It was the Universal Horror classics of the 30’s and 40’s that baptized me into the world of films forever. Although I wasn’t born when these films were made, like the creatures they portrayed, they came back to life for me on TV Shock Theaters and the writing of Forrey Ackerman. Now Universal has once again resurrected one of its marquee monsters for a new generation of fans. The fusion of modern-day CG effects and an Indiana Jones flair for adventure make this a remake worth viewing.The film was an unexpected gem for both Universal and fans.
Rick O’Connell (Fraser) has a secret. He happens to know where the legendary city of Hamunaptra, The City of The Dead, is located. Evie (Weisc) a frustrated librarian saves O’Connell’s life so that he can lead her there. Once in the fabled city Evie awakens the 3000 year old Mummy of Imhotep, now bent on resurrecting his long dead lover, Ank-Su-Namen and unleashing Hell on Earth. Our heroes must fight Biblical plagues and sword-bearing mummies to put an end to the ways of Imhotep.
The DVD’s primary audio track is Dolby Digital 5.1. The highlight of the audio is the method used to spread Goldsmith’s epic musical score over all of the system’s speakers. You will find generally fine separation most of the time during the film. There are rare moments when battle scene explosions bury the more subtle audio details.
There is a commentary track that features Stephen Sommers and Editor Bob Ducsay. This track is very easy to listen to and offers several humorous anecdotes from the film’s set. The track is mostly conversational in nature and provides more than adequate details of the technical aspects of the shoot.
The Mummy is presented in its widescreen aspect ration of 2.35:1. I know there is also a Pan&Scan release but I don’t suspect those panoramic vistas could be done any justice in that format. The color in this transfer is truly breathtaking at times. The detail are vivid without the expected flaws with so much CG work. There is virtually no washing of color in the super bright sandy scenes and in the tombs the blacks are rich and detailed. The blend of CG and live action is close to flawless. The print was clean and there was no visual edge distortion.
There are a few bonus extras wrapped in this DVD. The best is a feature entitled “Building a Better Mummy” which takes you behind the camera for a fascinating process using Vosloo as an actor in the scene and employing the CG title character over the actor’s performance.
There is another effects featurette that deals mostly with the CG scarabs. Plenty of text based information abounds in a feature on Egyptology. There are merely 3 deleted scenes and they offer little to the film. “Universal Showcase” is a shameless plug for other Universal products. It is unfortunate that these ads are being billed as bonus features. A slight complaint would be the menus themselves. The studio tried to be clever by having each item appear as glyphs until you highlight them. Frankly it just makes it harder to navigate when you can’t read it unless it is selected.
As a fan of Karloff’s original portrayal of Imhotep I was not disappointed with this film. It does not sink into the need for gore to get its scares. I was pleased to note several moments of homage to the original, most notable the wrapping of Imhotep filmed shot for shot as the original. Mark Twain once said that all honest stories end with death. In the mummy we’re promised that “Death is only the beginning”.