ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  barry sonnenfeld

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  sci-fi

LENGTH  -  88 minutes

RELEASED  -  3 july 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  columbia pictures


ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $140,000,000
men in black ii - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from men in black at

buy the dvd from men in black at

agent j needs help so he is sent to find agent k and restore his memory so that the two can save the world from an evil alien.

famke janssen was originally cast as serleena, and even completed some of the filming, but was forced to drop out of the project due to a death in the family. lara flynn boyle was then cast in her place.


picture from men in black ii

picture from men in black ii

picture from men in black ii


three out of four possible stars

It's a given that a sequel will not be as good as the original in filmmaking, unless the movie stars Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro and concerns a bunch of gangsters. But sequels aside, Barry Sonnenfeld has taken what was an incredibly original movie and created a new edition of the franchise that does all it can live up to fans' expectations. This time around, it's Will Smith's turn to instruct Tommy Lee Jones in the ways of the Men in Black, since Jones's character was "deneurolized" in the last film, so that the two can save the planet from an evil alien named "Serleena," played by supermodel-thin Lara Flynn Boyle.

The best part about this film is the relationship between Smith and Jones's characters. The two are arguably one of the best duos on film. Jones has played so many completely serious characters in the past that it's interesting so see how funny his straight-man routine looks when put with Will Smith's comedy on the screen. No matter what happens with the plot of this film, or how good the special effects are, Jones and Smith make this movie. But its a testament to the rest of the film that it suffers in places when they aren't together onscreen. Jones's character isn't brought into the fray until thirty minutes into the film, so Smith has to carry the load for quite a while. Will Smith seems to be able to handle being main focus of a film, witness his performance in Ali, but because this is a sequel, it seems as though the screenplay should have brought Jones into the movie faster.

The film as a whole takes a leisurely pace in introducing the characters and story in the first act and since the film is in the action genre, the speed should have been increased. But even though the audience has to wait a while for Smith and Jones to get back together, the introductions of the new bad guys and the reintroduction of the Men in Black world is entertaining. And much of that entertainment value rests squarely on the shoulders of the director, Barry Sonnenfeld. As a former cinematographer, it is evident that he can create a stunning visual world, but it's surprising the luck he has with his actors. Perhaps it is due to some lucky casting, but all the performances in Men in Black 2 are much better than the usual action movie fare.

From the villains to the good guys, each actor hits his or her mark with relative ease. It's interesting to see Sonnenfeld in interviews for his films, because he seems like the most insecure director in Hollywood. But he's had quite a few monster successes as a director so where did his nerves come from? In any case, Sonnenfeld succeeds in creating a sequel that will, at the very least, please the first film's fan base. The wit and spunk of the original are still present in this film than it was in the last, and it must be said that bringing back Frank back for a second appearance was a stroke of genius. The alien dog's role is larger in this film, and even though the character is a talking dog, Will Smith has some very funny exchanges with him.

Another well thought out addition to this film was the hiring of Johnny Knoxville as Serleena's incompetent sidekick, Charlie. Though Knoxville's performances in his television show "Jackass" leave something to be desired, he fit into the role of Charlie, the two headed alien very well. He proves with this performance that he can be entertaining on film without hitting, smacking, or slapping himself over the head with assorted props. As the long tentacled Serleena, Lara Flynn Boyle makes a good villain as well, though her black hair and make-up probably have something to do with how well she fits the part. She makes a small departure from her standard role on television's lawyer show, "The Practice" with her performance in this film and proves that she's versatile in front of the camera, with or without her shirt on.

But possibly the best bit of casting would be in hiring Michael Jackson to portray an undercover alien intelligence officer. That Jackson can make fun of his strange appearance speaks well for the singer, considering all the fuss that has been made over his many plastic surgeries. The self deprecating humor that Jackson engages in during his two short scenes is nothing short of hilarious and it's good to see him doing something other than scheduling another rhinoplasty. Recently famous actress, Rosario Dawson makes a good comeback as well from the less that desirable movie, Josie and the Pussycats, playing Rita, Will Smith's love interest.

All in all, as a sequel, Men in Black II is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor. It can't eclipse the original film with fresh material, but the sly humor and entertaining on-screen relationship between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith makes for a film worth seeing at the theater. The special effects, while not stunning, do not overpower the actors and never take away the stage from the characters. Which was probably a difficult feat, considering how much money studios usually throw at non-character elements in sequels. Director Barry Sonnenfeld has done the impossible in keeping the film away from the keyboards of Industrial Light and Magic and firmly in the hands of two very capable Men in Black agents.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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