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Mummy Returns, The Print E-mail
Monday, 04 August 2008
ImageIn 1999, “The Mummy” became a box-office success, grossing $155 million domestically and $415 million worldwide.  Naturally, Universal agreed to a sequel, “The Mummy Returns”.  The sequel was released in 2001 and was an even bigger hit than the first, ending up at about $433 million worldwide.  While doing well at the box-office, the film was panned by many of the industry’s top critics.  While not a masterpiece, the film does have many great qualities and thus I cannot agree with the negative critics out there.  The film is good fun with great tie-ins to the original plot and characters, which apparently is not the case with the new “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”

Stephen Sommers, who wrote and directed the first film, returns to write and direct the sequel.  Bob Ducsay also returns as chief editor of the sequel.  And the best part is that the full original cast returns for this installment.  Filled with even more action and visual effects, “The Mummy Returns” will delight audiences of all types.

The sequel takes place in 1933, about 12 years after the first film’s setting.  Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) are married and have a son, Alex (Freddie Boath).  The film opens with the O’Connell family on an archeological dig, where Evie beings to demonstrate some bizarre behavior.  Meanwhile, another team back at Hamunaptra is excavating, looking for the books and Imhotep, all which were lost at the end of the first film in a giant implosion of sand.  The O’Connell’s discovery of a sacred box containing an ancient bracelet leads to attacks upon the family for possession of box.
When Alex is abducted by their enemies, Rick and Evie, along with Evie’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah) and friend Ardeth (Oded Fehr) set out to find their son and stop an ancient evil from rising up.  Before the time of Imhotep, the Scorpion King had made a deal with the dark god of death, Anubis.  The god gave him command of his army, but once the Scorpion King’s enemy was destroyed, Anubis claimed the Scorpion King’s soul and imprisoned him.  Now that Imhotep has returned, and during the year of the scorpion nonetheless, he plans to raise the Scorpion King and kill him so that he can take control of Anubis’ army and take over the world.  With the bracelet stuck on Alex’s wrist, the boy must lead the way, but not before leaving breadcrumbs for his parents to follow.  They have seven days to find the oasis of Ahm Shere and destroy the Scorpion King themselves so they can send Anubis’ army back to hell.

All the characters the return in this film, and they bring with them new strength for each.  Evie has evolved from her naïve self and become a wonderful mother and wife, while still retaining her inquisitive nature and sassiness.  Rick is still a charmer and adventurer, but has learned responsibility in the form of being a father.  Both Rachel and Brendan deliver stellar performances for an action/adventure film, not too mention a sequel.

The script is also decent.  The plot moves along nicely, with plenty of action.  This sequel keeps the realm of the plot related to the first film, which is quite refreshing.  Using the same characters and giving them a new adventure is a recipe for success.  The striking visuals of the film is just icing on the cake.

I am happy to report that the video quality of “The Mummy Returns” is much improved over the first film.  While the quality of the first film on Blu-ray was adequate, this film’s video quality is outstanding.  The transfer is the same as that of the HD DVD release, but with slightly higher bitrates.  The details are sharper than ever, even in the CGI-created, outdoor landscapes, which usually suffer from soft images.   The colors are wonderfully warm and cohesive.  The saturation is nearly perfect, making fleshtones very full.  Black levels are terrific, with much of the details being preserved in the dark scenes.  Grain is not an issue at all.  My only gripe with the video has to do with the matting of the actors in CGI created scenes.  Often the contrast between the two is too high, taking the viewer out of the film for several moments.  This also holds true for the painted face of the The Rock on the CGI created Scorpion King, which looks incredibly cheesy.  All in all though this is one of the best discs for reference material that I have seen in quite some time.

The audio quality is also improved over the previous film’s Blu-ray release.  Much of it has to do with the original mix.  The dynamics are incredible, with no trouble in regards to dialogue volume balance.  The soundfield is fully enveloping throughout the film.  The atmosphere is always present in the surround channels.  The subwoofer always delivers a great performance with a tight and deep LFE track.  The music score is well integrated, only emphasized at the right moments.  There is no clipping present on this audio track.  This is one of the best audio tracks on Blu-ray to date.  It is most definitely worthy of being demo material.  Listen to this audio track at theater volume and you will be blown away.

The supplemental features of this Blu-ray disc follow the same pattern as the features on the first film’s Blu-ray release.  Instead of deleted scenes, there are some clever outtakes.  There is only one feature commentary on this disc.  The commentary with writer/director Stephen Sommers and editor/producer Bob Ducsay is extremely enthusiastic, but fairly standard.  As with the first film, this disc contains a sneak peak of the third installment of The Mummy series.  The “An Army to Rule the World, Part 2” picks up where Part 1 on the first disc leaves off.  Other featurettes include: “Unraveling the Legacy of the Mummy,” “Visual and Special Effects Formation,” “An Exclusive Conversation with The Rock,” “Spotlight on Location: The Making Of,” “Storyboard to Final Film Comparison.”  And finally there is a music video of the theme, “Forever May Not Be Long Enough” by Live.  Exclusive to all the Universal Blu-ray discs are U-Control and My Scenes.

“The Mummy Returns” has received a bad rap from critics, but I believe that those critics were expecting too much.  The film fits nicely with the first film, continuing the characters’ stories.  The visual effects were improved over the first film and the audio track is outstanding.  I would definitely recommend this movie to add to your collection, both for its visual/auditory qualities, but also the movie itself

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