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Stephen Sommers
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O'Connor, Oded Fehr, Dwayne Johnson
Writing Credits:
Stephen Sommers

Adventure Is Reborn.

The mummified body of Imhotep is shipped to a museum in London, where he once again wakes and begins his campaign of rage and terror.

Box Office:
$98 million.
Opening Weekend
$68,139,035 on 3,401 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 7/8/2008

DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Producer Stephen Sommers and Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay
• Outtakes
DVD Two:
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek
• “An Army to Rule the World – Part 2” Featurette
• “Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy” Featurette
• “Visual and Special Effects Formation” Featurette
• “An Exclusive Conversation with The Rock” Featurette
• “Spotlight on Location” Featurette
• Storyboard to Final Film Comparison
• “Egyptology 201”
• Music Video
• Theatrical Trailer


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Mummy Returns: Deluxe Edition (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 31, 2014)

A lot of factors contributed to the success of 2001’s The Mummy Returns, but perhaps the strongest one related to the film itself. Returns attempted to reinvent no wheels, as it uniformly gave the audience what they wanted. I wouldn’t call it a remake of the first movie, but it bore many similarities to the original.

That didn’t mean that it was an unenjoyable experience, as I actually thought it was a fairly fun piece. Returns takes place in 1933, 10 years after the events of Mummy. Protagonists Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) got married and now have an eight-year-old son named Alex (Freddie Boath). They live in England where they continue to deal with antiquities, and Evie’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah) still plays the part of the ne’er-do-well aspiring playboy.

Before we rejoin them, however, we spend a few minutes in ancient Egypt where we learn the legend of the Scorpion King (the Rock). After the film sets up his tale, we jump to “current” events and the action starts. Basically, it’s the “year of the scorpion”, which means that he and his armies can be resurrected. Fans of the first film’s baddie Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) - including his reincarnated lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez) - want to bring him back so he can quickly off Scorpy and take over his warriors so they can rule the world.

Not surprisingly, Rick, Evie and crew get involved in the enterprise when they discover an important doodad. While he examines it, the bracelet attaches itself to Alex’s arm. It also reveals the path to Scorpy’s hideout, so he becomes crucial to the action. Essentially Imhotep comes back to life and his flunkies kidnap Alex so they can get to the Scorpion King. The O’Connells chase after him so they can save their son and the world itself!

Although the quest for Alex lends some twists to the plot, for the most part the story of Returns came across as little more than an alternate version of the original. That’s not unusual for sequels; many of them essentially just repeat the first with some small differences. While this does mean a lack of creativity, I don’t necessarily regard it as a horrible thing. After all, the original Mummy wasn’t exactly a bastion of inventiveness either; it mixed aspects of prior Mummy films with an Indiana Jones feel.

Returns continues along those lines; it really is a “more of the same” movie, but it succeeds pretty well nonetheless. Both flicks epitomize the “popcorn flick” genre. They seem fairly brainless but they offer enough thrills and excitement to be worthwhile.

On the positive side, Returns indeed packs in a lot of good action. If anything, it pours on more of these sequences than seen in the original film. From almost literally start to finish, Returns pounds the viewer with these pieces, and many of them are quite good. The double-decker bus chase through London was a lot of fun, and though it boldly stole stylistic ideas from the raptor attack in The Lost World, the pygmy mummies were also a delightful touch that offered something unusual.

The introduction of young Alex also created a new dynamic, even though he spent much of the movie away from his parents. Often I dislike kids placed in this sort of situation. Actually, most film children are fairly annoying as a whole, and I can’t say that Boath did a lot for me. That said, he could - and probably should - have been much more grating than he was. As a whole, I thought he seemed acceptable in the part, and Alex was a tolerable character. Under the circumstances, that was about the best I could ask.

The two female leads got expanded screen time in Returns. Weisz left behind the mousy librarian of the original; in a leap of growth that seemed to be patterned on the development of Sarah Connor between The Terminator and Terminator 2, she became a tough archaeolo-chick here. Weisz made the change seem natural and believable, and it was nice to see someone who could usually take care of herself, though the movie inevitably forced her to be saved at some point. Nonetheless, she did some rescuing of her own, so a nice balance was struck.

Velasquez’s Anck-Su-Namun really got a boost in screen time. She was barely a factor in the original, as she was evoked in spirit much more than she was seen in the flesh, rotting or otherwise. However, she plays a major role in Returns, and I enjoyed this added breadth. Not only did it allow Anck-Su-Namun to become a real personality, but it also meant that we saw not one but two sexy catfights between Velasquez and Weisz! Can’t beat that!

As for the other returning actors, they showed a minor diminution in their parts. Actually, I can’t honestly state that Fraser and Vosloo spend less time on-screen during Returns; technically they may get more face time here. However, I felt as though they were less substantial here. Perhaps because of the presence of Anck-Su-Namun, Imhotep seemed less like he was in charge, whereas he clearly was the prime baddie in Mummy. The same went for Fraser; since his wife could hold up her end of the bargain - and played a stronger role in the plot - he appeared as though he didn’t have quite as much to do.

