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Blending comedy, coolness, a plethora of great special effects, plus the distinct personalities of Tommy Lee Jones & Will Smith, MEN IN BLACK ($29) proved itself to be the GHOSTBUSTERS of the 1990s. Adapted from the comic book of the same name, MEN IN BLACK tells the story of a super secret agency known as Men In Black or MIB, which regulates and polices all extraterrestrial activity on the planet Earth… think of it as a sort of INS for the intergalactic set. While MIB keeps an eye on the respectable and cleverly disguised aliens living amongst humanity, their most difficult job is to deal with the dangerous "illegal aliens" who try to make the Earth their stomping grounds.

The premise of MEN IN BLACK finds Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Agent K of MIB, who has been with the agency since its inception, and finds that he must take a new recruit under his wing, when his old partner is no longer able to do the job. Will Smith portrays a street savvy New York City police detective, who is recruited by Agent K, after the detective has a successful encounter with an alien perpetrator. However, even the years on the mean streets of New York doesn’t prepare our newly dubbed Agent J for the arrival a nasty giant cockroach that stirs up an intergalactic incident, which could result in the destruction of Earth.

The on screen chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is utterly terrific, with Jones’ deadpan "Joe Friday" delivery getting some of the film’s biggest laughs. Director Barry Sonnenfeld knows how to set up the film’s visual gags and he applies the same touch that worked so well in THE ADDAMS FAMILY movies. MEN IN BLACK also features a lot of impressive special effects that serve to push the film over the top and create a genuine crowd-pleasing winner. In addition to Jones and Smith, the delightful cast of MEN IN BLACK also features Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn, Carel Struycken and Tony Shalhoub.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made MEN IN BLACK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation of MEN IN BLACK is indeed a winner and certain to please longtime fans of the film. This is indeed a worthy upgrade over the fine looking SD DVD release, as there is a whole lot more image detail in the crisply rendered hi-def image. Even the cragginess of Mr. Jones’ face is suitably enhanced. Colors are definitely stronger, more stable and have a tendency to pop quite nicely. Additionally, the flesh tones are more appealing here than they were on DVD. Blacks are pure, whites are crisp, plus the contrast and shadow detail are excellent. The elements from which MEN IN BLACK have been transferred appear very, very clean indeed. Only a very fine veneer of grain is present.

MEN IN BLACK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel TrueHD soundtrack. The lossless nature of the Dolby TrueHD format ratchets up the impressive quality of the Dolby Digital track from the original DVD release, with Danny Elfman’s score being the primary benefactor. MEN IN BLACK features a fairly aggressive sound design the makes excellent use of the outlying channels. There are plenty of little sounds in the track, plus the track explodes to life for some of the bigger set pieces. The bottom end of the track really rocks, effectively shaking the ground and adding kickback to gunfire. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD soundtracks are also present, as are Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Arabic, Bahasa and Dutch.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as an excellent body of supplements. Starting things off are running Commentaries. First is the Telestrator Commentary featuring director Barry Sonnenfeld and star Tommy Lee Jones that has been ported from the DVD release. The commentary allows the two participants to draw on the screen and highlight the things they are talking about. The second track is a Technical Commentary with Barry Sonnenfeld, Rick Baker and the ILM Team.

Other supplements are as follows: Intergalatic Pursuit: The MIB Multi-Player Trivia Game is fairly self-explanatory (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Ask Frank the Pug! Interactive Game more amusing to the kids than adults. Alien Subtitle Track is kind of goofy since it puts up written alien languages, when the aliens are speaking those languages. Extended And Alternate Scenes provides items from the cutting room floor. Metamorphosis Of Men In Black is a twenty-three minute documentary that includes interviews with Sonnenfeld, Jones, Smith and special effects genius Rick Baker. Original Featurette is a six-minute program from 1997. Visual Effects Scene Deconstruction strips away the layers of two special effects sequences. Character Animation Studies and Storyboard Comparisons look at concept versus finished film. Scene Editing Workshop allows one to piece together scenes from available footage. Filling out the disc-based supplements are a Teaser Trailer, a full Theatrical Trailer, Storyboard and Photo Galleries and the Will Smith Music Video for the film’s title song. Future BD-Live content is pending.

MEN IN BLACK remains loads of fun and Sony Blu-ray release is real winner. If you have been a long time fan, then you’ll want MEN IN BLACK in high definition. Highly recommended.



Men in Black [Blu-ray] (1997)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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