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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Hindi
  Extras
  • Dolby Digital trailer
  • DTS trailer

Men in Black II (Superbit)

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 84 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Set your expectation levels to “sequel” and you’re sure to enjoy this ride. After all, it’s not hard to beat “sequel expectations”. OK, so let’s have a look at the three categories for this Superbit DVD – ‘we lose’, ‘we gain’ and ‘we still have’.

We lose:

  • Linda Fiorentino
  • - how dare they!
  • The magic of the first film.
  • Extra features
  • compared to the R4 Collector’s Edition.

We gain:

  • Rosario Dawson
  • from Josie and the Pussycats - you go girl!
  • Lara Flynn Boyle
  • - you keep your clothes on girl.
  • Johnny Knoxville
  • who’s used to strange things stuck in his head…s
  • Patrick Warburton
  • as the teary Agent Tee.

But thankfully we still have:

  • Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Will Smith
  • with the necessary ‘tude.
  • Frank
  • , the talking mutt.
  • Danny Elfman
  • with all accessories included.
  • Tommy Lee Jones
  • , alright slick?

Wow, that’s a tough list. So Superbit has duped us of extra features but gives us a transfer to drool over. As for casting decisions, Fiorentino’s lack of interest takes off a few marks, but that’s just until you see Rosario Dawson’s name pop on the screen during the opening credits. And yes, the crowd cheers! But then a real jackass comes along when Johnny Knoxville slides onto the screen, providing the talent (ahem?) for a two-headed alien-thing following around the hungrily saucy Serleena, played by Flynn Boyle. But hey, on the oldies-but-goodies side we have the same director, the same key cast, including Frank the Pug, as well as the magic man himself, Danny Elfman, providing his musical talents featuring the same themes as Men in Black, but just tweaked here and there. After all, it is a sequel, isn’t it?

Like a comic book brought to life (as this is meant to be), director Barry Sonnenfeld brings the screenplay to life with a surprisingly short running time of just over 80 minutes. Well here’s an idea of how to flesh it out a little bit – make the enemies harder to kill. Simple theory, right? Take a look at Men in Black for example, especially the finale with the Bug, and it just kept coming back again, again and again. But oh no, not here, once it’s been shot once, it’s dead. Too simple, even for Hollywood. Now that’s saying something. Of course we have the humour too, nothing terribly innovative, but it’s entertaining nonetheless, with plenty of ‘tude and wit from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones respectively.

But without further ado, as you’re probably bored to tears by now, on with the story. Now set your reactions to “surprised” as we have a simple story. Wow, you didn’t see that one coming, did you? So this snaky Serleena is here, just arrived on Earth looking for the Light of Zartha, a light (funnily enough) that was placed on Earth in the 1970s for safe keeping, and she wants it to hold power over the Zarthans. The only man who can stop her is Kay, unfortunately neuralised at the end of MIB. Agent Jay is still on the scene, and has become what Kay once was – sharp, bossy and most importantly, the driver of the car. So he must get Kay, they must find the light, and they must stop Serleena or life on earth will be doomed. Ah, just when real life wasn’t bad enough.

For a night of pure mindless bliss, this baby will waste away nearly 90 minutes (sad to say nearly), and hey with the Superbit transfer it’ll blow your socks off.

  Video
Contract

This anamorphically enhanced transfer is framed in its original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1, and quite simply it’s perfect. Colours are richly mastered, with powerfully solid blacks to provide strength to the entire image. Shadows are nicely defined, giving adequate depth and a sinister feel. Oooh, it’s only PG too...

Grain is limited to a fine wash on some brief scenes and isn’t a problem at all. Film artefacts are absent, as are posterisation effects and the bastardly annoying aliasing. A slight glimpse of moire slips on occasionally, but really only the pedantic DVD reviewers are going to complain about this. The image is just razor sharp, so it’s a good thing you’re sitting in a lounge chair because it means you can’t get too close and get slashed by its precision. However, as is often the case (dreading The Matrix: Reloaded whose effects looked poor even in the cinema), DVD tends to show up CGI effects as flimsy, fake and cheap compared to the slight lack of clarity and detail during an optical film projection. Generally these are only in a scene or two, notably during the subway sequence as well as the opening credits, but still even the amateurs of DVD will be able to see the sharp contrast between live action and CG work.

A layer change occurs somewhere during Men in Black II’s short duration, but as with other Superbit titles, this slips through unnoticed. Subtitles for a few languages are included, and the two English tracks are pretty much spot-on with only a few words changing here and there for simplicity.

  Audio
Contract

To accompany the perfect Dolby Digital 5.1 track already available on the 'Collector’s Edition', we have a fantastic DTS 5.1 track, which is also perfect. Bass levels are right up there with a window-shaking subwoofer channel that booms enough to blow some air around the room. Surround channels kick off the action with some aggressive discrete effects, enough to keep any sound-a-holic addicted for 80 minutes. The front end of the soundstage is busy with crystal clear dialogue, and plenty to keep your ears attentive including a heap of discrete effects as well as the body to Danny Elfman’s score. The quirks of Elfman (often heard in Tim Burton’s films) are here as well as an aggressive spooky hit and the essential heartstring cues to pull at the audience’s emotions. It’s a Hollywood film so these are quite thin, but still for those swept away with it, they work. And then comes the pumpin’ end credits tune by Will Smith Black Suits Comin’ which just rocks the room. Crikey, what’s happening, this reviewer actually liking a rap song?!

OK, as for the debate on Dolby Digital vs DTS, this is the first time this reviewer says DTS all the way. The Dolby Digital track is fine, but just so flat compared to the fullness of the DTS track. So for a perfect audio track, grab the DTS and hey presto, combined with the video transfer you have a full-on transfer that is fantastic reference material.

  Extras
Contract

Ooh, our lovely Superbit menu loads up where we have the option of watching the movie – woohoo! Now don’t forget the cream of the crop as a Dolby Digital and DTS trailer before the film. Wow, hold on to your seats, it’s so exciting! Hmm, text doesn’t really pick up sarcasm that well... To see exactly what you’re missing out on, give Terry’s review of the 'Collector’s Edition' a read.

  Overall  
Contract

So with everything we’ve lost, gained and what has remained, why would you want to purchase this Superbit DVD over the Region 4 Collector’s Edition?

Simply put, this transfer kicks some serious alien ass, and puts any inferior alien MIIB DVD copy to bed. The transfer is jaw dropping, and with the added bonus of a sweet DTS track, you can’t go wrong. But hey, where are all the extra features? That’s the decision you have to make – perfection vs. extra entertainment. It’s your call, but boy this baby really gives your system an extraterrestrial workout.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3060
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      And I quote...
    "Set your expectation levels to “sequel”..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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