|Available at Amazon.com|
Just in time to capitalize on the August release of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Universal has released a new two-disk edition of the 1999 movie that started the franchise. This edition boasts tons of extra features, including three separate commentary tracks and lengthy featurettes on the special effects. For some this serves as a good opportunity to finally buy a copy, but for others, this is a moment to decide whether to upgrade. So, is this new edition of The Mummy worth buying, or should people hold on to their old copy?
Now chances are that the majority of people reading this are already familiar with the story, but for the few who have been doing other things the past nine years, I’ll give a quick recap. This version of The Mummy is Stephen Sommers attempt to remake the classic Boris Karloff film, although the two bear little resemblance to each other. Instead of a straight monster movie like Coppola’s remake of Dracula, Sommers creates a hybrid monster/adventure film that in some respects feels more like an Indiana Jones movie than anything else. The movie starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz and was an instant summer hit, spawning a sequel and a spin-off (The Scorpion King), both of which paled considerably compared to the original.
The Mummy is a fun movie, but it really doesn’t deserve this deluxe treatment. Most of the movies that earn this are ones that have cult status, like Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and of course the Star Wars movies. I just don’t see The Mummy having the same following. In the end, this looks and feels like a quick attempt to make a buck off the new movie.
This was a big summer movie back in 1999 and naturally the audio and visual aspects are top notch. The movie was presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and the video is crisp and clear. The audio tracks are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and they call come through clearly with practically no overlap and good directionality.
Feature Commentary with Director Stephen Sommers and Editor Bob Ducsay
Most of my regular readers (all two of them) know that I’m not a big fan of commentary tracks. I’ve found that they all pretty much say the same thing and none of it very interesting. This track is no different. Some people may find this interesting, but quite frankly it’s not enough to recommend buying this DVD.
Feature Commentary with Brendan Fraser
This commentary track is the exception to the rule. Fraser is funny and makes this enjoyable to listen to. And on a side note, Fraser talks in a hushed voice like he’s in a library, which makes him even funnier.
Feature Commentary with Actors Obed Fehr, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Arnold Vosloo
This one is the middle child of the commentary tracks—more interesting than the one with Sommers and Ducsay, but less so than Fraser’s.
Deleted Scenes (cumulative running time: 2:20)
There were only three deleted scenes, and none of them were really worth watching. One was Rick and Evey riding through the desert. The second was the cowboys taking off on the ship toward Hamunaptra. And the third was Ardeth kicking some mummy butt.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek (running time: 3:02) – Most of this featurette was scenes from the new movie interspersed with talk about how this Mummy was going in an entirely new direction. Supposedly this was the largest Western movie shot in China.
An Army to Rule the World—Part 1 (running time: 4:03) – This makes me think of Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part 1 in that there is no part two (at least not on this edition). In this one the moviemakers talk about mummy design and how they wanted to get away from the whole “guy wrapped in bandages” design.
Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy (running time: 8:08) – Sommers talks about the history of Universal’s monster movies and The Mummy‘s place within that history.
Visual and Special Effects Fomation (cumulative running time: 8:00) – The special effects people run through five scenes and detail the process of creating the effects from initial design to the finished product.
Building a Better Mummy (running time: 49:52) – Long, long, long, long, long. Most of this featurette consisted of special effects people talking about how they were going to give the Mummy the sleek veneer of the 1990s. Some parts of it were interesting, but it just went on for too long.
Storyboard to Final Film Comparison (running time: 6:23) – Several key scenes were compared with the original storyboards. I found this rather boring, but this may appeal to people who are more interested in the filmmaking process.
Photograph Montage (running time: 4:19) – I’ve never quite understood the photo montage extra feature. To me, this is something that belongs in a book about the movie, not as a DVD extra.
Egyptology 101 – This is my favorite of the extra features. The feature is broken down into different categories like “Artifacts” and “The Gods.” Each submenu gives text information on various parts of Egyptian culture in rather good detail. This serves as an interesting primer to Egypt and its people.
Pharoah Lineage – Like Egyptology 101, Pharoah Lineage gives text information. It’s broken down into three distinct timelines: The Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom.
Theatrical Trailer (running time: 2:18)
While I like The Mummy, there’s not really anything to say in favor of this edition. The movie hasn’t been remastered, and none of the extra features are what I’d think of as must-haves. You’re better off finding the $5.00 version at Wal-Mart. Not recommended.
Universal presents The Mummy Two-Disc Deluxe Edition. Directed by Stephen Sommers. Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, and Kevin J. O’Connor. Written by Stephen Sommers. Running time: 125 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: July 8, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.