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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Michael Bay
Cast:
Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jordi Mollà, Gabrielle Union, Peter Stormare, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano
Writing Credits:
George Gallo (characters), Marianne Wibberley, Cormac Wibberley, Ron Shelton, Jerry Stahl

Synopsis:
Superstars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith reunite as a bickering pair of narcotics cops whose pursuit of a drug lord is complicated by Smith's romantic pursuit of Lawrence's sexy sister, Gabrielle Union.

Box Office:
Budget
$130 million.
Opening Weekend
$46.522 million on 3186 screens.
Domestic Gross
$138.396 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 147 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 12/9/2003

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• Production Diaries
• Sequence Breakdowns
• Stunts and Visual Effects Featurettes
• Jay Z “La-La-La” Music Video
• Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


Bad Boys 2 (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 5, 2003)

Director Michael Bay revisits his cinematic origins with 2003’s Bad Boys II. Actually, the flick represents a couple of firsts for Bay. 1995’s Bad Boys was his first stint as a film director, and the 2003 iteration stands as his first attempt at a sequel. For years, it looked like Boys II wouldn’t happen just because its lead actors became such big stars that a reunion would become financially impractical. That also apparently slowed the progress of Men In Black II, but Columbia-Tristar ultimately worked out the deals for both.

MIIB was a disappointment to me. I liked the first but thought the sequel was little more than a pale imitation of it. On the other hand, I never much cared for the original Bad Boys. I think Bay does what he does very well, but his first flick remains his least interesting. Did he improve on that model with the sequel? Read on and see!

The film opens with a shipment of ecstasy from Amsterdam to Miami. We meet drug lord Johnny Tapia (Jordi Molla), the head of this operation. We also see how the Miami police’s “TNT” Special Narcotics Team tries to halt the shipment. They use two undercover officers to infiltrate the operation and send them the sign to move in and deal with the drugs.

No prizes if you guess the identities of the officers. Yup, we find Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) from the first film as the infiltrate a Ku Klux Klan rally and send the signal for the team to head in, but the transmitters don’t work. Much violence and mayhem ensues, but with little payoff as the officers discover they hit the wrong target.

We then encounter more of the folks involved in the drug side of things via club owner Alexei (Peter Stormare) who works with Johnny. The film then introduces Syd (Gabrielle Union), Marcus’ sister in town from New York. We learn that she and Mike hooked up when he recently visited the Big Apple, but neither has spilled the beans to Marcus yet. In addition, a stressed-out Marcus plans to transfer out of the narcotics department and cease his role as Mike’s partner, but he has yet to inform Lowrey of that.

Matters complicate even more when Mike’s informant Icepick (Treva Etienne) lets him know where to go for the dope. When they get there, they find out that Syd’s working undercover and is involved with Alexei’s side of things as a money launderer. Additional mayhem occurs as Johnny continues to try to bring in the drugs and the cops attempt to deal with this.

At least I could chalk up the cheesiness and crudeness of the first Bad Boys to directorial inexperience. With three films between flicks, Bay should know better and should be able to produce something that looks like he’s developed additional skills since 1995.

Unfortunately, Boys II comes across like the same old, same old. I figured I was in for a bad time when within the movie’s first ten minutes we’d heard a character refer to some women as “fucking bitches” and we’d encountered dopey caricatures via the Klan members. These all existed for little reason than to create very easy comedic opportunities that seemed both predictable and lame.

Matters didn’t improve from there. Part of the problem stemmed from the flick’s radically excessive running time. The original flick seemed a little too long at 118 minutes, but Boys II filled almost an extra half an hour! That length seemed acceptable for something more epic like Armageddon; heck, that film did deal with the end of the world. Boys II just follows some criminal enterprises related to drugs – we needed two and a half hours of that?

Bay padded the film with too many pointless action sequences and sad attempts at character development between the leads. I didn’t think the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence seemed great in 1995, and it didn’t improve over the years. It didn’t help that they chose to turn the charming, suave Lowrey of the first flick into an angry renegade here who seemed determined to shoot first, second and third and never ask questions.

