Mystery Men: Collector's Edition (1999)
Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Audio Commentary-Kinka Usher (Director)
Notes-Origin Of The Mystery Men Comic Book Characters
Biographies-Cast & Crew
DVD-ROM Extras-Game, Gall, On Location, BTS, Postcards, SS, Story
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (73:19)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Kinko Usher|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
William H. Macy
|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|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
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.
|DVD||Pioneer 103S DVD-ROM with Hollywood Plus decoder card, using S-Video output|
|Display||Mitsubishi DiVA (78cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Front L/R: Richter Excalibur SE, Centre: Richter Unicorn Mk 2, Surrounds: Richter Hydras|