Men in Black (1997)

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011 in Out of This World | 0 comments


Disclaimer: Violence, swearing, and some fairly freaky aliens.

This comic book-inspired film combines slimming black suits and Ray Bans with cutting edge special effects and first-rate humor for a one-of-a-kind galactic adventure. The title refers to a secret organization in charge of tracking the coming and going of aliens on Earth, many of whom live in New York (either a reference to Ellis Island or the fact that almost all movie characters live in New York). Among their primary goals is to keep everyday people unaware of the aliens living among them. Others include using badass laser weapons to liquefy lawbreakers and erase the memories of anyone who may happen to catch a glimpse.

It initially follows K (Tommy Lee Jones), an MiB legend who’s searching for a new partner. Enter James Edwards (Will Smith), a street smart and cocky NYPD officer who impresses the secretive group by running down an alien on foot. In order to be a part of the organization, James must cut off all human contact and erase his identity, which now makes him J. While J is training in and playing with various gadgets, an unauthorized spaceship housing a giant cockroach finds working class figure Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio) and uses his body as a host (skin is probably more accurate). The “bug” is in town to kill a member of an alien royal family, steal a galaxy, and kill anyone who may get in the way. If the bug completes its mission, Earth will inevitably be destroyed. (What else did you expect?)

“Arquillian battle rules, kid,” K explains. “First we get an ultimatum, then a warning shot; then we have a galactic standard week to respond.”

“A galactic standard week?” J inquires. “How long is that?”

“One hour.”

Along the way, they run into several MiB3memorable characters including a crooked pawnshop owner (Tony Schaloub), spunky coroner (Linda Fiorentino), and talking Pug. The Barry Sonnenfield-directed film is incessantly funny as Jones and Smith compliment each other perfectly (which is odd, since they’re often insulting each other), while D’Onofrio’s difficult turn as the sugar water-craving villain is spot-on. Meanwhile, Industrial Light and Magic’s special effects are phenomenal, presenting a vast array of both good and bad aliens, a superb crash landing, and cutting edge weaponry.

Part of the movie’s charm is an ongoing joke that many revered figures in the country are in fact aliens. Figures such as Dennis Rodman, Elvis, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, Al Roker, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Newt Gingrich, and Dionne Warwick.

If you can, avoid the 2002 sequel with overused effects, forced love stories, and more product placement than the Super Bowl. The film brings the duo back together to battle Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle), who disguised herself as a lingerie model. “Silly planet, anyone could take over the place with the right set of mammary glands.” And don’t hold your breath for the third installment. Which will come sometime in this Willenium.

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