Men in Black (1997) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Action / Comedy / Science Fiction
Sony || PG13 - 98 minutes - $28.95 || June 17, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-06-30


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer(s): Lowell Cunningham (comic); Ed Solomon (screen story and screenpla)
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub


Theatrical Release Date: July 2, 1997


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Trivia Game (BD Exclusive)
  • Alien Subtitle Track (BD Exclusive)
  • Ask Frank the Pub (BD Exclusive
  • Telestrator Commentary
  • Technical Commentary
  • Metamorphisis of Men in Black
  • Original Featurette
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Storyboard to Film Comparisons
  • Music Video
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Men in Black is the popcorn flick to own on Blu-ray.

By now, you've probably already seen Men in Black at least a few times if you're a fan of Sci Fi movies. It plays on rotation at least every other weekend on some cable network and it's been played several times on the Network television during the summer. It's hard not to have seen the film at some point in time in its 10 years since it was released.

The general plot of the film is that aliens live among us and can encompass all different shapes and sizes. James Edwards (Will Smith) soon finds himself chasing down a perpetrator who, for some reason, is really fast. When James catches up with the guy he notices something just isn't right with him (which reminds me a lot of that one scene in I, Robot). James is soon questioned by "Agent K" (Tommy Lee Jones) who, after getting all the information he needs, pulls out a silver pen, puts sunglasses on, and flashes James; making him forget everything that has happened.

For some reason, Agent K sees something in James, and soon, after some tests and typical Will Smith humor, James is now a part of the Men in Black team dubbed Agent J (get it, for James!). The new team soon find themselves in several sticky situations and the film ends which a giant alien fight that is sure to make any geek proud.

Men in Black is the ultimate cheesy popcorn flick. Not only do you have aliens that come in various shapes and sizes, but you have explosions, guns, car chases and some good ol' fashion Sci Fi special effects. Running at only 95 minutes long, its just enough time to hold your attention span without dragging out the story too much.

I'll always have a soft spot for Men in Black because it's a decent film that can be watched several times a year and still be enjoyable. Sure, you may know exactly what will happen to the characters, but each time I find a new scene that I love. Granted, before this Blu-ray release its been a few years since I last watched it, but I still remember the handful of scenes that I enjoyed when I purchased my very expensive (at the time) Superbit DVD edition.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All features are presented in SD (except where noted).

Sony has included not only a really nice looking slipcover with this release but also an option to get a free movie ticket to see Will Smith's latest film, Hancock. But a word of caution: there is no free ticket inside the case. Instead, you have to peel off the sticker on the slipcover and type in the redemption code on a website and then print out your free ticket. Problem is, the sticker is very cheap as will often rip, tearing the redemption code into pieces. Be very careful when removing the sticker. I suggest using a hair dryer on it first to soften it up and then pull it off.

Intergalactic Pursuit: Trivia Game - A fun little trivia game that you can play with up-to 8 different people. This is only available if you own a Profile 2.0 player (i.e. PS3), so if you own anything else, you're out of luck. But don't worry, youíre not missing much. ** Blu-Ray Exclusive **

Alien Subtitle Track - This gets the 'WTF' Award for the month. This track plays while you watch them film and puts Alien gibberish on the screen anytime a character is speaking. Itís cute for the first 20 seconds and then you wonder how much time and money Sony spent on this little feature that could have gone to actually making the other extra features HD. ** Blu-Ray Exclusive **

Ask Frank the Pub! - Ugh. Another stupid java game where you ask Frank some question (out loud....seriously) and he gives you a random answer. Waste of time. ** Blu-Ray Exclusive **

BD-Live - At the time I reviewed the film this service was not available. I imagine itís just a portal to download trailers and TV spots for future Sony products like all the other 'BD-Live' titles Sony has put out recently. ** Blu-Ray Exclusive **

Telestrater Commentary Track (with Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Actor Tommy Lee Jones) - Ahh, the Telestrater commentary. Imagine watching football on TV where the coach draws plays right on your screen. Well, this is the same concept. Throughout the commentary Sonnenfeld uses some sort of pen to circle actors and objects and then discuss them. While a neat concept for DVD back in 2000, it looks very dated now on this Blu-ray release.

Technical Commentary Track (with Director Barry Sonnenfeld, Rick Baker, and the visual effects Team) - If you want to know how effects were done, this is the track to listen to. While itís a bit more interesting than the one with Tommy Lee, quite a bit of it is repeated material.

Metamorphosis of Men in Black (23:11) - A great little documentary that delves into some behind the scenes information mixed in with interviews. This is all pretty standard stuff.

Original Featurette (6:38) - A very useless feature that seems like an oddity to be included. It gives no new information and everything just seems very plain. Simply for promotional reason only.

Deleted & Alternate Scenes (4:20) - A handful of scenes removed from the final cut. Nothing here screams greatness so I have no issues with them ending up on the cutting room floor. Most of these are just alternate scenes that stretch out just a wee bit longer.

The following features are presented, I think, using Java to some degree and appear in a small window box to the right of the screen.
- Visual Effects Deconstructions
- Scene Editing Workshop
- Character Animation Studies
- Still Gallery
- Storyboard Comparisons

Everything above is pretty standard for a DVD and nothing that great. Itís mostly pictures of aliens and story board to film comparisons. While the scene editing feature is neat, its looks and feels very dated compared to what studios are doing now on Blu-ray (the Mo-Log feature on Rambo for instance).

Music Video - Will Smith singing. I hated his "music" then and still hate it.

Trailers (HD) - Great. The only thing that's HD in the special features in the trailers. Wonderful.

Considering this is a film that is on most peopleís "must buy" list, I am very disappointed that Sony has opted to include nearly all the special features in SD. A film that appeals to everyone and a 50GB disc and this is the best they can do? Shame on you, Sony. At least they managed to carry over all the features from the 2000 Limited Edition set.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Men in Black is presented in its Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 (AVC/MPEG-4) on a 50GB disc. This Blu-ray release is a huge improvement over the past DVD editions (including the Superbit one), but still not anything to be deemed as reference quality. While colors certainly look great and black levels appear to fine, I did notice more than a few times some softness to the picture.

Sony has upped the ante and included a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (as well as...). I was much more impressed with the sound then I was with the picture. Since the film is very action oriented everything just sound a whole lot nicer compared to the previous released DVD versions and dialog is much cleaner.



.::OVERALL::.

Men in Black a decade later is still a very enjoyable popcorn flick that deserves much better treatment on Blu-ray. While the Picture and Audio quality is at least acceptable, the special features are severely lacking the 'Blu-ray upgrade'. By including the Special Features in SD and having poorly made exclusive Blu-ray content (Frank the Pub, Alien Subtitle Track) makes this a questionable release and a prime candidate for a 'Special Edition' re-release eventually.