Although Bad Boys has its fans, the film should be remembered for introducing the moviegoing world to the visual cinematic conceits of Michael Bay and for turning Will Smith and Martin Lawrence into movie stars. The sequel, unfortunately, is a bombastic retread of its predecessor times two, made worse by a story littered with several frustrating issues that have not aged well over time. The buddy-cop antics of Lawrence and Smith blow stuff up real good on Ultra HD Blu-ray with excellent 4K HDR10 presentations and satisfying-enough Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Porting over the same set of supplements, the attractive double-feature package is Recommended for fans and those hungry for more HDR goodness.
In its own weirdly unique way, Bad Boys could be seen as a milestone, though not in the truest meaning of the word. The 1995 buddy-action comedy didn't exactly contribute anything to the history of cinema or change filmmaking in any significant manner like others released around that general time period. Instead, the movie will be remembered — outside of being entertaining for action fans — as the film which introduced us to Michael Bay, future filmmaker of "blowing stuff up real good" as a form of storytelling and the father of the cinematic conceit affectionately known as "Bayhem." After making a name for himself in the world of music videos, producer Jerry Bruckheimer tapped Bay to make his directorial debut on a story about childhood friends turned narcotics detectives. And thus was born his peculiar signature and easily recognizable style. Shots are always busy with dynamic, complicated and sometimes eye-straining compositions, layered with lots of dizzying motion that intentionally contradicts the frame, such as actors standing up vertically while the camera pans around them in slow-motion.
Of course, Bay occasionally pauses here and there with a few static shots, but even then, there is continuous movement in the background or as part of an actor's performance. And sadly, such scenes are often meaningless and without importance or impact to the rest of the story. However, I will admit the opening moments of Bad Boys are the massive rare exception. In the cold open, the hilariously and beautifully rhythmic banter between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith is memorable for two reasons. First, the camerawork is more tolerable and the editing seems to amusingly follow the back-and-forth beat by beat, slowing down momentarily when the two undercover cops are being carjacked before erupting into canted low-angles. Second, the exchange between Lawrence and Smith not only flows rapidly and naturally, but the foul-mouthed dialogue signals to the audience the actors graduating from family-friendly TV fare to the R-rated silver screen. And frankly, it's their performances that actually carry the movie and make it a memorable watch, still delivering the laughs nearly twenty-five years later. (Movie Rating: 3)
Bad Boys II
When the phrase "bigger, louder and more over-the-top" — or something to that effect — is uttered when describing a sequel, my mind jumps to Bad Boys II as the possible origin of that expression. The follow-up not only wholeheartedly and enthusiastically lives up to the spirit and meaning of the sentiment, but it also definitively proves that simply repeating the same movie twice while doubling the humor and explosive action is more likely a recipe for failure than success. On some level, I wish I were exaggerating the "repeating the same movie" bit, but this frustratingly dull sequel really is a retread of its predecessor, right down to once again forcing tension between the lifelong-friendship of Marcus and Mike (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith), caused by misunderstandings and a lack of communication. Their problems could be so easily resolved over a cup of coffee and doughnuts, but the filmmakers are so concerned with their fragile manhoods that it's easier to make fun of therapy, show conflict resolution as a weakness and display male bonding in an eye-rolling, slow-motion parade of chauvinism.
The script, which took four writers to complete, almost seems to suggest letting the anger loose into an unchecked rage and very public, bombastic spectacles of machismo, which apparently means pointlessly enormous, chest-thumping explosions, lots of car crashes and endless gunfire. In between the deafening chaos, director Michael Bay pauses to ogle the few women on screen, which are either a nagging wife (Theresa Randle) or a tenacious badass that looks good in a bikini (Gabrielle Union). And as in the first movie, when they are not objects of desire, they're forced into the damsel-in-distress trope, no matter how potentially capable the filmmakers had previously implied they were, as in the case of Union's tough-minded DEA agent Syd. Unfortunately, all this mind-numbingly, head-shaking awfulness also sabotages what worked in the first movie. In Bad Boys II, the hilarious banter between Lawrence and Smith falls flat and largely feels contrived, making this sequel, which is essentially Bay imitating "Bayhem" on overdrive, a disheartening chore to finish. (Movie Rating: 1)
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the Blu-ray SDR HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Michael Bay's Bad Boys I & II to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as an attractive four-disc combo box set. Included is a flyer for Digital HD Copies of both movies, which can be redeemed via sonypictures.com/MAredeem, Movies Anywhere or through VUDU, but both are only available in HD SDR and HDX. A thick and sturdy box with promotional pictures on either side contains a pair of digipaks that slide out from what could be either the right side or the bottom of the box, depending on how one chooses to display the set. Both sleeve paks separately house two dual-layered UHD66 discs and two Region Free, BD50 copies on opposing transparent plastic hubs. At startup, the UHD discs go straight to an interactive menu screen that changes when switching between the usual options while music plays in the background.
The buddy-cop actioner blows stuff up real good on Ultra HD thanks to a marvelous HEVC H.265 encode that leaves its Blu-ray counterpart writhing in the debris. Possibly struck from the same 4K remaster from a couple years ago, the 2160p transfer comes with razor-sharp definition and clarity in a majority of the runtime, though it also comes with its fair share of softer moments. Nevertheless, fine lines and objects are distinct, exposing every nook and cranny in the background. The faces of the cast reveal every pore, wrinkle and negligible blemish with lifelike textures, and a thin layer of grain washing over the screen gives it a lovely film-like quality. Adding to the beautiful cinematic appeal are the inky rich and velvety blacks while oily, stygian shadows penetrate deep into the screen without sacrificing finer details in the darkest, murkiest corner, providing the 1.85:1 image with appreciable dimensionality.
