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Men In Black Trilogy: 20th Anniversary (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Men In Black is 20 years old? Damn! Within a period of years it managed to put out a trilogy of films.  It has proved to be a well that Will Smith has gone back to time and time again to grab himself a little piece of blockbuster. Recently it had made waves when there as talk that the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum-led 21 Jump Street relaunch series would spend its third film crossing over with the Men In Black franchise. Now THAT is something that would have been so insane that I would have KILLED to see it. Unfortunately that’s not coming to fruition probably ever. But, what is coming fruition for the 20th anniversary is a nice 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray box set. The set features all the same features as before, but with a new 4K transfer and Dolby Atmos tracks. And its available now. So order yourself a copy from the Amazon linkage you find below at the very bottom.

Men In Black 

They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay and Jay are the Men in Black, providers of immigration services and regulators of all things alien on Earth. While investigating a series of unregistered close encounters, the MIB agents uncover the deadly plot of an intergalactic terrorist who is on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently in residence in New York City.

Its easy to forget that beyond the big success, the phenomenon, the catch phrases, the boat loads of money, the catchy overplayed music video and such…that Men In Black was a well liked and well reviewed comic book movie that had many excited back in 1997. Its the movie that us film and sci fi geeks loved and then turned on when we discovered we had to share our enjoyment of it with that a-hole jock at high school/college/work/relative.  Count me as one of those people (And hell, I was so excited I fought to go to a preview screening of it just days before it opened). Though, 20 years removed from it, and 5 from the most recent sequel, it was refreshing to return to this movie again.

Independence Day set things in motion, but Men In Black is where Will Smith planted his foot in superstardom and hasn’t really had to lift it up ever (Suicide Squad is a terrible movie, but the box office did huge). While he steals scenes, lands the catch phrases and gets a lot of the outrageous comedic moments, he meshes so well with Tommy Lee Jones in a terrific tandem. Jones straight man is actually quite excellent and may go underappreciated when matched with how loud of a person Will Smith can be.

Men In Black was a refreshing revisit for me. Its pretty charming, fun and always entertaining. A film that’s full ingrained in your head after your first watch, it still holds up for the most part. Sure, some of the computer effects aren’t quite there by today’s standards, but there are still plenty of practical effects to keep this thing more grounded and believable in today’s climate.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Wow, Sony just does not mess around with ANYTHING. Men In Black did have a 4K remaster for an updated Blu-ray a few years back. Now we see it in its true colors. This movie looks fresh, new, clean, crisp, sharp and full of live and color. Grain is retain to a complimentary manner. 90s films can often carry this kinda weird look to them that doesn’t carry over good to Blu-ray or DVD if no care is involved, but that is not the case at all here. Its got a timeless appearance and is just pretty stunning to look at. Catalog title after catalog title, Sony continues to wow and do the Blu-ray lord’s work here. The other studios should really take note. When you do stuff like this, you’re going to push units in sales that people otherwise weren’t interested in, but now are because of what care you put into the technical aspects.

Depth:  Good, solid, natural dimensional work with depth of field here on display. Movements are clean and cinematic in nature.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and well saturated. Suits, shades, shadows, car paint and more all keep full details and shades and textures. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite good and striking at times. One standout for me was the red jacket that Will Smith wears for the first act. I just looks awesome with how the color is displayed. The blue good from a blasted alien in the intro looks sweet too. Much of the color palette is fancifully displayed here but always reigned in and natural as can be during times and knows when to get extravagant.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features are pretty damn strong with lots of stubble, sweat, wrinkles, freckles and alien textures really appearing clear from any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Parisian) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Polish 5.1 VO Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: Well, if the video doesn’t disappoint, the Atmos surely won’t either. Sony has put together rather awesome and dynamic new mix for Men in Black that really rocks the house. One super minor quibble that I’m not even going to ding it for, the song during the credits seems super bass heavy and really light on the vocals. Its rather odd as the rest of the film is not that way. Its a very involved mix that crashes and bashes its way all around the room and pounds the ground. This 20 year old is given fresh new life with the impressive video and audio quality upgrades.

Height: There are some solid effects that whiz overhead added to this mix where appropriate.

Low Frequency Extension: Blaster fire, explosions, meteors crashing into the ground, rumbling and more vibrate the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a well worked mix that has plenty of little noises coming from any speaker at a given time if the scene calls for it. Travel is quite fun and accurate, really letting people into the action sequences.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and full audible and distinct no matter how loud the action or zaniness can get.

Men In Black II 

Kay and Jay reunite to provide our best line of defense against a seductress who levels the toughest challenge yet to the MIBs mission statement: protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. While investigating a routine crime, Jay uncovers a plot masterminded by Serleena, a Kylothian monster who disguises herself as a lingerie model. When Serleena takes the MIB building hostage, there is only one person Jay can turn to — his former MIB partner.

