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Men in Black (SE)
DVD disk
Oct 6, 2004 By: Mike Sampson
Men in Black (SE) order
Director:
Barry Sonnenfeld

Actors:
Will Smith
Tommy Lee Jones
Linda Fiorentino

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A top secret government agency monitors the existence of alien life on Earth. Two of the agency's top "Men in Black," the grizzled veteran Kay and hot-shot rookie Jay, are sent out to stop a powerful alien that threatens the universe.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
It's hard for me to admit that I liked MEN IN BLACK since I really don't like Will Smith and wanted to hate this movie, but the fact that I didn't...should prove that it's a pretty decent flick. Is it as great as it was hyped up to be? In my mind, no. But others seem to really dig it.

It has it's moments of comedy, but the humor wasn't exactly what won me over. It was an original script, despite being a somewhat half-baked concept. The action sequences were all well done and the cinematography was beautiful. All that said, the majority of the credit should go to Rick Baker, whose creatures completely sell the film. Whether it's the giant bug Edgar or Jack Jeebs (the wonderful Tony Shaloub), Baker's effects are scary, funny, and most importantly, believable. Better than I thought it would be, but definitely not the "monster" flick that many made it out to be.
THE EXTRAS
OK, here's the problem. You may know that this isn't the first time MEN IN BLACK has been released on DVD. In fact, this isn't even the first time MIB has been released in a "special" edition. You may remember a while back a "Limited Edition" was released for about $35. That DVD and this DVD have a lot in common. In fact there really are very few differences between the two editions. So in one respect, yes this DVD has a lot of extras. But on the other hand, it's nothing you haven't seen before if you have the other DVDs. That being said, let's look at what's new first:

I'm looking at this DVD as an opportunity to capitalize on MEN IN BLACK 2 which hits theaters in about two days. The studio pushes MIB2 on this new disc with the teaser trailer and a featurette on the sequel which runs a paltry three-minutes and change. Also of note is the full-trailer for SPIDER-MAN, which for me was the highlight of the disc (also included is a teaser for STUART LITTLE 2).

Now on to the stuff you've seen before. First up is a video/audio commentary with Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones. I'm not a huge fan of these video commentaries but some people may like them. It takes me out of the game somewhat and I'd rather just listen while I watch the movie. One cool aspect was something that reminded me of a sports telestrator that allowed the guys to highlight something specific they were referencing. Again though, taking me out of the game. They do however provide an interesting listen, giving all kinds of little tidbits on what it was like to make this film. I would've expected this track to be a little bland, but I was pleasantly surprised.

There's also another audio commentary, this time with Barry Sonnenfeld and members of the technical crew. It's a hard track to review because it IS fun but at the same time, poorly put together. It's obvious that it's cut and pasted together from various interviews and commentaries that were laid down. I prefer commentaries when the guys are conversing and riffing off each other and stuff like that. But it was still fascinating to get into all the technical crap that went into this film.

The next feature I enjoyed was a Multi-Angle Visual Demonstration of a scene from the film. Here you could watch a certain clip from the film in 5 various stages including storyboards, bluescreen, animation and the final cut. You can also listen to a specific technical commentary during this sequence that guides you through what you're watching and how the process went. Really interesting to watch how something so complex makes it way from a drawing on a piece of paper to a filmed sequence with various different effects working at once. All that hard work makes me want to squash my dreams of becoming a director.

Speaking of using that "angle" button on your DVD remote (which is under-utilized by studios), another great feature is the Scene Editing Workshop, a feature you may have seen on other films like MADE. Basically, you're shown three different angles of the same scene and it's up to you to cut them together how YOU see fit to make the whole thing work. Then you can look and see how the final cut was and how keen your eye at editing is. Pretty fun for amateur filmmakers like myself.

Two featurettes are included on the film: One promotional featurette and another entitled "Metamorphosis of Men in Black." The former is just your basic promotional BS featurette that studios put together to sell the film when it's released. You'll never find anything worthwhile in these short clips. The latter however follows the evolution of the film from comic book to the final cinematic product. It's long (over twenty-minutes) and qualifies more as mini-documentary than a featurette in my mind. A lot of different interviews with the cast and crew sharing their thoughts on what is was like making the film.

Another interesting little feature is the Creatures: Concept to Completion. It basically shows you a creature all the way from it's initial conceptual sketches to finished CGI design. Interesting to see how different characters develop and change while some don't change much at all.

The DVD-ROM features includes somewhat interesting stuff but you'd have to be a major MIB junkie to really revel in this. They have alien bios, an artillery overview, a 3-D look at MIB headquarters and some games. OK stuff but nothing that'll knock your socks off.

Now we're getting into more standard fare for the disc. There's the traditional deleted/alternate scenes (of which none stand-out), an art gallery, storyboard gallery, talent files, a music video, and a bunch of trailers for other movies.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A fun little flick but I was disappointed by the lack of new extras for this film. While what's there is good and of much better quality than most films, it's disheartening to see studios re-releasing what's essentially the same disc just to promote a sequel. Bottom line: if you already own a MEN IN BLACK DVD, don't bother. If you're a newbie, jump right in and swim cause you'll love it!
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