While the first Men in Black film may have set the standards for many good and mediocre action-comedy films that would make it to the big screen till this very year, its sequel, Men in Black II, in no way succeeds at setting any examples for the genre, and is instead among the category which would be influenced by the first Men in Black to the extent that it would lose all potential of originality.
The pattern of the story is similar to the first film, and the jokes don’t land as great as they did in the original. Part of the reason is that the jokes in the original actually stood out, whereas the jokes here attempt to replicate things that worked in the first film, alongside additional tricks of comedy that are mostly hit or miss. It’s a middling sequel to something that shaped the modern comedy-action genre.
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The Movie Review
The film is based in 2002 and begins following the arc of Agent J, whos’ one of the top-rated agents now, but his notoriety seems to be growing due to him neuralyzing any partner who doesn’t seem to be emotionally fit for the job. He’s become the judge, jury, and executioner in his own minimalistic way. He’s hired to investigate the murder of an alien named Ben at his own pizzeria, where the waitress Laura, who J eventually becomes attracted to, reveals the murders’ identities to him,
Serleena a shapeshifting Kylothian who’s currently taken the form of Victoria’s Secret model, and her dual-faced and dual-named servant named Scrad and Charlie. She also reveals that they were trying to find something called the Light of Zartha.
J being the judge, jury, and executioner doesn’t always work in one way, because he ends up sparing Laura’s memories out of his feelings for her. The fallacy of the writing is that if J were to partner with himself, he would’ve neuralyzed his other self too over such a breaking of the MiB code.
Everything regarding this crime related to the powerful Light of Zartha surprisingly links with his former partner Agent K, who was neuralyzed at the end of the first film’s events and may not recall anything related to his MiB career. The mission for J then develops into bringing all the MiB memories back to K so that the mystery could finally be figured out, but Serleena and her minions still remain as an obstacle and make things worse for the two throughout the rest of the film. The premise may sound like a very interesting one, but the execution is very middling.
The film may try a lot to be funny and engaging, but despite not being downright bad, it fails to succeed at its attempts of comedy and storytelling. At least its successor would have an interesting facet of time travel. The problem is with Men in Black II, is not trying to be as out of the ordinary as its predecessor.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s direction boasted the first film to a good extent, but it seems fairly uninspired in this film. The film relies a lot more on familiarity in terms of storytelling, despite having a predecessor that experimented within itself. Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro’s script fails at being engaging or funny. And although none of the attempts backfire, it’s just that they don’t properly deliver.
Danny Elfman’s original score is one of the best aspects of the entire franchise, but the film doesn’t greatly utilize it. It visually doesn’t stand out as much as its predecessor either.
The Bottom Line
Men in Black II is a disappointing sequel to one of the most defining comedy-action films of all time. It suffers from a script middling enough to make its catchy premise uninteresting, as well as a way of storytelling that rarely attempts to go out of the box.