Men in Black II

As soon as it was obvious that the original Men in Black was a certifiable success, people began talking about a sequel. Well, the principals would not agree to do one until there was a script that they felt was worthy of a reunion. It took five years, but Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, and Barry Sonnenfeld are back for Men in Black II, a so-so sequel to a fresh and original movie. The original Men in Black was so amusing because it was so outlandish. It was a new take on the old cop/new cop genre, filled with good special effects, a decent story, and lots of humor. Screenwriters Robert Gordon (Galaxy Quest, Addicted to Love) and Barry Fanaro (The Crew, Kingpin) do a serviceable job of replicating the thought that went into the original, but up the yuk factor and special effects, leaving a big, flashy, empty movie.

The gimmick to bring back Agent K (Jones, Space Cowboys, Rules of Engagement), neuralyzed at the end of the last movie, in a way that makes sense and does not feel lame. Thankfully, K is the only person who can stop Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle, Chain of Fools, Happiness), a tentacled alien looking for an alien artifact. She came to Earth twenty-five years ago, when K supposedly sent that artifact away. Now, she has information that that leads her to believe it never left Earth. K's return is great for J (Will Smith, Ali, The Legend of Bagger Vance), now a seasoned veteran of MIB. Although he will never admit it, he misses K, and now has a reputation for running through partners. He also misses the feeling of friendship and companionship, which is why he doesn't neuralyze Rita (Rosario Dawson, Sidewalks of New York, Josie and the Pussycats), a witness to an alien crime that he feels drawn to.

Director Sonnenfeld (Big Trouble, Wild Wild West) spends a good chunk of time on the portion of the story that brings K back, and wraps up the Serleena story fairly quickly, leaving a good chunk of the movie devoted to other things. What other things? Well, nothing really. Most of the time feels like filler. Fun filler, but filler nonetheless. It's a lot of time spent cracking jokes and fighting big CG aliens. The special effects are impressive, yet hollow like the story. It looks like everybody found a good set-up for a sequel, but nothing went towards developing anything aside the beginnings of a story. Men in Black II is like many other recent movies, especially ones that come out in the summer. It is fun to watch, but pretty forgettable. Once it is over, nobody can really remember what it was they liked about it.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some provocative humor.

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