Men In Black II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasn’t a flawless image, but it mostly looked good.
Sharpness consistently appeared positive, so the movie seemed crisp and well defined most of the time. Virtually no signs of softness emerged – well, except for some effects shots, but that was an inevitable outgrowth of the techniques involved.
Jagged edges and shimmering presented no issues, and edge haloes remained absent. As for print flaws, I saw a few speckles but nothing more than that.
The palette of MIIB came across well on the disc. Despite a number of dark scenes, the movie featured a fairly bright and vivid sense of color, largely via all the different aliens we saw. Those tones appeared nicely vibrant and distinct, and they displayed no issues that negatively affected the presentation.
Black levels also seemed deep and rich, while shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but didn’t become excessively dense. The smattering of print flaws knocked down my grade to “B+”, but this was mostly a terrific image.
I found no concerns when I listened to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Men In Black II. The movie displayed a terrifically active soundfield from start to finish. It boasted excellent separation and definition, and elements meshed together very nicely. Movement seemed especially solid, as elements zoomed all around the room in a seamless manner.
The track made active use of all five channels and really helped make the film a more involving affair. Quite a few moments stood out, but if I needed to pick the best, I’d go with the flushing sequence. In addition, the deneuralyzer and machine gun droid also provided strong elements during this terrific mix.
Audio quality appeared positive as well. Speech came across as natural and distinct, and I noticed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music appeared bright and lively and also demonstrated good dynamics.
Best of the bunch, the effects always sounded crisp and accurate, and they packed a serious punch when appropriate. Low-end material was deep and tight, and those elements presented efficient bass with no boominess or other issues. Ultimately, the audio of Men In Black II worked tremendously well.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the original 2002 DVD? Visuals looked tighter and more concise, while audio was warmer and more engaging. All aspects of the presentation improved upon the DVD.
The Blu-ray duplicates many of the DVD’s extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld. He provides a running, screen-specific track, but it’s not one of his best. On the Men In Black disc, they paired him with Tommy Lee Jones, and while the actor offered little information, he seemed to give Sonnenfeld an audience. That brightened the piece and made it more interesting.
The MIB II commentary seems fairly bland. Sonnenfeld possesses a wonderfully dry humor as a speaker, but that failed to come through most of the time here. He mostly focused on effects issues, which often turned the commentary into a dull examination of real vs. CG. Some decent anecdotes popped up as well, and Sonnenfeld occasionally relates issues connected to non-effects topics like Will Smith’s improvs, but the technical areas dominated the piece. As a result, I struggled to make it through this fairly lackluster track.
Next we get a five-minute and nine-second Blooper Reel. This includes the usual set of flubs and improvs, with a particular focus on a fit of the giggles that affected the autopilot scene. I’ve seen worse sets of outtakes, but this one seems lackluster.
For a look at the planning process, check out the Serleena Animatic Sequence. It lasts one minute, 11 seconds and gives us filmed storyboards and rough computer graphics to simulate that scene.
Up next, we locate five featurettes. These include “MIIB: ADR” (9:25), “Design in Motion” (10:01), “Rick Baker: Alien Maker” (10:46), “Splish, Splat, Sploosh: The Stellar Sounds of MIB II” (8:04) and “Cosmic Symphonies: Elfman in Space” (12:52). They cover ADR, production design, Rick Baker’s alien creations, Serleena, Jeff, Frank the Pug, sound design, and the score.
These offer the standard mix of movie snippets, shots from the set and other archival materials, and interviews. We hear from director Sonnenfeld, actor Tim Blaney, makeup designer Rick Baker, composer Danny Elfman, production designer Bo Welch, visual effects art director David Nakabayashi, technical animator Mauricio Baiocchi, foley artists Marko Costanzo and Jay Peck, supervising foley editor Steve Vischer, effects sequence supervisor Amelia Chenoweth, and visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer.
Though the quality varies somewhat, overall the featurettes offer some good material. They cover their topics efficiently and informatively and strike a good balance between depth and expediency.
Of the various programs, the ADR, production design and Elfman featurettes seem the best. I especially like the shots in the first one that show the actors as they rerecord their lines. Frankly, I’d prefer a coherent documentary to the choppy presentation of these segments, but I still definitely like them.
In the Multi-Angle Scene Deconstructions, you can break down five different segments. Each of these includes between two and five possible angles. These give us a reasonably useful and fun way to check out the progress of the effects, though it seems disappointing that the clips offer no commentary or additional information, features that appeared on the MIB set.
Next we get a two-minute, 13-second Alternate Ending. It’s a moderately interesting piece that doesn’t seem any worse than the existing conclusion. Unfortunately, the disc includes no commentary or other information that would let us know why Sonnenfeld chose the finished film’s finale over this one.
For information of various critters, we shift to the Creature Featurettes section. There we find eight shorter programs that discuss Frank the Pug (5:03), Scrad/Charlie (2:59), the Worms (3:49), Serleena (4:04), “Alien Esoterica” (5:26), Jeebs (3:30), Jarra (4:21), and Jeff the Worm (3:35). All told we get 21 minutes and six seconds of footage here.
In these, we see movie bits, behind the scenes work, and interviews with Sonnenfeld, alien designer Rick Baker, actors Johnny Knoxville and Lara Flynn Boyle, visual effects art director David Nakabayashi, technical animator Mauricio Baiocchi, Lara Flynn Boyle, visual effects supervisor John Berton, and effects sequence supervisor Amelia Chenoweth.
Some of these work quite well; I especially like the segments that discussed Jeebs and Jarra. That’s because those delve into new topics. Unfortunately, most of the others cover material that we already hear elsewhere. On their own, they give us good information, but if you watch the supplements “in order”, they’ll seem pretty redundant by now.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s Intergalactic Guide to Comedy goes six minutes. We hear from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, screenwriter Barry Fanaro, producers MacDonald and Parkes, and Sonnenfeld. It offers a general featurette about actors, Sonnenfeld’s ideas of comedy, and other basic topics. It seems like a watchable piece, but we hear much of this elsewhere.
A few minor pieces round out the disc. Theatrical One-Sheets displays four posters used to promote the film. After that comes the music video for “Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” by Will Smith Introducing TRA-KNOX. This lasts four minutes, 39 seconds and offers an elaborate but surprisingly dull experience.
Although I made it through Men In Black II painlessly, I feel the sequel virtually defines the concept of a “paycheck movie”. It seems as though everyone involved in the project signed on to collect a big fat wad of cash, for they clearly show few signs of imagination or creativity. The Blu-ray provides good visuals, excellent audio and a mostly informative array of supplements. Whole this turns into a fine release, the movie itself is mediocre at best.
To rate this film, visit the original review of MEN IN BLACK II