With the massive success of the first Men In Black, a sequel was a certainty. That it took five years to come to fruition was a surprise and that it was so inferior to the original; not so much.
With Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) having his memory wiped and returned to his civilian life, Agent Jay (Will Smith) is now essentially in charge of the Men In Black organization. He's still partner less after a string of would be successors have failed to match up to Kay, but when a shape-shifting alien named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) threatens the world, Agent Kay will have to be bought back into service.
Sony, smelling a franchise in the making would have been silly to try to continue without Tommy Lee Jones (think Blues Brothers 2000), but they'd be equally silly to leave money on the table. Unfortunately, it does cheapen the emotional aspect of the original slightly.
Men In Black II suffers from the general sequel-itis. The studio have played it safe and generally recycled the original plot of the first movie, but after five years the audience wanted a bit more. It remains to be seen if the forthcoming Men In Black III is a little stronger.
Men In Black II is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with AVC compression.
Hailing from a much earlier vintage that the original, Men In Black II looks significantly stronger in its Blu-ray debut. Clearly a newly struck transfer, the image is suitably sharp and crisp and features a very fine amount of film grain.
Colour balance is very good, although it accentuates low level blue hues; however this is more of a reflection of production design as opposed to a fault with the transfer.
Overall, this is a very good transfer for a catalogue release.
Men In Black II is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, encoded at 24 bits.
Just as pleasing as its predecessor, Men In Black II comes with a very aggressive lossless audio mix that is probably the highlight of the disc.
Dialogue intelligibility is not a problem and the track is very balanced and naturalistic, which probably is an irony considering the source material. Spilt surround effects are frequent and often call attention to themselves. Low frequency effects are almost over the top, but will please home theatre aficionados who like a lot of bottom end to their soundtracks.
The theatrical score, once again composed by Danny Elfman has become one of the series hallmarks and its main theme is very memorable. It's mixed quite aggressively.
Overall, a pretty good effort.
Whilst Sony Pictures haven't produced much in the way of new extra features, they have ported over all the original DVD features, which were reasonably solid. Let's jump in.
First up is the requisite Audio commentary with Director Barry Sonnenfeld in a solo effort. Sonnenfeld is quite a dry speaker, so this is a bit of a slog to get through and the interplay with Tommy Lee-Jones, as seen on the commentary for the first film is sorely missing. Despite this, bored die-hard fans will probably get a kick out of it.
Next up are a bunch of video based supplements, which look at specific segments of the production. Design In Motion: The Look of MIB II looks at the minimalist, art-deco inspired production design of the film, and recreating the expansive MIB headquarters from the first film. MIB ADR is concerned with the looping, or re-recording of on-set dialogue during the production of the final audio track, which is continued in the Squish, Splat, Sploosh: The Stellar Sounds of MIB II. The famed makeup effects artist gets his dues in Rick Baker: Alien Maker, which takes a look at the imaginative make up effects for the alien creatures. Cosmic Symphonies: Elfman In Space take a look at the films soundtrack by ex-Oingo Boingo front man Danny Elfman. Barry Sonnenfeld's Intergalactic Guide to Comedy discusses the dead pan comedic output which gives the series its edge. Finally we have a bunch of Creature Featurettes which discuss some of the specific alien creatures featured in the film, including the worms whose expanded role in the sequel was one of the highlights.
Next up is a Blooper Reel, which in many ways is consistently more funny than the entire film and the Alternate Ending, changed due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.
The Visual Effects Deconstructions return, showing some of the effects sequences in varying degrees of completion and Serleena Animatic Sequence which shows the pre-visualization for one of the key sequences in the film.
Finally, we have the film's title track Nod Your Head Music Video by Will Smith. Very 2000 and early.
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