Men in Black II (2002)
Men in Black II (2002)

Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: July 3rd, 2002 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shalhoub, Patrick Warburton, David Cross, Colombe Jacobsen

 


 

A

lien invaders, almighty extraterrestrial artifacts, visitors from space, and shadowy government agencies (the best kept secrets on Earth) once again populate the universe of “Men In Black II.” Based on the Marvel comic book (which was previously Malibu Comics, and before that Aircel Comics), this forgettable sequel is all around more cartoonish, chiefly with physics that make the heroes appear like Sylvester and Tweety – immune to physical damage while constantly bouncing about or being thrown from ridiculous heights. There are also clusters of one-liners that tend to fall exceptionally flat. A paltry romance, meaningless connections between characters’ pasts and the present, and an absurdly anticlimactic conclusion – stuffed with random revelations and undefined methods of defeating the enemy (some oversized futuristic guns do little damage while other, nearly identical ones are fatal) – prevent this follow-up from duplicating the creative, hilarious genius of the original.

Agent Jay (Will Smith) of the Men in Black program (designed to monitor alien activity on Earth) has taken on a few new partners since his inimitable mentor retired. The latest is Agent Tee (Patrick Warburton), who simply can’t fill the shoes of Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones), the man responsible for recruiting Jay into the covert organization. But the routine of investigating alien-on-alien crime hasn’t let up. Jeffrey, the massive, subterraneous, 600-foot worm monster makes quick work of a subway car, while the Kylothian woman Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle), a shape-shifting, tentacled warlord disguised as a Victoria’s Secret model, returns to earth after 25 years to locate the Light of Zartha, a weapon that could self-destruct and annihilate the world. Obviously, Earth needs to be saved.

As Serleena partners with two-headed, moronic alien Scrad (Johnny Knoxville) on her destructive quest, Jay is informed that the only man that can help the mission to stop her is his former partner Kay – who has had his memory wiped and now works as a postmaster in Massachusetts. Enlisting him is the easy part; finding a working Deneuralyzer that can reinstate his mind’s eye might be harder task. But simultaneously protecting the breached MIB headquarters, getting to the bottom of the reclamation of the Light of Zartha by following confusing clues left by Kay, and repressing feelings for a beautiful human witness (Rosario Dawson) are all in a day’s work for an agent of the Men in Black.

Supporting characters – especially Knoxville – are missed opportunities, rarely contributing to or initiating humorous moments. As with many fantasy films, the additional lack of a strong villain is incredibly detrimental, making the predicaments dull and less than worrisome. Boyle has little personality and never gets to do anything awe-inspiring. At the same time, odd grotesqueries that seem ill-fitted for a comical adventure compose much of the character designs, weakening the impact of events and the likeliness of being memorable. And the climax is unusually forceless.

Practical effects and makeup are better, more often lending to comedy relief (such as when effectively stopping a “ballchinian,” or when a Playstation 2 controller is used for navigating a hyperspeed vessel) – as well as visually outlasting the computer graphics that never look entirely believable. It’s also obvious that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones aren’t nearly as enthusiastic or compatible as before. In the end, despite a few witty gimmicks, the Neuralyzer is still the best joke.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10