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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) is a hen-pecked family man. Mike Lowry (Will Smith) is a footloose and fancy-free ladies‚ man. Both are Miami policemen, and both have 72 hours to reclaim a consignment of drugs stolen from under their station's nose. To complicate matters, in order to get the assistance of the sole witness to a murder, they have to pretend to be each other.

Director:
Michael Bay
Cast:
Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo, Joe Pantoliano, Theresa Randle
Writing Credits:
George Gallo, Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Doug Richardson

Tagline:
Whatcha gonna do?
Box Office:
Budget $23 million.
Opening weekend $15.5 million.
Domestic gross $65.807 million.
MPAA:
Rated R for intense violent action and pervasive strong language.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
Spanish Digital Stereo
Subtitles:
English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Chinese
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 6/27/2000

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary by director Michael Bay
• Isolated Music Score
• "Damage Control" Uses Angles to Analyze Special Effects Explosions
• "The Boom And The Band Of Bad Boys" (All New Documentary)
• Three Music Videos
• Theatrical Trailers
• Talent Files
• Production Notes


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Bad Boys: Special Edition (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 23, 2003)

Although many disparage their films, I don't apologize because I feel some fondness for the action flicks produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and (prior to his death in 1996) Don Simpson. Yes, these movies often seem silly, loud and superficial, but they don’t pretend to be anything else. They may offer the cinematic equivalent of junk food, but they’re tasty snacks nonetheless.

Only a couple Bruckheimer films leave me totally cold. One of these main exceptions comes from 1995’s Bad Boys. I recall that Boys actually got some pretty positive reviews when it appeared in April 1995, and I got around to seeing it when it hit the local bargain theater. (I was even stingier back then and almost never saw first-run movies.) As I recall, I felt pretty unimpressed with what I witnessed. I didn't think it was a terrible movie, but it seemed to be a pretty perfunctory little "buddy" action picture.

Eight years down the road and nothing has altered that opinion. During this recent screening, Bad Boys still seemed pretty tired and flat. Director Michael Bay attracts many detractors with his music video-influenced style of quick cuts and flashy action, but I don't mind the superficiality of his work because it usually adds to the excitement; his films come across as very stylish and sharp.

That's not the case with Boys. It features the usual Bay components but quite never takes off and becomes thrilling or even very interesting. Boys really should have worked well, as it has potential. From Bay's visual style to the experience of the Bruckheimer/Simpson team to a solid leading cast of Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Tea Leoni, all of the cogs were in place to make the movie a fun thrill ride.

Alas, it never gets out of the gate. The problem with Boys is that nothing about it seems special and the overall product becomes rather forgettable. Bay's other movies include some real stand-out scenes, but there's nothing in Boys that sticks with me; not one moment in the entire film registered as something memorable. It all feels like one big incoherent mass of mayhem that does nothing to distinguish itself.

At the start of Boys, we meet a pair of Miami narcotics cops. The duo matches sex-deprived family man Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) with wealthy womanizer Mike Lowrey (Will Smith). A gang breaks into a police evidence room and steals about $100 million of heroin confiscated during an arrest executed by Marcus and Mike. Internal Affairs officer Captain Sinclair (Marg Helgenberger) thinks it’s an inside job, and the cops have about 72 hours to clean house before the feds intervene. Their boss Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) puts Mike and Marcus on the case.

Mike asks working girl Maxine (Karen Alexander) to keep an eye out for newly rich dudes who seek a good time. When her madam Lois (Heather Davis) receives a call for hookers at a hotel party, Max gets the job, and she brings along her non-prostitute pal Julie (Tea Leoni) as company. Former cop Eddie Dominguez (Emmanuel Xuereb) brings them in, but the crime boss Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo) disapproves of his conduct. He knocks off Eddie and Max. Julie witnesses this, so she becomes an integral part of the investigation. She escapes and contacts Mike because he’s the only one she’ll trust. However, Mike’s not in the office, so Captain Howard makes Marcus impersonate him to reel in Julie.

From there, Marcus needs to continue to impersonate Mike as Julie stays in the latter’s apartment. Mike goes to stay with Marcus’ family while he pretends to go out of town. According to Julie, they have a few days before the drug deal goes down, so they need to protect and rein in a revenge-minded Julie and find Fouchet and company while they still can.

The leads are always fairly engaging and likable. It now feels odd to see Lawrence billed over Smith; in the ensuing years, Lawrence clearly demonstrated some box office appeal, but Smith became a major star who won't often be second-billed to anyone. In any case, the two create a decent chemistry and add what little life the movie possesses.

