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`Originality,' is, almost by definition, a one-time thing. In 1997, the
original `Men in Black' struck a nerve with movie audiences by showing that
even a big budget blockbuster, heavily loaded down with state-of-the-art,
computer-generated special effects, could still manage to seem light on its
feet. The makers of that film pulled off this feat of gravitational
legerdemain by coming up with a concept and a script overflowing with
creativity, wit, imagination and a cachet of `hipness' to go along with its
tone of anarchic playfulness.
Well, five years have passed and we now have `Men in Black II' to confirm what most of us suspected all along: that works that rely on `uniqueness' as their prime selling point are rarely ever able to duplicate their success a second time around. Five years can be a lifetime in pop culture and what seemed `cool' one summer can appear decidedly `old hat' the next. Without that aura of cutting edge newness that defined the original, `Men in Black II' seems like just another loud, over-the-top summertime blockbuster.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back playing Jay and Kay, agents for the government's top secret organization whose job it is to monitor the activities of the thousands of aliens who have secretly infiltrated earth's societies and to help protect the planet from any possible threat from interstellar space. Smith and Jones still appear to be quite comfortable in their roles and they are aided by Lara Flynn Boyle, as Serleena, the baddest alien this side of Darth Vader, and Rip Torn, delightful as Zed, the slightly cracked head of the Men in Black agency.
Although the special effects in this film are, as one would expect in this day and age, astonishing and virtually seamless, the same can definitely NOT be said for the film's screenplay. The story moves along at a fairly fast clip, but it rarely makes us laugh. In fact, the script comes across as undisciplined nonsense, lacking both logic and coherence. Unlike in the earlier film, we get the sense that literally everything here has been placed at the service of the special effects. There's an awful lot of running and bouncing around but rarely to any point or purpose. Indeed, we end up feeling at the end somehow more exhausted and drained than exhilarated and euphoric. It would appear that director Barry Sonnenfeld thought that if he could just keep the thing MOVING we wouldn't notice that he had nothing new to offer in this retread. It doesn't work. In fact, if `Men in Black II' shows us anything, it is that just because something MOVES doesn't mean that it can't bore us at the same time.
Let me just start by saying that I normally like movies with Tommy Lee
Jones and / or Will Smith in them. They certainly don't belong to the
enormous group of average and unnoticeable actors, but have some kind
of style and presence that I really can appreciate. But I'm afraid
that's about the best thing I can say about them right now, because
what they did in this movie was nothing but a hasty
'grab-as-much-money-as-you-can' job and I really don't like to see
"Men in Black II" starts four years later from where the first one ended. Kay has given up life as an agent and has returned to civilian life, working in a postal office, while Jay has continued to work for the 'Men in Black'. While investigating what seems to be a routine crime, Jay uncovers a diabolical plot masterminded by Serleena, an evil Kylothian monster who disguises herself as a sexy lingerie model. With their headquarters under siege and time running out, Jay must convince Kay, who no longer remembers anything of his time with the MIB, to rejoin the agency so they can save the Earth from being destroyed completely.
I admit that some of the special effects were nice to watch, but even that didn't always convince me. Some of the aliens were small masterpieces, others however seemed like a hasty job, unfinished by the people of the computer graphics department. The only possible explanation for that might be that they wanted to save enough money so the profit rate would be even larger. And the computer animations weren't the only one to suffer from that problem. The script writers didn't come up with any new things either. All they did was to repeat what worked in the first movie. It even seems like they didn't have the time to come up with a new and decent plot.
And yet not everything was that bad. The humor for instance worked, not always perfectly but it worked. Jokes like "It came with a black dude, but it kept being pulled over" when they talk about the automatic pilot in the Mercedes were funny. I even liked that dog singing on the front seat of the car, but overall it just wasn't enough to save the entire movie. No, if you are looking for a spectacular new movie that is full of great acting, a great story and some excellent computer animations, than you'll be very disappointed by this one. It just seems like they threw it together in a couple of weeks and that's why I can only give it a 6/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is only one rule when making a successful sequel. That is, that the
sequel has has to be head and shoulders above its predecessor to be
considered good at all. It has to be fresh. The key to making a good
is to make the humor seem effortless enough so that the audience can enjoy
it without having to be told what is funny (this is why laugh-tracks on
sitcoms are the worst idea ever). The key to creating a good plot is to
it time to develop, and to let the audience enjoy its twists and turns,
whether they be good or bad.