I mentioned I saw the first Men In Black on a preview screening night, and I would for the second film, too. Not that I was hyped or cared about this one’s release, but I worked for Circuit City at the time and they had a special screening for employees two weeks before the theatrical release. And well, I’m glad it was free. Its just sort of a generic sci fi blockbuster in the Men In Black world. Sure, there are some fun performances and a few jokes land really good, but for the most part its unfunny and unimpressive.

Lara Flynn Boyle decided to bring her A-game with this one as she’s really one of the few highlights of the film. You really have a hard time realizing its even her for the most of it. As for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this is a big ol happy reunion, right? Well, not really. Both of them kinda feel like they were contractually obligated to be there. Luckily they are both top tier performers and it never feels like its mailed in, but its really missing that life and spark the first film had.

I’m not sure if Men In Black II got rushed or had some behind the scenes meddling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.  Its got a half backed script that kinda forces some things or just says “ta da” a couple times. There is also a shitload of obvious, badly done product placement ALL OVER this movie. One signafyer is that the film is under 90 minutes long. A lot of this movie feels like filler scenes, too. The film is quick and watchable, but its just sorta there, and kinda junky.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Once again, Sony done good here with their 4K transfer of Men In Black II. The sequel is clear, crisp, sharp and full of wonderful details and textures. Its got a very similar quality to the first film, except when it comes to the special effects. They seem to be much more exposed here as the film relies on computer ones much more. A scene at the beginning of Will Smith riding a big slug through the subway looks insanely unbelievable. Even just regular driving interiors look fake. This almost borders on being like a movie Robert Rodriguez could make in his garage at times. But, hey, the picture quality is that good that it does that.

Depth:  Strong depth work here with good spacing between foreground and background as well as some solid work on floating object/creatures. Movements are fluid and cinematic with no distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and rich, with good saturation. Details are held onto in night sequences, dark interiors, clothes, hair and surfaces. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors once again look quite lovely and the HDR is a little more bold here. For an extreme highlight, look no further than the opening credits of the film with some really good looking CG and a lot of good bright vivid colors and explosions.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. And boy, Laura Flynn Boyle sure is white and glows here. Details like blemishes, freckles, sweat beads and more are all clear as heck to see in this crisp image.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Parisian) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: Men In Black II goes perfect with its predecessor in another impressive Atmos track that really lights up your room and puts you in the middle of all the alien shenanigans. Right from the get go, things are pushed to big heights and limits with traveling, booming sub action and more. Its a wonderfully balanced mix featuring good distinct and layered effects. You’re in for another treat. It helps make the movie better too!

Height: When appropriate and there are plenty of times in this movie, things whip right by overhead, crafting a more atmospheric experience watching the film.

Low Frequency Extension: Once again, rumbling subways, things exploding into the ground, blaster fire, rocket boosters and more shake the room with the subs help.

Surround Sound Presentation: Men In Black II gets a lot of love for all the surrounding speakers with good fun from all around, especially in the headquarters where little nicks and knacks come at random to complete a scenes. Movements are fun to feel travel around the room, like the slug in the subway tunnel during one of the opening scenes.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear.

Men In Black 3 

Even though agents J and K have been protecting the Earth from alien scum for many years, J still does not know much about his gruff partner. However, J soon gets an unexpected chance to find out what makes K tick when an alien criminal called Boris the Animal escapes, goes back to 1969, and kills K. With the fate of the planet at stake, J goes back in time and teams up with K’s younger self to put things right.

In the previous film’s review, I’d wondered if there were any production problems with the film. This one publicly had a bit of some. Or maybe just wasn’t prepared to go before the lens. This one went into production without a completed script. It then famously stopped production for many months to rewrite the script and get something down before returning. Immediately, any sort of hype, enthusiasm or expectation goes out the window and we get a messy piece of crap, right? Wrong.

Proving that production issues, reshoots, rewrites or the like aren’t always the end of the world and actually happen to improve things very often (You just don’t hear about them), Men In Black 3 surprises by being a very good and highly entertaining film. Its very fun and gives us something relatively different than what we’ve seen before and takes a more touch and personal etch on the character narrative. You could probably say it has no business being this good, but hell, it works. It may even be better than the first one (In some areas, it certainly is), but that could be up to preference.

Will Smith seems a bit more into this time around (Probably looking at it as one last go round) and Tommy Lee Jones probably didn’t have to sit and shoot a lot of days, so he was happier. Though, the scene stealer is his younger self, played by Josh Brolin who absolutely nails it in the most natural fashion without feeling like an impression or a caricature. There is also some other fun casting in other spots with game people to help freshen this series up again (Great touches on Jemaine Clement as the baddie, Emma Thompson and Bill Hader). The movie doesn’t do anything to go for broke, and going into the past allows them to do some lesser, but newer things. It works and feels nice and fresh for one last hurrah in the series. If this is it for the Men In Black, it certainly kept composure and goes out on a celebratory high note.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: I hate to sound like an incredibly broken, broken, broken record. But these movies all look pretty spectacular on 4K Ultra-HD. This one is probably tops of all of them, and I’ve given them 5’s across the board. Its the most recent, so the slickness and polish is much more apparent here. The effects look the best as well when held under the UHD microscope for details. Men In Black 3 rounds out a complete hat trick of very impressive video performances in this set.

