Mummy: Deluxe Edition (The) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (30th July 2008).
The Film

This is a fun, rousing adventure movie, simple as that. Writer/director Steven Sommers hasn't done a movie this enjoyable before or since, and I doubt he will. He had a tremendous love of the original mummy movie from 1932, and it can really be seen in this movie. This is a passion project, and it has all the elements of such. The comedy, horror and adventure combine to make this a movie enjoyable for everybody. Like you may expect, the movie is about a mummy awakened, wreaking havoc, and the efforts of one Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and John (John Hannah) in his attempts to stop this mummy.

This is categorized as horror only because mummies are involved. The filmmakers took out all the really scary bits because they wanted the PG-13 rating. You do have some scary parts, but they’re preceded, followed or involved by funny bits. Besides, the tone is very light, taking away any real suspense the director tried to muster. It's much closer to the movies of Ray Harryhausen than the original Karl Freund classic. This is fine, because although the movie may not be scary, at least it's exciting, coupled with an amazing sense of wonder.

Helping with this sense are the wonderful effects by ILM. They recreate 1920's Egypt, rained down fire and brimstone and create thousands of little beetles running and scurrying, trying to eat away at whatever flesh they can jump on. The effects didn't win any awards because they're pretty easy to spot – everything dull is practical, everything shiny is CG, but the shots are so complex that you're in awe of the breadth of some of the vistas and designs. The pace is really quick, though, so as soon as you spot something fake-looking, something else happens and your mind goes to the new kinds of trouble Mr. Fraser is in.

The movie is not without its faults; the dialogue and acting are kind of corny and the logic and authenticity are out of whack, but to me that just appeals to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the movie. Even if the tone is goofy at times, I find it endearing. The actors, always throwing a wink at you, never veer into camp territory, which is something only certain actors can pull off without making the movie look silly. Being a big fan of the genre and having great respect for his influences (which can be seen in the movie), Mr. Sommers' directing is spot-on. He knows which clichés and which conventions work and uses this to his advantage. Everything combines for something really fun, not silly. As I've said, adventure, not goose bumps, was on the mind of Steven Sommers when directing this movie.

This, unfortunately, is probably going to be Stephen Sommers'' crowning achievement. It's the best movie he’s done and, based on 'Van Helsing', probably the best he'll do. The good part is that this movie is done, and although he may never do something better, 'The Mummy' has tremendous replay value. It can be watched many times, and stays entertaining throughout all those hours, always being a rousing and fun adventure.

Video

2.35:1 widescreen, using the VC-1 codec. The picture here is very impressive. The only real problem I noticed is some extremely slight edge enhancement in certain scenes. Other than that, the picture is so good that it actually shows the limitations of the digital effects. The standard DVD showed a very nice picture, but here, the computer effects, especially the sweeping backgrounds, look quite fuzzy and not up to par. The skin tones are pretty accurate and the various yellows and oranges of the desert sand come through with nice contrast and accuracy. The dark scenes show good detail and smooth colour transitions. The black levels themselves are very dark and provide the right atmosphere. Daytimes scenes are appropriately bright, showing colours that pop without being showy. The picture also looks very film-like, as well, making for an overall great presentation.

Audio

The main track is as English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. DTS 5.1 tracks are also available in French and Spanish. The lossless track is very good, and is on par with the video. The movie is pretty active throughout, and there's never a moment where the track doesn't do the movie justice. From the start, the dialogue is always clear and audible, with good volume levels. The sandstorms whiz and pan across your speakers flawlessly. The screams and other sounds are mixed in very well, though the differentiation between important and trivial sounds may be a bit low, and some sounds are a bit too loud when they shouldn't be. The score booms out of every speaker, generating some nice lower end. The subwoofer is very tight and isn't used uselessly, only booming out when it has to. It's a very nice track, adding a great deal of excitement to the movie.
English (HoH), French and Spanish subtitles are here.

Extras

It took a while for Universal to get into the Blu-ray camp, but now that they're releasing titles, they're going at it pretty voraciously. This includes all the extras from the HD DVD release (and of the Ultimate Edition released back in 2001, with the exception of the text-based extras found on that release).

