*** Official "MEN IN BLACK 2" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Jul 2, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Men In Black 2". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    This review is also posted on themovieinsider.com
    [​IMG]
    Men In Black II
    Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
    Length: 85 minutes
    Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    Rating: ** out of ****
    [​IMG]
    "They're a secret agency that specalize in standing still infront of aliens in cool suits and making snappy comments."
    - From my original review of "Men In Black" (1997)
    Maybe it's just not my thing. But the filmmakers spent too much time with the thought of two well-dressed men standing on a city street, looking up at an alien wreaking havoc, then cutting to a two-shot of the men making a joke. I was never a fan of the original "Men In Black", and this sequel, "Men In Black II", seems somewhat unnecessary. The problem, I think, is that these movies are in love with themselves, that they're in their own world. Add to that, the overbearing egos of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith shine through here more than any other work they've ever done.
    This story picks up today, or five years after the last movie was released, where Jay (Will Smith) is now a full-time worker with the Men In Black. He moves from partner to partner, mostly neuralizing them after not being satisfied with their performance. After the evil alien Serleena who disguises himself as a sexy underwear model (played by Lara Flynn Boyle) takes over the entire MIB building, Jay decides to turn back to his old partner, Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) who is now stationed as a United States Postal Worker, before Serleena takes over the world. There's also a minor love story in the mix, but a very underdeveloped one, between Jay and Rita (Rosario Dawson from "Sidewalks of New York"), who may be the key to saving the planet. But can Jay use the neuralizer on Rita, whom he cares for?
    Or something like that. The film's plot is so over the map that we hardly care for either Kay or Jay's story. The "deneuralizer", a memory-returner that wasn't even brought up in the original film, seems like a plot device that was brought up by the screenwriters when they couldn't even think of a more clever way to bring Kay back into the mix. Or you could blame the first film, which wasn't intended to have a sequel or shouldn't have erased Kay to begin with.
    But let's talk about some more irritating things. Talking dogs are not funny anymore. Except in the rare case of a movie like "Cats and Dogs," but that movie the dogs kept their vocalizing hidden from humans; here, whenever a little agent pug opens his mouth, the characters AND the audience wish for him to shut up. The recent "Scooby Doo" is another example of movies where animals and humans should not be allowed to talk to each other.
    "Men In Black II" isn't a terrible movie. Like the original, there are some inspired moments of visual effects, set design and cameos (I won't even spoil the very inspired one that shows up here) that will garner a welcome laugh or two. Yet the film never moves past that. It has far too much attitude, is redundant, and relies too much on making the bloated egos of Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones look too good. As good looking as they are, we don't need a ninety minute reminder.
     
  3. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    OK, Jason, you talked me into it! [​IMG] I'll post my review and hope that the inevitable backlash is promptly deleted by any administrators passing by. [​IMG]
    Men in Black 2 [​IMG] (out of 5)
    It’s a sadly evident fact that money has long-since replaced artistry as Hollywood’s most important concern...doubly so when discussing Summer Movies. While only a fool would imply that studio execs should ignore the issue of making a profit, it’s a sad state of affairs when a pre-fabricated and soulless husk like Men in Black 2 represents the biggest or best that any particular season has to offer. This is a vapid and uninhabited wasteland of a film, a vacuum in which only a handful of product placements, shoddy CGI effects, and smug actors were ever meant to survive. Call it ‘color by numbers’, ‘filmmaking by committee’, or simply ‘sequel whoring’, but Men in Black 2 is easily one of the most insultingly worthless sequels in years.
    Near the end of Men in Black 2, the Tommy Lee Jones character refers to his ‘domestic life’ as “sleeping late on weekends and The Weather Channel”. It’s rare to see such hidden honesty from filmmakers, as now we clearly know how the producers of such worthless tripe really feel about their audience: sheep lined up at the trough. Not one aspect of this film even whispers the word ‘quality’; Men in Black 2 is pure corporate moviemaking at its most mercenary. The term “summer tentpole” means a heck of a lot more to the dedicated beancounters of Hollywood than does the term “well-made movie”. If you haven’t been paying attention to what passes for cinematic entertainment during most summers, here’s how the system works:
    1. Plagiarize! - Find an idea that ties into an already existing (and proven to be popular) entity. Novels work fairly well, but remember that summertime movie crowds rarely embrace any film that comes close to being ‘literate’. Even better are movies based on TV shows, comic books, or video games. See, the name is what matters, because hedging your bets is how you make the biggest profit. The sweetest plum of all is to offer a sequel to a previous summertime blockbuster. This works the same way as a Xerox machine; if you leave the original in exactly the same place, the copies will, logically, come out just as successful. So the onus here is clearly on “What will be a recognizable product to the masses?” and not “Hey, I have a very cool idea for a sequel!” Right off the bat, we’re talking about an exchange of goods; your eight bucks for the same damn movie you saw 4 years ago.
    2. Re-hire the principals! Nothing has more potential to damage the cashflow than a jarring cast alteration or a new director. This upsets the fans of Product #1. Give these filmmakers whatever they want to recite their insipid dialogue and react bemusedly to the antics of various invisible creatures. Cars, jets, tanks, 20 million bucks, it doesn’t matter. When you’re dealing with a guaranteed moneymaker, let no expense stand in banality’s way. The director, once again, is Barry Sonnenfeld. If set design were the only factor that directors were responsible for, Sonnenfeld would be a quality director. Unfortunately, a director needs to be more a storyteller and less a Sprint Phone positioner/CGI administrator.
    3. Cut the budget by 20 percent...or at least try! If the original Men in Black made $250 million on a budget of $95 million, it only takes a mildly intelligent accountant to conclude that a sequel made for $80 million will absolutely gross…$310 million! Or something like that. Bottom line is that sequels get lower budgets simply because they don’t have to try as hard. Case in point will inevitably be Men in Black 2, as I’m certain it will achieve a massive payday despite its being a confusing, grating and altogether unentertaining expenditure of 85 minutes. And if I'm wrong and the sequel cost a lot more than the original? Then shame on everyone involved for delivering such a pathetic end product with that much backing.
    4. Ignore the script. You may come out of Men in Black 2 feeling reasonably entertained, but I challenge anyone to exclaim that this is even almost a well-written film. The movie is an hour-and-a-half of barely connected CGI displays punctuated by numerous scenes of ridiculously dreary and redundant plot exposition. When the main characters spend 80% of their dialogue to explain the pointless backstory or to recap what just happened in prior scenes, you’re dealing with a piece of entertainment that was most likely ‘made up as they went along’. The physical gag that got the biggest laughs from the audience involved a creature called a “Ballchinian”. If you can guess where this character gets kicked, you too could be a well-paid Hollywood screenwriter. Plus, I just spoiled what’s probably the only laugh you’ll get from the movie, so didn’t I save you 8 bucks? (All the other potentially amusing bits have been fisted down your throat already via trailers and TV ads.)
    5. Sell! Sell! Sell! The least-inspired of the summertime blockbusters often end up as nothing more than an expensive billboard, and Men in Black 2 is not only an exception to that rule, but it may be the new reigning champ. Automobiles, sunglasses, Burger King, Will Smith albums, Playstations, and especially Sprint phones will undoubtedly fill your every day with consumer goodness once Men in Black 2 becomes your new favorite movie. Again, I'm not ignorant to the fact that movies are 'big business', but surely we deserve better than PAYING for the right to see the world's longest - and most obnoxious - Sprint commerical.
    Am I being a bit too rough on what is essentially a ‘mindless popcorn flick’? I don’t think so. A movie can be mindless without being insultingly crass, smug and stupid. Sure, I was never a big fan of the original Men in Black, but that movie looks like Blade Runner compared to this fiscally addicted abortion. If ever there were a sequel where the performances alone (indeed the entire witless affair) scream “going through the motions”, this may be the new poster child. To try and detail the plotline, as if this were a movie interested in ‘telling a story’, would be an exercise in tedium. Suffice to say that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones trade forced banter back and forth (Smith, being an infinitely more expensive movie star, gets most of the movie to himself) while occasionally stopping to do something violently silly to a giant slimy space creature while dropping the lamest puns imaginable onto the computer-generated set. There is some pretense of a plot, in that we get a few villains and a vaguely referenced "narrative" about some interstellar artifact, but since the movie plays like it was edited with a rusty blender, I had a tough time figuring out where the flick was going – and even less time figuring out if I was even interested. (I wasn’t.)
    Jones and Smith sleepwalk through the turgid screenplay in the way only a guaranteed contract can facilitate, a few arcane people pop in to earn some cheap “shock laughs” (Oh, look. Michael Jackson. His very presence makes the scene amusing. Same goes for Martha Stewart. Oh my sides.), and the supporting cast is made up of a few ‘recognizable-yet-still-cheap-to-hire’ faces like Lara Flynn Boyle (looking paler than Elsa Lanchester drained of all her blood) and the inexplicably famous Johnny Knoxville (of MTV’s aptly-titled “Jackass”), typecast as an absolute moron with no discernable talent. (My apologies to the Knoxville faithful for not considering ‘vomit eating’ a talent.) Patrick Warburton and David Cross earn a few solid giggles, but since their names aren’t Will Smith, the two reliable character actors are rewarded with exactly one scene apiece.
    Men in Black 2 doesn’t need to be ‘deep’ or even an intelligent movie to succeed. It also doesn’t need to be a cookie-cutter, assembly-line vacuum of a film, either. At the very least, it must entertain. Unfortunately, I find it tough to be entertained when I’m being subjected to such a pathetically lazy effort. This movie isn’t exciting or interesting or even funny. (OK, the talking dog was funny when he sang “Who let the dogs out?”, but surely we can rely on network TV commercials to deliver such brilliant comedy, can’t we?) Will Smith is set on a petulant “This is what you get for not liking Ali, everybody” glower (even when delivering his alleged punch lines) and employs a gratingly cocksure sneer throughout the film, and his attitude sums up Men in Black 2 perfectly: “We don’t care if it’s good - just as long as we get the asses in the seats.”
    I know it’s not likely, but maybe this time around – people will stop lining up at the same familiar trough. I don’t know if I can withstand a Men in Black 3.
     
