The modestly titled Ultimate Mummy Collection
is an extravagant four-disc package that contains both The Mummy Ultimate Edition
and The Mummy Returns Special Edition
For his breakthrough into the blockbuster big time, director Stephen Sommers was determined to avoid the hackneyed Hollywood Mummy clichés of flailing bandages, somnambulant zombies and wooden acting. If you're happy to settle for two out of three then the finished film could be your cup of Egyptian tea, fully delivering on its visual promise but occasionally mired in a quicksand of stilted dialogue and plot contrivance. Anrold Vosloo is disgraced high priest Imhotep, awoken from his ancient prison to unleash his vengeful wrath in a whirl of computer generated pestilence and plagues; Brendan Fraser brings an infectious boyish enthusiasm to his Indiana Jones-style adventurer, while supporting players Rachel Weisz and John Hannah are mostly eclipsed by the spectacle on offer. The lavish DVD extras include deleted scenes, a director's commentary and, most interestingly, veteran effects supervisor John Berton presenting a step-by-step guide to some of the film's most extraordinary computer generated shots. There's also the obligatory "making of" programme in which everyone insists their primary concern was to ensure the effects never superseded the story. Unfortunately, this only makes you more aware of the script's shortcomings. --Steve Napleton
The Mummy Returns has an even more relentless pace and hammer headed tone than the first film--more explosions, more action and more mind-numbingly endless computer generated effects, set to a headache inducing surround soundtrack. The original cast are reunited and joined by WWF star The Rock (in a cameo role designed to plug his spin-off vehicle The Scorpion King) and young actor Freddie Boath who plays an English eight-year-old in the 1930s whose dialogue borrows from Bart Simpson. Still, despite the wearying relentlessness of its computer generated effects, endless chases and fights, this is undeniably fun popcorn fodder and provides some memorable scenes along the way, notably Rachel Weisz and Patricia Velasquez battling it out for the affections of nasty old Imhotep. Extras in this generous two-disc set include a decent commentary from the director and producer, DVD-ROM features, a 20-minute "making-of" documentary and a five-minute interview with the Rock. Best of all are the detailed special effects breakdowns of key sequences. --Mark Walker
Swashbuckling Egyptian adventure. Brendan Fraser plays Rick O'Connell, an American who discovers Hamunaptra, the city of the dead. He is driven away by locals and arrested. Three years later, Englishman Jonathan (John Hannah) discovers an ancient artefact which he gives to his sister Evelyn (Rachel Weisz). In turn, she trades the artefact for Rick's release from prison and the trio set off for Hamunaptra, hoping to arrive there before Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), Rick's crooked former associate. However Beni has already invoked a curse which frees Imhotep, a supernaturally-gifted mummy. He pursues the adventurers across the land, feeding upon the flesh of unfortunate explorers. He aims to sacrifice Evelyn, hoping to resurrect another evil mummy...