Men in Black II (2002) -Barry Sonnenfeld

Jay (Will Smith) is back as I check in with the Men in Black for this sequel as I continue my time with the Sci-Fi Chronicles.

When Earth is menaced by Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) Jay has to pull Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) out of retirement, even though he has no memory of his work with the Men in Black. Jay’s old partner may have the key to uniting the MiB against Serleena and know how to save the planet. It’s too bad his memory has been erased.

As fun as it is to hang with Jay and Kay again, this one is way too short, not even clocking in at 90 minutes. That means no lengthy story, no real character development, and just a lot of comedic scenes hung together on the most slender of plot lines.

In fact, the film plays like a disjointed mess, both story wise and production wise, the computer generated effects are terrible, while the production design and the practical effects (watch for a cameo by their designer Rick Baker) continue to be top-notch.

The entire way through the film, there felt like there were things missing, and you had to wonder how cut down this film was, and why Columbia Pictures was content to release a mess like this, effectively shooting themselves in the foot – I mean it took 6 years to get the third one off the ground, and Tommy Lee Jones was barely involved.

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There are terrible moments (including the casting of Johnny Knoxville), things played for laughs, and silliness when a little plot development and a character arcs would have made the moments play a little more emotionally. The whole thing makes me think it was nothing more than an incredibly big missed opportunity. In trying to replicate the first film, they lost the charm, the story, and parts of the world that made the first film so appealing.

That being said, both Jones and Smith are solid as their characters, even when the film makes huge leaps in plot and characters, they remain solid, trying to maintain their arcs and personalities.

It’s sad that the film couldn’t recapture the magic of the first, and launch it into a new direction, but a lot of it felt like a beat for beat checklist of things that the studio felt had to happen in the film.

The film was more intent on the gags than the story, and as such, truly distanced itself from the original source material, the Malibu Comic that was decidedly a little darker in tone.

Maybe we can use a neuralyzer to make everyone forget this one ever happened.

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