DVD Brief: The Mummy
Description: Delightfully entertaining horror-adventure-thriller (with great touches of comedy/whimsy) about a beautiful librarian (radiant Rachel Weisz) who searches for the Egyptian City of the Dead with her loopy brother and a reluctant hero of an ex-Legionnaire (Brendan Fraser), inadvertently setting loose on the world the 3,000 year-old mummy of evil high priest Imhotep, whose resurrected power will destroy the world. It's up to the threesome to stop the invincible menace. Great special effects, a thrill-every-minute. This one is our family favorite of the year: it can be viewed over and over again with no loss of pleasure (my seven-year-old daughter has seen it six times now).
Universal calls this a Collector's Edition, we presume because of the added features (there is no non-Collector's Edition DVD). Some of the features are enticing, others run-of-the-mill (none of which should persuade/prevent you from buying this movie, which stands as one of the most enjoyable films in recent memory.
"Building a Better Mummy" is an engrossing 40-minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of "The Mummy," and includes interviews with director-writer Stephen Sommers and visual effects supervisor John Berton, among others. Sommers wanted to remake what he considered to be the scariest of the classic monster films he remembered from his childhood, the Boris Karloff-starrer "The Mummy." Sommers' overriding philosophy was to create a Mummy for the 1990s, "a mean and fast mummy, not a guy stumbling around, wrapped in bandages" (referring to the many "Mummy" sequels that generally had a bandage-wrapped mummy -- with arm outstretched -- chasing after a hero or heroine). The interviews and special effects examples are enlightening. The folks at Industrial Light & Music show how the "reconstituted" Imhotep was created -- not with makeup -- by using digital models of actor Arnold Vosloo that were integrated with the real actor's movements. One of the techies calls ILM's efforts in this area as heading down "the road to digital acting."
Another interesting special feature is called "Visual Effects Formation," which tracks the development of five of the film's visual effects. For example, the opening sequence that pans through ancient Thebes is broken down into its components: a live action shot, a shot of miniature Thebes, a composite shot with digital effects added (with simulated people in the background, for example) and the final feature sequence. Another fascinating visual effect sequence explained is the mummification of Imhotep with flesh-eating scarabs, which relied heavily on drawings and digital simulation.
One feature that disappointed was "Egyptology 101," but only because I had anticipated more. I thought it would be a mini-doc on ancient Egypt when in fact it contains text-based chapters on Egyptian Artifacts (such as the ankh, Book of the Dead, hieroglyphics), Gods (from Amon to Horus and Isis to Osiris and Seth), a listing of Immortal Rulers, a listing of the Plagues brought upon Egypt by Moses, and an interactive map of the country with a few cities and sites highlighted.
Other extras include three deleted scenes (and well they were), skimpy one
paragraph production notes, trailers, film highlights, Jerry Goldsmith's score
isolated on a separate audio track, and PC features.
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