Men In Black

Limited Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Booklet

Disc 1
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital City Trailer
Audio Visual Commentary (Barry Sonnenfeld-Director & Tommy Lee Jones-Actor)
Audio Commentary (Barry Sonnenfeld-Director, Rick Baker-Alien Make-Up Effects, Eric Brevig-Visual Effects Supervisor/Second Unit Director, John Andrew Berton Jr.-Computer Graphics Supervisor & Rob Coleman-Animation Supervisor)
DVD-ROM Extras

Disc 2
Menu Audio & Animation
Visual Effects Scene Deconstructions (2 + intro +/- commentary - Multi-Angle)
Featurette-Metamorphosis of MiB (23:13)
Extended & Alternate Scenes (5)
Character Animation Studies (4 + intro +/- commentary - Multi-Angle)
Creatures: Concept To Completion (5)
Storyboard Comparisons (3)
Storyboard Gallery (5 Galleries)
Conceptual Art Gallery
Scene Editing Workshop (with intro)
Production Photo Gallery
Cast & Crew Biographies
Featurette (6:37)
Men In Black Teaser Trailer
Men In Black II Teaser Trailer
Men In Black Theatrical Trailer
Stuart Little Theatrical Trailer
Music Video-Will Smith-Men In Black
DVD-ROM Extras

Year Released 1997
Running Time 94:00 minutes
RSDL/Flipper Disc 1 Widescreen Side: RSDL (47:10)
Disc 1 Fullscreen Side: RSDL (47:10)
Disc 2: Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Barry Sonnenfeld

Columbia Tristar
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Will Smith
Linda Fiorentino
Vincent D'Onofrio
Rip Torn
Case Collector's Box
RPI $59.95 Music Danny Elfman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1 
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
French Audio Commentary 1
German Audio Commentary 1
Dutch Audio Commentary 1
Polish Audio Commentary 1
English (AV Commentary)
French Audio Commentary 2
German Audio Commentary 2
Dutch Audio Commentary 2
Polish Audio Commentary 2
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Men In Black is a movie that I quite enjoy simply because it doesn't take itself too seriously, and manages to poke fun at many other far more serious science fiction movies. The special effects are incredible, the comedy is delivered in a suitable laconic manner, and the sheer fun and silliness of the movie is overwhelming.

    Jay (Will Smith) is a New York policeman with attitude who is also very good at his job. Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) works for the super-secretive Men In Black, a quasi-government super-secret agency that concerns itself with the comings and goings of aliens on Earth, an activity that we learn has been going on for some years beneath the noses of all of us. Jay is recruited into the Men In Black by Kay just as an intergalactic conflict is about to erupt between the Arquillians and the Bugs, with the Bugs being represented on Earth by the comically uncoordinated Edgar (Vincent D'Onofrio). It is up to our heroes to save the Earth and the Galaxy from total destruction, ably assisted by a morbid coroner (Linda Fiorentino) and by an array of fantastic Men In Black gadgets.

Transfer Quality

A Note On The Limited Edition Packaging

    Men In Black: Limited Edition is elegantly packaged in a sturdy black cardboard box embossed with silver printing which is slightly larger than the usual Columbia Tristar DVD case. The box opens up in similar fashion to a standard case, revealing two DVDs: one on the inside of the front cover and one in the usual rear cover position. The packaging looks excellent, but I do have one minor criticism of the packaging - the clips holding the DVDs in place are different to any that I have seen before, and do not comply at all when you press on them. To extract the DVDs, you must use a fair degree of force to avoid bending the DVDs excessively. Trying to gently lever these DVDs off their holding mechanism will not work, merely bending the DVDs alarmingly - you need to sharply pull on them to get them out.


    Two words sum up this transfer. Columbia and Tristar. It is essentially flawless and most certainly of reference quality.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. The other side of this DVD carries a Pan & Scan version of the movie which seems extremely cramped in composition, and is most definitely not the preferred viewing experience. Of particular note is the fact that this is the first DVD-18 released in Region 4. That is, both sides of this DVD are dual-layered, making for a total of 4 layers of data on the one disc.