First are three commentary track. The first is with writer/director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsay. For those who like this kind of information, this is the very first commentary I ever listened to, back when the Collector's Edition was the only version available. It's a very enjoyable track, and still one I remember from way back when. They pair talk about everything you can imagine, from effects work, to actors to shooting locations to filming methods. They talk throughout the track and offer up tons of great information. If you enjoyed the movie in any way, this track will be very nice. The second track is a solo effort by actor Brendan Fraser. Mr. Fraser, in his monotone voice, talks about the various locations and gives out little quips in various scenes. He does leaves gaps here and there in the commentary, but and when he talks, it’s not always the most interesting thing, like his laughing at his own comments, but he does give an overall good track. It's not the most interesting, but it's nice to hear what he thinks of some of the aspects of the movie and what comments he finds funny. The last one is by actors Oded Fehr, Arnold Vosloo and Kevin J. O'Connor. This trio is all together, so as far as group tracks go, it's pretty nice. They had a great time shooting the movie, and you can hear the fun they had through this track. Like the others, they give out some very funny behind the scene stories, as well stories about the location shoot, and the various other actors. They also point out shots they like (or shots that annoy them), and, of course, mention how much fun making the movie was. It's a shame John Hannah couldn't be a part of this, but this is still another fun track to listen to.

Next are about 2 1/2 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes. You see the gang travelling in the desert, getting ready for the trip and unearthing mummies. The scenes do bridge small gaps in logic (pointed out in the director and editor commentary), though most people will miss these small problems. These scenes are probably better on the cutting room floor.

There's also the 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor' Sneak Peek, which is nothing more than a 3-minute promo piece. All the main actors talk about how great the movie is going to be, while you see some behind the scenes clips, so it’s nothing special. The film clips they show are also nothing you haven't seen in trailers, either.

Some Visual and Special Effects Formation are next. Five movie clips are shown in four different steps. You can choose to view the plate photography, the different visual effects elements, the composited shot, and the final feature sequence. These steps are shown in 'City of Thebes' (0:38, 3:30, 0:55, 0:44), 'Scarab Burial' (0:13, 0:26, 0:12, 0:14), 'Serious Trouble' (0:07, 0:37, 0:04, 0:15), 'Imhotep Eats Scarab' (0:17, 0:42, 0:10, 0:13) and 'Rick Rescues Evelyn' (0:22, 0:47, 0:18, 0:32 ). Each clip has commentary by one of the visual effects guys, John Betton. His comments are pretty nice, explaining the process, while you see the different scenes. The An Army to Rule the World, Part 1 featurette is next. This is a rather short featurette, glossing over the process by which they made the mummy army. The editor and director talk about why they didn't go for bandages, instead choosing CGI. They also talk about the humour in the scene. Other than that, there's not much more to this 4-minute featurette.

Unraveling the Legacy of 'The Mummy' (8:07) is a featurette that tracks the history of the Universal mummy movies, starting with the 1932 version. This only takes a small portion, though, and the last 5 minutes focuses on 1999's 'The Mummy' and 2001's 'The Mummy Returns'. Various people talk about the mummy movies, and what they think about them. Some special effects people on the Stephen Sommers movies talk about the effects and how big the newer movies are. This is just a fluff piece, though starts off pretty nicely.

Building a Better Mummy (49:55) is the best featurette of the set, and though it starts out with cheesy EPK-type talking head interviews with the main crew and star, it goes to give a great deal of information on the effects work. The various model-makers and visual effects guys talk about how they conceived the mummy, even before casting Arnold Vosloo, and how the mummy evolved through to filming. Then you see in great detail how the bone, muscles and skin were created, and how the rotting skin was added, as well. 'Compositing', 'motion caption' and 'markers' are words you hear throughout these explanations. You also hear Mr. Vosloo and his thoughts on his performance. You also see how the scarabs, the sand effects and fight sequences were created. This is a very informative and well-rounded documentary.

Some Storyboard to Film Comparison are next. 'Anubis Chamber' (1:40), 'Desert Sandstorm' (1:59), 'The Sahara' (1:53), 'Final Fight' (0:49), 'Hangman's Noose' (1:45), 'Scarab Run' (0:21) and 'Trouble in Cairo' (1:05) show that the filmmakers knew exactly what they wanted before they started shooting the movie. The storyboards and the film are pretty close together, save for angles. The Photograph Montage (4:18) finishes off the repeat extras. A piece of score plays over various film frames from the movie and promo pictures.

The only High-definition exclusive is Universal's U-Control track. This is the first my first encounter with Universal’s U-Control thingy and this is mostly picture-in-picture commentary with various actors and crew members, with a lot of behind the scenes footage. It also includes some storyboards. Some of the video clips and storyboards are seen in the extras, but a lot of the material is new. Some of it definitely feels promo piece, but some of the effects talk is pretty nice. There are also too many dead spots, sometimes entire chapters being free of commentary. Overall, I preferred the commentaries, but this is a nice effort.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: A- Audio: A Extras: A Overall: A-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.