The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition (2001)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Stephen Sommers (Dir/Writ), Bob Ducsay (Exec Prod)
DVD-ROM Extras-Games, ScreenSavers, Wallpapers, Additional Info, Web Links
DVD-ROM Extras-Unlock The Secrets Of The Scorpion King
dts Trailer-Piano
Interviews-Cast-An Exclusive Interview With The Rock
Featurette-The Scorpion King
Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Featurette-Visual And Special Effects Formation (4 x 5)
Outtakes
Notes-Egyptology 201
Music Video-Forever May Not Be Long Enough-Live
Featurette-The Mummy Returns Chamber Of Doom
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Mummy Returns Playstation 2 Game Trailer
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 124:13 (Case: 129)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:42)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stephen Sommers
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Brendan Fraser
Rachel Weisz
John Hannah
Arnold Vosloo
Oded Fehr
Patricia Velasquez
The Rock
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The sequel - utterly beloved of Hollywood, but often a less attractive prospect for the audience. Some films shouldn't have sequels. But every once in a while, the sequel can be a worthwhile film, and occasionally the sequel can even eclipse the original - consider Terminator 2, for example. Arguably, this happens most often when the sequel is a different style - like Aliens.

    Here we are considering the sequel to The Mummy (see my review of The Mummy Ultimate Edition here). The Mummy was the first decent horror / comedy / adventure movie made in quite a while. It was inevitable that they would make a sequel, and in fact they put a trailer for the sequel onto the Ultimate Edition DVD. I fully expected this movie to appear on DVD quite rapidly, so I quite deliberately avoided seeing it in a cinema - saving up the experience for the home theatre. It was well worth waiting. The result is a DVD package that makes it quite clear why we have spent our money on home theatre equipment.

    The Mummy Returns is set nine or ten years after the original. Unlike most sequels, where the love interest has broken up so we can see a new love interest, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) are married, quite happily, with a young son (an excellent performance by Freddy Boath). Evelyn is not the timid librarian she was in The Mummy - she has matured substantially (perhaps from trying to manage their son?) and has considerable self-confidence. Rick already had almost over-weening self-confidence; he is a little more cautious now, but not enough to bridle his tendencies to charge in like a bull at a gate. Evelyn's brother Jonathan (John Hannah) is exactly how we left him - happy-go-lucky, and a bit unscrupulous. We catch up with Rick and Evelyn as they break into a chamber which hasn't been opened for over 3000 years - so how come Evelyn knows how the locks work? Anyway, they uncover the Bracelet of Anubis, key to locating the Scorpion King and the army of Anubis.

    Meanwhile, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is being dug up by Meela (Patricia Velasquez) and her cronies. Meela is the reincarnation of Imhotep's lover - the beautiful Anck-su-namun (remember her? The beautiful girl dressed in a layer of paint?). Our good friend Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) is spying on this process. Turns out that the bad guys need the Bracelet of Anubis...

    Given the scale of the original movie, this one would have to be bigger, bolder, and louder to succeed. It is.

    This movie hits the ground running, with a battle in 3067 BC, between the army of the Scorpion King (played by a wrestler called The Rock) and Egyptian forces. These are not small armies - looks like thousands of combatants. Lots of directional sound, lots of subwoofer, lots of vast expanses - it would be a crime to show this panned 'n' scanned with sound through a TV speaker.

    I expected to see some opening credits - there aren't any. At all. The first credits start 5 minutes from the end of the film. Quite unusual.

    Anyway, after the big opening we cut to the intros of Mr and Mrs O'Connell (Rick and Evelyn). That's got some excitement in it, including the obligatory "scare the pants off the audience" moment. Then we build up to some more excitement, a big fight, and lots of action. Then a car chase and more fight action. Then a brief moment of calm, followed by some more action...

    This movie, viewed in the right setting, at the right volume, is exhausting to watch. About the only chance you get to breathe is when they're reloading.

    There are some moments which pay homage to some of the great adventure movies of the past, including Harryhausen. There's one scene that reminded me strongly of Jurassic Park II. There's a sequence filmed in the place that was the Canyon of the Crescent Moon in The Last Crusade. Apparently there are numerous references to other movies - I'm sure someone is collating them all on a website somewhere.

    There are a few holes in the plot, and one or two things that defy the laws of physics, as we know them in the real world. But in the world of horror / comedy / action / adventure, they fit perfectly. This is not a movie to analyse - it is a movie to experience. 

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is the original theatrical ratio.

    The picture is sharp and clear, with good (but not perfect) shadow detail. There is absolutely no low level noise.

    Colour is perfect. There's plenty of deeply saturated red (the bad guys wear red headgear). There are lots of rich colours, and not the slightest trace of colour bleed.

