Mystery Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. The picture could look worse, but it could also look much better.
Sharpness seemed decent in close-ups and the occasional wider shot, but a lot of the flick tended to be somewhat soft. Edge haloes added a tentative sense to the image and made it mushier than desired, though again, it wasn’t ever poor.
Mild instances of jaggies and shimmering appeared, and digital artifacts could make the picture a bit gritty. As for source flaws, I noticed a handful of specks but no substantial defects.
Colors were decent. The film used a stylized comic book palette that could seem a bit heavy much of the time, but the hues were usually acceptable.
Blacks seemed dark and deep, but shadows could be thick. Low-light shots were generally less visible than I’d like. This turned into a bland image that barely nudged its way to “C-“ status.
At least the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed more satisfying, though it wasn’t as impressive as one might expect for a flick about superheroes. At its best, the mix opened up the room well, with vehicles, explosions and the like all about the spectrum.
However, those sequences occurred less frequently than expected and weren’t particularly intense or immersive. The occasional action bit provided decent punch but the movie never turned into the five-channel butt-kicked I anticipated.
This meant the soundfield often remained oddly restrained and didn’t deliver great pizzazz on a consistent basis. Still, the action scenes brought a reasonable amount to the table, and they showed pretty good localization.
Audio quality was always solid. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects presented positive depth and power. The less than dazzling soundfield made this a minor disappointment, but it was still good enough for a “B”.
When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Kinka Usher. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source and story/characters, Usher’s approach to the comic book genre, cast and performances, sets, costumes and production design, music, editing and cut scenes, effects, and related domains.
Usher delivers a wholly listenable commentary but not one that soars. While he does get into a good array of subjects, the track simply lacks a lot of energy. That makes it worthwhile but less than scintillating.
Spotlight on Location runs 17 minutes, 38 seconds and includes notes from Usher, producer Lloyd Levin, production designer Kirk Petrocelli, costume designer Marilyn Vance, and actors Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Reubens, William H. Macy, Claire Forlani, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Kel Mitchell, Greg Kinnear, and Tom Waits. “Spotlight” looks at story and characters, cast and performances, Usher’s impact on the shoot, costume and production design. We get a few useful notes – and some funny asides from the actors – but this remains largely a promo piece.
10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 22 seconds. Most of these encompass extra character beats such as extra info about the heroes’ personal lives.
We also see a little more depth to the team interactions, and another uses Luis Guzman as a “red herring” character as the Men look for the Sphinx. Many of the clips offer pretty good material – it’s clear they got cut solely for time, as the movie already runs pretty long for its genre.
Under “Universal Soundtrack Presentation”, we find a music video for “Who Are These Mystery Men” by Kel and the MAFT. Emcees featuring Romaine Jones. It mixes some lip-synch antics with movie clips. Though not groundbreaking, it offers a bit more entertainment than expected. Music Highlights also lets us skip directly to any of the film’s 12 songs.
In addition to the film’s trailer, a few text features follow. The Origin of the Mystery Men Comic Book Characters gives us background info for the franchise and the various roles, while Prodiuction Notes delivers aspects of the movie’s roots, development and creation.
Finally, Cast & Filmmakers brings us short biographies and filmographies for 11 actors and Usher. All of the text elements include useful information, but “Origin” fares best, as it offers a nice look at the source material.
As a spoof of superhero flicks, Mystery Men offers passable entertainment. Parts of it amuse but it runs too long and loses energy as it goes. The DVD provides sub-mediocre picture along with mostly good audio and a mix of decent bonus materials. Though often fun, Mystery Men doesn’t quite live up to its potential.