I had the opportunity to watch the new collector's edition of "MIB' the other night. What a great DVD with a lot of neat extras.
Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and his partner Dee (Richard Hamilton) are two of the Men In Black, an elite force of men in a secret institution that are charged with "Protecting the Earth From The Scum of The Universe". Dee is unable to stop an alien from attacking, requiring Kay to blow it to bits. Dee wants out of the business. Kay needs to find a new partner. James Darrel Edwards III (Will Smith), a NYPD detective, is the best candidate. Kay sees something in him. Zed (Rip Torn), the director of the division, agrees to let Kay recruit Jay (Smith), despite his misgivings. Almost immediately, the Earth is threatened by an alien force that wants to prevent another galaxy from falling into the hands of Edgar (Vincent D'Onofrio), a hick farmer that has been killed by an alien. The alien, a roach like creature is using Edgar's skin as a disguise. Edgar is searching for the galaxy. The Men In Black must stop him, or the other alien race will destroy the Earth.
"Men In Black" is a quintessential summer film, a film that works in so many ways. Released in July, 1997, the film cemented Will Smith's stardom. Smith is very good. He plays Jay in a somewhat somber way, cracking jokes, but in a more refined manner than we had seen him do to this point. He is actually trying for a character here and he succeeds. Tommy Lee Jones is just perfect as his partner, the aging, wiser mentor of the couple. Jones has many funny moments, allowing his dead pan persona to help define his character.
The film is also aided immeasurably by it's brevity. So many films like this run in excess of two hours because they spend so much time establishing the characters and then telling a story. "MIB" does all of this in 98 minutes, moving along at a brisk pace, keeping us occupied and interested.
Two of my favorite scenes both showcase Tommy Lee Jones. The first is the tunnel sequence. The Ford LTD that Jones drives zooms through the Holland tunnel aws Jones sings along to Elvis Presley. The catch? The car is riding on the roof, Jones is singing along merrily as Smith is frantically trying to get seated. The second is a scene in which Jones interrogates an alien that has disguised himself as a little dog. Jones is shaking the dog, trying to get information out of the alien. Very funny. Smith is also very good, perhaps best in the audition sequence. His character is participating reluctantly in the audition, trying to fill out a test with a pencil that breaks, no where to write. Very funny.
The DVD presents a great print of the film, very clear and crisp, available in widescreen (yeah!) and pan and scan (boo!). It was a joy to watch the film again, so quickly transported into the world that director Barry Sonnenfeld creates along with the writer, Ed Solomon.
The 2 DVD set has a second DVD with a lot of extras, perhaps the most interesting of which is a 'scene editing workshop'. I only had time to try one of the three options. This option presented three different takes of three different parts of the scene. You can preview each take, select one and then move on to the next segment. After you have selected one scene for each bit, you can play them back as you have edited them. Then you can compare them to the film.
The second neatest feature is the 'special effects deconstruction'. Two segments are presented and you are allowed to view five different aspects of it, switching back and forth as you watch it. The first aspect is the original storyboards, then a blue screen strip, followed by a composite and so on. This allows the viewer to watch, in an abbreviated fashion, the process of creating these sequences. A lot of fun and a lot of information.
There are also a lot of production photos, including a large segment of photos taken at ILM as some sequences were created.
There are also the requisite trailers, talent files and commentaries.
Interestingly, there is a teaser trailer for "MIBII", which doesn't reveal anything at all for the simple fact that they can't. The film has been delayed due to budget constraints and other problems.
A great DVD. Check it out.