Bigger and badder. Whatcha’ Gonna’ Do?
Bloated and blunt, Bay’s blockbuster beast of a sequel lost much of the fresh appeal that made the first outing so much fun, but nevertheless proved that more from these Bad Boys was certainly welcome.1995’s hit Bad Boys marked the birth of a little known director called Michael Bay; a comparatively low budget cop actioner shot with frenzied style and a couple of upcoming leads whose great chemistry and improvisational panache left it one of the funniest buddy-buddy thrillers of its ilk. Considering its monumental success – which sparked the rise of not only Bay himself but also the man formerly known as the Fresh Prince, Will Smith – it was somewhat surprising that it took quite so long for them all to get around to a sequel, 2003’s Bad Boys II (although not quite as long as the 14 years between that and the upcoming third film).Bigger, louder, with more ‘splosions, the second certainly followed Bay’s trademark formula for sequels, with the now-power-player director a long way away from caring about little things like scripts or stories. Two things worked in the film’s favour however – Bay’s eye for grand effects left some of the key action sequences amidst the most spectacular in the genre (the car chase), and the reunion of the two leads still proved that they remained amidst the best on-screen buddy-buddy cop partners in the genre, with Smith and Lawrence keeping the bloated Big Screen blockbuster engaging in spite of its undeniable shortcomings.
Picture QualityFans have waited a LONG time for this. Indeed we’re only about a year off the Blu-ray format’s 10th Anniversary, so it’s hard to believe that what should have been a flagship release for the format has been put on the back-burner for a decade. I suppose the plus-side, at a pinch, is that we’ve been saved a double dip, and skipped straight to 4K, but it’s hard to ever call this worth the wait.
Zavvi’s Exclusive Steelbook release of Bad Boys II boasts the same impressive ‘fully remastered in 4K’ release available in the 2-film set.
Although Michael Bay steeps his production in all of the trappings you would expect from the wide-eyed fast-editing director (not wholly unlikely the late Tony Scott), this 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition presentation, framed in the film’s original theatrical release format of 2.40:1 widescreen, manages to remain both faithful and utterly demo-worthy. Detail is outstanding, taking in every fine line, skin flourish, background texture, and the colour scheme is just as impressively rendered. The presentation laps up the high contrast over-stylisation and revels in the expertly staged Big Screen chaos. Primaries pop with rich definition, whilst black levels remain rich and deep, retaining impressive shadow detail and consistent integrity, apart from in a couple of fleeting moments which are largely forgivable given the majority of supreme reference material on display here. It’s every bit as good as we’d have hoped for, just a little bit late to the party.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is just as impressive, a stunning demo offering which boasts all the power and precision you would have expected from this well-engineered beast. Dialogue is delivered clearly and coherently throughout, keenly rendered predominately across the fronts and centre channels, with the witty banter sitting comfortably on top of any sequence – from the quieter moments to the more common high octane bombast.
The audio’s got all the power and precision you would have expected from this release.
The score and music tracks provide plenty of fuel for the surrounds, and kick the LFE into touch, engulfing you in the mix, but it’s the finely-tuned thunder of the effects that truly ignites the soundstage, whipping you around the dominant action setpieces; perforating your living room walls with bullets; and hurling cars at your face. It’s an immersive, impressive track that remains a top tier audio presentation.
Steelbook ExtrasWhether you pick up the two-film pack, or the Zavvi Exclusive Steelbook release of the second film alone, the release boasts a nice collection of archive material, most of which are ported from the original DVD. 7 minutes of Deleted Scenes don’t amount to much of any impact, however we get almost a score of Production Diary mini-Featurettes, each around the 5 minute mark, which look at various key elements in the production: a look back to the first movie and the inspiration for the second; gun training; specific setpiece focus (KKK shootout, nightclub, intersection shootout, crime lab, home invasion, shanty town, ); some improv done during the filming; some of the new cast additions; the stunts; and some of the bigger effects and explosions. There are also separate filming and visual effects breakdowns further exploring key sequences. The disc is rounded out by a music video and some trailers for the main feature.
Although not a particularly original steelbook design, Zavvi’s exclusive release is surprisingly well finished.
With the film’s original poster making for the primary image, there’s not much inspiration in the design, but they have finished it off with some nice touches, including debossing on the title and some subtle but effective spot glossing on the metalwork that adorns the characters – sunglasses, badge etc. All in all, the end product looks pretty special after all, and sits well alongside the first film’s release.
Blu-ray VerdictZavvi’s Exclusive Steelbook release marks the only way to currently pick up the second movie on its own.
Although many fans will likely take the hit and just upgrade both films in one fell swoop, this steelbook package at least gives you the option to just pick up Bad Boys II – perhaps to go alongside your copy of the first film. Certainly we’ve waited long enough for this movie, which was destined to be spectacular demo quality right from the get-go, and thankfully – although a little too late (with UHD/4K coming around the corner) – it doesn’t disappoint.
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