Original 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen)
Dolby Digital 5.1
James Jacks, Sean Daniel
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, Kevin J. O'Connor
· "Building a Better Mummy," an in-depth look into the creative and technical processes that brough us the heart-stopping visual effectgs of the film, with director Stephen Sommers, and the crew at Industrial Light and Magic
· Commentary track:
· · Director stephen Sommers and Editor Bob Duscay
· Visual and special effects formation
· Egyptology 101
· Deleted scenes
· Theatrical trailers
· Universal showcase
· DVD-ROM: Interactive Mummy game
· DVD-ROM: 2 Screensavers
· DVD-ROM: Electronic Postcards
· Captions for the deaf and hearing impaired
· Dual layered disc (RSDL)
Reviewer: David J. Draeger and Marc Flemming [Staff]
If you're looking to spend your hard earned dollars on low-key, Oscar-winning-performance, romance stories - then you've come to the wrong place. But, if deep down inside you are like those out there that want to get a convenient bang for your buck in the safety of your own home - then read on! The Mummy, Universal's latest DVD release, offers a disc packed full of extensive extras and a movie so efficiently saturated with visuals and sound that not only will it make the hair stand on the back of your neck, it will undoubtedly bring out the best in your home theater equipment. Indeed, there have been critics who labeledThe Mummy as "so-so". Well, do yourself a favor for the time being and put aside such blasphemy and keep an open mind as is so often necessary. This movie has proven to be extremely entertaining and the sound and visuals are stunningly top-notch as the film industry takes yet another step in the right direction by complimenting silver screen stories with better visual effects. But, there's more - and unfortunately, it's not all good!
Lets lie focus to the story at hand. This infamous bandaged creature has been a horror icon since the earliest days of movie making with the 1932 Boris Karloff classic named after its terrifying star descended from tradition of ancient times. The tattered, limping beast groaning its way from victim to victim is known by most everyone today regardless of one's taste towards the horror genre. Along with the likes of Dracula and Frankenstein, The Mummy has since become a symbol of 'all-things-scary'. With the arrival of the '90's, offering similar products typical of those days are long gone whether it be for better or for worse. We imagine it would involve a bit of both. As is explained in the included long running documentary, Building a Better Mummy, the creature found within the timeframe that is this film is much unlike the stereo-type that the Mummy has become since its debut of old. The creators here have envisioned a beast sculpted after its original 1932 roots - along with a major need for anger management classes added into the formula. This ugly dude is not only a conniving, devious seeker of revenge, he's fast and fierce destined to get the job done. Of course - in a 90's action adventure film - simple make-up and effective lighting won't always get you the desired result these days. Enter mind-warping computer wizards. Tapping the talents of ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), this film's villain is anything but a slow groaning Neanderthal. ILM exercised their creative genius by allowing their imaginations to once again take the helm in an effort to create a CGI presence without drowning the story line. Their allotted freedom shows off well going beyond even the expectations of the film's creators. The story that makes this movie is not anything short of miraculous, yet succeeds in obtaining its goal. The fairly simple and straight forward story involves a conglomerate of individuals pursue treasure and artifacts in the desert lands of Egypt only to uncover and unlock the curse of a very old mummy (what other kind of mummy did you expect?). Why an ancient people would subject a sacrificed and condemned man with such a strange curse allowing the individual powers beyond belief after resurrection - is beyond me - but so it shall be written, so it shall be done. The acting is done effectively, providing the much needed suspense with an underlying tone of humor to keep the more timid of us comfortable. Don't expect Oscar performances, but certainly don't expect to be disappointed. Amongst the conversations I've had surrounding this film, popular belief is that this movie has proven quite entertaining in the least. Of course, let it be known that there within exists a style of comedy that can either come across as fun or just plain silly - highly depending on your expectations and mood. Putting these expectations aside, when you prepare to sit down and preview this film, ready yourself for a wild ride through dark catacombs, dangerous tombs, and lush treasure rooms that wouldn't be complete without your typical booby traps to ruin one's day. Sit back, watch out for those man-eating beetles and you shouldn't have too much of a problem enjoying the DVD version of The Mummy.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track is clean and crisp offering a full range of sounds with excellent separation and depth. There is no shortage of ripping gun fire and other excellent audio bites that compliment the visuals - perfect for home theater enthusiasts. We had the pleasure of reviewing the disc on an associates $30k system which as you might imagine - packs quite the boom-bada-boom. Before previewing the disc we went through an assortment of other movies specifically for the purpose of testing sound quality and becoming accustomed to the atmosphere of the system. Pleasantly, this film stood up quite well against a variety of other excellent selections. The rich detailed sound will impress you and it wouldn't be surprising if this disc became a means of putting many home theater systems through the rounds in front of curious friends and family. The image transfer is nothing other than excellent with rich colors and strong contrast present between the bright sweeping glimpses of the desert to the gloomy depths of underground tunnels. With the overall quality of transfers presented on DVD, it seems almost silly to consider the possibility of a bad transfer on a disc as hyped as this one. What you see is most certainly not disappointing in the slightest. Of course, we are always expecting the envelope to be pushed in image quality and the visuals presented here seem almost flawless when viewed either through a standard television with a down-converted letterboxed image, or the anamorphic transfer via a PC monitor or high definition projection system.
