|Category||Action/Horror||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 1 - Stephen Sommers (Director) & Bob Ducsey (Editor)|
|Running Time||119:40 minutes||Other Extras||Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of: Building A Better Mummy (47:52)
Featurette: Visual & Special Effects Formation
DVD-ROM Extras: Notes, Game, Postcards, Screensavers
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Deleted Scenes (3)
Notes: Egyptology 101
Kevin J. O'Connor
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, a little|
The DVD experience of this movie was a complete revelation to me, and a completely different experience to the theatrical one. Instead of a cheap Indiana Jones, I experienced a genuinely very scary movie, with thrill-a-minute action and with lots of wisecracks thrown in for good measure. In short, I loved this movie on DVD. I would have to say that this is due in no small part to the much more satisfying aural experience afforded by the home theatre environment, where musical stabs were far more effective in creating shocks and little subtle surrounding effects were all that more real and frightening than they were in the cinema.
Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is a high priest in ancient Egypt. He dares to loves the Pharaoh's concubine, and slays the Pharaoh in a fit of passion. For this heinous crime, he is buried alive with flesh-eating beetles. His lover commits suicide and is buried alongside, but not before Imhotep vows to return and avenge his death and reunite with his lover. So is born the curse of The Mummy.
We fast-forward some 3,000 years. Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is an adventurer who stumbles upon the city of Hamunaptra, the burial place of Imhotep. He leads Egyptologists Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and Jonathan (John Hannah) to the city, where they awaken the mummy and set off his curse. A comical foil to all of this action and horror is provided by Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor).
There are some sensational special effects spread throughout this movie, including some extremely realistic and frightening Mummy effects.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer was exceptionally sharp and clear, with a tremendous amount of fine detail discernible in the picture at all times, other than the odd deliberately softly focussed shots. This is an amazingly clear transfer, but this level of sharpness does lead to a few minor problems, described below. Shadow detail is exceptional, with fine gradations revealed in the darker shots, and no low level noise apparent.
The colours were very strongly rendered, almost to the point of oversaturation in some of the indoor scenes, however I will say that I recall this characteristic of the movie from my theatrical viewing of the movie, so it is not a transfer fault but rather a deliberate cinematographic choice on the part of the filmmakers. A lot of desert footage tended to have a very strong reddish characteristic about them which again I recall from the original theatrical presentation. Some scenes, in bright daylight, were very vibrant and brightly coloured and made an interesting contrast to the indoor scenes.
There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Film to video artefacts consisted of some aliasing in pans over some of the very finely detailed scenes, such as early shots of the gold doors, the gold room later on, and many scenes of the modern-day Hamunaptra. This was a shame, although it only affected scenes momentarily. It was this artefact which made me mark this transfer down slightly, though the benefit of the extreme sharpness of this transfer is clearly evident at all other times. Film artefacts were rare, but the rare ones that were there were somewhat off-putting, as they tended to be relatively large scratches on the negative, and hence white in appearance rather than black.
Subtitles are used to indicate Egyptian translations and locations. These were provided via a subtitle stream on the DVD rather than being burned into the original print, which is a much better way of providing this functionality. I felt that the location names were not on the screen for a sufficient length of time, but this is a very minor quibble.
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed during Chapter 12, at 78:50. The layer change is well placed, coming at the end of an action sequence, and is minimally intrusive.
There are five audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to both the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the English Audio Commentary soundtrack.
Dialogue was always very clear and very easy to understand.
There were no audio sync problems with this disc.
The score by Jerry Goldsmith is admirably suited to the on-screen action, with big, bold themes dominating when necessary and more subtle Middle-Eastern-style themes adding atmosphere when appropriate. Of particular note with this movie is the extremely effective use of musical stabs to accentuate the horror aspects of the on-screen action.
The surround channels were continuously and aggressively used to support the on-screen action, but never at the expense of dialogue intelligibility. The soundfield places you directly in the middle of the action, which takes place all around you. Unlike many action movies, the surrounding effect does not disappear when the action stops, but rather continues on in a subtle fashion throughout virtually the entire movie. Hence, this soundtrack is an extremely immersive experience, and an extremely aurally exciting one as well. Top marks to the sound designers for this one, especially for the creepier noises which are extremely ominous and unsettling.
The .1 channel was aggressively but evenly used throughout the movie to support the soundtrack. It is very well integrated into the overall soundtrack, never calling attention to itself, but clearly adding a much needed bottom end onto the more exciting sequences.
Having made all of these minor criticisms, I would like to reiterate that this is indeed an excellent and very interesting extra, and definitely worth a good look.
The video quality is generally magnificent, with a tremendous amount of detail revealed in this image. Unfortunately, this is very slightly marred by some resultant aliasing in a very few scenes.
The audio quality is magnificent, and is of reference quality.
The extras are magnificent, and are of reference quality and quantity.
© Michael Demtschyna
13th December 1999
Amended 24th December 1999
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer|
|Speakers||Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer|