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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

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

Synopsis:
Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) return as partners on the Miami Tactical Narcotics Team in director Michael Bay's sequel to the 1995 blockbuster Bad Boys. Car chases and shoot outs are daily occurrences as the two try to track down a big time Ecstasy dealer. The trail leads to Johnny Tapia (Jordi Moll) a Cuban immigrant who runs the biggest drug cartel on the East Coast. The stakes are raised when Marcus discovers that his sister, Syd (Gabrielle Union), an agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, is working undercover trying to bust Tapia as well. And to further complicate matters, Syd and Mike have become involved romantically and are keeping it a secret from Marcus. Jam-packed with massive explosions, wild chase scenes, and flying bullets, this wild ride is filled with action and violence. Smith is charming as the quick-tempered, fast-talking Mike, and Lawrence is his ideal counterpart as the stressed-out Marcus, who resorts to therapy tricks to keep calm. Joe Pantoliano reprises his role as Captain Howard, who is continually traumatized by the trail of wrecked cars and damage his boys leave behind after a chase.

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
English DTS 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Chinese
Thai
Korean
Portuguese
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 147 min.
Price: $26.96
Release Date: 10/26/2004

Bonus:
• None


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Bad Boys 2: Superbit (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 25, 2004)

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 who’s 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 A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus F

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. Very few problems marred this near reference-level transfer.

The only minor issue connected to edge enhancement. Small examples of those haloes occasionally showed up during the movie. 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 excellent despite the smidgen of edge enhancement.

For this Superbit release of Bad Boys II, we got the same Dolby Digital 5.1 mix from the original DVD plus a DTS 5.1 track. If any differences occurred to differentiate the pair, I couldn’t discern them. I thought both sounded identical.

And that was fine with me, as Boys 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.

When I compared this Superbit edition of Bad Boys II with the original, I noticed no auditory differences. As I already stated, I thought the DTS and Dolby tracks sounded the same, and they also matched up with the Dolby mix on the prior disc. On the other hand, the Superbit disc did offer slight visual improvements. Both showed some light edge enhancement, but the Superbit seemed to decrease the prevalence of the haloes. It took an already strong picture and made it excellent.

For that reason, the Superbit DVD of Bad Boys II is the one to have for fans - or at least fans who want some minor improvements over the prior release. The Superbit disc definitely gives us the best presentation of the movie, but that comes with a price, as it loses a very strong roster of extras.

It bugs me that fans need to make that choice. The original Bad Boys II put virtually all of its supplements on its second disc, so why not just add that platter here and give fans the best possible release? For me, if I had to choose one over the other, I’d stick with the original simply because I love supplements. However, those with a craving for the best possible visuals will want to bite the bullet and get the Superbit disc.

To rate this film, visit the original review of BAD BOYS 2