In addition, Fraser seemed somewhat tired in the role. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and he wasn’t bad as Rick, but he lacked the same spark and flair I expected from him. Rick appeared less powerful and slick, and he offered a mildly lackluster personality. On the other hand, Weisz answered the new challenge well, as she presented a lively and active character. Perhaps this was because she got to do something new while Fraser had to repeat the same old thing from the first movie.

While the Rock’s participation in the film received a great deal of publicity, he barely registered. The Rock only appeared in person during the first few minutes of the movie. While the Scorpion King made a return at the end of the flick, he did so in a computer animated manner, with no human involvement.

Speaking of which, I thought the CGI in The Mummy looked excessively artificial, and the sequel offered no improvements. Smaller elements tended to work acceptably well, but large CG characters appeared very cartoony. Whether Imhotep, the Anubis warriors, or the Scorpion King, all of these pieces felt like they came from computer game cutscenes. The Scorpion King suffered the most because his head had to resemble a real person; at least the others used totally unreal elements. The weak CGI wasn’t a terrible distraction, but it did take away from the experience at times.

Still, in the end, The Mummy Returns offered a generally enjoyable action/fantasy experience, though not one without flaws. The movie seemed fun but not anything special. It’s the kind of flick that entertains you for a couple of hours and that’s it; you don’t remember much about it when it finishes. To be sure, Returns provided an above-average adventure, as it was a good summer flick. It simply wasn’t anything particularly memorable or exceptional.

Odd footnote: different sources seem confused about the chronology between Mummy and Returns. This shouldn’t be tough. Clearly the first one noted that it was 1923, while the sequel firmly stated it was 1933. Correct me if my math’s bad, but that looks like 10 years to me. However, various sources found on this DVD state that Returns took place eight or nine years after the events of Mummy. Weird!

Second footnote: am I the only one who thinks Patricia Velasquez looks and sounds a lot like Sandra Bullock? At one point, she even comments to Alex about something that would happen “when you were sleeping”. Sly nod to her Bullock resemblance, or pathetic stretch made by yours truly? You be the judge!

The DVD Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus B

The Mummy Returns appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Returns looked absolutely terrific.

Sharpness appeared to be crisp and detailed through the entire movie. I detected no signs of softness or fuzziness at any time, as the flick always looked well defined and accurate. I witnessed no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, and I also saw no edge enhancement.

In regard to print flaws, I discerned exactly one. When Ardeth Bay bid adieu at the end of the movie, a very small hair briefly popped up on screen. Otherwise, the movie appeared to be totally free of grain, grit, speckles, nicks, blotches or other defects; it was a wonderfully clean and fresh presentation.

As was the case with the first movie, Returns mainly featured a golden palette, and the DVD replicated these warm tones nicely. Colors seemed to be vivid and accurate, and other hues also came across well. The reds of various costumes looked vibrant and solid, and the entire flick showed clean and distinct colors.

Black levels were deep and rich, and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. Fire lit many scenes, and these struck a fine balance between light and dark. Overall, The Mummy Returns provided a fantastic visual experience.

Also terrific was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Mummy Returns. The soundfield presented a broad and consistently engaging affair.

All five channels received a strong workout, as they offered a variety of elements throughout the movie. Music showed good stereo separation and breadth, and effects seemed to be well placed and accurately localized. These aspects came from logical places and they moved neatly between speakers.

The surrounds played an active role in the film, but the many action pieces provided the best examples of the engulfing audio. Probably my favorite scene occurred when Imhotep unleashed the giant wave. All of the speakers came vividly to life and the sound melded together tremendously well to create a clear and vibrant impression. While that sequence worked best, much of the movie included very engrossing sound.

Audio quality also appeared to be top-notch. Despite the fact that much of the speech must have been looped, I thought dialogue always sounded warm and natural. The lines blended well with the action, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Music sounded bright and showed good fidelity with fine dynamic range.

Effects were the most prominent aspect of the mix, as they presented accurate and bold elements that really created a fine mix. Bass response was loud and tight, and the low-end really shook the house at times - literally. Ultimately, The Mummy Returns offered a fine audio track that really added to the movie.

How do the picture and audio of this 2008 “Deluxe Edition” compare to those of the original 2001 DVD? I think both of them are very similar, if not virtually identical. I see no evidence the DVD does offer a new transfer, since it sure looks a lot like the old one. Audio appears to remain the same as well.

For this 2008 “Deluxe Edition”, we got most of the extras from the 2001 DVD along with some new ones. I’ll mark the exclusives with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, the component popped up in one – or both – of the prior sets.

First up on DVD One is an audio commentary from writer/producer/director Stephen Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay. Both men were recorded together for this running, screen-specific affair. They reprised their performance for a track on the DVD for The Mummy. That piece offered an entertaining experience, and their material for Returns repeated the successful attempt from 1999.

As with their track for Mummy, Sommers and Ducsay kept the tone light and lively as they went over a variety of production elements. They covered technical concepts, alterations made to the script, various anecdotes plus a lot of smaller bits, especially in regard to goofs and gaffes.

