Barry Sonnenfeld is one of those directors who either strikes the nail firmly on the head, of misses it entirely for a one way ticket to accident and emergency. With Men In Black he took some dry comic source material from Lowell Cunningham, and delivered an entirely off-the-wall take on aliens, conspiracy theories and secret government organisations. Projects like this often have huge potential that’s ultimately blown by sloppy filmmaking or sentimentality, but not this one.
Combining the unique, and frankly diametrically opposed, styles of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, the movie navigates with consummate ease the multiple tasks of being funny, exciting, entertaining and witty, sometimes simultaneously. Considering how many movies can flunk all four of those totally, Men In Black represents a cinematic perfect storm, and not one with Mark Wahlberg or George Clooney hamming it up throughout.
In retrospect, now I see it as the Ghostbusters of the nineties, where the underlying talent of those involved created an unstoppable critical mass.
And watching it on Blu-ray is almost good enough to erase the sub-standard sequel it then spawned, but not quite.
Like the movies of Sonnenfeld himself, this disc contains both the sublime and the mediocre in one convenient package. On the worth having side is an incredibly crisp version of the movie, in which many scenes have more chromatic punch than the cinema version I recall. This film has some very subdued colours and lighting, which then contrasts vividly with the otherworldly colouring on some of the aliens and effects. It just took this version for me to really appreciate those style choices.
The lossless Dolby True HD soundtrack is also a revelation, bettering the already impressive Dolby 5.1 version that the DVD offered.
For most geeks that and the two extra audio tracks will be enough, because they’re unlikely to care about Will Smith’s music video and the other stuff they’ve allocated data blocks to here. Actually, and this might seem a strange comment, but there is too much here, and most of it will never get played I’d wager.
One last warning for those using a PC to playback these discs, this uses a BD-Live Profile 2.0, so if your software doesn’t support that you’ll not see anything here.
But if it does work you’ll get access to one of the first Java games I’ve seen on this format and its Internet aware so you answer MIB questions against others. They were mostly missing in action for me, considering this disc wasn’t released when I had it. It’s fun enough, but hardly a justification for getting this movie specifically.
But that’s moot, because the movie is the meat in this sandwich, and it’s perfectly garnished as is.
This is Agent M, reminding you that the flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus. Oh, and your life will be much better if buy this Blu-ray!
Movie Disc Extras