<Warning: Possible spoilers ahead>
Sadly, Men in Black II accomplishes none of these. Aliens come to earth, threaten to destroy it, yada yada yada, MIB has to figure out what's going on before the earth is destroyed, yada yada yada, big guns, alien explodes at the end, just in the nick of time, after being hit by the big guns. Which of the movies am I describing? Both of them. Far from being fresh, this sequel is exactly the same as the original.
As for the humor... there was humor? Simply put, this movie had its moments. Unfortunately, they were few and far between, and, in any case, significantly less interesting than the continual clashing of personalities in the first movie. This was due to the simple fact that in MIB II, Agents Jay and Kay acted identically.
As for the plot, throughout the film, the characters were supposed to be hunting down clues to the location of the light. Instead of getting the feeling that I was watching the characters unlock a mystery, I get the feeling that I'm watching a bratty teenager and his crotchety uncle following a scavenger hunt to... who cares. The film never conveys a sense of importance to the audience about what they are looking for, or why this thing is so important. Not only that, but this wafer thin plot is crumpled into an 88 minute timeframe, leaving, well, a mess.
Maybe the problem is that everybody involved was so determined to make a good movie, that every idea from the past five years ended up getting forced into one movie. Or, everybody involved in the movie was so determined to get a big fat payday, that they didn't care about how crappy their movie turned out. There. That one sounds more reasonable.
I gave this movie a 3 out of 10. Not the worst movie ever, but definitely not worth my time.
As funny as the original MIB was, the sequel proves that the same old thing
can get very old and very tired very quickly. I mean, how often can you
really find it funny to watch an alien grow its head back after having it
shot off? This was a cute gag in the original (and I think we only saw it
happen once if I remember correctly.) In this one, it happens over and over
again. HEY! AFTER THE FIRST TIME IT'S NOT THAT FUNNY! That's the basic
problem with this movie. It doesn't seem to have a lot to differentiate it
from the first one, with the result that it's just not that
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as Agents "Jay" and "Kay" respectively, and here was one element of the story that might have made this a fun adventure if it had been developed. "Kay" is retired as this movie opens, and he's been "neuralized" - his memory of having been an MIB agent has been wiped clean. If the story had focussed more on "Kay" and his attempts at re-integrating into the MIB agency, I think this might have been a very funny movie. But "Kay's" re-integration just seems to happen far too easily, and for the most part the focus of the movie is on Smith's "Jay." The problem with that is that I just feel Jones is better suited to the whole MIB persona, and I felt Smith quickly became tiresome without Jones balancing him more fully. (And Frank the dog - another of Jay's "partners" - just didn't cut it. I really wanted that dog to get eaten by the big worm or something. A very irritating character, in my opinion.)
My advice: stick with the original.
Sequels are almost inherently inferior to their original films. The reason
that a sequel is ever made is because the original film was a huge success
and therefore people want to see more, but at the same time have developed
high expectations from the original film, expectations which are rarely if
ever completely fulfilled. In my opinion, every sequel has a right not to
live up to the original that it followed, but Men In Black II abuses the
privilege almost as much as Austin Powers has already done twice so far.
Roger Ebert makes an interesting comment in his review of Men In Black II,
stating that the original was so enormously successful because it was
unexpected and we had not seen anything like it, while the second one is a
rehash of the original, and now we HAVE seen something like it. The expected
result is that, like the two Austin Powers sequels, what we have here is
little more than an extension of the same jokes that we saw in the original
The entire cast has come back, of course, since this is guaranteed to be a hugely popular film (although at the same time guaranteed to be an artistic failure), and we also see a few more introductions to the cast of actors and artists with flailing careers like Lara Flynn Boyle and even Michael Jackson, who embarrasses himself in the film by playing the part of someone desperately trying to secure himself a position as one of the Men In Black (`I can be Agent M! Pleeeeeeeeeease???'). Naturally, everything that got a laugh in the original film is milked to death here, although not entirely without effect. I thought it was really funny when K blows off Jeebs' head (feeding off of one of the more amusing scenes from the original during J's introduction to the aliens amongst whom he lives), and J asks him how he knew that Jeebs' head would grow back if his memory had not been restored, and K replies, `It grows back?' Not very creative, but certainly amusing.