Depth:  I believe this was a 3D movie and the natural look of the depth and dimensional work on the image is very obvious of that. Things are well spaced and rounded. Movements are natural and smooth and of course, no jitter/blurring occurs.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, but carry good details and textures that aren’t hidden in the slightest. No crushing witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are once again beautiful and lovingly saturated here in the image. Reds, blues, and more show up swimmingly with good glow. HDR works very well with the special visual effects that are present throughout.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the film. Facial features like stubble, wrinkles, skin lines, blemishes, dirts, freckles and more are clear as day in this image from any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English: Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD), French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, German 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Catalan 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portugese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Ukrainian 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: Record scratch. Men In Black 3 delivers an outstanding and very fun Dolby Atmos presentation. Similar to the others, it rocks the house with action and makes you feel present in places like the headquarters. The sound effects in the mix really sound delicious and bring good layering and distinct detail to them. Its woven in with the score and vocals to terrific degrees of balance.

Height: Like always, things that would naturally take flight over the screen or close to will get some presence above you.

Low Frequency Extension: Crashes, time travel, blast, explosions and rockets all propel your subwoofer to bring the thunder.

Surround Sound Presentation: Distinct sounds are nicely placed in addition to good ambiance in the side and rear speakers to fill out an environment and bring it to life. Adding even more are the wonderful natural progression of movements and placement with volume accuracy of the events on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear in this mix, with good volume levels and mouth sounds and diction intact.

Extras 

Men In Black Trilogy: 20th Anniversary comes with the previously released Blu-ray editions of each film and an UltraViolet digital copy of each film. Aside from the useless “Moments” bonus feature, all bonus features are the same from the previous edition.

Men In Black 4K

Moments

  • Agent Jay (4K, 7:58)
  • Agent Kay (4K, 10:07)
  • Edgar (4K, 5:59)
  • The Aliens (4K, 4:53) 

Men In Black Blu-ray

Audio Commentary

  • Telestrator Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones
  • Audio Commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones
  • Technical Commentary with Barry Sonnenfeld, Rick Baker and Industrial Light & Magic Team

Intergalactic Pursuit: The MIB Multi-Player Trivia Game

Ask Frank The Pug!

Extended and Alternate Scenes (SD, 4:21)

Metamorphosis of Men In Black (SD, 23:12)

Original Featurette (SD, 6:38)

Visual Effects Scene Deconstruction

Character Animation Studies

Creatures: Concept To Completion

Galleries

Storyboard Comparisons

Scene Editing Workshop

Music Video: “Men In Black” (SD, 4:19)

Men In Black Trailers 

  • Original Trailer (HD, 2:30)
  • Teaser (HD, 1:43)

Men In Black II 4K

Moments

  • Agent Jay (4K, 8:45)
  • Agent Kay (4K, 9:48)
  • Laura (4K, 7:38)
  • Serleena (4K, 4:51)

Men In Black II Blu-ray

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Barry Sonnenfeld

Alternate Ending (SD, 2:13) 

Blooper Reel (SD, 5:09) 

MIIB: ADR (SD, 9:25)

Design In Motion: The Look of MIB II (SD, 10:01)

Rick Baker: Alien Maker (SD, 10:46)

Squish, Splat, Sploosh: The Stellar Sounds of MIB II (SD, 8:04)

Cosmic Symphonies: Elfman In Space (SD, 12:52)

Barry Sonnenfeld’s Intergalactic Guide To Comedy (SD, 6:00)

Creature Featurettes (SD, 25:53)

Serleena Animatic Sequence (SD, 1:51)

Multi-Angle Scene Deconstructions (SD, 7:42)

“Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)” By Will Smith (SD, 4:39)

Men in Black 3 4K

Moments

  • Agent Jay (4K, 11:59)
  • Agent Kay (4K, 6:42)
  • Young Agent Kay (4K, 6:53)
  • Aliens (4K, 7:25)

Men In Black 3 Blu-ray

Spot The Alien Game

Partners In Time: The Making Of MIB 3 (HD, 26:24)

The Evolution Of Cool: MIB 1960’s Vs. Today (HD, 11:14)

Keeping It Surreal: The Visual FX Of MIB 3 (HD, 10:26)

Scene Investigations (HD, 17:25)

Progression Reels (HD, 17:37)

Gag Reel (HD, 3:54)

“Back In Time” Music Video By Pitbull (HD, 3:34)

Summary 

I was very nonchalant about taking on this box set.  Like it wasn’t a big deal or anything. Color me converted though.  The series boasts 2 really good films, that are probably under-looked or appreciated by a good many. This set though, the restorations on the video of these is really damn impressive as are their new Dolby Atmos tracks. It makes for a fresh viewing experience and one that should be taken in. They have no new bonus, but everything from before is carried over. Oddly, I have to say this set is a high recommendation, which has surprised even myself who came into this thinking I’d go through the motions.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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