The HDR10 presentation also delivers a marked improvement in contrast levels, making the overall video significantly brighter and more lively with crisp, dazzling whites throughout. Specular highlights are not always consistent or the strongest, but the brightest, most intensely luminous spots dazzle the screen with a radiant brilliance while maintaining good detailing in those areas. The same goes for Howard Atherton's heavily-stylized teal-orange cinematography, which appears more faithful to his creative intentions while still skewing the palette considerably to warm, balmy amber yellows in daylight sequences and vastly vivid blues at night. Richly-saturated primaries keep the picture energetic and popping while also bathed in a colorfully wide array of secondary hues to make the unique Florida architecture burst with life and give facial complexions a true-to-life rosiness that's accurate to the hot climate. The only other issue worth pointing out is the over-saturated, almost cartoonish-looking reds in the airport hangar explosion scene. (Video Rating: 4.5)
Bad Boys II
Shit gets real on UHD when a pair of clowning cops strike back at a drug lord equipped with an excellent HEVC H.265 encode, offering another notable upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart with several stunning moments but doesn't quite hit as hard as its predecessor. By this, I mean the video comes with a good amount of soft, blurry scenes and several poorly-resolved moments where the film grain is suddenly more prominent and almost looks noisy rather than natural. Overlooking this, however, this new 2160p transfer, possibly coming from the 4K remaster made a couple years ago (although IMDb lists the 2K digital intermediate as the likely source), shows better clarity and definition overall with mostly sharp fine lines in the hair, clothing and surrounding foliage. The unique Miami architecture and the faces of the cast are also highly revealing at times but not always consistent.
Presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the 4K presentation arrives with notably brighter contrast levels and brilliantly radiant whites, giving Amir Mokri's cinematography of the various tropical shooting locations a strikingly scenic charm. However, highlights fail to leave as much of an impression, as some of the brightest spots tend to run hotter than normal and considerably bloom, ruining some of the finer details. This isn't a persistent issue, but it's there nonetheless. Black levels, on the other hand, enjoy the best improvement, looking richer and more luxurious with oily shadows and strong gradational details within the darkest, murkiest corners of the frame. Given the heavily stylized photography, the overall palette is drastically skewed to favor warmer earth tones and golden yellows, and they are richly saturated with dramatic, full-bodied primaries throughout and lifelike complexions with an attractive rosiness that feels appropriate to the climate. (Video Rating: 4)
A pair of foul-mouthed narcotics cops charges into the UHD underworld in a hail of bullets equipped with a strong but not particularly impressive Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Although the codec is an upgrade over its DTS-HD MA counterpart, the same issues and concerns heard on the Blu-ray haunt this new track, starting with the fact that the original design can't compare to modern action blockbusters.
Most of the action is concentrated to the fronts, generating a wide and very satisfying soundstage. The mid-range is, for the most part, fairly dynamic with good clarity, but it also feels somewhat limited and restrained with a tad of distortion during the loudest moments. Dialogue is crisp and precise, but the ADR work is also more noticeable and somewhat distracting. The low-end doesn't make a memorable impression, but it's adequate with plenty of weight to give the visuals some oomph. Background activity and various other effects move convincingly off-screen and across the three front channels, and occasionally, they travel into the front heights discretely for an amusing wall of sound, though Mark Mancina's score is more effective in this regard. The surrounds are employed rather sporadically and don't really create an enveloping soundfield, and the overheads are mostly silent, apart from a couple moments with helicopters or planes flying above, which are subtle and feel faint. (Audio Rating: 3.5)
Bad Boys II
The bad boys return to blow up more stuff real good and cause vehicular mayhem with a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that doesn't sound all that much different than its DTS-HD MA 5.1 counterpart but still offers some notable improvements.
For starters, much of the attention is placed across the fronts, generating an excellently broad and spacious soundstage with lots of background activity fluidly bouncing around the screen. The top heights further add to this highly-engaging image by impressively extending some of those effects and the musical score into a great half-dome wall of sound. The mid-range exhibits, for the most part, good clarity and fidelity with crisp, precise dialogue, but the upper frequencies are not very detailed and distinct, revealing a hint of distortion during the loudest segments, which was a problem that also existed in the DTS-HD track as well. Also, the low-end provides a notable oomph and weight to explosions, but it doesn't quite deliver the room-energizing, couch-shaking impact implied by the visuals and feels somewhat lackluster in a few spots, such as gunshots.
The surrounds are employed often as bits of debris and other effects discretely pan between the channels and occasionally into the overheads. In fact, action sequences are layered with various atmospherics that travel above the listening area with amusing effectiveness even though it's not always consistent or as immersive as the surrounds. The mix doesn't compare to the best currently available, but it's still a great listen that periodically generates a satisfying enough hemispheric soundfield. (Audio Rating: 4.5)
All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video releases, which can be read in more detail in our review of the standard Blu-ray HERE.
Although Bad Boys has its fans, the film should be remembered for introducing the moviegoing world to the visual cinematic conceits of Michael Bay and for turning Will Smith and Martin Lawrence into movie stars. The sequel, unfortunately, is a bombastic retread of its predecessor times two, made worse by a story littered with several frustrating issues that have not aged well over time. The buddy-cop antics of Lawrence and Smith blow stuff up real good on Ultra HD Blu-ray with excellent 4K HDR10 presentations and satisfying-enough Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Porting over the same set of supplements, the attractive double-feature package is recommended for fans and those hungry for more HDR goodness.