The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1997
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 98 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish & Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese(Traditional & Simplified), Korean, Thai, Arabic, Bahasa, Dutch
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Linda Fiorentino
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Ed Solomon based upon the Comic by Lowell Cunningham
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 17, 2008
"Jay & Kay look great in Blu"
Men in Black follows the exploits of agents Kay (Jones) and Jay (Smith), members of a top-secret organization established to monitor alien activity on Earth. The two MiB find themselves in the middleof the deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has arrived on Earth to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies. K and J face a simple imperative: track down the interloper or the Earth will be destroyed.
Men in Black is a favorite of mine. For me it is one of those that I like to re-visit from time to time. I have looked forward to its release in high definition and am pleased that the day has come. Clever writing, creative visual design/special effects and the great casting all combine to make this film work. Vincent D’Onofrio is priceless as the easily irritated and vicious invading bug. I find Linda Fiorentino to be very attractive (even more so in high definition!) and enjoyed her role in MiB. Smith and Jones play perfectly off of one another. I think that Will Smith has strong on screen appeal. He has some truly wonderful moments in this film. “In New York is just be raining black people,” “you need to ease up out my face before something bad happens to you”. Tommy Lee Jones is an actor that excels at playing a crusty, trustworthy, and extremely believable character. I can’t think of a film of his where I didn’t appreciate his performance. His straight forward and deliberate “just the facts” old school style worked perfectly in tandem with Will Smith’s wise cracking and street smart approach. I won’t go into a long dissection of the story because at this point I think that most who are reading this have seen it. I would like to offer up a few of my favorite moments from MIB:
- Beatrice and Edgar/Bug “sugar”
- Jay explaining why he shot the little girl in the simulator
- Jay and Kay interviewing Beatrice
- Jay and Kay’s exchange regarding Dr. Weaver and her being “flashy thingied”
- Jay and Dr. Weaver exchange as Edgar/Bug hides under the gurney
- Edgar/Bug car jacking the cabbie and taking the time to throw out the beaded seat cushion and air freshner
- Kay and Frank the Pug (of course)
- Jay and the Bug “I’m sorry was that your Auntie? (crunch)”
These are just to name a few. I think that Men in Black is a wonderfully entertaining film that has earned its place among fans as a classic.
The rating is for language and Sci-Fi violence. There is nothing in this film that is visually graphic in nature.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Men in Black comes to High Definition Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio with an average bitrate of 1.8 mbps.
Being a fan of MiB I had high hopes for this Blu-ray Disc release and I am happy to report that Sony did not disappoint. This is a reference quality video presentation that looks excellent. Detail is abundant from nearly every perspective. Subtle but visible nuance in the texture of skin and clothing worn by the cast was rendered with clear articulation and realism. Long distant and panning shots exhibited similar attributes. An example of this is in chapter 8 there is a wide angle shot as Jay and Kay pull up in front of Beatrice’s farm house. There is a breeze blowing the grass that is growing on the hill behind the house and the surrounding background. The individual blades of grass blowing in the wind near the house can be seen as they move back and forth. As you look upward near the top of the hill where the blades of grass appear smaller I was able to clearly discern them moving in the wind as well. Blacks were noise free with good extension and dynamic range. Detail in dark areas and low light was excellent. This gave these sequences plenty of dimensionality so that objects in backgrounds had visible structure. I thought that colors appeared quite natural without over saturation or posterization. Contrast and Brightness levels achieved a nice balance which preserved detail within white and black elements on screen. Skin tones were a little on the white side. They looked fine on the cast members with lighter complexions but elevated Will Smith’s medium complexion a bit. This didn’t had an adverse effect but I thought I would mention it. I saw only one shot that I thought looked grain heavy. It was just after Kay meets Jay regarding his decision to become a MiB agent. Jay is looking out over the river at the World Trade Center on the other side. The sky in the background looked grainy. Other than that grain was visible here and there but never intrusive.
The audio presentation was on par with the video and was a real treat. I would not describe this as an aggressive sound mix but rather an instinctive one. What I mean is that this mix relies on the dynamics and natural power inherent in the elements contained in the recording rather than enhancing them to make it sound “better”. The result is well balanced surround sound that had superb dynamic response and sound field imaging. Danny Elfman’s score sounded superb in every regard. Dialogue was tonally diverse and well articulated throughout. Bass response was not as deep as I have experienced in my room but it was tight and powerful enough to be felt when appropriate. Check out the crash landing of the spaceship in the finale. Front to rear and rear to front soundstage pans were seamless in most instances so that they matched perfectly with what was occurring onscreen.
I was impressed by the technical aspects of this presentation and commend Sony on a job well done.
The special features accompanying MiB on Blu-ray combine some of the features from the DVD release along with some new ones as well as BD-Live content. There are five extended/deleted scenes which don’t offer much value to the film as released. The Metamorphosis documentary is a 23 minute piece which looks at MiB from concept to production. It features discussions on the original comic, storyboards, behind the scenes video, and interviews with the director, and cast. The original 6 minute DVD featurette is included and is more of a quick overview that offers little insightful information. For those who may be interested there are several pieces that look at the technical aspects of MiB. To be honest I found them to be dry and a little boring. I liked the Will Smith music video, Alien subtitle track (you enable it), and the photo galleries.
I played the Trivia game and scored a 52 (got 1 wrong!). The game is actually pretty intuitive and you score not only based upon correct answers but how quickly you respond. There are single player and multi-player options. Multi-player requires connection to the internet and BD-live. I tried yesterday and this morning to connect to BD-live with no luck. The press kit that I received stated that it would be enabled effective one week before the release date. Each time I tried I got a download error so I don’t think that it has been activated yet (sorry). The Ask Frank the Pug feature is also interactive and allows you to ask Frank questions based upon 5 categories. The categories are Health, Money, Career, Romance, and Everything Else. His responses are random and based upon the same premise as the Magic 8 Ball. I didn’t find it to be entertaining. As a whole I found the bonus supplements to be good and I like the idea of being able to access additional features via BD-Live. I am not sure how much use the multi-player game option will get but its nice to know its available.
Blu-ray Disc Live Features:
- Intergalactic Pursuit: The MIB Multi-player Trivia Game
- Ask Frank the Pug! Interactive Game
- Enhanced Telestrator Interactive Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld
- Alien subtitle track
- Technical Commentary
- Extended and alternate scenes
- Metamorphosis of Men in Black
- Original Featurette
- Scene Editing Workshop
- Visual Effects Scene Deconstructions with Commentary
- Character Animation Studies
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Music Video featuring Will Smith
- Original Theatrical and Teaser Trailers
Men in Black is a film that many have waited patiently for on Blu-ray disc. I am pleased to report that it looks and sounds great in high definition. It features some new bonus supplements that takes advantage of Blu-ray’s BD-Live feature as well porting over some original content from the DVD release. This is a great package that is sure to please fans. It has found a place in my collection and has been added to my list of Recommended Blu-ray Discs.
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Reference Review System:
Sony VPL-VW50 SXRD 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package