The Mummy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a less than terrific presentation.
For the most part, sharpness was good, as the majority of the movie displayed strong clarity and delineation. A few shots looked a bit soft, though. These were rare but they did occur, and I noticed light edge haloes on occasion.
No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and print flaws appeared pretty much non-existent. I noted a speckle or two, but that was it.
Some noise reduction also reared its head, though in an inconsistent manner. Parts of the movie brought nice, natural grain, whereas others exhibited a smoothed-out, non-film-like appearance.
Unsurprisingly, most of the noise reduction popped up in low-light shots, and those felt somewhat unnatural. In particular, they could seem too smooth, and they gave skin tones a clay-like impression.
In regard to the film’s color scheme, golden tones dominated the proceedings, and the disc reproduced these in a positive manner. The disc’s HDR added impact to the colors as well – maybe a little too much, as the tones occasionally seemed a bit overcranked. Still, the hues mostly worked well.
Black levels could seem somewhat too dark and crushed, while shadows felt somewhat murky at times. Some of this reflected the source, but I thought the noise reduction also impacted the low-light scenes.
In terms of whites and contrast, that “overcranked” impression I mentioned earlier became a minor issue. I find that earlier 4K releases like this tended to go a little HDR crazy and wound up with exaggerated tones.
That occurred here – maybe not to an extreme, but the image’s HDR simply came across as somewhat overdone. This meant that even when Mummy looked objectively good, it tended to feel less like film and more like a too-polished product.
As such, your impression of this 4K will likely depend on your tolerance for these choices. On its own, Mummy usually looked very good, but I simply felt it often seemed unnatural. That made it a disappointing “C+” for its visuals.
At least the film’s DTS X soundfield seemed nicely encompassing. Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, the forward channels displayed solid breadth and created a convincing and believable spectrum.
Sounds appeared properly located within the environment, and they panned neatly between the channels. Jerry Goldsmith’s score pumped brightly from all five speakers throughout the movie, and the surrounds also provided some good effects usage much of the time.
I felt that the latter aspects were a little inconsistent, as some scenes - mainly gun battles - appeared to be a bit too heavily anchored in the front, and they failed to spread to the rears as well as I’d like.
However, many other segments - particularly the creepy ones in the tombs - were very compellingly rendered, as they used the surrounds to terrific advantage. Ultimately, the soundfield usually seemed visceral and involving, despite a few mildly lackluster segments.
Audio quality appeared to be strong. Although much of the dialogue clearly needed to be looped, the speech always seemed warm and natural, and it integrated into the events well. I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.
Music came across as nicely dynamic and bright, as the score manifested itself with great force. Most of the track’s low end stemmed from the music, which seemed deep and rich.
Effects effects were clean and realistic, and they fit the action well. In the end, The Mummy offered very positive audio.
How did the 4K UHD compare with the Blu-ray version? Audio was similar, so while the DTS X track might’ve been a bit more involving, it didn’t reinvent any wheels.
Visuals came across as better defined and more dynamic, but as discussed earlier, those trends didn’t always seem appropriate. Even with my qualms, though, I’d still watch the 4K due to its relative strengths. I’d prefer a more natural-looking release, though.
On the 4K itself, we find three running audio commentaries. The first comes from director/writer Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsay, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific chat.
They discuss cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, story issues and editing, the film’s tone, stunts and effects, and a few other shoot specifics.
The commentary proves quite entertaining and informative. Usually in a situation such as this, the director would dominate the track, but these two appear to be old friends so the commentary is better balanced than I would expect.
Both men tend to focus on the technical aspects of making the movie, but they also toss in a good number of funny anecdotes from the set. It's a nicely casual track and the two participants are witty and engaging.
The second audio commentary comes solely from actor Brendan Fraser. I looked forward to the piece, but unfortunately, it was a crashing bore.
While Fraser occasionally drops in an interesting little tidbit - such as an extra who constantly stared at the camera, or his own near-hanging on the set - for the most part the actor simply giggles as he watches the flick. He interjects vapid statements like “that’s gotta hurt” and “ooh!” from time to time, and he attempts to crack wise throughout the track.
It’s all a disaster. I’ve checked out other reviews of this commentary and found those who seemed to find it enjoyable, but I can’t imagine how that could be. I thought Fraser’s track was one of the worst I’ve ever heard, and it was a total disappointment.
Better is the third and final audio commentary. This one involves actors Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Oded Fehr. All three were recorded together for this running, screen-specific track.
Although they suffer from a little too much “happy talk” at times - during which they tell us how great everything was - the guys nonetheless impart a solid amount of information.