    The transfer is razor sharp and crystal clear with both foregrounds and backgrounds immaculately resolved in this image. The amount of fine detail on offer within this transfer is breathtaking to behold and makes for a magnificent viewing experience. Much of this movie takes place in darker settings, and the shadow detail is brilliant, with subtle gradations and nuances the likes of which I have never seen before on offer in the darkness. There is not a shred of low level noise to mar the image at any point.

    The colours were perfectly rendered, from the subtle colouration of the darker scenes to the vibrant colouration of the few brightly-lit sequences, such as the scene where Jay helps to deliver the alien baby. At no point does the transfer either oversaturate or undersaturate, and at no point is there even a hint of colour bleeding.

    There were no MPEG artefacts nor aliasing seen, and film artefacts were all but absent except for the tiniest of bursts around the middle of the film. This is transparent compression at its best, even by Columbia Tristar's lofty standards.

    The disc is dual layered, with the layer change coming at 47:10, during Chapter 13. Both the widescreen and the fullscreen sides of the disc have the layer change at the same point. It is only mildly disruptive to the overall flow of the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Grain/MPEG Artefacts
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are four soundtracks on this DVD and two commentary tracks. Inexplicably, the default audio soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, requiring a quick press of the remote to flick it over to the much more appropriate English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are also present on this DVD.

    The dialogue was essentially easy to make out and clear at all times, even during some of the heavily processed dialogue sequences. Audio sync was acceptable at all times, although it was clear that some looping had been done, with Tommy Lee Jones' dialogue in particular appearing to be on the verge of being out of sync at times.

    The score by Danny Elfman was not particularly remarkable, although it did show some signs of his typical comedic and off-beat style.

    The surround channels are frequently and aggressively used throughout the movie to create an enveloping soundfield. You are placed smack-bang in the middle of the action, which comes thick, fast and all around you, aggressively immersing you in the movie. There are lots of directional effects and also lots of subtler ambient effects placed throughout the entire soundfield, giving all of your speakers a decent workout.

    The .1 channel was aggressively used to support the special effects and the music, whilst being well enough integrated into the overall sound mix to never call attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    This contains an introduction to the DVD by director Barry Sonnenfeld, profiles of the main characters, brief descriptions of many of the special features on the DVD, some conceptual art and a chapter listing.

Disc 1


    This is 16x9 enhanced on both sides of this DVD and is the first time I have seen the new and improved Columbia Tristar DVD logo, presented in no less than 5.1 audio. It is an enormous improvement over the old logo.

    Comprehensive and apt animation and audio accompany the main menu with a suitable menu entry sequence setting the scene for what is to come.

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

Dolby Digital City Trailer

Audio Visual Commentary (Barry Sonnenfeld-Director & Tommy Lee Jones-Actor)

    This commentary track is formatted along the lines of the Ghostbusters and the Muppets From Space commentary tracks, but with one additional and crucial difference. Throughout the course of this AV commentary, Director Barry Sonnenfeld makes annotations on-screen to highlight what he and Tommy Lee Jones are talking about. This one crucial difference makes all the difference between this being a gimmicky feature and a genuinely useful feature, although Barry Sonnenfeld does tend to get a little carried away with his "magic marker", particularly towards the end of the commentary. Nonetheless, by the addition of this feature to the AV commentary, Columbia Tristar have proven that this can be more than a cute gimmick and can indeed add significantly to the depth of information provided in such a commentary track as distinct from an audio-only commentary track.

    Having said all of that, this is a strictly middle-of-the-road commentary track, with only a moderate amount of useful information imparted by the participants. Tommy Lee Jones heads off on an annoyingly off-topic tangent at around the half-way point for an excessively long period of time.

    On a more technical note, this AV commentary track, like the others preceding it, can only be played back when your DVD player is set to 4x3 letterbox mode or 4x3 pan & scan mode, and will not play back in 16x9 widescreen mode. This is a minor inconvenience.

Audio Commentary (Barry Sonnenfeld-Director, Rick Baker-Alien Make-Up Effects, Eric Brevig-Visual Effects Supervisor/Second Unit Director, John Andrew Berton Jr.-Computer Graphics Supervisor & Rob Coleman-Animation Supervisor)

    This is described as a Technical Commentary on the menu, and is comprised of mainly Barry Sonnenfeld and Eric Brevig talking separately about the special effects and design considerations of Men In Black. Occasional comments by Rick Baker, very obviously recorded elsewhere and in sub-optimal conditions are cut and pasted into the gaps. The other participants say very little and have also clearly been edited in during moments of silence. There is a fair amount of information imparted by this commentary, but to be honest, it isn't all that great, and in fact gets quite boring at times.

