Discs Are Rated
Men In Black: Limited Edition
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Linda
Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio
Screen Story and Screenplay by Ed Solomon
Based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Retail Price: 39.99
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, Conceptual Art Gallery, Interactive Character
Animation Studies, Will Smith and Mikey "Men In Black" Music
Video, Talent Files, Theatrical Trailers, Commentary with
Barry Sonnenfeld and Special Effects Team, Interactive Scene
Editing Workshop, "Creatures: Concept To Completion"
Featurette, Additional Conceptial Art Gallery, Additional
Production Photos, Multi-Angle Effects Comparison, 12 Page
Booklet, Reproduction Concept Drawing, 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, 1.33:1 Pan and
Scan, 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), Two Disc Set
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
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
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 Limited Edition should not disappoint at all
and was worth the wait.
This Limited Edition release of "Men In Black" has two
formats of viewing (the only release of the movie to feature
two). An anamorphic widescreen display of 1.85:1, and pan
and scan of 1.33:1. 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. The pan and scan transfer however loses some parts
of key shots.
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
While the transfer and audio shine, the features are out
of this world (sorry for the stupid joke). This Limited
Edition features more features than the standard, so this
may very well be your cup of tea.
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
"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
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.
That rounds out what's in the basic releases, but there's
more in the Limited Edition...
There's another Commentary which has Sonnenfeld, Rick
Baker and the Industrial Light and Magic Team. This
track is screen specific, and points out things in the movie
on a more technical side. This is a very good track as they
all discuss the special effects and computer magic which
made a good majority of the film possible. If you have any
interest in computer graphics or special effects, be sure to
listen to this track, you'll get a lot out of it.
Creautres: Concept To Completion is a gallery of
five characters from the film, and show them morphing from
sketches to real time images. It's an excellent feature
which shows another part of the creative process of the
Another Deconstruction, this one only on the
Limited Edition features another key scene, the Edgar Bug
Fight Scene. This one also has an optional ILM
commentary, and you use your angles to show five different
stages of the production. Again, it's pretty neat.
There are some Additional Concept Art and
Gallery Photos, as well as Exclusive Production
Photos as an added bonus and to give us a little bit
more about the production and development of the movie
Finally, what I think is the best feature and really fun,
is the Interactive Scene Editing Workshop. Here you
can edit three scenes, each with three different shots and
parts, and see how they turn out. This is a really clever
feature, nothing that's ever been done on DVD. It's really
fun, and pretty cool to then compare it to how Sonnenfeld
did it. Sonnenfeld gives an intro to this (pretty
egotisitical... thinks his is perfect) as well. My only
complaints, however, is that the scenes are short
(understandable, due to the nature and space of the disc),
and some shots appear rough. This makes it a bit uneven. Say
you choose a few different shots. One looks perfectly fine
with some flaws, while the other is a really rough used
shot, and then it switches back or it also looks different.
I understand some of these shots were not used for the film
and have just been sitting around, but they could have been
cleaned up to give it a more perfect and natural feel.
Still, it's a fun feature sure to get the director in you
To round off this set is a 12 Page Color Booklet
citing features from the DVD as well as art, photos and
background on the movie. There is also a Concept Art
Poster with a signature from Sonnenfeld and the artist
As far as other things on the disc go, I was pretty happy
that Sonnenfeld played such a big part in this DVD release
and cared what went in and offered much insight (but why not
with "The Adams Family" with Paramount!?). The
Interactive Menus are also really nice, perfectly
fitting in with the movie itself. These menus stand out and
are really nice to look at. The Packaging is also
pretty nice. It resembles a hardcover book of sorts and when
you open it, there is one disc at each side, and the inserts
between them. Very nice.
This is all your choice now. Don't care about features or
sound so much? Go with the
Digital. Like DTS a alot? Check out the standard DTS
release. Love those extras? This DVD version is the one for
you. Outstanding picture and sound, and remarkable and
creative features, Men In Black: Limited Edition is one for
your collection. Go out and get this puppy!
(4/5, NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)