Mystery Men (4K UHD Review) – The Digital Bits | Episode Movies

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Examination date: November 12, 2022
  • Format: Blu Ray Disc
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Mystery Men (4K UHD Review)


Kinka Usher

release dates)

1999 (November 22, 2022)


Golar Productions/Dark Horse Entertainment/Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)

  • Film/program grade: B-
  • Video quality: A+
  • Audio quality: B
  • extra class: B+

Mysterious Men (4K Ultra HD)



Welcome to Champion City, where dozens of B- and C-list superheroes toil in the dark to defend their fellow citizens from evil, unable to cast a shadow over local favorite son Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear). escape. But unlike those who would follow in his footsteps, Amazing is bored with his work as he has long since defeated all the best villains. At risk of losing his endorsement deals (for products he’s promoting on his uniform), Amazing, on the advice of his publicist (Rickey Jay), arranges for the release of his old nemesis, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush). But when this dubious plan goes awry, only a team of the very B- and C-listers who don’t get love stands between Casanova and his nefarious goals.

So who are these average Joe defenders of justice? Well, there’s Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), whose power comes from his boundless fury. The Shoveler (William H. Macy) is really, really good at shoveling. The Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) is the mystical master of cutlery. The bowler (Janeane Garofalo) can Yes, really roll, and the magic in her ball flows out of her late father’s skull. As for Whimsical (Paul Reubens), let’s just say if you tug on his finger you get a whiff of his wrath. The Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell) can actually become invisible… but only when no one is looking. And Sphinx (Wes Studi) is the team’s spiritual leader, not to mention a true source of arcane circular wisdom.

Directed by Kinka Usher (a former cameraman for Roger Corman who became a successful television commercials director), mysterious men falls a bit short in size but would certainly be a cult classic if only more people knew it existed. Related to Flaming carrot comics Characters by Bob Burden, it’s in roughly the same wheelhouse as Ben Edlund’s the tickand could certainly serve as a prequel to Garth Ennis’ The youngfiltered through a visual style that parodies that of Joel Schumacher Batman Sequels (with a touch of Bladerunner thrown in to be safe). While the film’s editorial pace is somewhat sluggish and the rival chemistry between Rush and Kinnear is never quite there, mysterious men is packed with amusing moments – Furious, who staves off his anger by frantically squeezing a stress ball, Shoveler, who defends Amazing’s secret identity (“Lance Hunt wears glasses…Captain Amazing doesn’t!”), Blue Raja, who forks Casanova’s car. The team’s superhero tryout scene is a classic. Also look out for performances by Michael Bay, Tom Waits, Eddie Izzard, Doug Jones, Dane Cook and Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh.

mysterious men was shot on 35mm film by cinematographer Stephen H. Burum (Carlito’s way, Impossible Mission) with Panavision cameras with spherical lenses, and it was finished on film with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For the Ultra HD release, Kino Lorber Studio Classics has taken advantage of a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, complete with High Dynamic Range grading (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are available on the disc). The resulting image quality is phenomenal, offering a significant increase in resolution over Universal’s 2012 Blu-ray release. Detail is clean and well-refined (check out the gold fabric texture of Blue Raja’s cloak), though only digital Effects shots produced show a softer look typical of the period. The contrast is impressive, with deep shadows and strong highlights that really benefit the characters’ shiny costumes. Colors are stylized but richly vibrant and well-saturated. (This is particularly evident in Casanova’s lair during the final fight.) A slight flood of photochemical grain is visible at all times, with no sign of unwanted noise reduction. While unexpected, this comes close to a reference-quality 4K picture and a major upgrade.

The film’s original English soundtrack is included in both Lossless 5.1 and 2.0 in DTS-HD Master Audio format. It’s not a particularly aggressive mix, but it is is full-sounding and beautifully atmospheric. The soundstage is medium wide up front, with subtle directional cues and music filtered in from the rear channels. Panning is modest but smooth, with highlights like the swishseaweed of Raja’s cutlery flying through the air and Bowler’s father ball whizzing through space. Bass is solid when it kicks in, although that doesn’t happen very often. (There are really only a few fight scenes that make use of this.) Optional English SDH subtitles are included for the deaf and hard of hearing. There are no foreign language options available – this one is English only.

Kino’s Ultra HD release is a two disc set containing the film in 4K on UHD and a 4K remastered 1080p HD version also on Blu-ray. Both discs contain a special feature originally produced for the 1999 DVD release of the film:

  • Audio commentary with Kinka Usher

The commentary is decent and offers a few interesting tidbits of information. To do this, the Blu-ray adds the following new and legacy content:

  • We’re the Other Boys!: The Making of Mystery Men (HD – 23:39)
  • I’m a Superhero, Mom!: The Costumes of the Mystery Men (HD – 12:01)
  • In Champion City!: The Impact of Mystery Men (HD – 9:27)
  • Disco Is Life!: The Score(s) of Mystery Men (HD – 8:33)
  • Spotlight on Location: The Making of Mystery Men (SD – 17:40)
  • Deleted Scenes (SD – 11 Scenes – Total 19:40)
  • Mystery Men trailer (SD – 2:24)
  • Tropic Thunder trailer (HD – 2:29)
  • Hudson Hawk trailer (HD – 2:05)
  • Half Baked Pendant (SD – 1:54)

The HD featurettes are all good, created by Daniel Griffiths Ballyhoo Motion Pictures just for this release. They feature new interviews with the director, costume designer Marilyn Vance, VFX supervisor Todd Tucker and film music historian Daniel Schweiger (on the film’s unusual score). Also carried over from the original DVD release were a host of deleted scenes, including one where the Shoveler’s children make fun of him when he comes home after a hard day’s work (“Stronger than deodorant! Unable to jump over anything !”). You also get the original “Making of” featurette from the DVD, along with trailers for this film and three others (which are also available or coming on disc from KLSC). The only thing missing from the DVD are Kel Mitchell’s Who are these mysterious men? Music video and a few pages of production notes and character bios.

mysterious men is a film that really deserves to be seen by more people, so kudos to the folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics for putting forth this 4K Ultra HD remaster. In fact, if any studio execs at Universal are looking for an interesting reboot or franchise opportunity, here it is. Just consider the Shoveler’s advice: “We’re not your classic heroes… we’re the other guys.” Recommended.

-Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


1999, 4K, 4K Ultra HD, Action, Ben Stiller, Bill Hunt, Bob Burden, Captain Amazing, Casanova Frankenstein, Champion City, Claire Forlani, Dane Cook, Dark Horse Entertainment, Dolby Vision, Doug Jones, DTS-HD Master Audio, Eddie Izzard, Flaming Carrot Comics, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Hank Azaria, HDR10, Hierarchs, High Dynamic Range, Janeane Garofalo, Kel Mitchell, Kinka Usher, Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Lena Olin, Mark Mothersbaugh, Michael Bay, Mr Furious, Mystery Men, Native 4K Digital Intermediate, Neil Cuthbert, Paul Reubens, Review, Rickey Jay, Sphinx, Spleen, Stephen H. Burum, Stephen Warbeck, Superhero Parody, The Blue Raja, The Bowler, The Digital Bits, The Invisible Boy, The Shoveler , Tom Waits, UHD, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, Universal, Wes Studi, William H Macy

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