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I am sorry if I alarmed your son.
But you must understand, now that the bracelet is on his wrist,
we have only seven days before the Scorpion King awakens!

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… In Hollywood, imitation is the inevitable sequel that follows on the heels of an enormous blockbuster hit. But then again, second helpings aren’t always as satisfying. Fortunately for genre fans, THE MUMMY RETURNS ($30) proves to be highly satisfying, even if much of this sequel is an imitation of the first film. The reason why 2001’s THE MUMMY RETURNS succeeds, is owed to the fact that it follows the successful formula laid out in 1999 by THE MUMMY- i.e. the same production team and stars are brought back and they add just enough new situations and new faces to make everything seem a whole lot fresher than it actually is. Personally, I thought THE MUMMY RETURNS was a hoot and enjoyed every moment of the film, despite the fact that it all seems very, very familiar.

After a prologue involving a character known as The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson), who pledges his soul to Anubis in exchange for an invincible army, the premise of THE MUMMY RETURNS reintroduces the central characters from the first film. However, THE MUMMY RETURNS moves things ahead nine years after the events of the previous film. Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) are now married, and the O'Connell’s have a young son named Alex (Freddie Boath) in tow on their latest archeological dig, where they are searching for the bracelet of Anubis, which once belonged to The Scorpion King. As expected, there are competitors also looking for the bracelet of Anubis, but our heroes do successfully return to their London homee with the artifact in hand.

However, the competition doesn’t give up so easily, and as it turns out they have great plans for the bracelet of Anubis… Plans, which involve resurrecting Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), yet again, only this time to do battle with The Scorpion King for control of Anubis’ invincible army. Of course, young Alex proves to be the fly in the ointment… that are the villains’ plans. Having put on the bracelet of Anubis, Alex is the only one that will be able to guide Imhotep to the temple of The Scorpion King, so the villains quickly kidnap the boy. Chasing after their kidnapped son, Rick and Evie are joined by her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) and family friend Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) to rescue Alex from the villains and get him to the temple of The Scorpion King within seven days, otherwise the bracelet of Anubis will drain the life from young Alex. The cast of THE MUMMY RETURNS also features Patricia Velasquez, Alun Armstrong, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Shaun Parkes, Bruce Byron, Joe Dixon, Tom Fisher and Aharon Ipalé.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE MUMMY RETURNS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation for THE MUMMY RETURNS is of the same excellent caliber that was provided for THE MUMMY. Image dimensionality, sharpness and detail are pretty much first rate- even the fine details such as textures on objects, blemishes on the actors skin and individual hairs are rendered with excellent clarity. Digital effects shots, which are numerous, fall only a hair under the levels detail attained in unprocessed shots. Actually, I will credit the Blu-ray presentation with making some of the more questionable digital effects shots in THE MUMMY RETURNS appear less cartoon-ish than they did on the big screen in 2001. Colors are rich, vibrant, fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. Additionally, the flesh tones come across in an exceedingly pleasing manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Additionally, the picture produces a great amount shadow detail. The elements from which THE MUMMY RETURNS have been mastered appear exceedingly clean. Grain is mild; however, the picture does not appear artificially over-processed, which helps maintain a film-like character for the presentation.

THE MUMMY RETURNS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. THE MUMMY RETURNS impresses on Blu-ray just the same way as the first film did. This is another movie with a highly aggressive sound design that effortlessly deploys sound effects throughout the soundstage and allows them to sweep around with relative ease. Fidelity is marvelous for both sound effects and the music. However, I am not as big a fan of Alan Silvestri’s score for this film as I was of Jerry Goldsmith’s work on the first film. The bass channel is deep, forceful and will set the ground shaking. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. First we have a running Audio Commentary with writer/director Stephen Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player).

Moving on, we go to the supplemental programs. An Army To Rule The World, Part 2 is a five-minute look at effects employed to create an army of Anubis warriors. Unraveling The Legacy Of The Mummy is an eight-minute program that looks at the classic Universal horror movies and the1932 version of THE MUMMY in particular. Visual And Special Effects Formation offers four sequences from THE MUMMY RETURNS, and shows them through all of the various stages of special effects production- from initial photography to completion. Storyboard-To-Screen Comparisons is in a similar vein and offers concept vs. completed film. An Exclusive Conversation With The Rock offers a three-minute interview with Dwayne Johnson. Spotlight On Location: The Making Of The Mummy Returns is a standard twenty minutes of behind-the-scenes fluff. A Music Video for the song Forever May Not Be Long Enough by the group Live, Outtakes and the promotional program The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor Sneak Preview close out the supplements.

THE MUMMY RETURNS is rock ‘em sock ‘em action-adventure/horror movie entertainment that satisfies very well on its own, or even better with a big tub of popcorn. As sequels go, it is a winner that pushes all the same right buttons. Universal’s Blu-ray release is also a winner- delivering excellent hi-def visuals and a truly kicking power soundtrack. Absolutely recommended.



The Mummy Returns [Blu-ray] (2001)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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