Honestly, was anyone really surprised when Universal announced a sequel to the ultra successful (and ultra-good) film The Mummy? The easiest comparison one can make is that Universal was trying to create their Indiana Jones series ala Fox. Even though neither Mummy film will EVER approach the quality of any of the Indiana Jones films (even the weakest Temple of Doom), The Mummy films, especially The Mummy Returns, are damn fun to watch.
Rick Oï¿½Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) are a happily married adventure seeking couple. Having just returned from another treasure hunting trip (this time looking for the bracelet of Anubis). We zip to another scene where we learn that Anuksunamun is trying to bring her old love Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) back to life. The only big problem is that this particular year, 1933, happens to be the year of the Scorpion (a little back-story is that The Scorpion King sacrificed his soul to the god Anubis in exchange for victory over his enemies). If someone gets a hold of this bracelet and puts it on, The Scorpion King will rise in seven days (which is exactly what Imhotep and company want as they hope to steal The Scorpion Kingï¿½s power). Well imagine what exactly happens and you have a pretty solid (if loop-holed) film.
Speaking of loop-holes, I found it interesting how this film never cared to explain what exactly the curator of the British Museum hopes to receive from Imhotep. Also, what are those random warriors doing? What is their purpose? Are they just servants of Imhotep? This is just a few of the inconsistencies I found between the first film (also how did Anuksunamun come back to life?) and this sequel. While these inconsistencies take away a bit from the overall impact of the film, I still found the film entertaining enough.
I had feared that the generic adding of a child into the loop would kill this film. Luckily for everyone involved, the addition of Rickï¿½s son adds a bit of humor and charm to the film. Every sequence heï¿½s involved usually ends up being smile cracking fun. I suppose what makes him so funny is that he loves adventure even more than his parents and is always seeking new fun (pretty intense for an 8yr old). Alex wants nothing more than for Rick to include his son in his adventures (and vice-versa with Rick).
Carrying a heftier budget (probably due to the success of the first film), The Mummy Returns is a CGI-heavy film that constantly relies on these effects to help tell its story. Wow does that sound like a negative sentence or what? Even though it may sound negative, the CGI effects used in this film were convincing enough (especially Anubisï¿½ warriors, which looked every bit as scary as you might think).
I was very surprised by this one when I saw it back in 2001 in theaters. I figured (as per the typical sequel), weï¿½d get a dumbed down, stupid action fest with varying explosions. Instead of relying on these aforementioned typical sequel qualities, The Mummy Returns is a film that always seems to pleasure regardless of time span between viewings.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, The Mummy Returns was a fine spectacle throughout.
Color was vibrant, crisp and powerful throughout. I particularly liked how the brightness was improved. I feared that all the bright exterior desert sequences would result in a lot of EE. Such isnï¿½t the case here as every exterior sequence from the opening battle to the closing minutes looked great. Detail was exquisite here as every little detail (take a look the sequence with Imhotepï¿½s rebirth around 40 minutes in) was perfect. Heck even my brother (who isnï¿½t the biggest video guy) noticed a big improvement here (trust me too heï¿½s seen this film a dozen or so times). Fleshtones were great as well.
Grain was kept in check with the grain levels only becoming noticeable in the filmï¿½s darker sequences (when Rick is battling The Scorpion King). The sequence were Rick and company are traveling in a hot air balloon was amazing. Maybe itï¿½s just me, but I found myself quite amazed at the clarity here, as each cloud seemed almost like a clear window. Great stuff. Besides the slight grain, The Mummy Returns looks great throughout.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, The Mummy Returns sounded fantastic throughout giving us crisp, clean, loud audio.
Dialogue was clear and intelligible throughout the film, which was a pleasant surprise as I figured with all the gun shots and roaring some of the dialogue would become muddled. Surround usage was, in a word, amazing. Watch the opening sequence here with The Scorpion King and his army rushing in. Wow was my only reaction here as swords clanged, bodies flew and soldiers screamed! Dynamic Range was also impressive as even the littlest sound effect (like the blowing of the sand) created a zipping effect throughout my living room.
I suppose I love the audio so much because Iï¿½ve always loved the filmï¿½s score by composer Alan Silvestri. As Rick and Evie blow away monster after monster, Alan really pumped up the audio giving us that heroic type of music that gets up and ready to fight. The only real fault I can pose here is that Universal should have really included a Dolby TrueHD option here. The fuller range of audio would have truly sounded perfect for the action-adventure ride that this film was. Otherwise from that, this is one of Universalï¿½s strongest audio titles to date.
- Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Stephen Sommers and Executive Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay: The two participants here discuss topics ranging from production design to technical elements. I enjoyed how light and funny both of these men were as they provided us with a rather laidback approach instead of the usual ï¿½Iï¿½m the bestï¿½ approach. I loved the little poke at Roger Ebert though (Ebert didnï¿½t completely enjoy the film). Worth a listen for fans of the film.
- Spotlight on Location: The Making of The Mummy Returns: This 20 minute feature shows us various movie clips with the stars and varying cast members. Typical promotional fluff that makes the film feel as if it was the second coming.
- Visual and Special Effects Formation: The four examined scenes are ï¿½Imhotep Returnsï¿½, ï¿½Pygmy Mummies Attackï¿½, ï¿½Anubis Warriors Risingï¿½, and ï¿½Scorpion King Revealedï¿½. Of the four sequences, I enjoyed the ï¿½Anubis Warriors Risingï¿½ the most as the scene is kick ass.
- Music Video: Here we get the music video for the song ï¿½Forever May Not Be Long Enoughï¿½ by the band Live. A solid piece by a great band.
- Outtakes: Here we get 6 minute of varying outtakes. Like most outtakes these are boring and not worth your time.
While The Mummy Returns isnï¿½t the smartest film in recent times, Iï¿½ll fully admit itï¿½s a damn blast to watch especially on this HD DVD release since it boasts fine picture and fantastic audio. While not all of the SD DVD features werenï¿½t ported over fans will still be happy enough with this release to warrant an upgrade. Recommended
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Stephen Sommers and Executive Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay
- Spotlight on Location: The Making of The Mummy Returns
- Visual and Special Effects Formation
- Live’s “Forever May Not Be Long Enough” Music Video