Men in Black III is upon us, and while after a not so successful run through last time, word has it, the delay was worth it. As we await the Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin opus, lets go back in time and review what we have seen thus far.
Men In Black – 1997
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Tony Shaloub, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn, Tim Blaney
Screenplay by Ed Solomon based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham
Review: This is one of the best films of both of the careers of Smith and Jones, as well the 2nd best film of Sonnenfeld’s career (after Get Shorty, of course). It flows so smoothly that you don’t come close to feeling the movie’s 98 minute running time. It feels like a much shorter movie.
Each of the principals at the top of their form, there are no excesses, bad choices, or unfortunate decisions. Will Smith’s talent for looking good, yet flawed has been approached only by Tom Cruise. Smith, however, is completely at ease with his grouchy demeanor.
Fiorentino is wonderful as the damsel not quite in distress. It was her conspicuous absence, as much as anything that made the second story seem so vacant.
D’Onofrio is an inspired choice as the bad bug, Edgar. His investment in the character through his physical acting brings the best special effect. It works so well, he actually loses his menace once he leaves the body.
If the movie, like the series has one flaw, it’s the feeling that there is nothing truly at stake. It can be forgiven, since it is a comedy, after all.
An extra-half point for the near obliteration of Newton, played by the annoying David Cross.
(**** out of *****)
Best Sequence: Agent J’s training sequence, both written and shooting. Pulling the table and then shooting the 8-year-old girl with the Quantum Physics books in her hands is as inspired as any of the aliens the movie produces.
Worst Sequence: Smith’s pre-MIB wardrobe makes anyone living in the era feel very, very old.
Men In Black II – 2002
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shaloub, Patrick Warburton, Rip Torn, Tim Blaney
Screenplay by Robert Gordon, Barry Fanaro based on the comic by Lowell Cunningham
Review: Seeing Patrick Warburton as Agent J’s partner at the start was a bad sign, and then, in the first few minutes, we see the Twin Towers. We’d seen them in the first movie, too, but given the release date of July 3, 2002, this put the makers in the worst possible position. This movie was doomed from the start.
Tommy Lee Jones looks old, too old to be kicking a Ballchinian in the upper region and land like that. I won’t even go into whatever it is that Rip Torn is doing. Will Smith puts his best effort into it, but he’s getting junk points for a bad team. The team up of the two leads seems forced this time around and the chemistry is non-existent, just like the presence of the main antagonist, played by Lara Flynn Boyle. Rosario Dawson is hard to remember, even shortly after watching the film.
One must place most of this at the feet of Sonnenfeld. This film was in the middle of a really bad stretch, starting right after Men In Black with Wild Wild West, going on through Big Trouble and landing with a thud at RV. What seemed magical early in his career is now redundant and strangely humorless.
An extra detracted half-point for the return of Newton, by the annoying David Cross.
It’s not a bad film, to be sure. It just isn’t a good film.
(**1/2 out of *****)
Best Sequence: Seeing Smith’s Agent J trying to get to the point where he could prevent the launch by slowly, ever so slowly, jumping off of the large duct hose.
Worst Sequence: Almost everything with Frank the Pug, including the embarrassing “Who Let The Dogs Out” sequence which was about 6 years too late. Michael Jackson as a wannabe agent is kind of smelly too. The ads for Mountain Dew and and Burger King suck in a big way. Really this list could go on a while.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jermaine Clement,, Michael Stuhlbarg
Screenplay Etan Cohen
Review: Click here
Best Sequence: The scene in the “Asian” restaurant is pretty cool.. Strange enough, I loved that big fat dumb looking fish on the counter. It doesn’t do much but sit there and say “Hey,” but it looks cool. Rumor has it Sonnenfeld got the idea from an actual fish. It’s the subtle joys that are the best.
Worst Sequence: Oh, one could take anything that happens in the last half hour. As tight as those launches are, only about everything that happened would have derailed it.