I also find Leoni to be an interesting actress. She presents as something of a female counterpart to Jeff Goldblum; she uses a lot of unusual line readings that could be annoying but usually are pleasantly quirky. Leoni has little to do in the film, but it doesn't appear that way because she makes the most of her time onscreen and enlivens the proceedings with her presence.

Unfortunately, that's not enough to make Bad Boys anything more than a vaguely watchable but "by the numbers" action flick. We've seen it before, and we've seen it better. I've read a number of other reviews of Boys and it's clear that it maintains a pretty strong following, but I honestly don't get it; it's the kind of shallow and hollow affair that folks usually accuse Bruckheimer and Bay of making.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio A- / Bonus B+

Bad Boys appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As is often typical for releases from Columbia-Tristar (CTS), this one presented a very fine picture overall.

Sharpness seemed consistently very good, with only a rare soft spot to detract from the crispness. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns. The print betrayed only a few flaws in the body of the film itself. I witnessed some dirt and grit during the Columbia logo at the start, but the movie looked fairly clean otherwise. Occasional instances of grit and specks popped up, but these remained minor.

Colors appeared accurate and clean throughout the movie, with no bleeding or noise to be found. The hues weren't terribly bright, but they fit the visual design of the film and seem realistic for the most part. Black levels looked deep and rich, but some problems with shadow detail occurred. These seemed to stem from Hollywood's oft-noted weakness when it comes to lighting people with dark skin; I still remember an old Eddie Murphy routine on the subject. You'd think that since the two stars of the film were black they'd make the necessary allowances, but that's often not the case, and Smith and Lawrence occasionally vanished into the night. It's not a terrible problem, but it did occur.

Still, Bad Boys offered a generally positive viewing experience. My "B+" is a borderline rating – I debated actively whether to give it that grade or raise it to an "A-" - but I didn't have too many complaints about the transfer.

Also quite good was the film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. One expects a slam-bang audio experience from a Simpson/Bruckheimer shoot-em-up like this, and the mix usually delivered. The soundfield often was very encompassing and rich, with all five speakers providing useful and realistic audio detail. Sounds are nicely localized and pan well between the channels.

Audio quality seemed generally strong as well, with only a few exceptions. Dialogue appeared warm and natural, with no problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed clear and concise, with bright and broad tones, and effects were largely realistic and clean; very little distortion came through during the film. Dynamic range usually appeared terrific, with some deep bass at times, but some scenes came across as curiously flat. These were rare, but during a couple of the many gun battles, I felt that the audio packed a surprisingly meek punch. Even with those exceptions, the track still worked well, though the small concerns kept Bad Boys from possibly rating higher than its "A-".

When Bad Boys first appeared on DVD, it was a pretty basic affair; we just found the movie itself with nothing else - not even a trailer! Columbia-Tristar have slowly worked through some of their old "movie-only" DVDs like Jumanji, Little Women, and Cliffhanger and updated them with some good supplements. Now it's Bad Boys' turn, and we do indeed find some fun material here.

First up is an inconsistent audio commentary from director Michael Bay. He's a veteran of special editions for all of his other films (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Rock) but this is the only time he's been left on his own for a commentary; the others were either edited compilations or pieces done with someone else.

Bay contributed a lot of the content of those tracks, but he wasn't the sole attraction. That's not the case here, as it's all Bay. Unfortunately, he seems to think that someone else will fill in the gaps, as this commentary features quite a few empty spaces, especially during the second half of the film. Bay doesn't usually leave such large gaps that the track becomes really frustrating, but the spaces appear frequently enough to create a commentary that can't fill more than 60 percent of the film's running time.

At least Bay makes the most of the times he does speak. Actually, if not for his many quiet times, Bay's commentary might have been one of the all-time greats, as he offers some terrific remarks throughout the piece. Bay provides very frank statements about the travails of making his first movie, and he doesn't hide his frustration with and irritation at the apparently unsupportive suits from Columbia.

His comments are so frequently negative toward Columbia that it's fairly amazing they made this DVD. Bay also presents a "warts and all" description of other aspects of the production and doesn't shy away from describing some of the conflicts he had with cast and crew. This makes his commentary consistently compelling and tremendously refreshing, as the vast majority of them seem to reside in some perfect fantasy world in which the creation of every film is an unmitigated joy that completely lacks friction or negativity. Despite the frustrating gaps in Bay's remarks, his commentary is well worth a listen.