The content of this DVD is packed with the usual language, subtitle and scene selection menus as well as a special features menu containing a wealth of extras typical of a Universal Collector's Edition disc. It is within these menus that you may enjoy anything from loads of historical information on the many facets of ancient Egypt to a breakdowns of how the visual effects were developed for a variety of scenes in a step by step process building from the basics to the final result. We found this particular feature of the extras very interesting. The 40 minute behind-the-scenes documentary, Building a Better Mummy, provides extensive information about the production in which the film creators, representation of ILM, and the actors involved explain their take on resurrecting the feel of the original The Mummy as it undergoes a '90's style face-lift. You'll even be given a chance to check out Arnold Vosloo (portrayed the cursed Imhotep) with hair. Can you ask for anything more? There's a full length running commentary with director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Duscay. There are even an array of deleted scenes, some of which leave you wondering why they might have cut them from the final version at all. What some people might find interesting are the trailers found deep within (well, not terribly deep). These trailers being for Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest, End of Days and Kevin Costner's latest attempt at being a baseball player in For the Love of the Game. All of the discs features are easily accessible through the well done menus which are nicely animated with partial segments of the soundtrack to back 'em.
More and more discs lately have strutted their stuff with not only a whole host of extra features being found within the accessible menu system, but also in the way of DVD-ROM functionality that adds a splendid means of getting even more for the money. For reasons such as these, we still chuckle down deep when we hear word of anyone purchasing VHS. Yes, DVD-ROM content for DVD movies is still in its infant stages and isn't always very exciting, but it has great potential - and definitely some bugs to work out. Setting up the PC Friendly interface was fairly painless, but not completely without some hitches and glitches. For those of you unfamiliar with the concepts behind DVD-ROM content, normally such materials are simply made up of more information covering the actors, crew, and further background materials relevant to the production. An interface, such is that delivered by PC Friendly, provides a means of browsing related web sites' additional menu systems and it even allows you to watch the film - although we have to admit we saw much less stability in the image presented within this interface than the usual program we use. Upon attempting to watch the movie through the PC Friendly interface the first time, a message screen, complete with a Universal logo, indicated that the parental level of my DVD-ROM would not allow me to watch this movie. The message went on to suggest that we "please eject the disc". At that moment, the program refused to respond leaving our computer dead in the water - until we killed the DVD-ROM session by other means. Upon checking the settings of my DVD-ROM, all parental settings were disabled as we had assumed. Gee, that's odd. Giving it a go the second time was enough to get the intended result, yet finding any reason why it initially responded in this manner escapes us. This disc contained much more information on the production of the film and a further assortment of extra materials. The disc offered two screen savers, icons for your desktop, a number of images to act as wallpaper for your PC, and even a procedure that allows you to send post cards sporting images from the movie to your friends via email. We gave it a go by sending a post card to one of our own email addresses. Upon submitting the card, we were given a number of errors along the lines of, "Error reading directory structure 'this' and error finding file 'that', code #86403-B - congratulations, your post card has been sent!" Somehow we didn't think so. Hours later and we have yet to receive it. Finally, there is also a small and simple game included with the DVD-ROM content. By no means was it at all difficult, even though under the circumstances of the game it appeared as though we were losing - we finished victoriously within 5 minutes or less. Absolutely zero replay value - but, what do we expect? More intelligent games with deeper gameplay would be a big plus down the road. In conclusion, DVD-ROM content is very informative, but lacks the stability and reliability to be very effective in an interactive sense at the present time.
Apart from our flustered impression of the DVD-ROM content of this disc, the entire package presents a very complete picture of what DVD has to offer now. This release of The Mummy is definitely a step above the rest and a formidable contender for becoming one of the better releases to ever join the DVD family. If you're a fan of visual effects, some of what awaits you will leave you breathless. If you've seen it in the theater, with the new additions - you'll like it better in your living room. If you have yet to see the film, you won't be disappointed with what you see nor with what you learn in the process of previewing the library of included information. And that goes for just about anyone who needs a little mummy in their life. ... Sound cute, maybe? Take one look at this guy - and you tell us.