Tag Archives: Barry Sonnenfeld

Men in Black 2 (2002) Review

Time: 88 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Lara Flynn Boyle as Serleena
Johnny Knoxville as Scrad/Charlie
Rosario Dawson as Laura Vasquez
Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) reunite to provide our best line of defense against a seductress who levels the toughest challenge yet to the MIBs mission statement: protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. While investigating a routine crime, Jay uncovers a plot masterminded by Serleena (Boyle), a Kylothian monster who disguises herself as a lingerie model. When Serleena takes the MIB building hostage, there is only one person Jay can turn to — his former MIB partner.

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Men in Black was such a hit when it came out back in 1997, inevitably it would be getting a sequel. However, Men in Black 2 just didn’t live up to the first movie and really pales in comparison. It’s not terrible by any means, and it’s still rather entertaining. After watching the first two movies in one night though, you can clearly see the downgrade.

With the (spoiler alert) ending of the previous movie with Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) having his memory erased, the sequel really needed to bring him back, it really does undo a bit of the impact from the ending of the first movie. However, it was kind of inevitable, the paring of Kay and Jay (Will Smith) is what made the first movie especially good and stand out. The plot is about Kay having to remember certain things, even after regaining his memory of himself. The plot in the first movie wasn’t fantastic by any means but the plot in this movie just feels rather underwhelming in comparison, like they’re just backtracking and isn’t really that exciting. Much of Men in Black 2 recycles many of the stuff from the first movie and doesn’t do anything too special. While there was still quite a bit of humour that I liked, some of it didn’t feel as fresh. Not that it’s a massive downgrade, it’s just a cut below how funny the first movie was. The previous movie is just under an hour and 40 minutes long, surprisingly Men in Black 2 is less than 90 minutes long, and it really feels like it. While it doesn’t even need to be like 2 hours long, it could’ve had more happening in it, because as it is, it felt a little empty.

The best part about this movie unsurprisingly is Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Their chemistry is still just as good as in the first movie and they worked well, especially with the dynamic between them. Rosario Dawson is a great actress but despite her having a somewhat important role in the movie, really doesn’t get to do much unfortunately. She’s not bad at all but is just sort of a plot device and nothing more. The villains of Men in Black are a little weird but mostly work, that is to say that 2/3 of them work, and the missing third is from Men in Black 2. Lara Flynn Boyle plays some shapeshifting alien seductress with tentacles, who takes the appearance of a lingerie model. It’s just painful watching her on screen, Boyle really doesn’t have anything to do here except act threatening and sexy, really among my least favourite parts of the movie. Also, Johnny Knoxville is here for some reason and I really would’ve preferred that he wasn’t. Oh and also Michael Jackson shows up at one point for some reason.

Barry Sonnefeld returns to direct and one of the things going for the movie is that it still feels like a Men in Black movie, even if many of the other aspects are weaker than the first movie. The visual effects in the first movie were a little dated but even the weaker effects were at least entertaining in a campy way. With the sequel, somehow the effects have aged much worse, embarrassingly so. I guess they wanted to go bigger, and certain action scenes are bigger and involve larger things happening, but as you can probably already tell the effects on them don’t look particularly good. I’ve seen worse for sure though, and after a while you can get over it.

Men in Black 2 wasn’t that good, while it doesn’t do anything particularly terrible (outside of the effects), it feels like a rehash of the previous movie, only not done quite as well. I probably do like it more than most people who’ve seen it though. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are still good and there are some entertaining bits to it. If you’re a fan of the first movie you might like the second one, worth giving it a shot at the very least.

Men in Black (1997) Review

Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Tommy Lee Jones as Kevin Brown/Agent K
Will Smith as James Darrell Edwards III/Agent J
Linda Fiorentino as Dr. Laurel Weaver/Agent L
Vincent D’Onofrio as a giant alien insect
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) and Jay (Will Smith) are the Men in Black, providers of immigration services and regulators of all things alien on Earth. While investigating a series of unregistered close encounters, the MIB agents uncover the deadly plot of an intergalactic terrorist who is on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently in residence in New York City.

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With Men in Black International coming soon, I wanted to check out the original trilogy at the very least. I know for sure that I watched the trilogy at least once, but it was many years ago, and so I wanted to see how I felt about it nowadays. I’m surprised at how good it still is, it was pretty entertaining and you can definitely see why it was such a surprise hit when it came out.

You can even tell in some aspects of the writing that Men in Black is a little dated but nonetheless is still quite fun. It’s under an hour and 40 minutes which is really the perfect length for the movie. Not only that, but they keep the movie moving at a pretty good pace, never allowing for a dull moment. Some of the movie sounds insane and weird on paper but they managed to pull it off well. The plot itself isn’t anything special despite this, with it being about aliens trying to take over the world and a secret organisation trying to prevent this. However, you can consider that in the late 90s, this was such an strange yet original idea, and plenty of other films would proceed to take inspiration from and copy it.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones lead the movie and they do it well. As decent as the rest of the movie is, it wouldn’t have worked as well without the two of them, undeniably the highlight of the movie. Probably the biggest surprise was how good Tommy Lee Jones was here. It’s very rare to see him in a comedy but he plays the role very well and his deadpan delivery works perfectly. Will Smith is in his prime in this movie and as you can expect is just great, stealing the show. Both of them played off each other really well and their dynamic is really the driving force of the movie. As great as the cast of Men in Black International is, I can already tell that it’s going to be missing that very entertaining duo. Vincent D’Onofrio is the villain and it certainly isn’t a performance you’ve seen him give outside of this role. He does really well at playing an alien loosely wearing human skin and trying to pass off as a human (which he is). It’s a bizarre performance for sure, but it somehow works amongst the movie’s occasionally strange tone. Not much to say about the rest of the cast, they play their roles fine but don’t particularly stand out.

I’m not too familiar with director Barry Sonnenfeld’s work, I’ve seen Get Shorty and the other two Men in Black movies but that’s it. His work on this first Men in Black movie was good though. Some of the effects still work today, some of the other effects really haven’t held up well but even those work in a 90s blockbuster way. You can tell that even some of the worse effects were probably impressive in the late 90s. The practical effects and makeup was good and the alien designs were very creative and great overall.

Men in Black is by no means one of the best sci-fi films, not even when it comes to just those released in the 90s. However, I had a lot of fun with it, even the dated aspects have some enjoyment to them, and Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are great. If you haven’t checked it out, I do recommend giving it a go, it’s definitely worth a watch.