude Jack Ridley (Kellan Lutz). The team is rounded out by more stock characters: fiery redhead Milly (Stef Dawson), wisecracking Australian Gary (a genuinely funny Shane Jacobson) and a Chinese guide with zero characterization (Jason Chong). Their search takes them underground in a firestorm-ridden desert in China, where they discover an ancient tomb full of more peril — and hordes of arachnids.

Grafting bits of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Mummy” onto its rickety frame, this Chinese-Australian adventure, directed by Kimble Rendall, is at its strongest when it displays brief, bonkers moments of ingenuity and weakest when it grasps at seriousness. A scene in a pool with spiders floating in air bubbles inspires delighted cackles, but it’s surrounded by a film that doesn’t know what it is — or should be.

“7 Guardians of the Tomb” should be a B-movie blast, but it never seems aware of its own silliness. Fewer sloppy attempts at real emotion and more spider bubbles, please.

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‘7 Guardians of the Tomb’

In English and some Mandarin with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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