|Category||Adventure||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
Cast & Crew Biographies
Notes - Egyptology 101
Kevin J. O'Connor
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||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|
From that point, we fast-forward about three millennia to what would appear to be some point in the 1930s, although I didn't notice any specific references to time periods in the film. Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is an adventurer, and a rather unique one in that he is one of the few men who has found the city of Hamunaptra, the burial place of Imhotep, and returned to tell about it. We meet him as he is leading an English garrison against a force of Egyptian raiders who are determined to drive the English out of the general area of Hamunaptra. The Egyptians, observed by the Magi, a group of descendants from the bodyguards who mummified Imhotep, are mostly successful in this endeavour, leaving Rick wandering across the desert to find his way back to civilization. As Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr), the leader of the Magi believes that the desert will easily kill Rick, they are all in agreement that there is nothing to worry about. Sadly, this turns out to be a grave mistake, as a librarian named Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) somehow manage to obtain a key to the sarcophagus in which Imhotep is entombed. Evelyn has just managed to make a huge mess of the museum she works in, and its curator (Erick Avari) is one short step away from firing her. So, after tracking Rick down to a Middle-Eastern prison and arranging for his release, Evelyn, Jonathan, Rick, and comic sidekick Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor) set off towards the Egyptian desert in order to find the lost city of Hamunaptra. Along the way, they are hindered by a mob of American explorers who are more interested in the wealth supposedly contained within the city, as well as the Magi, who would prefer that the city remain buried and undiscovered, with good reason.
It's easy to think from the advertising that this film is all about the special effects, but there are some surprisingly good performances by Arnold Vosloo (whose other credits include two Darkman sequels, Hard Target, American Gothic, and 1492: Conquest Of Paradise to name just a few) and Rachel Weisz. The many effects shots used to accomplish the goal of having a living corpse walking about and interacting with the live-action characters are nothing short of brilliant, and truly make words like "impossible" look obsolete in the context of film production. This is another film with which you can make anyone who tells you that digital technology never accomplished anything eat their words. If you enjoy films about adventure and excitement, then The Mummy is more than worthy of a place in your collection. Even I feel like going and buying it after having sat down to see what all that fuss was about. It only just falls short of reference quality in plot terms because of a few very short moments that made me roll my eyes and wonder which tourist guide the writers pulled that detail from, the completion of Imhotep's resurrection being the most prominent example.
The colours were very strongly rendered, with every shade of yellow and brown in the desert scenes being perfectly rendered, much like the blacks in the Magi costumes (there's black, and then there's black, if you know what I mean). There was a hint of oversaturation in the indoor scenes, but this appears to have been a deliberate artistic choice rather than any fault of the transfer. The scenes inside the caverns of modern-day Hamunaptra were mostly quite muted, fitting the look of a city that has been long abandoned, and the desert was very hot and red in appearance. A lot of the outdoor shots provided contrast by being very brightly and vibrantly saturated. Overall, this is probably the best example of colour saturation I have seen either in the movie itself or in the DVD transfer, and it is beautiful to look upon.
MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the presentation, even in the scenes involving huge gusts of wind and sand. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some small amounts of aliasing in panning shots of finely detailed objects, such as some of the early shots of the golden doors, the gold room, and many shots of the modern-day Hamunaptra. The sharpness of the transfer was somewhat detrimental to the transfer in these shots, and it was a real shame in spite of how slight and momentary the aliasing was. Film artefacts were also slightly problematic in spite of their rarity, as the ones that did appear tended to be rather large scratches on the negatives, and white in appearance rather than the less-noticeable black.
Subtitles are used to indicate locations within Egypt, and the translations of some lines that are spoken in Egyptian. These are provided as a subtitle stream on the DVD rather than being burned into the video images, which is the way this feature should be provided. The amount of time the location names are displayed for is slightly insufficient, but this is only a minor problem.
Not surprisingly, this disc takes advantage of the RSDL format, with the layer change coming in at 78:50, during Chapter 12. This is well-placed, coming at the end of the sequence in which Imhotep gets into Evelyn's room, and is minimally intrusive to the flow of the film. It was somewhat lengthy on the Grundig player, but only momentary on the Toshiba SD-2109.
The score music in this film was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith, and certainly changed my opinion of this composer for the better. The music is very well-suited to the onscreen action, and the sequence with the plane speeding away from Imhotep's sandstorm accomplishes a rarely-seen feat in the world of film scoring. It successfully creates the illusion that neither the action sequence on film or the score music existed before one another, and this trick is a marvellous thing to behold when it is done right. Big, bold themes such as this dominate the action sequences, giving them the appropriate accent of drama and tension when needed. More subtle Middle-Eastern themes accentuate the dialogue sequences, adding atmosphere at the appropriate times, and particularly noteworthy is the use of short musical stabs to accentuate the horror aspects of the action.
The surround channels were used constantly and aggressively to support the on-screen action, and never at the expense of the dialogue's intelligibility, which is something that the makers of this film and whomever supervised the transfer should be commended for. The sound field places the viewer right in the middle of the action, with action taking place all around. Unlike many action films, the surround effects do not revert to a straight stereo mix whenever the action stops, but instead continue on in a subtle manner throughout the film. As a result of the fact that the only difference between each of the dialogue soundtracks is the language they are spoken in, each soundtrack is equally immersive and aurally exciting. Top marks must go to whomever was in charge of the dubs found on this disc, as they are just as delightful to listen to as the original dialogue, even if you don't understand them. The subwoofer was used aggressively, but evenly, to support the entire soundtrack, and it was exceptionally well integrated, with the sound effects and the music benefiting equally from its use. It was almost constantly present, but never calling attention to itself and lending a much-needed bottom end to many sequences.
The video quality is generally excellent, with only a couple of trivial flaws making themselves apparent from time to time. It's a real shame, because if it had not been for the very minor shimmering and the noticeable negative scratches, I would consider this disc a Hall Of Fame candidate.
The audio quality is a shining example of what a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix should sound like. It is also quite a stunning example how a multi-lingual disc should be formatted.
The extras are magnificent, with only a couple of redundant things taking away from the package. This is a shining example of how many extras we should be expecting from a disc that is priced so high.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|