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Kinka Usher
Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear
Neil Cuthbert

A group of inept amateur superheroes must try to save the day when a supervillian threatens to destroy a major superhero and the city.
Box Office:
$68 million.
Opening Weekend:
$10,017,865 on 2136 screens.
Domestic Gross:
Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 1/11/2000

• Audio Commentary with Director Kinka Usher
• “Spotlight on Location” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Origin of the Mystery Men” Comic Book Characters” Texr
• Production Notes
• Cast and Filmmakers
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Mystery Men (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 17, 2020)

A sassy spoof of superhero movies, 1999’s Mystery Men takes us to Champion City, a metropolis patrolled by do-gooder Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). He does his job so well that virtually all his enemies end up out of action – and this threatens Amazing’s livelihood, as his corporate sponsors start to withdraw.

To help gin up business, Amazing arranges for the release of archvillain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). Alas, this backfires, as Casanova manages to capture and imprison Amazing.

This leaves a super-void in Champion City, and a small band of costumed misfits tries to pick up the slack. Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), the Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) and the Shoveler (William H. Macy) fight criminals but eventually realize they need help, so they recruit new superheroes and create a force they call the Mystery Men to rescue Captain Amazing.

The first half of the movie seems fresh, original and funny, and the superheroes are all a hoot. Stiller's Mr. Furious is one of the funniest, as his super power consists of getting irritated and that's about it.

This makes him a weird but entertaining “hero”, and his cohorts amuse as well. The movie can also be quite creative in other areas.

The first half of the film acts as set-up/”origin story”, and after the 85-minute point, Men goes into climax mode. This works for about 15 minutes, but unfortunately the movie has another 35 minutes to go, and that becomes its biggest flaw.

We find lots of delightful material in the movie’s first hour but the second half just runs too long and fails to connect. Once in a while, the film brings us some continue cleverness and wit, but too much of the last half feels drawn-out and tedious.

After a career in TV commercials, Kinka Usher made his feature film directing debut with Men - and he ended his cinematic career right there. 21 years later, Usher has yet to make another movie, and one assumes that he decided the big screen wasn’t for him.

That’s a bit of a shame, as even though Men comes with flaws, Usher showed promise. While Men feels a little too much like a Tim Burton homage, it exhibits a good sense of visual style and creativity.

Would Usher have developed into a great director? I don’t know, but I would’ve liked to see him piggyback off of this effort.

As Usher’s cinematic legacy, Mystery Men presents an erratic but moderately likable effort. Even thought it sags as it goes, it comes with enough wit and cleverness to keep us with it.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Mystery Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. The picture could look worse, but it could also look much better.

Sharpness seemed decent in close-ups and the occasional wider shot, but a lot of the flick tended to be somewhat soft. Edge haloes added a tentative sense to the image and made it mushier than desired, though again, it wasn’t ever poor.

Mild instances of jaggies and shimmering appeared, and digital artifacts could make the picture a bit gritty. As for source flaws, I noticed a handful of specks but no substantial defects.

Colors were decent. The film used a stylized comic book palette that could seem a bit heavy much of the time, but the hues were usually acceptable.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, but shadows could be thick. Low-light shots were generally less visible than I’d like. This turned into a bland image that barely nudged its way to “C-“ status.

At least the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack seemed more satisfying, though it wasn’t as impressive as one might expect for a flick about superheroes. At its best, the mix opened up the room well, with vehicles, explosions and the like all about the spectrum.

However, those sequences occurred less frequently than expected and weren’t particularly intense or immersive. The occasional action bit provided decent punch but the movie never turned into the five-channel butt-kicked I anticipated.

This meant the soundfield often remained oddly restrained and didn’t deliver great pizzazz on a consistent basis. Still, the action scenes brought a reasonable amount to the table, and they showed pretty good localization.

Audio quality was always solid. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects presented positive depth and power. The less than dazzling soundfield made this a minor disappointment, but it was still good enough for a “B”. When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Kinka Usher. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source and story/characters, Usher’s approach to the comic book genre, cast and performances, sets, costumes and production design, music, editing and cut scenes, effects, and related domains.

Usher delivers a wholly listenable commentary but not one that soars. While he does get into a good array of subjects, the track simply lacks a lot of energy. That makes it worthwhile but less than scintillating.

Spotlight on Location runs 17 minutes, 38 seconds and includes notes from Usher, producer Lloyd Levin, production designer Kirk Petrocelli, costume designer Marilyn Vance, and actors Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Reubens, William H. Macy, Claire Forlani, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Kel Mitchell, Greg Kinnear, and Tom Waits. “Spotlight” looks at story and characters, cast and performances, Usher’s impact on the shoot, costume and production design. We get a few useful notes – and some funny asides from the actors – but this remains largely a promo piece.

10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 22 seconds. Most of these encompass extra character beats such as extra info about the heroes’ personal lives.

We also see a little more depth to the team interactions, and another uses Luis Guzman as a “red herring” character as the Men look for the Sphinx. Many of the clips offer pretty good material – it’s clear they got cut solely for time, as the movie already runs pretty long for its genre.

Under “Universal Soundtrack Presentation”, we find a music video for “Who Are These Mystery Men” by Kel and the MAFT. Emcees featuring Romaine Jones. It mixes some lip-synch antics with movie clips. Though not groundbreaking, it offers a bit more entertainment than expected. Music Highlights also lets us skip directly to any of the film’s 12 songs.

In addition to the film’s trailer, a few text features follow. The Origin of the Mystery Men Comic Book Characters gives us background info for the franchise and the various roles, while Prodiuction Notes delivers aspects of the movie’s roots, development and creation.

Finally, Cast & Filmmakers brings us short biographies and filmographies for 11 actors and Usher. All of the text elements include useful information, but “Origin” fares best, as it offers a nice look at the source material.

As a spoof of superhero flicks, Mystery Men offers passable entertainment. Parts of it amuse but it runs too long and loses energy as it goes. The DVD provides sub-mediocre picture along with mostly good audio and a mix of decent bonus materials. Though often fun, Mystery Men doesn’t quite live up to its potential.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
1 3:
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