The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The flick provided a good but not flawless transfer.
The most noticeable concerns related to sharpness. I witnessed mild edge enhancement through the film, and that led to softness in some wider shots. Nonetheless, the majority of the film looked well-defined and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and source flaws remained absent.
Colors fared well. During the film’s first half, Tomb favored a fairly warm, earthy palette, while matters took on an appropriately chilly blue tint when the participants went to the frigid Himalayas. The disc delivered the tones with good clarity.
Blacks seemed dark and firm, while shadows appeared clean and well-developed. Only the edge enhancement and occasional softness marred this otherwise solid presentation.
Virtually no concerns stemmed from the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Tomb. With its many action elements, the audio boasted plenty of opportunities for vivid audio, and the film took advantage of them. It featured massive battles, fireworks, gunfire, explosions, aircraft, and a host of other exciting components.
The soundscape allowed them good localization as well as the room to breathe. This meant they were able to engulf us and create a consistently involving soundfield.
Audio quality delivered as well. Speech was natural and concise, as I noticed no edginess or other issues. Music seemed lively and vivid, and effects were always really strong. Those elements showed great range and clarity.
Low-end respond was deep and firm, so expect your subwoofer to get a lot of use. The audio of Tomb excelled.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio offered a little more range and punch, while the visuals offered improved clarity and delineation. I suspect the Blu-ray used the same transfer as the DVD, but the format’s superior capabilities made it the stronger rendition.
The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras, and we find an audio commentary from director Rob Cohen. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at story, characters and historical influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts, action and effects, visual design, audio, and a few other production issues.
Cohen doesn’t make particularly good movies, but he offers interesting commentaries. He goes over all the appropriate subjects here and keeps the track moving at a good pace.
I expect some listeners won’t be happy to hear Cohen inject his politics into the equation – he makes a circa 2008 pre-election plug for Obama – but that section passes quickly. Cohen throws out a lot of good info and makes this a winning discussion.
Nine Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, 45 seconds. We find “Secret Lovers” (1:22), “General Ming’s Death” (0:32), “Conversation In Shanghai” (1:00), “Night in Himalayas” (2:07), “Tea Time: Yang and Choi” (0:37), “Motorcycle Grenade Toss” (0:22), “Female Fight in Cog Room” (0:45), “Emperor Reassembles” (1:18), and “Jonathan and Maguire at Club” (2:43).
The majority of these simply provide minor extensions to existing scenes. Nothing particularly noteworthy appears, though we do see a more graphic depiction of Ming’s demise.
“Club” adds to the film’s ending, though not in a useful way, as it simply gives Jonathan a slightly different departure. The scenes are mildly interesting to see at best.
The Making of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor runs 22 minutes, 49 seconds and includes comments from Cohen, producers Stephen Sommers, Bob Ducsay and Sean Daniel, costume designer Sanja Hays, carpenter William Picard, set decorator Anne Kuljian, 2nd unit assistant camera Taylor Matheson, action unit director Vic Armstrong, stunt coordinator Mark Southworth, Fire for Hire’s Colin Decker, Production Services Company representative Bill Kong, special effects coordinator Rick Thompson, 2nd unit 1st AD Terry Madden, and actors Luke Ford, Brendan Fraser, David Calder, Isabella Leong and Maria Bello. The show looks at Cohen’s impact on the production, sets and locations, stunts and action, effects, and a few other aspects of the shoot.
“Making” combines the standard “behind the scenes” featurette with the feel of a production diary; though it branches off at times, it tends to follow the shoot from start to finish. The emphasis on footage from the set makes it more interesting than usual. The interviews fill out the visuals well and turn this into a useful program.
During the 15-minute and 44-second From City to Desert, we hear from Cohen, Bello, Ducsay, Armstrong, Fraser, Sommers, Calder, Armstrong, 1st AD PJ Voeten, director of photography Simon Duggan, executive producer Chris Brigham, producer Sean Daniel, boom operator Louis Piche, line producer Lee Chiu Wah, and actors Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah, Anthony Wong, and Jet Li.
The show looks at the flick’s locations and related issues. It covers those topics well and give us more interesting behind the scenes footage along the way.
After this we head to Legacy of the Terra Cotta. It lasts 13 minutes, 35 seconds and features notes from Cohen, Daniel, Sommers, Ducsay, Fraser, Li, Hays, Bello, Kuljian, Ford,
Rhythm and Hues senior artist Mike Meaker, and set decorator Daniel Carpentier. We learn about research and influences on the movie’s story, the depiction of the Emperor and his army, and the Asian settings.
“Legacy” follows in the footsteps of the first two shows, but it often feels a bit redundant. Though it offers a fair amount of new material, more than a few notes repeat from the earlier pieces. Still, we continue to observe good behind the scenes shots, so “Legacy” works reasonably well.
New to the Blu-ray, U-Control offers a few options. “Know Your Mummy” provides information about characters and story elements across the franchise’s films, while the “Emperor’s Challenge” presents an interactive game.
“Scene Explorer” allows viewers to watch different parts of the movie from alternate angles, and “Visual Commentary” lets us see Cohen as he chats about the film. Finally, “Picture-in-Picture” presents behind the scenes material and interviews with a variety of personnel.
The “Visual Commentary” is a snore, as it provides the same discussion as the audio commentary but just allows us to watch Cohen. It’s not worth the effort. “Challenge” seems hokey and doesn’t really go anywhere.
The other components fare better, though “PiP” disappoints because it doesn’t offer material on a terribly frequent basis. Still, “PiP” manages to give us some new notes, and the other two components bring us interesting information and insights.