Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs 3D
by Jef Burnham
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Journey to the deserts of Egypt in Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs in 3D, available March 29, 2011 on IMAX 3D Blu-ray from Image Entertainment. Although this title is intended to be enjoyed on a 3D-ready system, the feature is presented in both 3D and 2D formats on Blu-ray to accommodate those without 3D capabilities. It is the 2D version that I will be reviewing here.
Christopher Lee narrates this short documentary about mummification and the discovery of Pharaohs’ mummies in the 19th Century. The film begins by detailing the process of mummification (don’t worry, concerned parents, no on-screen organ removal here) and introduces us to a group of scientists who have recreated the mummification process. This they have done to determine those portions of a mummy most likely to contain viable DNA samples as ancient mummies’ DNA may have significant medical applications, not the least of which are cures for diseases. There follows a concise explanation of what DNA is for the kiddies. A lengthy portion of the latter part of the film revolves around the discovery of 40 mummies in the Valley of the Kings during the 19th century, which included the first mummies of Pharaohs seen by the era’s leading scholars. The events leading up to the discovery of this cache, as well as the portions of the film on Ramses the Great are related through extensive historical reenactments.
The HD representation of Egypt’s deserts and ancient structures adorned with hieroglyphics is astounding— including perhaps the most breath-taking photography of any of the recent 3D releases from Image. Furthermore, of all these releases, Mummies is in fact the closest thing to what one might consider an actual, fully-realized film. But it is incredibly short like the others, however, with a running time of 39 minutes. And as the film does not follow up on the topic of mummy DNA leading to medical breakthroughs (except to say that maybe it will happen), the film doesn’t quite fulfill its promise and falls short of a truly satisfying experience. Still, it is the best of the bunch.
Special features include a making-of featurette shot in HD and trailers.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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