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Men In Black: Collector's Series (Dolby Digital)

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Screen Story and Screenplay by Ed Solomon
Based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

 

Retail Price: 29.99

Features: Video Commentary with Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones, Deleted and Extended Scenes, "Metamorphosis Of Men In Black" Featurette, Promotional 1997 Making-Of Featurette, Multi-Angle Visual Effects Demonstration of the "Tunnel Scene", Storyboard-to-Screen Comparisons, Storyboard Gallery, Production Photos, Conceptual Art Gallery, Interactive Character Animation Studies, Will Smith and Mikey "Men In Black" Music Video, Talent Files, Theatrical Trailers, DVD-ROM: Weapons of MIB, Devices of MIB, 3-D Exploration of MIB Headquartes, Resident Alien Tracking, MIB Game, Weblinks

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital English, English Dolby Surround, Fench Dolby Surround, English Captions, French Cpations, Spanish Captions, Mandarin Captions, Cantonese Captions, Chapter Search (27 Chapters)

Another incredibly anticipated DVD title, "Men In Black" was supposed to be out long ago... if it weren't for Spielberg who was unsure of the DVD format and decided not to release any of his or Amblin titles on DVD (since then he's been giving in). It's been a long wait, and DVD fans have been pretty pumped for this release.

Based on the cult comic book, "Men In Black" was the top movie of the summer of 1997, raking in a good, cool 250 million. It was also the most successful Columbia Pictures movie of all time. It also gave Will Smith the nickname "King of Summer" or whatnot due to the previous success of 1996's Independence Day (but he later bombed with "Wild Wild West").

The whole idea and plot of "Men In Black" is quite simple, really. A cop named Jay becomes a member of a top secret government agency which investigates alien and phenomena on Earth. He is teamed with Kay, and it's up to them to stop a raging evil.

Barry Sonnenfeld, a former cinematographer and successful director ("The Adams Family", "Adams Family Values) directed "Men In Black", and I think it is because of him the movie works so well. His direction and vision is superb, and really makes the film feel like something special. The cast is very good, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith have great chemistry. The sets and design aspect of the film is really nice, and the special effects are really good. They make the film pretty fun, and it's all coursety of Industrial Light and Magic.

There are three versions of Men In Black. One a Dolby Digital release, one a DTS release, and one a Limited Edition release with a few more fantastic bells and whistles. This Dolby Digital version is more standard, but still packs an impressive punch.

The Dolby Digital Collector's Series release of "Men In Black" is presented in an anamorphic widescreen display of 1.85:1. The transfer is breathtaking, at best. The image is a little soft, but the transfer I expected is the usual excellent Columbia standard. Colors pop right out at you, fleshtones are remarkable and detail is vivid as well as clear. The picture is really crisp too. The only complaint I have is the grain which came up now and then, but other than that, this transfer will please everyone who views it.

A movie like this was simply MADE for 5.1 audio. This is an action movie. Yes, there is dialogue, but there are many cool effects and sounds. The music makes good use of the channels, as well as crashes, blasts, flying sounds... you name it. This will rock your speakers, you can feel the sound bouncing all over the place. Bass is very good here, as well as fidelity. This mix is really creative, and fits the movie perfectly. No one will be disappointed here either. There is also English and French Dolby Surround tracks.

The transfer and sound are excellent, and the features are good too. They may be missing some of the Limited Edition stuff, but still feature some nice stuff.

First off, there is a Commentary with Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones. This is one of the better commentaries I have heard lately, and it is one of those "video" commentaries we've come to see from Columbia, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 type where you see the sillouttes of the people. This track is pretty entertaining, and the two discuss the joys and work of the making of the film. You're sure to pick up some nice knowledge of the movie by listening to the track.

Deleted Scenes... pretty self explanitory. Here you'll see what didn't make the final cut of the film, and you can see why. They are pretty short in total, and some are extended as well as alternate versions of what appears in the movie. A nice touch to see what we were missing out on.

"Metamorphosis of 'Men in Black' Documentary runs under a half hour and shows how the movie was brought from the comic page to the silver screen. Pretty interesting to watch and it does feature interviews.

There is also a short, promotional Featurette which runs around seven minutes and is pure fluff to advertise the movie.

One of the most notable scenes in the film was the tunnel scene, and the Multi-Angle Deconstruction of it is really cool to check out. It uses the angle feature on your DVD player, and shows how difficult and big of a special effects task is to make something like it. There is also an optional commentary from the ILM crew, and you can see five different stages of how it was brought to life.

Character Animation Studies also uses the angle feature to show you three different characters and how the animators created them with different layers. Much like the tunnel scene's effect, it shows the process of what animators do and how it is done.

Storyboard Comparisons are used for three different scenes, and are the basic storyboards on one half of the screen to the final product on the other half. You can also view Storyboards seperatley in a gallery.

The Conceptual Art Gallery features some great original artwork, and how all designs featured went in or differ from what can be found in the final film. There are 3-D Models, paintings, sketches. It's also a good view.

Production Photo Gallery has a bunch of photos of the people behind the scenes, such as animators, costume desiners and art people. These are some really good photos and introduce us to those who worked on the creative side of the movie.

There are the usual Talent Files which points out Sonnenfeld's and the cast's key moments in the industry and basic info, as well as Theatrical Trailers. One is the Men in Black Teaser, one is the full Men in Black trailer and the other is a Men In Black II teaser, which actually has a different voice over to hype a little about the sequel and uses footage from the original teaser. The trailers for the original are a bit rough and could have used a little cleaning up, but they're not terrible. There also trailers for the home video release of Ghostbusters and theatrical trailers for Starship Troopers and The Mask of Zorro, among another. There is also the hit music video, Men In Black with Will Smith and Mikey.

There are also some neat DVD-ROM features. Beside the basic Weblinks, you can take a peek at the Men In Black HQ (you need Quicktime VR, though) as well as MIB Weapons and Devices. There's also a Game and Resident Alien Tracking.

If you like your releases pretty standard and don't care about features or sound, this is the version for you. With some good features and a wonderful presentation, the wait for Men In Black on DVD was worth it. Enjoy!

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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