27 December 2002 | Anonymous_Maxine
A huge step down from the original.
Sequels are almost inherently inferior to their original films. The reason that a sequel is ever made is because the original film was a huge success and therefore people want to see more, but at the same time have developed high expectations from the original film, expectations which are rarely if ever completely fulfilled. In my opinion, every sequel has a right not to live up to the original that it followed, but Men In Black II abuses the privilege almost as much as Austin Powers has already done twice so far. Roger Ebert makes an interesting comment in his review of Men In Black II, stating that the original was so enormously successful because it was unexpected and we had not seen anything like it, while the second one is a rehash of the original, and now we HAVE seen something like it. The expected result is that, like the two Austin Powers sequels, what we have here is little more than an extension of the same jokes that we saw in the original film.
The entire cast has come back, of course, since this is guaranteed to be a hugely popular film (although at the same time guaranteed to be an artistic failure), and we also see a few more introductions to the cast of actors and artists with flailing careers like Lara Flynn Boyle and even Michael Jackson, who embarrasses himself in the film by playing the part of someone desperately trying to secure himself a position as one of the Men In Black (`I can be Agent M! Pleeeeeeeeeease???'). Naturally, everything that got a laugh in the original film is milked to death here, although not entirely without effect. I thought it was really funny when K blows off Jeebs' head (feeding off of one of the more amusing scenes from the original during J's introduction to the aliens amongst whom he lives), and J asks him how he knew that Jeebs' head would grow back if his memory had not been restored, and K replies, `It grows back?' Not very creative, but certainly amusing.
The movie has its strong points, I am not saying that it was a stone-faced bore, but the problem is that it completely feeds off of whatever was successful about the original film. There is virtually nothing creative presented in this film, it is much talkier and drier than the original and doesn't seem to have a personality of its own. MIB followed an alien disguised as a redneck named Edgar as he tries to get his hands on a galaxy that is small enough to fit on a cat's collar. In the second film, we not only have a charm on a bracelet that is the most sought-after item in the film, but we also catch a couple of overly brief glances at some tiny populations of life forms that are able to fit into an airport locker but are still not able to secure themselves a larger part in this film, which chooses instead to entertain us with a talking dog. How's that again? Why is it that there were so many interesting creatures in the original film but this one gives us a quick glimpse of some fascinating creatures but then tries to distract us with the talking (and sometimes singing) antics of a tiny dog, which had just the right size role in the original film?
Things like this and the fact that the movie had nothing new to add to the Men In Black story bring the quality of MIIB way down, leaving it to tag along behind its predecessor like an annoying little sister. We already know there is going to be a Men In Black III (hey, if they made a second sequel after the ridiculous Austin Powers 2
), so we can only hope that the producers and director will take a little more time in deciding how to entertain us and what kinds of life forms to focus on, because this was entirely overlooked in this sequel. Even the enormously sexy Boyle was not comfortable on her role and therefore unconvincing as an alien villain in disguise (indeed, it was more convincing that the writers were so unconfident in their script that they felt the need to gloss it over with a sexy villain than it was that she was a threat to the MIB), and Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones had little to nothing to work with in their roles. There is still something left to be salvaged in the Men In Black story. Like the story for Hollow Man, there are nearly endless possibilities, but they were unfortunately largely ignored in this film. At least it's all uphill from here