If it enjoys a certain popularity with the spectators who have discovered it, we cannot say that the latter are plethora. This is all the more depressing as Mystery Men had the misfortune of arriving on the screens too soon, when its subject and its treatment should have made it a cult film.
Imperial cast, maddening artistic direction and immediately recognizable universe… Impossible to tick all the boxes which should have made the only fiction feature of Kinka Usher a success, so much retrospectively the film seems cut out to pay the favors of the spectators. And that’s probably what makes the value first of the exceptional “Ultime” edition available since July 21, 2020.
DVD, Blu-Ray, Steelbook… L’Atelier d’Images has done things well
BACK TO THE FUTURE
December 1999, a few weeks before a year 2000 bug that will never come, appears out of nowhere, all dressed in capes and tights, a cunning comedy, which makes fun of superheroes. And from this equationoriginal tion, one can feel how the project is simultaneously a miracle and an off-topic. Conceived as a superheroic pastiche ridiculing iconic characters from both Marvel, DC, and the Golden Age of pulpthe footage probably owes its existence to a few executives convinced to laugh of a subgenus intended to teens finished with lukewarm coke.
Gold, mystery Menif he laughs at his characters, remains above all a loving tribute to comics, but also to a certain studio cinema, rich in insane decorations andand colorful costumes. From the first imagesit is obvious that the viewer is not dealing with a plastic parodyso much the budget of 68 million dollars (important for a comedy at the time) shows.
The Captain Admirable, victim of a terrible plot hatched by Casanova Frankenstein
The cutting is extremely neat, the photography both referenced and splendid, perfectly suited to both urban settingssthan to exnostalgic plorations of a certain suburban America, or even melancholy reunions with a patina that one would swear to come from Flash. Luxurious and teeming with countless tributes and twisted ideas, this comedy that plays with its fake rhythm with consummate meaning shipwreck provokes as much admiration as nervous laughter.
Unfortunately, in 1999, for the majority of moviegoers, superheroes are limited to batman and supermantheir adaptations of gentle pstories for teenagers. The Geek International has yet to take over the box office, X-Men of Brian Singer will not be released until the following year, and Spiderman of Sam Raimi will wait until 2002 to leave a whole generation on its knees.
Fortunately, Ben Stiller watches over his grain
Consequently, it is impossible to parody a genre that is still so little identifiedto be appreciated by critics, or quite simply to repay a comfortable budget. Bringing in only 33 million dollars, the film was murdered by some of the critics, when the moviegoers, for the most part, simply did not know the creations to which the film refers. And these Mystery Men to fall almost instantly into oblivion. The whole point of this edition is therefore to allow us to review (or discover) this thematically visionary film, which includes a lot of what will be the prerogative of supers, while benefiting from an artistic investment on the part of of his studio which today is sorely lacking in most blockbusterss of the genre.
Paul Reubens prepares you a putrid big adventure
And what better way to revisit this forgotten nugget than an edition such as this one, whose box contains an HD master that we were desperate to find on the market in France. Everything is not perfect of course, and we are a little surprised by the lack of punch of certain sequences, in particular at night, but overall, reassess mystery Men on blu rayis finally the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic work of design and framing accomplished on the footage.
Ben Stiller, Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, Tom Waits, Paul Reubens or William H. Macy could seem a bit muffled, watered down from previous editions that didn’t do justice to the coows of photography, to the textures of their costumes. These affronts are finally repaired, sos that the film connects exaggerated low-angle shots and incredible sets. Thanks to the definition and the peg that conceals this steelbookthe memory of tired copies, makeshift VHS or not really glorious DVDs will be able to fade.
Hank Azaria’s talent is rather in the high range of humor
BONUS AND MALUS
The finding is a little more mixed but no less interesting concerning the bonuses. Split between era bonuses and creations made specifically for this ultimate edition, they are of variable interest. The contemporary interview with the director is thus much more relevant than his audio commentary, where we feel that he cannot evoke frontalment the strangeness of the project, or its ultra-referenced orientation.
The same goes for the interviews with the actors, carried out during the promotion of the film. They show quite clearly how much for some of themcaricaturing superheroes is a kind of blind spot difficult to transmit to the public, either because those concerned are unfamiliar with the source material or because they understand it.nsider as very distant from the average spectator.
Have we ever rolled our shovel better?
A paradoxical situation, both mystery Men byhavet today adapted to the public, watered with superheroes, now able to appreciate them in a different light, as the successes of Joker and The Boys. Adapted and cruelly out of time, his humor based on failures, bides, slap stick wee-caca being a bit out of fashion.
This is what Quentin Durand is trying to establish, among other things, in a video module introducing thework and its issues. Brilliant twists, paradoxes in shambles, which we find in particular in the many cut scenes. Sometimes excellent and sometimes frankly dispensable, they all testify to the tenderness with which the film embraces a part of popular cultureand just waiting to be rediscovered for what it is.
Curiosity which ended the 90s but does not manage to project itself into the 2000s, Mystery Men is an unjustly forgotten trip, which deserves to be finally rediscovered, for the funny strangeness it inoculates us and which the present edition of L’Atelier d’Image has managed to preserve and transmit.
Already in the bins