Men In Black

Without a doubt, Men In Black is one of the most anxiously anticipated DVD releases to date

One of the most anxiously anticipated DVD releases to date is without a doubt Men In Black. This blockbuster hit recently came to the DVD world in three different versions. Two Special Editions (one Dolby 5.1 the other DTS) and a Limited Collector’s Edition. In a word, WOW. For those of you that have been living under a rock for the last few years the plot of Men In Black is simple. There is a group of special government agents that monitor and control the population of aliens on this planet. They dress only in simple black suits and have at their disposal a myriad of alien technologies. A New York City detective (Will Smith) is drawn into an alien plot to capture a special galaxy hidden on this planet. Failure to find it in time will result in the complete destruction of Earth. Mentored by a season operative (Tommy Lee Jones) the former detective finds his first week on the job at Men In Black a roller coaster ride of dazzling visual and audio effects.

What pushed Men In Black beyond the usual special effects genre is the cast. Each actor plays his or her role to perfection. Will Smith does what he does best as the cocky, self assured NYC cop that must cope not only with proof there is life on other planets but that they are right here, right now. Smith adds his own comic style with exceptional results. The street-smart nature of his character ‘J’ comes across as natural, funny and very kinetic. Jones as ‘K’ shows this actor has quite a range. His humor is less obvious than Smith’s but it always pleases. The pair demonstrates a synergy that is rarely displayed on the screen any more. Their performances build on one another without any sign of competition or up staging all too often seen. Linda Fiorentino as the morgue physician is brilliant. Not only does she exude a sensual quality but she shows she can hold her own in comedy. The real surprise in the cast is Vincent D’Onofrio. Perhaps best know for the role of the over weight recruit in Full Metal Jack, D’Orofrio in the role of the Edgar Bug is hilarious. His mannerisms and one liners carry the performance to memorial heights. In all it looks like the cast actually had a blast doing Men In Black.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld scores a direct hit with the public. While best known for his two Addams Family films Sonnenfeld pulls out all the stops in this epic Sci-Fi comedy. While he does not have that much experience as a director, he was the cinematographer for such great films as When Harry Met Sally, Misery, Big and many more. He certainly paid attention to what the director’s did in these films since he demonstrated such flair for direction himself. Every scene is crafted to perfection. No movement or line is wasted. Combining the film with the Danny Elfman score provides the perfect blend of audio and video. Rather than let the fantastic special effects drive the movie Sonnenfeld caries Men In Black with the characters. He is not afraid to slow the action down at crucial points in Men In Black to help us understand just a little bit of the people immersed in such strange circumstances. He makes it possible to believe the unbelievable.

The Men In Black disc itself sets a new standard for DVD releases. While the collector’s edition has many addition features the studio did not leave the viewer in the lurch if they choose one of the special editions. The use of multiangle graphics to such famous scenes as the tunnel car chase helps the home viewer to appreciate just how much work goes into a couple of hours of our enjoyment. Of the two sound formats available I found the DTS audio to be somewhat superior to the DD 5.1. It provided more in the way of back fill for the rear surround speakers. The sub woofer in both formats is incredible. Always just there when you want it the most. In the opening scene where the dragonfly is buzzing around you can clearly hear the wings beating over the roar of the cars and trucks. The video is completely without artifact or flaw. If you own a DVD player this is a must for your collection. Men In Black is a film the whole family can watch and enjoy many times over.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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