    There are no film artefacts. There's a moment at 13:56 which looks like a film artefact - I studied it in slow motion, and worked out that it is actually the flickering flame of a torch that is hidden behind a pillar. There is some aliasing, but most of it is very well controlled. There is no shimmer - I was especially looking for this because of the annoying shimmer in The Mummy. There are no MPEG artefacts. 

    There are two sets of subtitles. One is the conventional English subtitles, provided in a normal simple sans-serif font, in white, placed normally. These are perfectly acceptable subtitles, subtitling the English dialogue. The other set of subtitles are for the Ancient Egyptian. These use the same attractive font that was used for the same purpose in the R1 version of The Mummy. These subtitles are burned into the film, and cannot be dismissed (perhaps they assumed that none of us speak Ancient Egyptian well enough to understand the mispronounced version in use?).

    The disc is single-sided and double-layered (RSDL formatted). The layer change occurs at 71:42, and it's not easy to spot - it happens on a cut to a shot where there's nothing moving.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks to choose from, all English. The audio commentary is provided in English, Dolby Digital 2.0. The film soundtrack is provided in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1. Although neither provides a centre rear speaker, the decoder in my amp managed to find enough information common to the two rear speakers to synthesize an excellent facsimile.

    The Dolby Digital soundtrack is excellent, but I will be playing this disc in future with the dts soundtrack. It offers more refined fidelity (understandable, given the higher data rate), and what sounds like a little more dynamic range. The difference is not huge, but it's enough.

    Dialogue is generally clear, although one or two words are not easy to make out. 

    The score, by Alan Silvestri, is admirably suited to the movie. It greatly enhances the mood, and helps with the roller-coaster experience that is this movie.

    I hope you have good surround speakers. You will certainly find out when you play this disc - this has some of the most active directional content I have ever heard. The subwoofer gets a marvellous workout, too - some excellent tension building low-frequencies, and plenty of bangs, rumbles, and crashes.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are excellent. This is not an Ultimate Edition (I'm sure that's coming), but there's plenty on offer.

Menu

    The menus open with attractive transitions, are animated, and have theme music. Evocative.

    The first three extras listed below are on the same disc as the movie. The remainder are on the second disc. The extras on the second disc are not 16x9 enhanced.

Audio commentary - Stephen Sommers: writer/director and Bob Ducsay: producer/editor

    This is a good commentary, much like their commentary on The Mummy. They discuss all aspects of the film, including pointing to many of the mistakes they made - entertaining and interesting. They even mention that some of the climactic shots were lit using flame-throwers. I recommend listening to this.

    They do take the opportunity to respond to a couple of criticisms of the movie that came from film critic Roger Ebert - basically their response is: "it's a mummy movie - don't expect complete realism" - I have to agree.

DVD-ROM

    There are several DVD-ROM extras listed here. You need a PC with a DVD-ROM drive to use this.

Unlock the Secrets of the Scorpion King

    This is another DVD-ROM extra. All I can tell you is that you need a PC with a DVD-ROM drive to use this, too.

A Conversation with The Rock (3:42)

    This is a brief chat concerning the spin-off movie called The Scorpion King - coming soon. 

The Scorpion King

    This is basically a trailer for The Scorpion King movie.

Spotlight on Location (20:03)

    This is basically a "making of" featurette. It is not boring, but it contains much of the usual promotional material.

Visual and Special Effects Formation

    This is divided into coverage of four brief sequences in the movie: 

    Each sequence is divided into five pieces:

    This extra is really interesting, because it explains the amount of work that goes into a few seconds of film - each of these final sequences lasts around 30 seconds.

Outtakes (6:06)

    This is a sequence of outtakes, strung together into what I believe is called a "gag reel".

Egyptology 201

    This is a continuation of material found on The Mummy DVD. The topics covered are:

Music Video - Forever May Not Be Long Enough (4:02)

    This is a music video of a group called Live performing the song that is performed over the closing credits. It contains considerable footage from the movie.  

Chamber of Doom (3:17)

    This is a walkthrough of the Universal Studios attraction - not too exciting if you aren't going to Universal Studios, and a bit of a spoiler if you are.

Theatrical Trailer (1:42)

    A normal trailer, presented 2.35:1, but not 16x9 enhanced.

Playstation Game Trailer (1:07)

    A trailer for the game on the Playstation - an advertisement.

Production Notes

    Quite detailed notes on the production of this film - 26 pages.

Cast and Filmmakers

    Brief bio and recent filmography for:

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 and R4 releases are almost identical, except that we get a dts soundtrack in place of the French soundtrack (I guess they get that for Canada). Unless you want French, the R4 wins - the dts soundtrack offers slightly better fidelity.

Summary

    The Mummy Returns is an excellent adventure film, presented superbly on DVD with some wonderful demo sequences.

    The video quality is superb, but not perfect.

    The audio quality is excellent, with marvellous directional sound.

    The extras are plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, September 29, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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