  4. Najib_H

    Najib_H Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw the movie a couple days ago and I have to say I was really disappointed. I was a fan of the orginal one but this one just blows. There is no orginality in the movie and the story has no point. Will Smith is not funny and Tommy Lee is so boring. Don't waste your time.

    1 out of 5 stars.

    Najib
     
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I just copied this from the discussion thread.
    My rating 7 of 10, but beware because I don't think the rest of the audience felt that way. [​IMG]
    (from disc. thread)
    Funny thing is that I rather enjoyed it and found several of the jokes actually fresh, having fun with the new switched roles between Jones and Smith.
    However, to be fair as a reviewer, the audience was dead quiet most of the time.
    Jokes like the reintroduction of the noisy cricket got zero response except for me (and the guy that laughed at EVERYTHING, including the M&M commercial). At times I honestly felt like people were forgetting the schtick from the first one and some of the references.
    Another joke that died which you will have seen in the trailer, when Jones is explaining the improper wrapping technique for a package and ends with "and I think you know what I mean, Mrs. (Jones or something)". I laughed at this and thought it fit perfectly with the same dry humor that he brought to the first film. He is funniest when he is presenting that dry attitude. In MIB1 Jones was praised for this, but in this film the audience seemed bored with it.
    And later when we find out that Shaloub is about to appear again I laughed as soon as I saw his photo. But the audience was dead.
    I could go on and on about gags that I thought were pretty good that got zero response.
    Now there were some big laughs that got the whole audience, but probably only about 5-10 in the whole film.
    But forgetting everyone else's reaction for a second, I would say that MIB2 follows the original formula pretty well, but typical of many sequels it doesn't quite have the same pop to it. There are some honest dead beats in the film and a few effects that are just darn stupid (like Rip Torn fighting CTHD style [​IMG] ). Some scenes and jokes don't work, not even for me.
    But for the most part I thought it was a rather entertaining film while falling short of the original. If MIB1 was a 9 on my scale (for the year, not all-time), then MIB2 will rate as a 7.
    Everyone else thinks it's a 1 or 2. I guess I don't see that. I wanted more MIB and I got more MIB, just not in the same tasty package.
    I also can't help wondering if this exact same film would have played much better in 1999 when the concept and original gags were still fresh in people's minds.
    (edit)
    Let me add another cameo joke that totally died on my audience. Without spoiling it, it seems that Jason agreed with me on at least this one
     
  6. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I guess this thread is also the place to review the short animated film that plays in front of MIB2.
    I found it less charming than For the Birds which ran in front of Monsters, Inc. However it does have some nice gags and tons of rather witty visual references to just about every SF film you've seen (Robby the Robot even appears).
    I'm not sure that it will be strong enough to be thought of during the Oscars, but it was pretty decent stuff. A nice little bonus for attending MIB2. [​IMG]
     