DVD-ROM Extras

    This merely comprises a link to an as-yet empty Men In Black: Limited Edition DVD web site.

Disc 2

Menu Audio & Animation

    The menus on Disc 2 are similarly themed to the Disc 1 menus and similarly visually and aurally enhanced. There are two menu choices offered on the Disc 2 menu; Creating MiB and Meet The MiB, both of which lead to a plethora of extras.

Visual Effects Scene Deconstructions (2 + intro +/- commentary - Multi-Angle)

    In a word - brilliant! This is some of the best and most appropriate use of multi-angle content that I have ever seen. Two key scenes from the movie (the Tunnel Scene and the Edgar Bug Fight) are presented in progressive stages of completion. Angle 1 shows us the storyboards for the scenes. Angle 2 shows us the basic shots of the actors against the live backgrounds and bluescreens. Angle 3 shows us the composited blue screen footage. Angle 4 shows us the effect of adding lighting and animation to the shots, and Angle 5 shows us the final result. The angles progressively increment automatically, or you can manually change them on-the-fly. You also have the option of listening to either the production soundtrack or to a technical commentary on the scenes.

    This is compelling and fascinating stuff, brilliantly presented. The only minor negative comment I will make about this content is that there is a lot of aliasing in the video image, particularly during the storyboard sequences. Overall, however, the incredible value of this extra far outweighs any image quibbles. The seamless integration of the final product will astound you when you see the rough elements that make up the shots.

Featurette-Metamorphosis of MiB (23:13)

    This is a very decent featurette, perhaps padded with a little too much footage from the movie, which offers a number of insights into the production. Well worth watching.

Extended & Alternate Scenes (5)

    These are very interesting and enlightening when seen after listening to the commentaries, but most certainly should not have been included in the movie. Of particular interest is the way in which they show how the plot of the movie was able to be altered for the better in post-production.

Character Animation Studies (4 + intro - Multi-Angle)

    These are very similar in concept to the Visual Effects Scene Deconstructions, but are all too brief and subsequently of limited interest.

Creatures-Concept To Completion

    A series of still frames that morph from early creature concepts to the final creature design. Mildly interesting, particularly to see the evolution of the multiple concepts that were considered for Mr. Gentle.

Storyboard Comparisons (3)

    Nicely presented split-screen, I personally find these uncompelling. Your opinion may differ.

Storyboard Gallery (5 Galleries)

Conceptual Art Gallery

    Lots and lots of conceptual art stills.

Scene Editing Workshop (with Director's Introduction)

    In this workshop, you are offered the chance to put together a short sequence from Men In Black by choosing the takes that you want to use. There are 3 takes available for each of 3 shots, making a total of 27 possible combinations for each of 3 sequences. You can then compare your choices with the Director's. Barry Sonnenfeld provides a brief introduction to this section of the DVD. Whilst it is an innovative extra, it isn't particularly compelling, and it won't be an extra you linger over.

Production Photo Gallery

    Lots and lots of still photos. Of particular interest are the saucer crash sequential stills which show how this effect was created.

Cast & Crew Biographies


    This is your stock-standard promotional featurette. Some of the behind the scenes footage is quite interesting and not seen anywhere else, so it is worth watching.


    There are four trailers to be found, all of excellent quality, and most 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Music Video - Will Smith-Men In Black

    A dancing Mikey is cute, but Will Smith is not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, a most appropriate inclusion on this DVD.

DVD-ROM Extras

    This is basically a mirror of the Men In Black web site.

R4 vs R1

    This DVD appears to be identically featured worldwide.


    Men In Black is a good, fun movie that doesn't take itself too seriously.

    The video quality is superlative and is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is excellent and is almost of reference quality.

    The extras are comprehensive, generally interesting, and genuinely innovative.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
15th August 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Marantz DV-18/Loewe Xemix 5006DD, using S-Video/RGB output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video/RGB inputs. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer