Men In Black appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a decent but unexceptional transfer.
Sharpness generally looked clear and well defined. However, some shots tended to be a bit on the soft side; these didn’t dominate, but they created a smattering of distractions. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no problems, and edge haloes remained absent. The print showed minor instances of speckles and a little grit but for the most part, the movie seemed clean.
Colors looked accurate and well saturated, with no concerns related to noise or bleeding. I felt the hues could have appeared a bit bolder, but I had no significant complaints about them. Black levels were deep and dark, and shadow detail generally appeared appropriately dense but not overly opaque. However, some scenes - particularly during the first half of the film - showed slightly excessive heaviness in the shadows. For example the "illegal aliens" segment looked just a little too thick. Nonetheless, MIB presented a generally good image.
Men In Black featured a strong Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield favored the front channels in that those three speakers displayed the most distinct and well-oriented audio. The music showed terrific stereo separation, and effects were placed accurately in the spectrum; when appropriate, sound panned smoothly from channel to channel as well, and the front speakers offered a very active presentation.
The rears seemed a bit skimpy on discrete, split-surround information but they made for involved partners nonetheless, as they created a terrific and three-dimensional image. The ship crash toward the end of the film really showed off this track at its best.
Audio quality also seemed very good. Although some dialogue clearly sounded dubbed, the majority of it appeared well integrated, and the speech always appeared natural and distinct, with no concerns related to intelligibility. Effects came across extremely accurately and clearly; they also displayed some fine low end and could really add a powerful element to the mix. Danny Elfman's score seemed crisp and bright, and it also offered nice bass that gave the track some sweet "oomph". This became a quality mix.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 Deluxe Edition? Audio was peppier and fuller, while visuals looked tighter and more natural. Though I didn’t love the picture quality of the Blu-ray, it created an upgrade over the DVD.
Most of the DE’s extras repeat here, and these start with a video commentary from director Barry Sonnenfeld and star Tommy Lee Jones. A video commentary presents silhouettes of the participants at the bottom of the screen, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. This track adds a component: Sonnenfeld uses a telestrator which lets him "draw" on the screen.
That's the part of the piece that makes it more fun than the others; Sonnenfeld circles items to highlight them and also writes some comments like "CGI" on top of such-created effects. He starts slowly, but the telestrator activity picks up nicely about halfway through the film. I'm still not convinced that video commentaries are anything more than a gimmick, but this one helps sell the format.
The content of their remarks helps as well. Sonnenfeld dominates and provides the most data. Actually, Jones may ask as many questions as he answers, but the two have a nice rapport and they create a fun dynamic that would have been absent otherwise. That last statement isn't just speculation; I listened to Sonnenfeld's solo commentary on the MIB laserdisc and found it to be one of the worst I'd ever heard. This one greatly improves upon that clunker.
A second audio commentary appears on the disc as well. This one is called a "technical commentary" because it mainly deals with the "nuts and bolts" aspects of making the movie. It features Sonnenfeld, creature creator Rick Baker, visual effects supervisor/second unit director Eric Brevig, animation supervisor Rob Coleman, and computer graphics supervisor John Andrew Berton Jr.
Most of the participants were recorded separately, though two of them were together; I believe Coleman and Berton were taped in the same session, but it was hard to tell. I also think that Sonnenfeld's comments come from the old LD commentary; however, since I don't have that release anymore, I can't say for certain.
Overall, this track offers a pretty nice look at the creation of MIB. Not too much of the information from the video commentary repeats here, and although the technical information could have come across as dry and dull, it usually seems pretty interesting. The remarks have been edited together neatly so that we mainly hear valuable information. The track's lack of scope keeps it from being great, but I still found it enjoyable and valuable.
Next we find Metamorphosis of MIB, a 23-minute and 12-second featurette about the film. It's quite a solid piece that combines cast and crew interviews with film clips and a very strong selection of shots from the production of the movie. As is typical of this sort of piece, special effects receive the greatest attention, but they discuss a broad range of topics.
