DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » IMAX: Mummies - Secrets of the Pharaohs
IMAX: Mummies - Secrets of the Pharaohs
Image // Unrated // November 3, 2009
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Casey Burchby | posted January 11, 2010 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

I am a sucker when the subject is ancient Egypt. Whether it's a low-polish documentary or a big-budget extravaganza, if the setting is ancient Egypt, I'm easier than a carny's mark. So I was more than happy to take forty minutes out of my day to peruse this recent hybrid documentary, originally exhibited on IMAX screens. Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs combines newly-shot documentary footage with fairly elaborate recreations, all of it narrated by the unimpeachable Christopher Lee. The short film takes as its subject matter how mummies were made, how and when they were re-discovered by Western societies, and what medical secrets they may hold for us and future generations.

Lee guides us through briskly through the aspects of ancient Egyptian culture and religion that gave rise to the preservation of dead bodies; they believed that bodies traveled along with souls to the underworld, hence the need to keep them intact after death. Prior to the age of the pyramids, the dry desert air preserved bodies naturally. But once pyramids and tombs became the burial chambers of choice, natron and other substances were necessary to preserve the dead artificially.

Voice-overs by Egyptologists continue the story in tandem with Lee's narration, describing the discovery of mummies in the modern era, and how the successful extraction of their DNA may provide us with important information on diseases that killed the ancient Egyptians. Knowing this will allow us to trace the development of a disease like malaria from ancient times to modern, aiding contemporary prevention and vaccination.

Throughout the film, we see a combination of new footage (including scenes of current excavation and research) and semi-dramatized recreations. These are executed without dialogue, which is a wise choice. (The History Channel loves indulging in these half-hearted attempts to "enliven" their sloppy documentaries.) I usually roll my eyes when a purported documentary takes the easy way out with these kinds of scenes, but in Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, the recreations look good and seem relatively realistic. There is a lack of unnecessary theatrics, despite the visually lavish combination of sets, costumes, and CGI work.

Although the IMAX format always emphasizes the visual, there is more than enough interesting information about ancient Egyptian customs to maintain the average viewer's interest, even though I would have preferred something with a bit more depth. Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs is an involving introduction to a strange slice of world history that continues to maintain its macabre, mystical allure thousands of years after the fact.

The DVD

The Video
Shot in the IMAX format with a native aspect ratio of 1.44:1, the image has been cropped at the top and bottom to create a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer for DVD. As far as the compositions go, the filmmakers must have had this aspect ratio in mind as they were shooting, because the framing looks absolutely natural. There is no sense that we are missing anything. The transfer itself boasts rich, saturated colors and deep blacks with no evidence of artifacts.

The Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack features good separation, with a strong musical score by Sam Cardon. The surrounds are used more for ambience than for big punchy effects. It's a well-balanced track, available in English, Spanish, and French.

The Extras

>There is one key feature, a 22-minute making-of featurette, which provides some interesting insights into the creation of an IMAX film. There is also some background on how research was done with the involvement of Egyptologists and other experts. There's also a kid-oriented quiz and some text-based information on Egyptian pharaohs who left mummies behind.

Final Thoughts

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs is short and edifying trip, especially for those who don't know much about ancient Egypt. It's also visually involving, even on home video. Because of its brief length and lack of replay value, I'd only recommend this otherwise well-made film as a rental. Rent it.

Casey Burchby lives in Northern California: Twitter, Tumblr.

Popular Reviews
1. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
2. Gone With the Wind: 75th Anniversary Edition
3. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
4. 24: Live Another Day
5. Jennifer
6. Penny Dreadful: The Complete First Season
7. Desperately Seeking Susan
8. Avalanche
9. Squirm
10. The First Power


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use