Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor - Deluxe Edition (The) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (22nd January 2009).
The Film

I always like to watch things in chronological order. Iím not the kind of person who can just hop into a television series without seeing it from the beginning. This also goes for film series. If a movie has a sequel, I try to watch the first one so I donít miss any references set out in the later chapters. On the rare occasion that I am watching a sequel without the prequel, I tend to feel lost and disoriented, no matter how good the movie is. However, when the movie sucks already, this makes for a pretty spectacular mess.

For whatever reason, I never got around to watching "The Mummy" (1999), its sequel "The Mummy Returns" (2001), or its spin offs "The Scorpion King" (2002) and "The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior" (2008). Iíve actually heard good things from people I trust, so in a way, I was looking forward to "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor". "The Mummy" series has a reputation of being goofy and fun, and the idea of injecting Jet Li (as the titular character) sounded like an incredibly silly and outrageous idea. The end result, however, leaves much to be desired.

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is the third movie in "The Mummy" series, and tells the story of Emperor Han (Jet Li), and how he wants to be immortal. He hires a witch (Michelle Yeoh) to make this so, but she ends up cursing him for killing her lover. The curse turns the emperor, and his entire army, into inanimate clay statues. Flash forward a few hundred years, and Rick (Brendan Fraser), the hero of the trilogy, has retired with his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello), and having battled mummies in two other films, the characters are bored. The coupleís son Alex (Luke Ford), discovers the lost tomb of Emperor Han, and all hell proceeds to break loose, sending Rick and Eve out of retirement to do battle with Han.

With a movie like this, I like to keep my expectations low, wanting it to only be slightly funny and somewhat thrilling. Sadly, even these expectations werenít met. The comedic elements of the film are very simplistic, amounting to gags involving a character being asleep (when you thought they were awake the whole time!). Secondly, I didnít find any of the action in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" to be especially thrilling, mainly because Iím one of those film snobs who scoffs at the over-use of CG, and this movie has a hell of a lot of CG. When real actors are doing elaborate battle with computer generated monsters, when they could have been done practically, my mind tends to shut off, and I wait for the scene to be over. I have a feeling the idea of practical effects never even crossed the mind of director Rob Cohen.

All that this film needed to do was have some half-way decent action with sprinkles of clever comedy, and with this being the third film in a successful trilogy, it was ripe for such a treatment. Sadly, the occasion wasnít risen to, and all I have left is a movie that wasnít even so bad it was entertaining, but rather just boring.

Video

This film is presented in a 1080p 24/fps HD 2.40:1 transfer mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression, and actually looks pretty damn good. The picture takes full advantage of the movies many colorful settings, ranging from a festive Chinese new-year celebration, and some snowy mountains. The colors pop out amazingly well on the screen, and there was little to no excess noise or grain while I was watching the film. Just a really solid transfer.

Audio

The film is presented in an English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 track mastered at 48kHz/24-bit, as well as French and Spanish DTS 5.1 tracks, with optional English, Spanish, and French subtitles. The audio here, like the image, is just really solid. While the action on screen never really thrilled me, my sound system was taken for a ride, with perfect movement around my system, coming out crystal clear to boot. This was especially apparent in the more epic battle that takes place near the filmís close.

Extras

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" comes with a pretty full plate of extras, ranging from an audio commentary track, deleted and extended scenes, a plethora of featurretes as well as some exclusive blu-ray extras. They are further examined below.

DISC ONE:

The feature length audio commentary by Rob Cohen is featured, and like another extra on this disc (the Terra Cotta feature, see below), it was surprising to hear how serious Cohen was about this movie. In many of the other interviews offered on the disc, Cohen comes off as the type of guy who has a tremendous sense of humor about him, but he does not come off this way at all in the commentary, speaking mostly in monotone, and never really delving into interesting anecdotes.

First up are the deleted and extended scenes, which run together as one video for 10 minutes and 45 seconds. For the most part, these extended some of the relationships between characters, and most certainly would have tripped up this film longer than it already should have been, so it was good to see these not in the film, but not that much fun to watch outside of the film.

Next is "The Making of The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" featurette, which runs for 22 minutes and 49 seconds. This is a pretty standard making-of, and includes interviews with cast and crew, offering insight into the fun nature into the film, despite it being a hard shoot to get through. Fraser expresses at one point that Cohen can be really fun sometimes, but at others can be a real hard ass, and thatís about as interesting as that gets.

"From City to Desert" featurette, runs for 15 minutes and 44 seconds, examines the filmís many shooting locations, and how the crew would transform a certain place to fit the film. Again, this is pretty standard, and if youíve seen this sort of thing before, than youíve most likely already seen this.

"Legacy of the Terra Cotta" featurette, runs for 13 minutes and 35 seconds, is a pretty laughable extra in which Cohen talks about the importance of history in his telling of "The Mummy". This is probably the last thing a director should be hung on when making a silly adventure movie like this, and thought it was pretty funny how seriously Cohen was taking the subject matter.

There are a series of Blu-ray exclusive extras on this disc:

First up are the U-Control features which require Profile 1.1 players or greater to access, they include:

- There's a picture-in-picture commentary track, allowing the viewer to watch the film with interviews dispensing much of the information found in the making-ofís.
- "Know Your Mummy" trivia track is included, which is a sort of trivia track game.
- "Emperor's Challenge" interactive game, basically you have to answer a few questions about the series.
- "Scene Explorer" interactive feature allows you to view various stages of key scenes from the film.
- "My Scenes" bookmarks allows you to bookmark you favorite scenes.

Profile 2.0 players can connect online via the BD-Live feature as well.

DISC TWO:

"A Call to Action: The Casting Process" featurette, runs for 4 minutes and 44 seconds, looks at why Jet Li was cast in the film, and why it was so crucial to bring Fraser back to the series.

"Preparing for Battle with Brendan Fraser and Jet Li" featurette, runs for 10 minutes and 41 seconds, is a behind-the-scenes look at the filmís action sequences. I actually found this to be the most interesting featurrette offered in the set, as it has a good amount of rehearsal footage for the action sequences, and while they didnít interest me in the film, I always find it interesting to see actors do the action raw.

"Jet Li: Crafting the Emperor Mummy" featurette, runs for 7 minutes and 59 seconds, offers insight into the choices made surrounding the look and feel of Emperor Han in the film. This feature can be categorized as a bit silly, as crew members express how impressed they were with Cohenís ďliquid-solidĒ philosophy, acting as though the director re-invented the wheel, when really he just made Jet Li CG.

Lastly is "Creating New and Supernatural Worlds" featurette, which runs for 8 minutes and 35 seconds, in which we are offered insight into the filmís impressive set design, something that I actually did find impressive. This, like the choreography feature, is something that actually interests me, as it was more technical in its scope, rather than lauding over meaningless aspects of the film.

There's also a digital copy of the film on this disc for portable devices.

Packaging

This 2-disc set is packaged in an Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: D Video: A Audio: A Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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