I particularly enjoyed the presentation of some scenes as originally written; a few segments were changed in post-production through dubbing, and the documentary shows them as first conceived. The program also covers other alterations made from the script, and it offers a brief but satisfying look at the movie.
Five Deleted/Extended Scenes appear. There should be a greater emphasis on "extended", as most of the segments fit that description. The fourth clip is actually just an alternate version of an existing scene, and the fifth shows one piece without digital effects added. The snippets run a of four minutes and 21 seconds. Although none of the clips are terribly fascinating, they still merit a look.
The original featurette falls into the category of glorified trailer. (I need a new name for those - maybe I'll call them "glorlers".) The six-minute, 38-second program shows a mix of film clips, interview snippets, and some shots from the set. The latter are mildly interesting but the whole thing's too brief to go anywhere. This is clearly a promotional puff piece.
Two Visual Effects Scene Deconstructions appear. After a 62-second intro from Sonnenfeld, we can check out the "tunnel scene" in five different renditions: storyboards; bluescreen shoot; bluescreen composite; lighting and animation; and final cut. Each of these lasts 91 seconds, and they can be viewed with or without technical commentary. (Note that only one 91 second commentary track exists, so if you select it, the piece will play over and over again.)
A second deconstruction covers the "Edgar Bug Fight". It's similar to “Tunnel” but is a little more fun and longer. Again we find five different angles available, and all can be screened with or without commentary. These clips last four minutes each, and the same commentary accompanies all of them. It doesn't do anything new, but it's enjoyable - I liked it more than the "tunnel" scene, if just because it's great to see Smith and Jones acting to nothing, and I also loved the "stand-in" featured in angle two.
Character Animation Studies provides a 51-second introduction from Sonnenfeld and offers three different very short looks at character creation. Each snippet lasts between eight and 12 seconds and features four different stages: "preliminary", "adding skin and texture", "animation and lighting", and "final character composited into scene". This becomes a decent look at the subject matter.
With Creatures: Conception to Completion, we find a creative but unfulfilling way to demonstrate the evolution of some different participants. We see the animated development of Edgar Bug, Jeebs, Mikey, Mr. Gentle and Farmer Edgar. The images start off as drawings and eventually "morph" into the final photographed characters. It's a cute idea, but it seemed a bit lame; frankly, it added nothing to my knowledge of the movie and just came across as a clever concept with little practical value.
Next we locate a mix of Galleries. These cover “Storyboards” (five scenes), “Conceptual Art” (nine areas) and “Production Photos” (three domains). We get a slew of good images across all of these.
Storyboard Comparisons presents three different scenes. Storyboards take up the top half of the screen while the finished film fills the bottom segment. Each of the three snippets lasts between 87 and 122 seconds with a total of five minutes and 19 seconds. These would be moiré useful if they didn’t appear in a small box; rather than use all the TV space available, the material gets stuck in a space about the size of a 20-inch 4X3 set. Boo!
Another feature involves a Scene Editing Workshop. This mildly cool piece lets you recut three different scenes. You can recreate "The Farmhouse", "The Morgue", and "Jay's MIB Tryout". For your version, you have to connect three different segments, and within each part, you can choose from three varying takes.
Frankly, this feature may not be as much fun as it sounds, but I thought it was enjoyable nonetheless, especially since it let me compare my choices to the final product. The brevity of the scenes - none of which last more than 26 seconds - makes the program of limited use, but it was still a neat addition.
Will Smith's sharp music video for the title song appears, and we find the teaser and theatrical trailers for MIB as well. Previews also includes ads for 21, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, Vantage Point, and First Sunday.
Two features are new to the Blu-ray. Intergalactic Pursuit: The MIB Multi-Player Trivia Game tests your knowledge of the film and its creators. It asks a variety of questions and allows you a short period of time to reply. They’re mildly tough and this is a decent game.
Ask Frank the Pug! acts like a digital “Magic 8-Ball”. It prompts you to pose questions about a mix of topics, and the movie character replies. It’s cute for about 10 seconds and then loses appeal.