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Is THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR ($40) great or memorable cinema? No, and it doesn’t need to be. No one goes to a Mummy movie expecting Masterpiece Theater. Let’s face it, when one buys a ticket to a Mummy movie, they expect to switch off their brain and just let the story and special effects sweep them away into an action packed fantasyland where heroes fight beautifully rendered CGI monsters, while a dizzying sonic maelstrom is fed through the movie theater sound system. As for THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, it is a delightfully delirious popcorn movie that delivers everything its title promises, as well as the kind of over-the-top action and special effects provided by its two preceding installments.

As a sequel, THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR opens in 1946 and finds that Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (newcomer Maria Bello) are retired from their previously adventuresome lifestyle and are greatly bored. However, their now grown son Alex (Luke Ford) has dropped out of college and taken up the family penchant for archeology, which finds him in China assisting of a dig to find the tomb of Emperor Han. When the British government has need of Rick and Evelyn services to take the precious gem called the Eye of Shangri-La back to China, they find themselves reunited with Alex, as well as Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah).

As it turns out, the Eye of Shangri-La has mystical powers that can resurrect the evil Emperor Han (Jet Li), whose mad quest for immortality was ended more than two thousand years ago by a sorceress Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh). Zi Juan placed Emperor Han under a curse… encasing him and his army in terracotta, hopefully for all eternity. The arrival of General Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) and his forces swiftly ends the O'Connell family reunion, as the mad General reawakens the terracotta encased Emperor. What follows is a race to reach Shangri-La before Emperor Han does, and thereby breaking the curse… achieving immortality… and taking over the world. The cast of THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR also features Isabella Leong, Russell Wong, Liam Cunningham and David Calder.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is generally excellent and does not disappoint in any way. Image sharpness, clarity and depth are very strong. Fine detail also registers highly and there is a good integration of CGI elements, without too significant a softening of the live action photography. Colors are generally warm and appealing, with a slightly antiqued golden quality. Hues are usually nicely saturated and the flesh tones are attractive. 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: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR have been mastered appear exceedingly clean. There is a light veneer of grain within the image, which helps provide the presentation with an organic quality.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, this soundtrack is everything one should expect from an action and effects heavy film. Sound effects are aggressively deployed throughout the entire soundstage, so the outlying channels engage nearly continuously. Sounds leap out at the viewer from all directions, as well as effortlessly pan around the entire soundstage. Fidelity is just great, producing a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and shakes the ground whenever required. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is totally understandable. 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 the supplements, which are spread across two discs. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Rob Cohen. Featurettes include the following programs: The Making Of The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor (twenty two minutes), From City To Desert (sixteen minutes), Legacy Of The Terra Cotta (fourteen minutes), A Call To Action: The Casting Process (five minutes), Preparing For Battle With Brendan Fraser And Jet Li (eleven minutes), Jet Li: Creating The Emperor Mummy (eight minutes) and Creating New And Supernatural Worlds (nine minutes).

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). From U-Control one can also access the picture-in-picture Video Commentary with Cohen. Other items accessible via the U-Control are Dragon Emperor's Challenge, Know Your Mummy and Scene Explorer. THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

As I stated above THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR is a delightfully delirious popcorn movie that delivers everything its title promises. The Blu-ray Disc looks and sounds terrific. If you enjoyed the movie in the theater, then the Blu-ray is the only way to go at home.



The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor [Blu-ray] (2008)


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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