Unlike Fraser, they bring lots of good details about working on the film, and despite the generally positive tone, they’re not shy about complaining from time to time. For instance, Vosloo relates his dislike of some processes, and a few shots are criticized.
Overall, the track seems nicely breezy and engaging. It isn’t a great commentary but I think it’s largely fun and entertaining.
Everything else appears on the included Blu-ray copy, and we get an interactive feature called U-Control. While this usually includes a few different elements, The Mummy just goes with picture-in-picture tidbits.
These provide shots from the set, storyboards and remarks from Fraser, Sommers, Vosloo, O’Connor, VFX art director Alex Laurant, ILM model supervisor Barbara Affonso, stunt coordinator Simon Crane, SFX supervisor Chris Collwell, live action creature effects supervisor Nick Dudman, VFX supervisor John Berton, ILM animation supervisor Daniel Jeannette, ILM technical director David Horsley, production designer Allan Cameron, costume designer John Bloomfield, producer Sean Daniel, and actors Rachel Weisz and John Hannah.
They cover effects, sets and locations, models, cast, characters and performances, working with animals, costumes and stunts.
I’ve liked a lot of the “U-Control” components, but this one’s pretty lackluster. The clips don’t add a whole lot of footage/information, so they don’t give us much that we can’t find elsewhere.
This becomes a moderately inefficient use of time. It’s enjoyable enough for what it is, but it doesn’t work as one of the better PiP programs.
Three Deleted Scenes last a total of two minutes, 21 seconds. The first two are essentially character exposition, while the last one was a fight scene from the climactic section of the film.
None are missed in the final product. During their feature commentary, Sommers and Ducsay discuss why they cut these scenes. From what they say, it sounds like a number of other pieces were cut from the film, so it's a disappointment that we receive so little excised material.
Next comes 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 that movie, so nothing substantial appears here.
Next comes the four-minute, two-second An Army to Rule the World – Part 1. It features Ducsay and Sommers as they discuss the film’s depiction of the Priest 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 2, you’ll have to get the Blu-ray for The Mummy Returns.
Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy lasts eight minutes, seven seconds and features Sommers, Fraser, visual effects supervisor John Berton, producers James Jacks and Sean Daniel, film historians Steve Haberman and Sir Christopher Frayling, makeup artist Nick Dudman, actors Rachel Weisz 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 2001’s Mummy Returns. It’s a superficial puff piece that wastes the viewer’s time.
Pretty interesting - though awkwardly executed - is the section called Visual and Special Effects Formation. Essentially, this piece features five different effects scenes from the movie and shows how they were created, so each segment progresses a little bit at a time.
The effects themselves are presented visually while effects supervisor John Berton discusses them. I like this section and think it offers some good information. Oddly, though the 2008 DVD included a “Play All” option for this footage, the Blu-ray lacks it.
Next up is a 49-minute, 55-second documentary called Building a Better Mummy. Here we hear from Sommers, Berton, Dudman, Daniel, Fraser, Jacks, Vosloo, Weisz, Hannah, visual effects art director Alex Laurant, ILM visual effects supervisor Daniel Jeanette, CG animation supervisor Dennis Turner, computer graphics supervisors Michael Bauer and Ben Snow, lead Viewpaint artist Catherine Craig, CG sequence supervisors David Horsley and Ed Kramer, and stunt coordinator Simon Crane.
Though it branches into broader topics, the show spends most of its time detailing the technical side of the filmmaking process. At the start of the program, Sommers briefly discusses his inspirations for the film, but after that, it's almost entirely a review of the special effects machinery. That's okay, though I would have preferred a program that also got into the "whats" and "whys" as opposed to just the "hows".
All in all, this documentary and the Sommers/Ducsay commentary do a great job of detailing that latter issue, but the other two aspects get left out to a large degree. Nonetheless, while the documentary is a little dry, it's still pretty good and worth a look.
We get a Storyboard to Final Film Comparison for seven scenes. Each of these shows the boards at the top of the screen and the finished movie in the bottom half. They run a total of 10 minutes and six seconds. They’re a decent addition if you like this sort of material.
The Photograph Montage follows the same format found on Universal’s Classic Monster releases. It offers a slew of production and promotional shots, all of which have been filmed and backed by the movie’s score. This piece runs for four minutes, 18 seconds and makes for a modest but somewhat interesting program.
21 years down the road, I continue to enjoy 1999’s The Mummy. While it reinvents no wheels, it delivers a fun, action-packed adventure. The 4K UHD presents inconsistent visuals along excellent audio and a solid selection of bonus materials. While I still enjoy the film, the 4K’s lackluster visuals make it a disappointment.
To rate this film visit the Blu-ray review of THE MUMMY