Men in Black was a landmark film that almost came out of nowhere. Tom Baker’s standard setting makeup effects combined with the Lethal Weapon-like chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones made it one of the best simple entertainment films in recent memory. The problem with a sequel is you aren’t going to sneak up on an innocent audience. Expectations are high and this film does not meet those high expectations. With that said, however, it really is an entertaining film. All the great elements from the original film are here: Frank the Pug is much more involved, Tony Shalhoub’s Jeebs is still loosing his head over the MIB, and The Practice’s Lara Flynn Boyle is a far more attractive bad guy … eh girl … eh something. It’s a ride and one hell of a ride still.
Evil Alien Serleena (Boyle) travels to Earth in search of the powerful Light Of Zartha. Agent J (Smith), now a top brass at MIB, keeps neuralizing his partners and only the retired and neuralized K (Jones) knows anything about this special artifact. K must regain his memories and figure out clues he left himself to solve the riddle or, of course, it’s once again curtains for Earth.
Men In Black II features an aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Danny Elfman’s score is a huge standout. The bass extension is at times quite powerful. The explosive content does have a tendency to overpower the dialogue and other more subtle elements. There is no distortion and the range is usually dynamic and clean. All of the channels are used effectively, giving any well balanced theatre a satisfying soundstage.
There is a commentary track featuring Barry Sonnenfield. He can be almost as funny as the film. You can also opt for an interesting “telestration” effect that allows you to click on an icon and let Sonnenfield demonstrate certain elements he is explaining on the commentary. I found that feature a little distracting to the film.
Men in Black II is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is extremely clean and no film specks or artifacts of any kind are present. I was particularly impressed with the amount of detail in the blacks. Shadows appear to contain many distinguishable layers. Colors are mostly true to the original print with the finest accuracy applied to flesh tones. Some of the alien makeups are quite colorful (the bird people are great examples) and the print captures these details with flair.
There are a few extras included on this two disc set, most of which are found on the second disc (other than a series of trailers collectively entitled “Frank’s Favorites” located on Disc 1). My big complaint here is there are two collections of features that are difficult to play individually. There are also three features that are repeated under a different name but are identical features.
The MIB Orb contains the first collection of 9 pieces averaging 5-10 minutes long. They cover technical aspects of the film like Foley artists, f/x, ADR (looping), and model making.
Creature Features is another collection of shorts spotlighting a few of the “star” aliens on the film. The Serleena and Jefferey features are identical to segments found in the Orb section. There is also a music video and the standard text-based fare here.
The best feature is the Alternative Ending. It was quite a surprise. I expected perhaps the original Twin Towers ending had been included, but this was a scene added to the film’s theatrical ending. It’s kind of cute.
Finally, a funny gag reel is mostly a montage of bloopers from the set.The menus on Disc 1 are annoyingly hard to figure out at first.
This was certainly a respectable release. The film’s taken quite a bit of heat for not living up to the original, but this isn’t Shakespeare, guys. If you’re looking for some good honest fun this DVD will not disappoint. You get to see two grown men flushed down a giant toilet bowl, how much more fun can you have? “Another event that didn’t happen from one of their files that don’t exist.”