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The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition

Stephen Sommers' The Mummy Returns (2001) manages to reunite the cast who survived his 1999 The Mummy — and even a few who didn't. Set nine years after the first film concludes, hunky Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and lovely Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) are married Londoners with a precocious eight-year old son, Alex (Freddie Boath). Evy — the former librarian — has ripened into a self-assured adventurer, while Rick has transformed into a family man reluctant to put his loved ones at risk. Of course, Evy's brother Jonathan (John Hannah) remains a charming rapscallion. All seems well with the clan, until one day young Alex admires his mother's most recent archeological find, the bracelet of Anubis, which he promptly slaps on his wrist — launching a chain-reaction that will awaken The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock") and summon the entire Army of Anubis from the underworld. And yes — there's more! Unbeknownst to our heroes, The Mummy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is revived to battle the Scorpion King. You see, whoever actually kills The Scorpion King gets to control the Army of Anubis, destroy mankind, and rule the whole dang planet. But to find the Scorpion King one needs the bracelet of Anubis, which gets our towheaded young Alex kidnapped by Imhotep's minions. Shakespeare may have noted that "The play's the thing," but when it comes to The Mummy Returns, obviously the play is just an excuse for A) getting people's butts into movie theater seats, B) filling the screen with interminable CGI-effects, and C) making sure Dwayne Johnson gets an appropriate introduction for Universal's The Scorpion King. Still, The Mummy Returns is not much worse than its predecessor, blending humor, action, and romance into another throwback to the days of matinee serials. And as with most sequels, this one has a faster pace, more special effects, and more baddies (including the usual bad guys with guns, soldier mummies, Pygmy mummies, and walls of water). The effects are comparable to the first film, but there are a few sequences that don't quite hang together (the final incarnation of the Scorpion King does not blend well with the live action — is this a Sega Genesis we're playing?) But what the hell. Nobody thinks The Mummy Returns is high art, and if you have enough popcorn you might think it's a fun ride. Universal's The Mummy Returns: Collector's Edition comes in two separate transfers: anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) or full-frame (1.33:1). Beyond that, both discs are identical, with English and French audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Supplements include a commentary with director Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay; a 20-minute "Spotlight on Location" featurette; the text-based "Egyptology 201"; a feature on the visual and special effects of four scenes; outtakes; a conversation with "The Rock"; trailers for The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King; The music video for "Forever May Not Be Long Enough" by Live; production notes; and the DVD-ROM-based "Unlock the Secrets to the Scorpion King." Keep-case.

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