Mystery Men: Collector's Edition (1999)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Jun-2000

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Audio Commentary-Kinka Usher (Director)
Deleted Scenes
Music Highlights
Notes-Origin Of The Mystery Men Comic Book Characters
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
DVD-ROM Extras-Game, Gall, On Location, BTS, Postcards, SS, Story
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 116:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kinko Usher
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Hank Azaria
Claire Forlani
Janeane Garofalo
Eddie Izzard
Greg Kinnear
William H. Macy
Kel Mitchell
Lena Olin
Paul Reubens
Geoffrey Rush
Ben Stiller
Wes Studi
Tom Waits
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $39.95 Music Stephen Warbeck


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Portuguese
French
Arabic
Smoking Yes, briefly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The only thing worse than a stinker is a film that promises to be so much more, yet fails to deliver the goods. Sadly, Mystery Men is one of the latter. The cast is amazing: William H. Macy, arguably one of the finest modern screen performers, the very funny Ben Stiller, stand-up comic Eddie Izzard, indie goddess Janeane Garofalo, and even oddball musical genius Tom Waits. The concept, taken from a comic book, is promising; a bunch of would-be superheroes with no legitimate powers attempt to save the city's real superhero from monstrous villain Casanova Frankenstein and his evil henchmen, the Disco Boys. What could go wrong?

    Sadly, the usual. The problem here is that we have a director fresh from commercials, with no idea of how to block out actions, establish locations or build and release tension within a scene, and a script that was 'pretty much nailed down up to the half-way point'. That is, unfinished. Personally, I'm astounded that a studio would agree to spend $70 million on an unfinished script and trust it to a guy who has only sold sneakers to teenagers on TV, but hey, what do I know? Anyhow, what we end up with is a confused mess; the cast are obviously ad-libbing at times, and there is no real sense of any threat or danger to the heroes. Listening to the commentary track, director Usher is constantly making reference to scenes being cut down for time, and there are a lot of instances where lines no longer make sense because a hunk of the scene got trimmed. Take the opening scene, for example. A bunch of villains, the Redeye gang, crash a party at an old folk's home. Instantly, the film goes into flash-cut mode, and the introduction of the Mystery Men is bungled. It took a couple of viewings to actually make sense of all of the images that flew past my eyes. On listening to the commentary track, I learned that the scene originally ran longer, and even the director found the final cut too fast.

    Usher is also too eager to impress, using distracting camera angles for no legitimate reason and having characters speak directly into the camera. This may work in an comic book, but only detracts from the story in a motion picture. This is the essential problem with this film; the makers have forgotten that this isn't a comic book, and the same rules do not apply. Tim Burton's' Batman succeeded precisely because it didn't slavishly copy a graphic comic book's look and feel, instead translating them into a form that would make sense in motion. The script is the real villain here, because countless funny lines that no doubt read terrifically fell flat on the screen.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is superb, and is d*** close to reference quality. It is presented in the genuine, accept-no-imitations theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and with 16x9 enhancement to boot. Almost every aspect is impeccable. Note: I said almost.

   The level of sharpness is very good indeed, and this wasn't created artificially with the dreaded digital edge enhancement used so often. At no point did I see the tell-tale ringing effect caused by this process. Another aspect where the transfer excels is in the near-complete absence of grain and noise from the image. If you're one of those who prefers their film to look like a CG image, you've got it here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the image looks plastic or artificial at all, it's just that it doesn't have the grit I'm fond of. For those who haven't read my reviews before, I am not a fan of blockbuster film stock.

   The shadow detail is generally good, but in dark scenes the video leans a little towards black (which apparently is a fault with the R1 transfer as well). Attempting to raise the black level to pull the details out of the picture turns blacks grey, and the shadow detail is not improved. As much of the film is set in dark locations, this becomes a little annoying and turns what could have been a reference quality transfer into one that is merely extremely good.

   The colours are bright and fully-saturated, with no hint of colour bleeding or noise. The excellent production design is very well captured on disc. Close examination of the picture revealed no obvious MPEG artefacts, no film-to-video artefacts and extremely few film artefacts.

