For reasons unknown to me, I’ve never really gotten into “The Mummy” franchise of movies. And with the third installment due out this summer, I think it’s safe to call the movie a franchise. After all it has already inspired a spin-off in “The Scorpion King” which, of course, is a major component of a movie franchise these days. The films aren’t bad in the least; they have high-flying action, CGI effects out the wazoo and plenty of action and adventure. To me, they just feel “manufactured” and that’s about the best way I can describe it. Nevertheless, when Universal finally put out Blu-ray movies wouldn’t you know that three or their inaugural four were “The Mummy”, “The Mummy Returns” and “The Scorpion King” (the fourth being “Doomsday”). Granted, this is no coincidence with the latest film just around the corner, but after nearly a decade I decided to sit down and give the film another shot.
The movie is loosely based on a film of the same name from 1932 and the plot doesn’t deter too much from that one. We meet Rick O’Connell (Brendan Frasier), an American serving in the French foreign legion who can’t help but stay out of trouble. He winds up with Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) and the trio is interested in trying to discover the lost city of Hamunaptra. Little do they know that another team is interested in the same thing and they’re playing for keeps. Rick mistakenly awakens the “Mummy” who we met in the prologue of the film and, as they say, he’s back and he’s madder than hell. Chaos ensues and now Rick, Jonathan and Evelyn are fighting to get out alive and keep the mummy hot off their tails.
After watching the film again, I have to admit that it was a little better the second time around. Try not to take everything too literally and just sit back and enjoy the action (what, you mean you’re supposed to suspend your disbelief while watching a movie?) and it’s a good ride. I’ve been a fan of Rachel Weisz for years and though she’s gone onto bigger and better things, I had totally forgotten that she was in this movie. Granted she now has the moniker of “Academy Award Winner” attached to her, but she did a good job here and she and Frasier played off each other very nicely. If you can handle all the CGI effects and are in the mood for an “Indiana Jones” knockoff, you could do a lot worse than “The Mummy.”
Video: How does it look?
“The Mummy” makes its second appearance on an HD format (third if you count the ill-fated DVHS issue from a few years back) and we get the same 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer that appeared on the HD DVD. This transfer is a bit tricky to assign a score to. On one hand, there are some truly startling shots that really give a true depth to the picture. Then there are some shots that seem a bit blurry and make me wonder if I’m watching the standard DVD. Then again, the movie is so laden with CGI effects, it’s really hard to tell what’s the “fault” of the transfer and what the print was like to begin with. On the whole, there are plenty of brown hues and ones (much like “Sahara”) which can be a nightmare to watch or very pleasant. “The Mummy” is on the right side of the curve as I found the overall quality to be above average.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio, on the other hand, is a different story. The HD DVD (and before that, the standard DVD) contained a Dolby Digital track that was good, but not great. We now get a DTS Master audio lossless track and it really makes all the difference. Dialogue is rich and robust and I don’t think nary a scene went by that the surrounds weren’t emitting some sort of effect. The battle and fight scenes are obviously the heart of the film and they sound amazing, with clanging, bashing and even a few explosions here and there. Plenty of gunfire resonates as well and this all adds up to an amazing audio experience.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“The Mummy” came out on standard DVD at least twice with different features on both discs, so it’s a literal crap shoot as to what would be on this Blu-ray disc. Universal has released the same version as their HD DVD with some HD extras. We start out with no less than three audio commentaries. The first is with director Stephen Sommers and his editor as they talk about the shoot, the visual effects and the overall giddiness of them making the movie. Two more tracks are included with Brenden Frasier doing one solo (which tends to have plenty of holes in it) and the third with actors Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O’Connell and Arnold Vosloo. The first track is the one to listen to if you’re at all interested in a commentary for this movie.
We get a 50 minute documentary “Building a Better Mummy” which encompasses the shoot of the movie, a lot of talk on the CGI effects of the film and some interviews with the actors. This is actually quite interesting if you’re a fan of the film, and it’s the same documentary which appeared on the standard DVD releases. No new material here. We get three featurettes which feature storyboard to screen comparisons, a few deleted scenes (in montage form, no less) and one on the visual effects. There’s also a montage of photographs as well. Finally, we get some exclusive Blu-ray content with a picture-in-picture commentary. This is fairly interesting, tough we’re already getting used to (as in spoiled) with these and I personally clamor for more. If you’ve watched all of the material on the Blu-ray so far, a lot of this information is redundant, but it’s a nice touch. We also get a sneak peek at the new film “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” which isn’t there by coincidence, I’m guessing.