The Mummy Returns (HD DVD) (2001)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Stephen Sommers (Director) & Bob Ducsay (Producer/Editor)
Featurette-Making Of-Spotlight on Location
Featurette-Making Of-Special Effects Formation (20)
Music Video-Live- "Forever May Not Be Long Enough"
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Stephen Sommers|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Catalan Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In ancient times, the Scorpion King (The Rock) was a leader of men, with a strong army on a campaign to conquer the known world. But, after seven years of gruelling battle they were defeated and sent packing into the desert. None survived the harsh conditions, apart from their leader, who sold his soul to the god Anubis for the chance to survive and fight again.
The Scorpion King's bracelet, a gift from Anubis, is all that remains in 1933. Set ten years after the first Mummy film, Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) have since married and now have a son, nine-year-old Alex. We meet them as they successfully discover the bracelet in a tomb, avoiding brigands and narrowly escaping certain death for a quick getaway back to London. Evelyn knows of the bracelet and has her agenda set, claiming that it is the key to finding the lost Oasis of Ahm Shere, which is said to be resting place of the Scorpion King's army and his pyramid of gold.
Meanwhile, rival archaeologists have unearthed and revived Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), with a plan to use the Scorpion King's army for their own gain, to defeat the world of course. When they discover who holds the bracelet, Alex is kidnapped and taken to Egypt to act as guide. Poor Rick has his work cut out for him again, as the race is on to save Alex from the evil clutches of Imhotep and to stop Imhotep and his goons from raising an army that could conquer the world.
The Mummy Returns was a hugely successful sequel that launched the acting career of The Rock, who went on to star in his own spinoff film, The Scorpion King, and more recently, Doom. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz play the married couple surprisingly well, and the film sees the return of familiar characters Oded Fehr (Ardeth Bay) and Evelyn's Brother, Jonathan (John Hannah).
The Mummy series is campy (or should I say corny?) fun, but the CG special effects do come across a little clunky and cartoon-like, showing just how far CG effects have progressed in the last six years. As is evidenced in the Making-of featurettes, motion capture was in its infancy at this time, and it should be recognised that these effects were cutting edge in their day. Having said that, The Mummy Returns is a great, light-hearted family adventure, although it may be too violent for really little ones.
The transfer is presented at 1080p resolution in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame.
Being a relatively recent film, there are not a great deal of issues to be concerned about. I doubt this transfer was made specifically for HD DVD, rather I think this was sourced from the master made for the Superbit DVD some years ago, in fact it's a shame I don't have that transfer on hand for comparison. The level of fine detail is great, but there are some scenes that do have a slight softness that makes them stand out. It's hard to judge whether this is the transfer itself or some kind of focus-pulling issue, but the effect was noticeable. The dark, shadowy tombs and candle-lit passageways are very well reproduced, while black levels are absolutely solid when need be.
Colours are a little on the rosy side for my tastes, but the lush forest greens are very stark. Skin tones also suffer from a rosy hue that may be the director's intention. There are no rendering issues or grading inconsistencies that I could make out.
The video stream has been compressed via the VC-1 codec, and as such there are no visible compression glitches to be seen. As far as film artefacts go, I noticed very slight telecine wobble during the film's opening titles, as well as some minor grain at 66:55 that may be due to a special effects composite. Aside from these and the odd spec of dust here and there, the film source is in otherwise good condition. I noted what appears to be mild edge enhancement around actor's faces in some scenes, particularly when the cast is aboard the balloon.
An English subtitle stream is included for the hearing impaired. The text roughly follows the dialogue and is easy to read. Some subs are forced to translate what I presume is Ancient Egyptian.
This disc is a dual layered format (HD-30).
There are seven soundtracks available, five of which are foreign language dubs. The default soundtrack is determined by the viewer's selection in an initial language setup menu. I listened to the film's original English audio (Dolby Digital Plus 5.1), as well as the Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0).
The English audio is noticeably quieter than the other soundtracks and seems to grow even more so in the final ten minutes of film. Compare the volume of the score in the closing credits to the score in any other part of film and you'll see what I mean.
The English dialogue is distinct and not overpowered by effects or score. Both the ADR and audio sync are perfect.
Surround activity is applied to add weight to the film's score, as well as directional effects such as rushing water, gunfire and passing vehicles (50:08). Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel throughout the film.
The score is credited to Alan Silvestri and is of a similar vein to many other classic adventure themes. The music flows perfectly with the film's tension, action and emotion.
The LFE channel is put to good use, adding bottom end to effects such as explosions and gunfire, even the odd tense rumble here and there.
|Surround Channel Use|
These extras are essentially the cream of bonus material, taken from the old Collector's Edition DVD. All are standard definition, with stereo audio unless noted otherwise. None are 16x9 enhanced.
A standard feature on Universal titles, the screen saver appears when the film is paused for a few minutes or the menu is left to rotate a number of times.
The two men discuss filming in Morocco with The Rock, who in his three days on set had to deal with food poisoning and heat stroke. They also explain filming locations for a lot of scenes, be them studio lots or remote deserts. Stephen has a lot of energy, whereas Bob is rather dry, which can be amusing at times. Stephen is quick to point out plot holes, continuity errors and subtle visual effects, as well as cuts that were made and additional scenes that were originally part of the film. Despite already having one film under their belts, they had a specific idea of the tone they were after; balancing violence, comedy and adventure to suit their vision. This is an interesting, above average commentary.
This Making Of was made for television. The sequel was already being planned when production of the first Mummy film wrapped in 1999. Cast members and director Stephen Sommers discuss their dedication to the project and shooting on location in Jordan and Egypt where there are no cell phones.
Four of the major effects sequences are covered, each with an introduction by John Berton and featurettes separated to cover five stages of CG development (that's five brief featurettes for each sequence- the fifth is an excerpt from the film, showing the final outcome, presented in 1080p HD). Berton is the Visual Effects Supervisor for ILM.
A band performance with sexy dancing girls in the foreground is cut together with grabs of imagery from the film. Written by uber-producer Glenn Ballard, the song isn't particularly inspiring, but suits the sentiment of the film in a way.
This is better than your average gag reel because it is structured as a bogus trailer, showing us the usual favourites such as failed props, crew members in shot, botched lines and the like. This is presented in 2.35:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced.
Your average trailer for this kind of film, complete with tense voiceover.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As I said above, only the really worthwhile extras have been retained, most of the above is promotional fluff.
The North American version of this HD DVD title includes the My Scenes function, allowing the user to program and repeat their favourite bits of the film. Our local product has greater support for foreign languages, but with more soundtrack options I'd be very interested to know if our image quality has suffered. Like most other Universal HD titles, it is identical to the European release, even down to the Euro ratings logos printed on the label side of the disc.
The video transfer is good.
The audio transfer is a little low in volume.
The extras are worthwhile viewing.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|