Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black 2.
The original Men in Black was funny, light-hearted, and original. Sure we'd seen similar things, it was really a cross between The X-Files and Ghostbusters, but with a twist. And of course it had the chemistry of its two leads; Will Smith as the young naive agent and Tommy Lee Jones as the crusty old, been there/done that agent, showing him the ropes. Men in Black II manages to retain just one of those things. Its stars still maintain their chemistry, only this time they are working with much inferior material.
The story goes something like this; Twenty-five years ago a group of aliens came to the Earth hoping the MIB's would hide an item of power for them; the Light of Zarthon. The MIB's who must remain neutral, refused. Serleena, an evil alien who wanted the light for herself also came to Earth. The MIB's distracted Serleena long enough for the Zarthon's to remove their light from Earth. Or did they?
This opening prologue is told in an entertaining way. It's told through a television program called "Histories Mysteries" and is a long the lines of the old "In Search of..." series. Hosted by Peter Graves, it tells the story of the Light of Zarthon, complete with low production values (tinfoil spaceships, alien babes in spandex), and even mentions the mysterious Men in Black.
We then cut to modern day Central Park, New York, where the real Serleena has arrived. She's finally figured out that the Light of Zarthon never left the Earth. Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle), who's actually a mass of tentacles, ala Medusa, assumes the appearance of a Lingerie Model (naturally) and sets out to find the light.
Will Smith's Agent J, is sent to investigate the crash of the ship in Central Park. When he discovers the ship is Serleena's, Zed (Rip Torn), the leader of the MIB's, tells him the story of the Light and how the agent in charge of that case was of course, Tommy Lee Jones's Agent K. Agent K was, you'll remember, Neuralized at the end of the first movie, and no longer remembers anything about his time as a Man in Black. Zed and J decide that of course they need K's help and J is sent to find him and bring him back into the fold.
The problem with this movie, besides not being very funny, which is really just a symptom of the main problem, is that it was made in a hurry. It was rushed into production last year when all of Hollywood feared a writer's strike, and it shows. The acting is good, the direction is good, the special effects are great, only the jokes are a little flat and far between and nothing very original is offered up here.
If you are a fan of the original, you may want to watch this one just to see the old characters in action again, but you'd be better off just throwing in the DVD and watching the original at home.
Lara Flynn Boyle in Men in Black 2.
As far as sequels go Men In Black II is a fine piece of entertainment. It manages to do everything the first one did. Frankly I don't understand all this criticism of its lack of originality. Hello, it's a sequel. That's what the roman numerals affixed to the title stand for. You don't go to sequels expecting the unknown. The whole point is that it is part of a successful franchise. I can understand someone not liking the concept of sequels but to criticize it for lack of originality makes no sense to me at all.
As expected, the outlandish premise of the first movie is built upon with many familiar faces, both earthling and alien back for more fun. The role reversal of the two heroes is humorous and works well and there are quite a few laugh out loud moments. One example being the alien with what looks like testicles on his chin. Agent J explains "He's a Balchinian."
Like the first MIB this movie moves at a frantic pace. And this one doesn't have to spend time introducing the characters or setting up the premise. Instead we jump right into the silliness and special effects beginning with Jeffrey the giant subway worm and it doesn't let up once in 88 minutes.
No this is not as good as the original Men In Black. But if you enjoyed the first one, then by all means you will enjoy this one as well.
Tony Shaloub in Men in Black 2.
Men In Black was a fun special effects ride. It poked fun at conspiracy nuts and tabloids. Tommy Lee Jones as K and Will Smith as J are back for the sequel. It is just to bad the charm is not.
In the first movie, the Men In Black are a secret organization that police and sometimes battle aliens on Earth. In the first movie it was fun discovering who were the aliens. In this movie it is easy. Everyone is an alien. J works at a post office where everyone is an alien. J walks out into the street where everyone is an alien. It was as if the writer lacked in ideas so they over did it with aliens.
In the first movie, we were taken into the world of the Men In Black via J. We see him recruited and discover right along with him just how vast and interesting this organization is. Some of the best humour in the first movie was J learning to fit in. Here things are reversed as J brings K out of retirement to battle an underwear model with overactive tentacles. Sounds like fun, but you would be surprised how much it's not. J seems out right bored being a Man In Black. The funniest jokes were from agent T, the talking dog. Michael Jackson makes a cameo, but he is just plain creepy. I may have nightmares for weeks after seeing that freakish face.
Believe me when I strongly suggest that you just avoid this movie in favor of watching the vastly more entertaining first one.
Photos © Copyright Columbia Pictures (2002)