The Mummy

Deluxe Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
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
Deleted Scenes
Notes - Egyptology 101
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (78:50)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Stephen Sommers

Columbia Tristar
Starring Brendan Fraser 
Rachel Weisz 
John Hannah 
Arnold Vosloo 
Jonathan Hyde 
Kevin J. O'Connor
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
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
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English 
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    The Mummy is one of those what-was-the-big-deal-about movies as far as I am concerned. For every day of its theatrical exhibition, Universal Pictures were literally bombarding the consumer with advertisements for what is essentially a remake of a 1932 horror film. It was little wonder then why I decided to steer clear of the film at the theatre, and only agreed to look at the film when given the chance to see it cheaply on one of our beloved discs. I am again quite surprised to tell you that this film is quite a pleasant way to spend two hours with your home theatre system. Granted, it's no Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Brendan Fraser is no Harrison Ford, but if you don't view the film expecting to see either of two those things, you will be perfectly satisfied. In any case, the film begins thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, with the high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) putting the moves on the Pharaoh's concubine, Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez). Naturally, the Pharaoh is less than happy about this when he finds out, and Imhotep slays him in a fit of passion. In return for these efforts, the Pharaoh's bodyguards take Imhotep's high priests and mummify them, while Imhotep is buried alive with a swarm of flesh-eating beetles for company. Anck Su Namun commits suicide and is buried alongside Imhotep, but not before he vows to return and avenge his death, as well as reunite by supernatural means with his lover. This, in a nutshell, is the curse of The Mummy.

    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.

Transfer Quality


    Universal are a really funny bunch, to say the very least. One day, they give us mediocre transfers that are missing essential features, and then the next day, they give us a transfer like this one that has little to complain about, and falls just shy of reference material. The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. While I am on this subject, I just hope that Universal will listen when I say that I hope they go back and remaster their discs with this feature as a uniform standard, because the difference between this transfer and non-16x9 enhanced transfers like The Thing is rather obvious, to say the very least. The transfer was exceptional in its sharpness and clarity, with so much fine detail discernible in most shots that even the sequences involving the use of flying sand became frighteningly real in appearance. There are the occasional shots that were deliberately focused softly, but these are effects that help to tell the story. Shadow detail is exceptional, with the darker scenes being so clear that even the smallest details in a character's costume can easily be made out. Low-level noise was completely absent from the transfer.

    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.


    This is an excellent audio transfer, and definitely reference quality all the way. A choice of five audio tracks are provided on this DVD, and it is surprising to see that all of the soundtracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1 instead of the usual reduced number of channels that the foreign language dubs are saddled with. In Dolby Digital 5.1, we have the original English dialogue, as well as dubs of the dialogue in French, Italian, and Spanish. The commentary track from director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsey is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding. I listened to the English dialogue and the audio commentary, as well as sampling some dialogue in Spanish. The original English dialogue was perfectly clear and easy to understand at all times, with not a hint of the abundant ambient sounds, action sounds, or music threatening to intrude at any point. The Spanish dialogue, however, seemed to be a little badly mixed during action sequences, being a little too low compared to the music and the rest of the sound mix. It is interesting to note that only the English dialogue was overdubbed in Spanish, with the Egyptian dialogue being left unscathed. This resulted in a somewhat uneven feel to the dialogue during these moments, as the Spanish dialogue seems to be mixed a little lower than the original English. Audio sync was not a problem at any time with either language, although the lip movements were definitely forming around different sounds to the Spanish dub.

    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.


    A large quantity of extras are included with this disc, and their quality is mainly a match. This is about the only disc I have seen that was introduced into the market at the $39.95 price point that I would contemplate paying that much for, mainly because of this wide range of extras.


    All of the menus are accompanied by animation, audio, or both. The animation displayed between the menus is somewhat tiresome after the first time, but the overall presentation of these menus is excellent, and they are all 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Building A Better Mummy

    This is an interesting featurette, filled with a wealth of information about the artistic choices behind the effects used to create the effects shots in the film. With a running time of just under forty-eight minutes, this is one of the few featurettes that is substantial and more than just an extended promotional trailer. The aspect ratio varies between 1.33:1 and 2.35:1, with the opening footage being 1.33:1 and windowboxed. It is not 16x9 Enhanced at any point, but the video quality is surprisingly excellent in spite of this.

Audio Commentary - Stephen Sommers (Director) & Bob Ducsey (Editor)

    This isn't one of my favourite commentaries, but I believe this sets what I would call the minimum standard in terms of interest. Stephen Sommers (no relation to Daryl, thankfully) and Bob Ducsey talk almost non-stop about the artistic choices that went into the film, and give an interesting insight into how a director's and editor's jobs are interrelated.

Featurette - Visual & Special Effects Formation

    This is a showcase of five distinct scenes from the film, showing each of them in four stages of completeness, ranging from the original photography to the final shot as it was seen in the film. A commentary by Visual Effects Supervisor John Berton is included with each clip. This is a fascinating look at the visual effects process, but it would have been better if the featurette had been presented together, rather than as 20 separate pieces of video. Most of the clips aren't 16x9 enhanced, but the menu to select them, and the final stage clips are. In spite of these things, this is an interesting extra worth looking at a few times.

DVD-ROM Material

    I have one thing to say about this material that takes up space that could have been better used to improve the bit rate in more important aspects of the disc: get it the hell off my DVD!

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Comprehensive biographies for Brendan Fraser, John Hannah, Rachel Weisz, Kevin J. O'Connor, Jonathan Hyde, Arnold Vosloo, and Stephen Sommers are provided, and make for surprisingly interesting reading. The only complaint I have here is that less space on the screen should have been devoted to graphics, and more to making the text a little larger.

Deleted Scenes

    This is a two-and-a-quarter minute featurette featuring some shots that were excised from the final cut of the film. The reason why so little excised footage exists is covered in the commentary track, which also makes it clear why it would have been better if this collection had been left off the disc.

Egyptology 101

    Detailed notes about ancient Egyptian civilization and the religious beliefs of the Egyptian people, which makes for reasonably interesting once-over reading.

Production Notes

    Your typical production notes covering all the little details that led to the production of the film. Nothing particularly inspiring.

Theatrical Trailer

    This particular trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. This trailer is one of the better-quality ones I have seen in a while. It is, however, somewhat misleading about the nature of the film, giving an impression of a special-effects driven action film with an improbable villain.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     There is nothing to really make one version of the disc better than the other, although the combination of more information being compressed on the disc and the NTSC formatting would make for a much lesser viewing experience. Stick with the Region 4 version in this case.


    The Mummy is a surprisingly good adventure film. Not exactly an immortal classic, but definitely worth watching a few times. It is presented on an exceptional DVD of the kind I wish Universal Studios would bestow upon us more often.

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
April 24, 2000 
Review Equipment
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)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer