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When Bad Boys was released in 1995, it launched the career of director Michael Bay and began Will Smith’s ascension to being a bona fide Hollywood superstar. Martin Lawrence would go on to achieve some success, but Smith would follow Bad Boys up with blockbusters such as Independence Day, Men in Black, and his Oscar nominated performance in Ali. Bay, would direct hugely successful films such as The Rock, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor.

Bad Boys II (Superbit)
Eight years later the three are back in the sequel to the foundation of their careers. Debuting in the summer movie season of 2003, Bad Boys II had stiff competition against Pirates of the Caribbean and X2. It was by no means a flop, but the margin of revenue was not as great as its predecessor. After releasing a two disc special edition, Columbia Tri-Star has graciously issued a Superbit edition for fans of the film. Is it worth a double dip if you already own it? Read on to figure out whatcha gonna do.

Film
Taking place in present day Miami, Bad Boys II opens with our heroes detective Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and detective Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) making a drug bust in the middle of a Klu-Klux-Klan meeting for the Miami Police Department. Right off the bat it is clear that Marcus is the even-tempered cop with his partner being slightly trigger-happy. After a fun action sequence, the main plot of the story is exposed as these two cops struggling to bring down the flow of ecstasy coming into their city and making its way into night-clubs. Michael Bay film alumni Peter Stormare (also in Armageddon) plays the owner of a Miami night-club which is having people die from ecstacy overdoses as he imports the drugs. The main antagonist is Hector Tapia (played by Jordi Molla) who is the Cuban importer of these drugs.

Bad Boys II (Superbit)
Amidst the main plot of catching the bad guys, Bad Boys II has two sub-plots involving Mike dating Marcus’ sister Syd (Gabrielle Union) without his knowledge, and Marcus transferring out of Miami without his partner’s knowledge. Syd is a DEA agent who is working undercover in Miami and coincidentally is after the same drug dealer as Marcus and Mike. Plans go astray more than once between the two sides resulting in two thrilling car chases and exhilarating shootouts. While the conflict between the cops and the drug dealers escalate, so do the personal conflicts between Mike, Marcus, and Syd. Slow plot development, including a fun twist, and more action sequences essentially round out Bad Boys II.

Director Michael Bay has certainly made a name for himself in terms of action movies, but I also feel that he has become too comfortable in his own style. It’s very easy to point out one of his movies based on quick camera cuts, and sweeping camera moves that serve as everything from a character reveal to an expression of emotion. His style has been emulated over and over again, but it feels very ordinary in this movie. There was certainly more of an emphasis on the action sequences than on having any substance beneath their flashy surface. A perfect example of this is towards the beginning where Syd is being pursued in a thrilling car chase by the Jamaican drug dealers, with her brother and boyfriend in hot pursuit of them. Instead of playing up any emotion at all in the scene, all we get is one ‘That’s my sister.’ To me, that’s a missed opportunity. Also, clocking in at two hours and twenty-seven minutes Bad Boys II felt drawn out and probably would have been better served keeping it around the two hour mark. Extraordinary action and stunts surround a very ordinary movie.

Bad Boys II (Superbit)
Surprisingly, Martin Lawrence gives the best performance in the movie. He is the only character that seems to give off any sort of human quality in his delivery and demeanour. Will Smith comes off very dry and repetitive, and almost feels out of place in his role. The two do share great charisma and even give a few genuine laughs to the audience in fun gags. While Gabrielle Union is a beautiful actress, she really doesn’t serve as anything special in the movie. Her part could have been left out completely and the movie would not have been affected much at all. There was not enough time developing her character, and therefore it was difficult to buy her as a heroine here. A short but fun performance by Joe Pantoliano (featured in The Matrix and Memento) as Captain Howard gave the movie more comedic moments in his scenes with Lawrence and Smith. More so than the acting, the character development in the story is what keeps Bad Boys II from being a great movie.    

Video
The video quality is nothing short of superb. After researching reactions to the initial DVD release of Bad Boys II, it appears as though the Superbit Edition builds upon and surpasses an already terrific transfer. One review suggested that there was previously edge enhancement in the shootout scene with the Jamaicans. I am pleased to say that I detected none in that scene in this release. I was overwhelmed with the stability of the colours throughout the movie. Reds and greens are vibrant, and dark blues hold up with blacks very well. A perfect example of how well-balanced the colours are in this release is towards the end of the movie when Captain Howard wears a shirt that gives off different colours depending on how the light hits it: each shade of each colour can clearly be determined in the picture. The most excruciating and gritty set details are magnified in the quality of this transfer, shot in a 2:40:1 aspect ratio and anamorphically enhanced.

Bad Boys II (Superbit)
There were a couple instances of edge enhancement present, but only on quick shots. Also, there were a few instances of slight pixelation but again it’s an error that only occurs in quick cuts. If not for those two demerits, Bad Boys II would be a perfect transfer and could easily have been used as a reference disc. While the transfer isn’t without its flaws, you certainly will not be disappointed with the video quality in the Superbit.

Audio
With the option of either a Dolby Digital or DTS soundtrack, Bad Boys II treats the audience with two spectacular audio options. In both cases dialogue, music, and sound effects are well balanced and are audible at all times. Explosions use the sub very well, and the car chase sequences are excellent at using all channels. Shootout scenes will literally have you looking over your shoulder as they immerssively put you in the middle of the sequence. The audio on this Superbit is breathtaking and is the type of disc you pop in to show off your sound system to friends and family; you can safely use this movie as a reference disc. Of the two audio tracks, I have to give the edge to DTS. You won’t go wrong watching with either one, but DTS seems to have extended clarity in the balance of effects and dialogue.

Extras
Some Superbit selections have had extra material in the past, but Bad Boys II is movie only. If you’re looking for supplements to this feature, I suggest checking out the review for the previous release of the movie on DVD.

Bad Boys II (Superbit)
Overall
Bad Boys II is a typical summer blockbuster action-flick. Whimsical action sequences and fantastic stunts coupled with a mediocre story make this take on the genre very average. It’s an entertaining movie and I can understand its appeal, but the story and performances are very forgettable. However, chances are if you picked up the Superbit release of the movie you enjoyed it and you're looking to see it again at the highest possible quality on home video. In that sense Columbia Tri-Star delivers the goods big time. If you are a fan of Bad Boys II, you will not be disappointed in this release. The video and particularly the sound will put you right in the thick of every action sequence and will surely have the neighbours complaining if you don’t turn down the volume.


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