The movie has its strong points, I am not saying that it was a stone-faced bore, but the problem is that it completely feeds off of whatever was successful about the original film. There is virtually nothing creative presented in this film, it is much talkier and drier than the original and doesn't seem to have a personality of its own. MIB followed an alien disguised as a redneck named Edgar as he tries to get his hands on a galaxy that is small enough to fit on a cat's collar. In the second film, we not only have a charm on a bracelet that is the most sought-after item in the film, but we also catch a couple of overly brief glances at some tiny populations of life forms that are able to fit into an airport locker but are still not able to secure themselves a larger part in this film, which chooses instead to entertain us with a talking dog. How's that again? Why is it that there were so many interesting creatures in the original film but this one gives us a quick glimpse of some fascinating creatures but then tries to distract us with the talking (and sometimes singing) antics of a tiny dog, which had just the right size role in the original film?
Things like this and the fact that the movie had nothing new to add to the Men In Black story bring the quality of MIIB way down, leaving it to tag along behind its predecessor like an annoying little sister. We already know there is going to be a Men In Black III (hey, if they made a second sequel after the ridiculous Austin Powers 2 ), so we can only hope that the producers and director will take a little more time in deciding how to entertain us and what kinds of life forms to focus on, because this was entirely overlooked in this sequel. Even the enormously sexy Boyle was not comfortable on her role and therefore unconvincing as an alien villain in disguise (indeed, it was more convincing that the writers were so unconfident in their script that they felt the need to gloss it over with a sexy villain than it was that she was a threat to the MIB), and Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones had little to nothing to work with in their roles. There is still something left to be salvaged in the Men In Black story. Like the story for Hollow Man, there are nearly endless possibilities, but they were unfortunately largely ignored in this film. At least it's all uphill from here
I loved "Men in black". I really, really, really loved it. It was definitely one of the wittiest, craziest and the most successful movies of the late 90's. Movie history had never seen such an incredibly silly, senseless and irresistible scifi action comedy before it. Every minute of "Men in black" was marvelous fun. I would almost have to call it a masterpiece, in its own genre that is. Therefore I was looking forward for the sequel and when the wait of five years finally ended the theater called me. Unfortunately I didn't get exactly what I was after. When someone tells you a really hilarious joke you naturally laugh at it. When someone tells you precisely the same joke again it's no longer that funny. This was the case. "Men in black II" just seemed like it's a remake of the first flick. There was nothing new, nothing fresh, and Tommy Lee Jones acted just like he's simply tired and fed up with his character and he's in only because of the huge paycheck. Even the script was somewhat confusing. Of course this movie was very watchable and it was filled with wonderful moments and fabulous ideas here and there but altogether it wasn't so good anymore. Still, go to theaters and by all means watch "Men in black II" if you liked the first one. Maybe you'll like this one too. All I can say is, if the sequel is ten times worse but still ok, then how good can the original possibly be...? Think of it.
Men in Black II (2002)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Boring and bland sequel has Earth coming under attack from a dangerous alien (Lara Flynn Boyle) so Agent Jay (Will Smith) must bring Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) out of retirement. I really wasn't sure what to expect out of this sequel but the very, very, very last thing I did expect was something boring. I must admit that I was really shocked to see how bland and downright bad this movie was as sadly it's yet another example of a sequel to a good movie being about nothing more than money. The original film was smart, clever and funny in regards to the subject matter but this sequel just lacks any sort of originality and it's really nothing more than a copy of the original. What's so sad is that there could have been so many good and interesting story ideas but sadly we're just given a copy of the first film and we even get many of the same jokes. It's funny to think that the jokes worked so well the first time but here they're just annoying and unfunny. I think the majority of the blame has to go towards the screenplay, which is just a mess. It's never funny, never makes too much sense and sadly it's clear that very little went into it. The performances outside of Tommy Lee Jones really aren't all that memorable either. Lara Flynn Boyle has no problems looking sexy but her character is bland. Rip Torn isn't given much to do and the same is true for Johnny Knoxville and Rosario Dawson. The incredibly bad love story with Dawson is just an embarrassment. MEN IN BLACK II even features some very poor CGI effects and in the end this is just a rather worthless movie that isn't worth the trouble.