Marcus remained something of a pathetic sad sack, and the movie attempted to derive humor from his stressful state. A theme about therapy ran through the film and provided many lame stabs at comedy. Marcus and some others incessantly spouted “whoosah!” as their mantra. It wasn’t funny the first time, and it didn’t get better with additional repetitions.

It didn’t help that Boys II suffered from a tremendously ordinary plot. Cops try to stop a drug shipment and they end up involved against an evil drug lord – that’s not exactly creative or original. Granted, stories don’t have to be innovative to become enjoyable, but it felt like they thought up this one over S’Mores. The tale had absolutely nothing to stand out, and it never seemed like it was worthy of our time.

Some of these complaints may appear irrelevant given the status of the average Bay flick. After all, it’s not like his films ever provided rich and realistic personalities. We go to Bay offerings to see raucous and exciting action, right? Yeah, but unfortunately, he failed to deliver the goods here. The action came across as excessive and pointless. None of those sequences did anything new or inventive, and they lacked the involvement and flair that I expect from Bay. He gave them the usual flashiness, but they never provoked a real reaction.

Over the years, I’ve defended the films of Michael Bay. Some criticize them for a lack of logic and an excessive emphasis on style over substance. I never had a problem with those issues because Bay’s flicks achieved what they set out to do. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur in Bad Boys II, a weak attempt at an action effort. Virtually no parts of it seemed compelling or effective, and it didn’t even manage to match up to the sporadic successes of its predecessor.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A-

Bad Boys II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film nearly offered an “A”-level transfer, but one of the usual suspects kept it from that status.

What was the main problem I observed? Edge enhancement. Those haloes never became overwhelming, but they showed up consistently throughout the movie and created some small distractions. Otherwise, the image looked great. Sharpness was always tight and well defined. I noticed virtually no instances of softness in this accurate and detailed presentation. I saw no concerns with jagged edges or shimmering, and print flaws seemed totally absent.

As expected, Bay infused Bad Boys II with a highly stylized palette. The DVD demonstrated solid reproduction of those tones. From the warm “golden hour” look seen during many daytime scenes to the cold blues that marked night shots, hues came across as tight and precise. Black levels were dark and rich, and shadow detail came across as concise and well developed. The latter marked an improvement from the first film; at that time, Bay seemed to light poorly for the dark-skinned actors, but no such concerns appeared here. Overall, the transfer appeared very good except for the mildly distracting edge enhancement.

On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bad Boys II suffered from no relative problems. Instead, it gave us the kind of slam-bang mix that one would anticipate from a loud action flick like this. The soundfield used all five channels to great effect. Since the film poured on the raucous set pieces, the track got more than a few opportunities to shine, and it lived up to expectations. Elements always seemed accurately placed and they meshed together smoothly. The surrounds contributed good ambience during the rare quiet scenes, and they kicked into overdrive during the many loud ones. Check out the extended car chase at around the half an hour mark to find some vivid and involving audio. Cars zoomed all over the spectrum, bullets flew, and the piece created a great sense of action.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech was always natural and distinctive, and I noticed no concerns connected to edginess or intelligibility. Music often got subsumed to the action pieces, but the score and songs nonetheless came across as lively and well reproduced, with a good presentation of dynamics. Effects were accurate and detailed. They seemed firmly displayed and showed great punch. All those elements were tight and concise, and they never suffered from any distortion. Overall, Bad Boys II gave us an excellent soundtrack.

Michael Bay’s film always get good treatment on DVD. In fact, the four-disc version of Pearl Harbor stands as one of a small handful of the best DVDs every made. Bad Boys II offers some nice features, but it doesn’t reach those heights.

Almost everything appears on disc two, which means one major disappointment: no audio commentary from Bay. For prior flicks, he consistently offered insightful, provocative and entertaining tracks, so I missed the presence of a commentary here. The first disc only includes some trailers. We find ads for Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, Once Upon a Time In Mexico, Radio, SWAT, the animated Spider-Man, The Missing, and Underworld.