They were totally willing to poke affectionate fun at the flick as they told us of their errors and also acknowledged some of the movie’s stretches. One wonderfully catty aspect came from their periodic razzing of Roger Ebert; apparently they felt he took the movie too seriously, so they got back at him for his appraisal of the flick. It was a fun and informative commentary that I definitely enjoyed.

DVD One also includes some Outtakes. We discover six-minutes and five-seconds of the usual goof-ups and clowning. These were mildly entertaining, though the only one that actually made me laugh briefly featured an impression of Scotty from Star Trek by John Hannah. Blink and you’ll miss it, though.

Over on DVD Two, we open with a *Sneak Peek for 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In this three-minute clip, we get a few remarks from Ducsay, Sommers, Fraser, director Rob Cohen, and actors Luke Ford, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Maria Bello. The piece exists to promote the new movie, so nothing substantial appears here.

Next comes the five-minute and 59-second *An Army to Rule the World – Part 1. It features Sommers, actor Arnold Vosloo, producer Jim Jacks, visual effect art director Alex Laurant, and visual effects supervisor John Berton as they discuss the film’s depiction of the Anubis Warriors and the Pygmy Mummies. You’ll find a few interesting comments, but the featurette’s brevity means it lacks substance. Oh, and if you want to see Part 1, you’ll have to get the Deluxe Edition of The Mummy.

*Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy lasts eight minutes, seven seconds and features Sommers, Berton, Jacks, producer Sean Daniel, film historians Steve Haberman and Sir Christopher Frayling, makeup artist Nick Dudman, actors Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser and John Hannah, and author Stephen Jones. The show nods in the direction of the 1930s Mummy but really exists to promote the 1999 Mummy and Mummy Returns. It’s a superficial puff piece that wastes the viewer’s time.

Visual and Special Effects Formation broke down into some subsections. There were four movie scenes examined: “Imhotep Returns”, “Pygmy Mummies Attack”, “Anubis Warriors Rising”, and “Scorpion King Revealed”. Each looked at five different stages, from concept to final, and all except the actual film footage included comments from visual effects supervisor John Berton. The snippets ran for a total of 16 minutes and 10 seconds of material.

Overall, I thought this was good stuff. The pieces showed the elements as they evolved, and they offered some solid insights into the process. One nice change: the addition of a “Play All” option absent from the prior disc. That makes the feature much more user-friendly.

An Exclusive Conversation With the Rock offered a three-minute and 42-second interview clip with the actor. This piece provided little more than a fluffy exercise in which the Rock told us about Scorpion King and his new experiences as an actor. It seemed mildly watchable but inconsequential.

The longest program found here is a Spotlight On Location featurette about The Mummy Returns. This 20-minute show offered the standard mix of movie clips - lots of them, actually - plus shots from the set and interview snippets with principals. Mainly we heard from the actors as well as director Sommers, producer James Jacks, visual effects supervisor John Berton and others. Some of the effects material was moderately interesting, and I also liked some of the “behind the scenes” shots, but as a whole, this was nothing more than a standard promotional piece. For the most part, it provided footage that told us about the story and the characters and how great the movie would be. In other words, it was a thin and superficial show.

Next comes a *Storyboard to Final Film Comparison. It breaks into “Blimp Being Chased” (2:32), “Pygmy Chase” (3:15) and “Scorpion King Final Battle” (2:01). These use the standard format with the movie on the top half of the screen and the boards on the bottom. It’s a good presentation.

Not surprisingly, Egyptology 201 expands on “Egyptology 101” from the DVD for The Mummy. Here we find text discussions of “An In-Depth Look at Mummification”, “The Most Famous Mummy: King Tut”, “Animals of Ancient Egypt”, “Myths and Magic of Ancient Egypt”, and “The Scorpion King: Myth or Reality?” These details are fairly brief and superficial, but they provide some acceptably interesting information about the topics. The depth didn’t remotely approach that of “Egyptology 101”, but it was still fairly compelling.

In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we locate a music video for Live’s “Forever May Not Be Long Enough”. This used the standard video-from-a-movie format. The band lip-synched in front of an Egyptian-themed setting; those shots were intercut with many movie segments. It was okay for the genre but it did little for me. The four and a half minute piece also provided an ad for the soundtrack album as a whole.

What does this release lose from the 2001 DVD? Not much. It drops some brief cast and crew biographies, text production notes, a Public Service Announcement, and some ads. None act as catastrophic omissions.

I was fairly pleased with The Mummy Returns. The movie was a capable extension of the first film. I thought the original seemed fresher and more winning, but the sequel did well in its own right. The DVD offered simply terrific picture and sound, and though the extras weren’t consistently strong, we got a fine audio commentary, some nice visual effects discussions, and some other watchable bits. This wasn’t a notable step up from the original DVD, but the Deluxe Edition works well in its own right.

To rate this film, visit the 2001 DVD review of THE MUMMY RETURNS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main