My Take: Not as wildly enjoyable as the first, but makes a terrific
Summer movie sequels are usually the victims of the "sequelness". Most sequels to big blockbuster hits tend to simply repeat the success of the first film, and simply recycle the formula of its predecessor. MEN IN BLACK II (or simply MIIB) is no exception. It practically repeats the formula of the first film: Aliens are out again, J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back as partners to fight against it and the whole lot. The formula is copied, but the same cannot be said about the rest of the film. There are new rabbits in this same bag of tricks. Although most innovations are of special effects, MIIB provides some new fun moments in a somewhat formula approach.
Like said, MIIB returns Smith and Jones as the dynamic duo out to stop an alien, a creature called the Kylothian, who takes the form of a lingerie model (Lara Flynn Boyle), who, guess what? Trying to take over the world. of course. This is nothing new in comparison. It's mostly just a retread of the previous film. But few of these "been there, done that" sequels are fun in a different way. This one is, and it's actually surprisingly entertaining. The new script by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro contains a number of effective puns which elevates the humor from other formula sequels.
Of course, there are new and colorful special effects from mostly the same crew of the original film. The effects by effects house Industrial Light & Magic and make-up artist Rick Baker are still outlandish and imaginative. They still give us a host of aliens and creatures that we can feast our eyes upon. Not much imagination went to the storyline and characters, but a lot was certainly invested upon the effects and visuals. Kudos for director Barry Sonnenfeld, production designer Bo Welch and much of the special effects crew for providing a colorful atmosphere that bursts with liveliness in an otherwise formulaic episode of summer sequel season. It's the same old thing, but with new fun.
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
''Men in Black II'' is not fantastic as the first movie, but it is a
good and entertaining movie to be watched anyway.
It is so funny to see Michael Jackson as one of the aliens from MIB! (I mean, let's be honest, the guy doesn't even need a make up to look like one!)
One of the things I need to complain about this movie, is the fact that we don't have the same good explanations as the first one. A lot of errors are present, like the lack of story about Laura's life explaining why she is the light of Zartha, if she is K's daughter with Lauranna or not,as well as Johnny Knoxville's character just disappearing without reason.
It has been five years since Agent K returned to the comforts of a civilian life working as a mail man. Agent J, for the other hand, continues to work for the Men in Black, but he never has success finding a good partner to stay with him: all of them hated the life of being an agent and were neuralized. Serleena, an evil Kylothian alien, disguises herself as a Victoria Secrets' model while planning to find the Light of Zartha, that will put the galaxy in danger once again. Now J will need the help of agent K once again to save the planet, specially because he is the only one who knows where the Light of Zartha is.
The first Men in Black is a great movie, still funny and entertaining after all these years. Men in Black 2 was a disappointment back then, and it's still significantly weaker than the first one. Let's start with the positives, I like the villain, Serleena, sure, she's no giant bug in an Edgar-suit and is way more serious and just not funny, but safe to say, she is a whole lot sexier, and I liked her sort of vine-like, worm form. Johnny Knoxville is also a villain here, a two-headed moron henchman, he's actually pretty good, but he's hardly in it, and he just disappears completely at one point, with no explanation given, he's just gone, seems the director forgot all about him. The movie tries a lot of stuff, has numerous aliens and situations, and much of it, like the creatures in the locker, doesn't work at all. The worms are back, and I hate them, they are obnoxious, loud and unfunny, but, they are nowhere near as annoying a Frank, sorry, I can't stand this character, he was only in the first movie for a few, brief minutes, here, he's J's new partner for way longer than I would've wanted, he talks and talks and talks, and nothing of what he says is even marginally funny. But of course K returns, and the chemistry feels a little off, Smith and Jones are still good, but something felt a little strange, I think the script or inspired ad-libbing just wasn't there when they made the movie. The special effects are pretty good, although a few moments have jarring mistakes, like Jeff breaking out from the ground and knocks J to the side, then the next shot, he's completely gone. Rosario Dawson is no Linda Fiorentino, she's just there, nothing funny to do, she definitely is significant to the plot, but I didn't care about her character. David Cross is very funny and gets the most laughs in his brief appearance, Patrick Warburton is fun as well and the subway sequence is excellent. I wish the final battle was, you know, exciting or awesome, but it isn't. Men in Black 2 is not a good sequel, it has some entertaining parts, but the movie is a disappointment, I hope the third movie will rekindle the franchise and be worthy of the original.
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