Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) have defeated the powerful Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) once, but the old bones don’t want to remain buried it seems. After ten years of marriage and a young son Alex, Rick and Evie have moved on to other things, but the memories of their past adventures have never left them. As they search for relics in an excavation site, Rick and Evie are unaware of what they’re about to discover, as well as who else is looking for the item. The piece is a powerful bracelet, which once belonged to the powerful Scorpion King (The Rock). It is said the bracelet can summon the return of The Scorpion King and if he is somehow defeated, the victor can assume control of his armies. This means the forces can be sent back to the realm of the dead or used to control the entire world, whichever the winner decides to do. And of course, if The Scorpion King should win, he would demolish all people in his path to world domination. As it turns out, a group of people wish to summon The Scorpion King and then have him defeated by Imhotep, perhaps the only force that has the needed powers. So once again, Rick, Evie, and the others have to save the world, but it won’t be as easy this time around…
After the massive success of The Mummy, a sequel seemed natural, but I doubt people expected one that would improve upon the original. I know I didn’t, but The Mummy Returns seems to have all the positive elements from the original, plus the stakes have been raised on all counts. All the important cast members return to their roles, which is vital to a picture like this one, while professional wrestler The Rock is the new player in town. This sequel follows the same formula as the original, which means lots of action, humor, and of course, some romance tossed in, just for good measure. The set pieces and action sequences more than match The Mummy and often surpass it, which is a real compliment to this picture. You’ll see a lot of computer graphics with the special effects, but it usually looks very good, with some exceptions. As before, there is some humor injected that helps achieve an almost camp feel, which I think suits the material very well. I liked this movie a lot and while it not high art, it offers one heck of an adventure, which is enough. Although I think an Ultimate Edition could be in the pipes sometime down the road, I think this Collector’s Edition offers a nice value, so don’t hesitate to check it out, if you’re interested.
Back once again as adventurer Rick O’Connell is Brendan Fraser, who seems even more into the character this second time around. I really enjoyed his performance in The Mummy, but he is much more in tune here, in terms of humor and subtle touches, so by default, his turn is more solid, even if not the kind to win awards with. Fraser looks to be having a lot of fun with his role here, so of course, this means on screen energy and enthusiasm, which are welcome elements in a motion picture like this one. You can also see Fraser in such films as Encino Man, Bedazzled, Airheads, Blast from the Past, and Monkeybone. The cast also includes Rachel Weisz (Beautiful Creatures, Chain Reaction), Arnold Vosloo (Hard Target, Steel Dawn), Oded Fehr (Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo, Bread and Roses), John Hannah (The Hurricane, Sliding Doors), and of course, WWF superstar The Rock as The Scorpion King.
Video: How does it look?
“The Mummy Returns” is presented in a 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer that looks and feels a lot like the first one (as it should). Again, the transfer is saturated with many oranges and browns – earthy tones, so to speak. As with the first installment, much of the film (most, actually) has some sort of cGI’ness to the transfer which does give the film a very unusual, if not very clean, look to it. Flesh tones are warm and natural, though during a few scenes it appeared that the actors were a bit reddish, then again they were in the desert so it might have actually been sunburn as opposed to any fault of the transfer. On the whole, “The Mummy Returns” looks as good as it ever has and it’s the same transfer used for the previous HD DVD. Fans of the movie won’t be disappointed in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
Even more impressive than the video is the audio which is presented in a DTS Master Audio that really never lets up. There are films which have a very “loud” sound to them and then there are those that have these discrete effects which really make the movie come alive (pardon the pun). “The Mummy Returns” seems to encompass both of these, giving us a bang for the buck during the action scenes, of which there are plenty, and the little nuances that really add some depth to the soundtrack. This is one of those movies, like “Twister”, that you can show off what your home theater system is truly capable of and the DTS Master Audio is rapidly becoming my sound mix of choice.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Those familiar with the previous version(s) of “The Mummy Returns” won’t find much new material here, rather it’s the same batch of supplements that were present on the standard DVD and the HD DVD. Still, something is better than nothing and the supplements are rather interesting. We start off with an audio commentary with director Stephen Sommers and his editor as they chat about the actors (namely Frasier and Weitz), the shoot and of course the special effects. It’s a good track for those interested in the film. Two featurettes are included a “Spotlight on Location” which is your typical “Making of…” with interviews and some behind the scenes footage and a supplement on the special effects which I found more interesting. There are some outtakes as well as a music video to boot. Specific to Blu-ray is a picture-in-picture commentary which, like the first film, gets a bit repetitive after a while but is a nice way to use your 1.1 player if you have it. There’s also a preview of “‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” because, well, that’s why we have these movies on Blu-ray to begin with.