  7. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Why oh Why did I WASTE my money on this movie? I could have bought a new DVD.
    Kevin
     
  8. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

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    I must be odd here, I just put my brain on pause and enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed pretty much everything except the thin story. It was just funny and a fun movie to see. Sheesh don't expect Casablanca and you'll enjoy it for what it is.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    My 2 syllable review for MIB 2: Ho-hum.
    Granted, I haven't seen much of the original MIB (just bits and pieces), this film was screaming for some personality, and I'm afraid it all went to Frank, the talking dog.
    There's a lot of "heart" missing in MIB 2, it just goes about its business, and never really makes you think any of the characters are in peril or even cognizant of any impending sense of danger/doom/demise.
    I can't say it's really horrible, just lackluster, with the audience only laughing at Frank's dialog for the most part. Will Smith was totally sleep-walking through the film, though at least Tommy Lee Jones had an excuse for doing the same, it felt tired, hardly any fresh energy present at all in the film. The only thing I'm grateful for was Lara Flynn Boyle's initial appearance in the film. [​IMG]
    I give it 2 stars, or a grade of C.
     
  11. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I didn't realize our local theater allowed animals in the theaters, but tonight, I stepped into a big turd. It did have some qualities: it looked much sharper and glossier than an ordinary turd. It had alot of sparkle and flash, but in the end, it was still a turd and it left its reek on me after I left the theater.
    That turd, of course, is MIB2. It was a good candidate for a film to make me swear off summer blockbusters. I didn't think it was possible for a film to be so utterly pointless, given the talent that was involved. But, MIB2 managed to pull it off spectacularly. From severe mugging (how many tight up-close shots of Will Smith's face do we need, anyways?) to nauseating droning by just about everyone save the "Worms", MIB2 was just pitiful. The writing was nothing more than a rehash of the original and the oh-so-cute references to its predecessor were banal and written to obscure the fact that the film had no depth or originality. It was as if it were saying "See...we showed you the noisy cricket...and people loved that in the first film, therefore, MIB2 is great! Right? Isn't it?" Not to mention the Tony Shalaub scenes.(Ok, when K does get his memory back and the first thing he does is do what Jeebs predicted he would do was funny! But, far too little of that). The original was fresh, it was funny and it was clever. MIB2 was like a forgotten step-child. It kept referring to MIB to raise some sympathy for its terrible writing and incredibly flat jokes.
    I know people will say "Turn off your brain and enjoy". Well, I couldn't have powered my brain down any more than I did and it still vexed me. I wasn't clueless enough to think it was going to be intelligent or well written-but, I thought it would have *some* charm, *some* imagination, *some* good reprose between Smith and Jones. But, I was mistaken. As I said, it was the prettiest looking turd I've seen-but it was still a turd.
    I was going to give it a great big 0 (zero). But, it did have ONE redeeming feature about it. The audio. The audio was simply incredible and very well done. So good, that it gives this turkey a 1 star rating.
    Men In Black II [​IMG]
    Bruce
     
  12. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

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    Well, I liked MIIB. 3 out of 5, just enough to recomend it to anyone who just wants to be entertained for an hour and a half. Sure, it's not as funny as the first one, nor as original, but it definately has it's moments. Some of the scenes with the worm guys, Frank, Jeeves, one VERY funny cameo and some of Will and Tommy's one liners had the entire theater cracking up. But what's odd, is in between the funny scenes, were scenes that were either pointless(seems like they only had 50 minutes of great material, then just added a bunch of stuff to pan it out to 90 minutes), or trying to be funny but weren't. I have never heard an entire audience groan at a joke before, even during Little Nicky, but when Rip Torn did the MATRIX kick, the whole audience let out one giant groan, as if to say "we've seen it too many times, it's not funny." Not only was it not funny, but VERY out of place, as it's a movie set in "real" life, where things like that don't happen. There were a few other jokes that fell flat, but there is some great stuff here. If you want to be entertained, go see it, but maybe see a matinee.
     
  13. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    I dont think the movie deserves an Oscar or anything, but I dont hate it. I also saw it at THE best place to see this type of movie (along with Mr. Deeds). The Council Bluffs, Iowa drive in. Damn we need more drive ins in this country.
     
  14. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    My wife and I saw this Saturday night with fellow HTF'ers John Gordon and his wife. Fun movie, not as good as the first, but enjoyable. Lara Flynn Boyle, oh yeah.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     

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