Bad Boys (Superbit) (1995)
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Michael Bay|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I suppose that given that this is the third time I am reviewing this film on DVD for this web site, the inevitable question has to be asked: just how many times do distributors expect us to dig into pockets to keep them in the riches to which they like to be accustomed? Now don't get me wrong: I love this film as much as anyone, but just how many times am I going to fork over my money to buy it, and even more importantly is it worth it? So far I have the original Region 1 release, the original reasonably-extras-less Region 4 release, the subsequent extras-laden Region 4 Collector's Edition release and the Region 2 Superbit release. I think that qualifies me to make some comments upon the value of yet another release of the film on Region 4 DVD.
It should also be remembered that I am not a great fan of extras and one of the reasons for that is that the film is everything, so why waste space on a disc for extras when you can use that space to do the best job possible for the film? You guessed it - I am a big fan of the Superbit concept. However, I am no big fan of the exorbitant price we are expected to pay now for what we should have always had - the best possible picture and sound. It should be borne in mind that the Region 2 Superbit DVD I have is the exact same deal as the Region 4 - and it cost me $27.33 including shipping from the United Kingdom (and I know I could have gotten it cheaper as well). So why should we be expected to fork over $39.95 to get it in Australia? I think someone needs to remind Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment of the concept of the global economy...
I first reviewed the now-withdrawn original release of Bad Boys way back in August, 1999 with the review published on 29th August, 1999. I got to review the replacement, and still available, Bad Boys: Collector's Edition not quite so way back in March, 2001 with the review published on 9th March, 2001. Another two years on and I get my third review ready for publication. By now we all should know the film pretty well and so what passes for my synopsis is presented for a third time.
Miami narcotics detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) have made the drugs bust of their careers - $100,000,000 worth. Only problem is that thanks to information from an ex-cop Eddie Dominguez, mysterious French drug dealer Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo) has managed to steal the whole lot from police security. With Internal Affairs and the FBI wanting to close down the narcotics division, Lowrey and Burnett have four days to locate and recover the drugs. Meantime, a professional lady friend of Lowrey's, Max (Karen Alexander), and her friend Julie Mott (Téa Leoni) agree to attend a little party involving them and a couple of kilos of the nasty stuff, hosted by Eddie, during which Mott watches the murder of both Max and Eddie. What follows is a rather interesting, if convoluted, coming together of Lowrey, Burnett and Mott to locate Fouchet and his stooges, during which all sorts of mayhem occurs.
From the legendary production team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, whose pedigree in this sort of film is unexcelled (start with Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, and keep on listing), and directed by Michael Bay (The Rock and Armageddon), this is one high octane ride with fair doses of comedy thrown in for good measure. This whole thing works really well because no one takes it seriously, especially Téa Leoni who is superb as the scared witness. The whole story is pretty preposterous, but that never stopped a good, fun film, and it surprises that this did so comparatively poorly at the box office. Special mention for the cameo of John "Spider" Salley as Fletcher; John Salley was one of the original "Bad Boys", the name the Detroit Pistons gave themselves in the era when they won two NBA championships.
Funny thing is that I managed to sit down and watch the Region 2 Superbit release only a couple of weeks ago, so for once a film and its DVD was fairly fresh in my memory to refer to. I know that there are many who don't rate the film at all highly, generally citing the shallowness of Michael Bay's films and the glossy production of the Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer pairing. Aside from Pearl Harbor, which was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions perhaps rivaled only by the massively more successful but equally appalling Titanic, I have generally found little fault with Michael Bay's work. As for the Simpson/Bruckheimer production pairing, the success of the films they produced speaks volumes - they knew how to make successful films and at the end of the day that is what they are required to do. Bad Boys is another one of those successful films and it is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. It does not hurt of course that there is Téa Leoni to look at...
Every version of Bad Boys that I have on DVD has been blessed with a pretty decent transfer in most respects. The only real issues I have had with most of them is the aliasing problem, most notably in the night time pan shots of Miami during the opening credits, and some fairly obvious edge enhancement. It was therefore going to be interesting to see how these two problems in particular fared in this new Superbit release.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is of course 16x9 enhanced. The theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1 so there is very, very little missed here.
The immediate impression from the first ten minutes of the film is that this transfer is a lot smoother looking than previous incarnations. This seems to have taken a very little away from the definition but in the process given the film a very much more natural look, despite the colour processing. What we might just have lost in definition we more than gained through the edge enhancement being less obvious and far less grating. Definition is still very good throughout and there is perhaps an improvement in the overall detail of the film. Shadow detail was in general very good, within the context of the way the film was being shot. Clarity is another improvement, with this seeming to be a much clearer looking transfer than previously, helped by a decided lack of any grain issues. In the main, this certainly is a better looking transfer than earlier incarnations.
Colours are in general very well rendered, within the context of the film. The colours during the earlier part of the film are distinctly yellow-toned in an attempt to create the mood of early morning which works well. Some of the sunrise/sunset shots are especially vibrant, really capturing the feel of Miami. However, the colours now have a much smoother look to them, so the vibrancy level that we had on the earlier renditions is just a little reduced - though still very good. I felt the black levels were a little better this time round, although this is perhaps a function of the smoother looking transfer rather than any mastering trickery. The consistency of the colour is probably better too. There is nothing in the way of over-saturation this time round, other than those odd places where it was more than likely intended. Colour bleed was not a problem in the transfer.
There do not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer, with perhaps the only exception being a very minor loss in resolution at 4:40 that may be inherent in the source material and not introduced by the mastering process. There were a few minor instances of film-to-video artefacts in the form of aliasing in the opening credits (mainly the brightly lit buildings at 3:49 and 4:15) and a few odd spots during the film - such as in the police car at 44:36 and the escalator at 45:27. There was also a very minor instance of moiré in the door window at 95:59. I would doubt that most would really notice these and I only mention them for the sake of mentioning something. The previous issue with the opening night time motion pan of Miami that was very noticeable in previous releases has simply disappeared here. Film artefacts were apparent especially early in the film during the credits, but these were very minor and in no way detracted from the film. Thereafter, the print is pretty clean with only the odd white speck to be seen.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD, and I would love to tell you where the layer change is. Unfortunately, despite having watched the DVD three times, I simply am buggered as to where it is. Must be pretty d*** good and not at all disruptive to the film.
There are four subtitle options on the DVD - English, Dutch, Hindi and English for the Hearing Impaired. I sampled the first and the last only, which appear to be very good with no significant issues to worry about.
Overall, the remastering for this Superbit has been rather positive. Most of the flaws of the earlier incarnations have gone and the result is a much smoother looking transfer overall. A slight loss of vibrancy and definition is a small price to pay for the overall improvements gained.
There are just the two soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a dts 5.1 soundtrack. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is the 384 Kb/s soundtrack we have previously heard on Region 4 releases, whilst the dts soundtrack is a half rate 768 Kb/s effort. Since the entire concept of Superbit is to present the best video and audio transfer possible, I am really battling to understand why we have not got a remastered Dolby Digital soundtrack at the full 448 Kb/s bit rate.
Both soundtracks present clear, easy to understand dialogue remains clear and there is nothing in the way of audio sync problems at all with the transfer.
The original music score by Mark Mancina is a pretty decent effort that whilst no masterpiece, does a fairly good job of supporting the film. The original theme for the film is well used as a motif throughout the film.
The overall sound picture on the Dolby Digital soundtrack is good, although not quite as well detailed as perhaps it could have been - despite the odd highlight. Surround channel use was good but again could perhaps have benefited from a bit more ambience, especially through the rear channels. The bass channel gets some decently heavily use during the action sequences, and this remains a soundtrack that you can crank up a bit just to annoy the neighbours.
The dts soundtrack at first hearing barely sounds any different to the Dolby Digital, but when you do side by side comparisons the differences, though reasonably minor, soon become quite apparent. That general tendency for greater presence and body to the sound starts to shine through and this really is a noticeably better sounding effort overall in the direct comparison. The bass is very well handled across all channels, so that whilst not as specifically obvious demonstration material as the Dolby Digital, the general tone is much more natural and present sound that really packs a punch when needed. Notwithstanding the better feel of the dts soundtrack, the quality of the Dolby Digital is such that we are only talking modest improvements over it in practical terms here.
|Surround Channel Use|
The entire concept of Superbit is to do away with extras to maximise the space for the audio and video transfers. If you want extras, you better be buying Bad Boys: Collector's Edition.
The bog standard minimalist menu setup common to all Superbits that I am aware of.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 2 release is the same as this Region 4 release but cheaper, even with delivery, if you know the ropes on the Internet. The Region 1 release has the same basic package, with the only substantive difference being that it apparently has a 448 kb/s Dolby Digital soundtrack. If the latter is true, then Region 1 is the winner.
Bad Boys is a great piece of entertainment - utterly preposterous at times, but with some great action and comedy served up in a really well handled way. As a debut film, it is not a bad effort at all, despite the limitations of budget and some dubious effects work (at least according to the director). This Superbit release presents an improved video transfer that is much smoother looking and does away with the aliasing problem in the opening night time pan shot of Miami - proving that it was not an inherent film problem. Audio wise the dts soundtrack is better than the Dolby Digital but not by much. Overall, if you have Bad Boys: Collector's Edition, I really cannot see any point to upgrading as the audio and video improvements don't really outweigh the extras. However, if you do not own the film on DVD and don't really need extras, then this Superbit release is the way to go. Just wait for the price to come down though.
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|