Another audio track presents Mark Mancina's score in its entirety. As I've stated in other reviews, I'm not much of a fan of movie music, but I appreciate the fact that DVDs such as this provide an isolated track with the score; it's a nice addition.

A new documentary called The Boom and the Bang of Bad Boys appears here. It runs for 23 minutes and 50 seconds and primarily examines the special effects side of making the film. Although I would have liked to learn more about the creative side, this program gives us an excellent "nuts and bolts" look at an underexamined side of movie magic: the use of guns and pyrotechnics. After all, we often hear a lot about computer graphics and other more fantastical work, but we don't usually see a close examination of this kind of real-world mayhem. The piece combines movie clips, footage from the set, interviews with the participants and some demonstration material to create a nice little package.

For anyone who wants even more in-depth information on that area should check out the Damage Control section, which provides a wealth of video footage. We get extensive shots that demonstrate how bullets and explosions work in the real world, which provides a nice counterpart to the bigger effects found in the movie. All of the segments are shown in super slow motion to make the results of the weaponry even more apparent.

For the "Firearms" area, six different guns were filmed as they destroyed various objects like doors or water jugs. One of the weapons - the 9mm submachine gun - was used on three different targets (a TV, a fish tank, and a vase of flowers), while the others are restricted to one inanimate victim. Each of the different segments can be viewed from a variety of angles as well; most of the pieces supply four angles, though a few have three. You can select the varying angles manually or just let the DVD loop through them on its own.

The "Pyrotechnics" section is smaller and shows four different objects – a car, a laptop computer, a suitcase and a TV - being destroyed. Each of these segments also offers multiple angles; four different views appear for each object. The individual video pieces run for 53 to 87 seconds, so if all the angles are added for all of the segments, the entire package lasts a whopping 51 minutes and 15 seconds.

While I enjoyed this area, I can't imagine actually sitting though nearly an hour of this material. The more practical use of the material is to flip through each piece with the angle button on your remote; this will give you plenty of time to see the various effects without going numb. It's a very cool feature since many of us have little experience with various forms of weaponry and other kinds of destruction, and though the sheer mass of footage borders on overkill, I prefer too much information to not enough, so I won't complain.

Bad Boys features three music videos. The most interesting is the first: "Shy Guy" by Diana King. For the most part, this is a pretty standard video for a movie. It shows King as she lip-synchs the song, and her parts are intercut with clips from the movie itself. The video stands as more compelling than most because both Smith and Lawrence appear in footage specifically shot for the promo, in both introductory and fadeout bits plus some pieces that pop up sporadically throughout the song. It's not a great video, but it's mildly enjoyable.

It certainly tops the other two videos. "So Many Ways" by Warren G. is a very standard affair; it combines the usual film clips with dull shots of Mr. G. as he performs. Yawn! Still, I'll take bland over obnoxious, which is why "Five O, Five O (Here They Come)" by 69 Boyz featuring K-Nock is easily the worst of the three videos. It's a genuinely annoying song in the tradition of junk like "Whoomp! There It Is" and the video - which alters the usual lip-synch/movie clip formula by having the performers dance and sing over a video background - made me wish I could perform my own firearms demonstration on my TV. Avoid it at all costs.

The DVD tosses in a Production Photo Gallery with 13 stills. This brief area is nothing special, though a few of the pictures are pretty good. Haters of Michael Bay will definitely enjoy picture seven the best.

Finally, the DVD finishes with some of the old standards. We get the usual unbelievably useless Talent Files that appear on most CTS DVDs. We find short and inadequate entries for Bay, Smith, Lawrence, Leoni and pyrotechnics expert Mike Meinardus. Three trailers appear. We get one for Boys itself plus Smith's Men In Black and Lawrence's Blue Streak. The DVD's booklet also features some brief but decent production notes about the film.

Despite my affection for dopey action films, I simply have never found much to like about Bad Boys. The overall level of the production seems decent but it lacks any particularly special elements to make it noteworthy. The DVD, however, is a terrific package; it combines very good picture and sound with some fine extras. Of particular interest is a fantastic (though too brief) audio commentary from Michael Bay; despite its many gaps, it's one of the best tracks I've heard. Although I remain unimpressed by the movie itself, action buffs should give Bad Boys a whirl, as it's a fine DVD. Fans of the movie will definitely be pleased.

To rate this film visit the review of the Superbit Edition