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Who remembers the summer of 1999 and the anticipation of the Phantom Menace? Well the original Mummy was released around the same time but cleverly opted to hit the screens a few months before the Jedi. This proved to be a good move, as it went on to earn well over $150 million. Universal Studios didn’t waste any time in commissioning a sequel, which went into production nearly straight away. This year saw the release of The Mummy Returns, which reunited most of the original cast. Once again it was released at the beginning of summer as one of the first blockbusters of the year. Anyway, enough of the stats as you are probably wondering if the movie surpasses the level the original set, or if like most sequels turned out to be a disappointment.

Mummy Returns, The
Before I mention the storyline I just want to say that if you disliked the original Mummy this sequel will not really interest you. The Mummy Returns is set 10 years after the original events. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evie (Rachel Weisz) are now married and have a child of their own Alex (Freddie Boath). The films opens by telling the story of the Scorpion King (The Rock), who sold his soul to an evil god in order to win a war. In keeping with original we are told that the Scorpion King can be brought back to life every 5,000 years with the help of a golden bracelet. Well guess what? Little Alex has that same bracelet! A little convenient, but what do you expect from a summer blockbuster? Add to the plot the born again Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) who is eager to resurrect the Scorpion King and take over his army. Imhotep and his evil (but hopeless!) gang kidnap Alex. Obviously Rick and Evie pursue the evil Mummy with the help of family member Jonathan (John Hannah).

Whereas the original Mummy didn’t start off very quickly, the sequel is over two hours of special effects entertainment. In fact there is probably too much in that department and towards the end the special effects are not that special. In fact I would go as far as to say that some of the special effects are very poor and cheap looking.

The acting cannot be compared with the poor special effects. Brendan Fraser picks up where he left off in the original. He seems to be growing into the role, and whilst not being an Indiana Jones he does a good job. He is sometimes too loud but his screen presence is strong enough to keep the audience’s attention. The biggest surprise of this movie is Rachel Weisz’s performance. Her character has changed a lot since the original and she is now expected to do a lot more physical activities. She fits into the role well. John Hannah is his usual clumsy self and adds some humour at the appropriate times. WWF star The Rock is billed as a main actor in this movie, but his screen time is probably less than ten minutes altogether. Spoiling my enjoyment of the film was Freddie Boath, who plays Alex O’Connell. If you ever wanted an example of an annoying child then take a look at this film. The least said about this the better!

Mummy Returns, The
The Mummy Returns doesn’t spring any surprises with what it has to offer. You will either love it or hate it. Fans of the original will be happy with the sequel whilst people who hated the original will not find much right with the sequel. The Mummy Returns is meant to be two hours of turn your brain off entertainment. Don’t expect a movie which will test your brain, and you will find yourself being entertained.

The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. As expected for a new release the transfer is near perfect. However due to the large amount of special effects the perfect transfer shows just how bad some of the CGI is. I saw this movie in the cinema and have to admit to not really noticing the dodgy effects. However the crystal clear picture brings to light some of the bad CGI, especially towards the end when we are shown then Scorpion King in all his glory. Overall if you are not too bothered by the effects then this transfer is nearly reference quality.

Included on the disc is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is no DTS soundtrack, which is a little bit of a surprise, but to be honest it is not really needed. The soundtrack that is provided is impressive. Some of the battles used the full potential of my system. This is certainly not a soundtrack for the timid and quiet. It is very aggressive and doesn’t offer many peaceful moments.

The Mummy Returns has an impressive amount of extras. The first thing that I looked (or listened too in this case!) was the audio commentary with director Stephen Sommers and co-producer Bob Ducsay. It is nice to hear a director who is so enthusiastic about his movie. From listening to the commentary it sounds like he could have gone on all day if allowed. The commentary offers some interesting insights into why certain scenes were included in the movie. Fans of the movie will find this a useful addition to the disc.

Mummy Returns, The
My favourite extra on the disc are the outtakes. They are not as funny some recent movies like Rush Hour 2 but even so they made me laugh in a few places. My only gripe is that the outtakes last for about four minutes and the picture quality is not the greatest.

A lot of the extras on this disc are identical to the extras included on the mummy's original disc. Once again we have a few special effects documentaries included. Worth mentioning is the Visual and Special Effects Formation show clips of our certain scenes where created from the movie. For special effects gurus this featurette is worth the money alone. Overall this section runs for about 20 minutes so is worth watching. Another 20 minute featurette include on the disc is titled Spotlight On Location. I am not a great fan of these half-hour long presentations on location during the shooting, as they are usually boring and uninformative. Well this one is no different. As mentioned it last for about 20 minutes. To be honest with you it was only because I was reviewing the disc that I watched it all the way through.

For Rock fans there is an exclusive interview with the star. The interview is only five minutes but it is nearly as long as his appearance in the movie! Before the movie starts there is also an exclusive trailer for the star’s new movie. The movie is called “The Scorpion King” and is basically a movie elaborating on his character.

Also included on the disc is a music video by Live titled "Forever May Not Be Long Enough". There is also an advertisement for Universal's Mummy ride as well as a soundtrack promo. You also get the familiar theatrical trailer, production notes and filmographies. Another textual extra is titled Egyptology 201. This section gives lots of information about Egyptian history and is very interesting. If you are into history about mummies then you will find this section a useful addition.

I am a fan of this movie, so for me this is a great DVD version. Fans of the movie will welcome the extras included, but I would suggest only purchasing this DVD if you liked the original movie. Universal will struggle releasing an ultimate edition for this movie as there is not much more they can include. A DTS soundtrack would have been nice but that’s just me being petty!