   This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 73:19. On my DVD-ROM, the pause interrupted the soundtrack and was quite obvious. Other players may have more luck with the layer change. Other than the audio problem, the layer change was unobtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is extremely competent. Four Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included: English, French, Italian and Spanish. As I only ever listen to the original theatrical soundtrack, I listened to the English track, although quick checks of the other languages revealed fairly standard qualities of dubbed tracks (i.e., no attempt has been made to spatially integrate dialogue into a scene).

   Generally the dialogue was clear and discernible, although some of the accents chosen by the actors are by nature a little difficult to make out. For example, Paul Reubens' character has a very pronounced lisp. Obviously, a lot of looping was used due to the nature of the film, but it was rarely objectionable. The biggest problem I encountered was in Chapter 6 at around the 44:00 minute mark, where Garofalo's character is joining the Mystery Men. Location sound was obviously used here rather than looping, and the quality of the dialogue takes quite a dive.

   I found no obvious problems with audio sync at all.

   The music is standard blockbuster wallpaper, which doesn't draw attention to itself by overwhelming the action or becoming annoying. I guess it passes muster, then.

   As you'd expect from a big-budget actioner, the surrounds are used heavily, with a lot of front-rear panning action and general mayhem. The mix isn't gimmicky, though, and I was never distracted by it.

    The subwoofer channel is used well, with a nice low end making itself known during action scenes and during the Disco Boy's dancing scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   There are a decent amount of extras here. I just wish the film was better.

Menu

   The menu is 16x9 enhanced, but is otherwise unenthralling.

Theatrical Trailer

   This is presented Full Frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The trailer actually succeeds in making the film look cohesive and funny.

Featurette - Spotlight on Location

   This is a 17:39 full screen 'documentary' on the making of the film. Woah. Did I say documentary? I meant to say extended ad. My apologies.

Director's Commentary

   This is fairly painful to sit through. Director Kinka Usher (what is WITH that name??) basically repeats three things over and over:     The problem is, nothing is particularly funny.

Deleted Scenes

   Here we see some of the deleted scenes Usher refers to in the commentary. They do expand on some of the trimmed scenes and clear up jokes that don't make sense, but wouldn't have saved the film if they remained in the cut.

Music Highlights

   I honestly don't see the point here. All you get are pointers to music tracks in the film, but they're not isolated, so you could just as easily skip to the chapter with the song.

Origins of the Mystery Men Comic Book Characters

   Unfortunately text-based, but easily readable and informative.

Production Notes

   God, save me from production notes.

Cast & Filmmakers Bios

   Nothing here the IMDB couldn't do better.

DVD-ROM Features

   I've been sitting in a very cold room playing with these features, and I've gotta say that they're not very interesting. The 'game' is just a jigsaw puzzle with no payoff when you complete it, most of the text is echoed elsewhere on the disc or on the website, the screensaver is boring tosh, and the 'send a postcard' feature failed to work for me.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;    If you can do without the M.A.F.T Music Video (the song is in the film, by the way) and the trailers, the R4 disc has to be the way to go.

Summary

   Overall, this film is fairly stinky. Mystery Men has wasted a great cast on a badly-conceived plot.

    The video quality is excellent, with some small reservations about the black level which prevents it from being of reference quality.

   The audio quality is excellent, and bar the problem with dialogue in Chapter 6, is perfectly acceptable.

   The extras are fine, but I couldn't actually make it through the director's commentary. There's only so much I can take of a hack patting himself on the back.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Dossett (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)
Sunday, May 28, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer 103S DVD-ROM with Hollywood Plus decoder card, using S-Video output
DisplayMitsubishi DiVA (78cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A1
SpeakersFront L/R: Richter Excalibur SE, Centre: Richter Unicorn Mk 2, Surrounds: Richter Hydras

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Vincent C
DVDownUnder - Matt G
DVD Vibes - DVD Vibes
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S

Comments (Add)
No Annoying product placement? -