Mummy, The: Ultimate Edition (1999)

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Released 18-Jul-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Stephen Sommers (Director) & Bob Ducsay (Editor)
Audio Commentary-Brendan Fraser (Actor)
Audio Commentary-O Fehr (Act), K O'Connor (Act) & A Vosloo (Act)
dts Trailer-Piano
DVD-ROM Extras-Web Site Mirror, Script To Film Comparison, Game
Featurette-Building A Better Mummy
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Visual Effects (5 x 4)
Theatrical Trailer
Notes-Egyptology 101
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Highlights On The Mummy Returns
Storyboard Comparisons-3
Featurette-Photograph Montage
Notes-Pharoah Lineage
Trailer-The Mummy Returns
Trailer-The Mummy Game
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 119:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:07)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stephen Sommers
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Brendan Fraser
Rachel Weisz
John Hannah
Arnold Vosloo
Jonathan Hyde
Kevin J. O'Connor
Case Soft Brackley-Transp-Dual
RPI $42.95 Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Czech
Bulgarian
Hungarian
Polish
Hebrew
Turkish
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Greek
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
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

    Last year, there was an interesting announcement in Region 1. They were going to re-issue a movie on DVD, and this time they planned to do a really thorough job of it. This was the first Ultimate Edition DVD, and it was Terminator 2. It was an impressive effort: two discs, one filled with nothing but bonus materials; a metal slip cover; a thick booklet; redesigned menus, and three different versions of the movie (theatrical, director's cut, and a new special version with extra footage) managed via seamless branching. Very cool, but unfortunately this edition was restricted to Region 1. We have yet to see it in Region 4.

    "Ultimate" means "last". So what makes an ultimate edition? In my opinion, the most important concept is that this edition should be so complete that it will never need re-doing. This should be the definitive version, and hence the last. Amongst the features I'd expect to see is a top-class anamorphic transfer, the best possible soundtrack (dts, if possible), and lots of extras.
 

    When they announced the Ultimate Edition of The Mummy in Region 1, I immediately placed an order for it. My first copy of The Mummy was the Region 4 version, and it was quite good, but an Ultimate Edition was likely to be better, including a dts soundtrack. When my copy arrived a few weeks ago I watched it immediately, and was not disappointed - it was very good indeed.

    I am pleased to say that this is the title chosen as the first Ultimate Edition in Region 4. Maybe its release indicates that we will be seeing other Ultimate Editions in the future - we can only hope.
 

    About the movie: the quickest way to describe this movie is to say that it an Indiana Jones-type of movie, but without a single central character. Yes, we have a character something like Indiana Jones - his name is Rick O'Connell, and he is played extremely well by Brendan Fraser. But we also have a strong female lead, played superbly by Rachel Weisz, her brother, played by John Hannah, and a number of strong supporting parts. The movie is a potpourri of comedy, horror, and action. Although I am provoking incendiary e-mails by saying so, I actually believe this to be a better movie than either of the Indiana Jones sequels, and at least as good as the original. And, it is available on DVD...

    Inevitably, the success of this movie has led to a sequel, and this Ultimate Edition includes both a trailer for and a featurette about that sequel. I haven't seen the sequel, but I fully intend to - looks like it will be fun.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is not quite as good as I'd hoped. Oh, it's good, alright, but I had very high expectations of an Ultimate Edition.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced, as you'd expect.

    The sharpness is almost universally spot-on (there's one slightly out-of-focus shot, and it is mentioned in the director's commentary - they chose it because it contained the best performance). Shadow detail is very good. I saw no low-level noise.

    Colour is excellent. There's no colour bleed, and the colour timing looks perfect.

    There are a few tiny film artefacts, none of them in the least distracting. There are traces of aliasing, but it's generally well-controlled, although it breaks out wholesale at 11:40 and 95:06, with more than half the picture shimmering. There are no visible MPEG artefacts. There's no telecine wobble.

    There are lots of subtitle tracks (18, in fact). First off, we have normal subtitles in English, Greek, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, and Turkish. Then there are three more sets of subtitles - one for each commentary track. The commentaries are only subtitled in English. Then we have a special track that subtitles (in English) all of the dialogue spoken in Ancient Egyptian - this track is on by default, but you can switch it off if you happen to understand Ancient Egyptian. According to the director's commentary, they went to considerable trouble to make the Ancient Egyptian dialogue authentic.

    While I'm mentioning subtitles, I'll mention a minor annoyance - the subtitles on the Region 4 disc are in a fairly unattractive, blocky, typeface. The subtitles on the Region 1 are in an attractive high-quality typeface and look much nicer, and the shots from the movie used in some of the featurettes show the attractive subtitles, so you get to see what you are missing.

    The first disc (containing the movie) is single sided, double layer, and RSDL-formatted. I did not initially spot the layer change, which impressed me. It is located at 55:07, at a cut between scenes - lovely placement. The second disc (containing only bonus materials) is dual layer, but I was unable to ascertain whether it is RSDL or not - I suspect not, because the materials could be arranged to avoid a split across layers - there was no visible layer change during any of the supplements.

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

Audio

    There are five soundtracks on the first disc. All of them are in English. The first two are the movie soundtrack, in Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts 5.1. It's nice to see dts soundtracks starting to appear in Region 4. The other three soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, and all three are commentaries. The first features the director (Stephen Sommers) and editor (Bob Ducsay), the second is from Brendan Fraser, while the third has three of the main supporting actors.

    I listened to all five soundtracks - yup, watched the movie all the way through with each soundtrack. The 5.1 soundtracks are excellent. The  2.0 soundtracks are all commentaries, and they are fine for commentary tracks.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood (when it is in English - I don't understand Ancient Egyptian). There are no problems with audio sync.

    The score is just about perfect for this genre. It enhances the moments of horror, and works well with the action. It is by Jerry Goldsmith - he knows what he's doing.

    The surrounds are used well. They provide some marvellous ambient effects, and make the soundtrack truly immersive.

    The subwoofer is used to reinforce the score and for special effects. It is well-integrated with the rest of the soundtrack, and quite effective.

Dolby Digital vs dts
    The dts soundtrack does offer a little more definition than the Dolby Digital, but the difference is fairly subtle. It is most noticeable in the surrounds, I think - not sure why that might be - it does clean up the LFE track a little, too. This indicates how good the Dolby Digital soundtrack is, because there's certainly nothing wrong with the dts soundtrack.

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

Extras

    The extras can best be described as "wow"! The special features box on the back of the slick occupies more than 20% of the space, and the features are listed in a small typeface. It takes a long time to get through all of this material, but it is an enjoyable exercise. I'm really looking forward to the next DVD featuring these people.

Menu

    The menu is animated, with sound. It has a cute feature of listing things in hieroglyphics, with only the currently selected item visible in English. A little disconcerting, but not hard to use.

Commentary - Stephen Sommers (Director) and Bob Ducsay (Editor)

    This is an interesting commentary,  with most of the talking being done by the director (who also wrote the screenplay). He enjoys talking about the movie, and he conveys a lot of information. Some of the costs he mentions ($125,000 per special effects shot, for example) are quite staggering.

Commentary - Brendan Fraser (Actor)

    I'm glad that Brendan Fraser is a good actor, as he won't make a living doing commentaries. There are lots of gaps where he isn't talking, and some moments when he is busy laughing at the movie. To be fair, though, he does make some excellent points - why does his bag full of guns float? Some of the most interesting comments he makes relate to small changes he was involved in making. His anecdote about being nearly choked to death during the hanging scene would be worrying to the insurers.

Commentary - Oded Fehr (Actor), Kevin J O'Connor (Actor) and Arnold Vosloo (Actor / Mummy Stand-in)

    This is a much more interesting commentary than Brendan Fraser's, but I suspect that part of the reason is that these three get to play off each other. I was expecting to hear more from Arnold Vosloo, but the three seem to get equal shares of time. Kevin J O'Connor sounds a bit less like a weasel when he is not playing Beni. Oded Fehr still sounds impressive. I don't believe we ever got to hear Arnold Vosloo's real voice during the movie, except speaking Ancient Egyptian, so I didn't have a preconceived notion of his voice.