As we examine DVD Two, we open with seven deleted scenes. Given the movie’s bloated running time, I didn’t think there could be any unused footage. In any case, the excised clips all remain quite short. They run between 30 seconds and 115 seconds for a total of seven minutes, seven seconds. Unsurprisingly, none of these snippets seems very interesting.

Next we find two featurettes. Stunts runs nine minutes, 27 seconds and mixes movie snippets, behind the scenes footage, and comments from director Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Steve Picerni, and special effects supervisor John Frazier. This quick show basically offers an overview of various stunt topics that I expect will receive greater coverage later. It stands as an effective sampler, though, as we get a nice feel for some of the film’s challenges.

The second featurette concentrates on Visual Effects. It lasts 18 minutes and 36 seconds as it uses the same format as “Stunts”. We hear from Bay and visual effects supervisor Rob Legato. Another good sampler, this one moves through situations like car chases and special bullet effects to give us a nice demonstration of various computer-created techniques. We go through the steps well in this useful program.

After this we get a music video for Jay-Z’s “La-La-La”. Mostly just the usual combination of movie bits and lip-syncing, neither the song nor the video offer anything particularly compelling.

In the Sequence Breakdowns area we focus on six different segments. Each of these allow us to examine the scenes in various ways. Every one of them presents the final sequence from the movie, “On the Set” footage, “Storyboards”, and pages from the “Script”. When I looked at the different parts, the amount of “On the Set” footage varied between three minutes, two seconds and 10 minutes, 26 seconds for a total of 38 minutes and 42 seconds. These indeed present raw footage from the set – very raw much of the time, as you’ll hear quite a lot of profanity when things go wrong.

DVDs for Bay flicks often include material like this, and these segments remain a breath of fresh air. Whereas most productions try to make out everything to be happy happy, joy joy, Bay’s not afraid to let us see the rougher side of things. Indeed, he comes across like a pushy prick on occasion as he shouts things like “keep fuckin’ moving, guys – keep fuckin’ moving!” The presentation also adds text to explain things when necessary, which helps make the pieces more educational. Overall, we find lots of great images from the production and get a fine feel for how things went on the set.

The number of “Storyboards” ranged from 10 to 221 for a sum of 489 images. The “Script” pages filled between one and 14 screens for a total of 36 pages. These help us flesh out the creation fo the different scenes, but they’re not nearly as much fun as the “On the Set” footage.

The final domain of the DVD presents 19 Production Diaries. These segments last between 108 seconds and seven minutes, 50 seconds for a total of 66 minutes and 36 seconds of footage. That’s 66.6 minutes, which may mean Bay is the anti-Christ! The components mostly show footage from the set, but we also get a fair number of interview snippets as well. These include comments from Bay, Bruckheimer, actors Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Yul Vazquez, Joe Pantoliano, Jordi Molla, Gabrielle Union, Dan Marino, and Peter Stormare, law enforcement advisor Bill Erfurth, military and technical advisor Harry Humphries, stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Steve Picerni, property owner Eric Cherry, and special effects supervisor John Frazier.

The programs start with a diary that reflects on the first movie, and they then trace various elements of the production. We watch the actors’ training for the TNT team and examine behind the scenes elements of many other components. We also check out lots of raw dailies, which let us see multiple outtakes. As with the prior “Breakdowns”, these remain nicely fresh and honest. Actually, a little bit of fluffiness emerges on occasion, but much less than usual, and the segments generally seem informative and enjoyable. You’ll learn a lot about the making of the film in these entertaining and well-made clips.

Too bad Bad Boys II itself wasn’t as interesting. The movie pours on the high-priced mayhem but never delivers a compelling story, intriguing characters, or anything else that would turn it into a stimulating action flick. The DVD works well, however, as it offers positive picture, excellent audio, and some terrific extras, even without the usual audio commentary. If you’re a fan of Bad Boys II, I whole-heartedly aim you towards this disc, but others should skip it and check out one of Michael Bay’s better films instead. (That’d be all of them - Boys II is unquestionably the director’s worst.)

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9538 Stars Number of Votes: 65
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