    I think I enjoyed this commentary the most. It was less technical and more chatty, and well worth listening to, even with the occasional plug for the sequel.

Featurette - Building a Better Mummy (47:52)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and not 16x9 enhanced. It begins with a few scenes from the original 1932 movie, to show where they were starting. Stephen Sommers emphasizes the fact that he felt that they had to use state-of-the-art techniques to produce a remake that was more than a remake. He wanted something much more than a man in bandages. More than anything else, this featurette concentrates on the work done by Industrial Light and Magic to make this film look good. Some of the lengths they went to are difficult to credit - animating a human skeleton is bad enough, but then overlaying the musculature and working to ensure that it, too, moved accurately - amazing stuff. I recommend you watch this unless you hate knowing how they do things.

Deleted Scenes (2:14)

    This is a short piece containing three sequences of deleted scenes. They are shown in a non 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.35:1. There's no commentary. It is interesting to see the additional detail these scenes would have added to the movie.

Visual and Special Effects

    This is a special menu where you can choose from five scenes in the movie, and you can see each scene at four stages of production:     The first three versions have commentary from the special effects supervisor - he explains how they achieved some of the effects. The final scene includes the full soundtrack - the comparison between the composited shot (which is visually complete) and the final scene with sound blew me away - I really didn't appreciate how much difference the sound made.

Theatrical Trailer (1:29)

    This trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

Egyptology 101

    This comprises 44 pages of information about ancient Egypt, organized into five categories:

Production Notes

    Ten pages of notes about how this movie came to be, including the fact that Brendan Fraser asked to be included before they had started casting.

Cast and Crew Bios

    The usual level of detail about six of the actors and the director.

Storyboard to Film Comparison

    They did a nice job of this. It contains three scenes, each shown split-screen, with the top half of the screen showing the storyboard for the scene, while the completed scene runs in the bottom half - this is an excellent way to present this material. The three scenes are:

Photograph Montage (4:16)

    This sequence shows stills from the movie, and from behind the scenes, with music. I lost count of the number of photos,  so you'll have to count them yourself, but I warn you - there are a lot of them.

Pharaoh Lineage

    Eleven pages containing information about some of the more noted pharaohs, divided into Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms.

Trailer - Mummy Game (1:16)

    A short trailer for the game. Apparently there's a demo version of the game in the DVD-ROM content of the second disc - I did not investigate.

Featurette - The Mummy Returns (behind the scenes) (11:01)

    I had a look at this out of curiosity. I'd recommend not watching it until after you've seen the movie - it seems to contain some plot spoilers. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Trailer - The Mummy Returns (1:54)

    This is a nice trailer for the sequel. It is presented in an estimated 1.85:1 aspect ratio, not 16x9 enhanced, but with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 edition misses out on: The Region 1 edition misses out on:     The Region 1 disc has a slightly better video transfer, but it is in NTSC. Both versions have Dolby Digital and dts; both have three commentaries; both have all of the extras (and it's a long list!). Difficult to call which is superior - I think you would be pretty happy with either.

    The dual disc Amaray case is nice, because it is the same dimensions as a normal case, so it looks good in the rack. I do wish they'd use those in R4, rather than the bulkier cases for two disc sets.

    I also wish they would stop printing the "DVD User Group" circle on Region 4 slicks - if it were a sticker, I could peel it off.

Summary

    The Mummy: The Ultimate Edition is definitely an Ultimate Edition in terms of content, and, it's a thoroughly enjoyable movie, too.

    The video quality is flawed.

    The audio quality is excellent, and includes both Dolby Digital and dts. Definitely reference quality

    The extras are comprehensive; perhaps the most feature-packed edition released here so far, and the quality of the extras is quite high - there's very little filler.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, June 24, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). 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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Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S

Comments (Add)
Region 4 has small, even blinding (small font) and disspointing subtitles - Jose