Men In Black II DVD Review

Okay, I doubt anyone went into "Men In Black II" expecting it to be funnier than the original. It's a sequel. If you thought otherwise, you should know better. What I know is that not a single person expected to walk out angry at the fact they just wasted $22.50 to see a bomb of a movie.

Agent Jay (Will Smith) has become the leading agent for the MIB organization, but is unable to find a partner. Now stuck trying to find "The Light of Zartha," Jay must find the only person who knows anything about it: Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones). The problem here is that Kay's memory has been completely erased and he's now working at a small town post office. Now it's a race to the save the planet from destruction at the hands of all-around bad alien Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle).

Every single laugh this movie goes for is a struggle. It's a struggle because of the script, it's a struggle because of the pitiful special effects, and it's a struggle because Tommy Lee Jones plays a character nothing like that of the first film. Here roles are reversed for a good portion of the movie, as Will Smith is the more experienced of the two, taking away what made the original so funny. Jones still plays his role straight, he just has nothing to work with. Many of the jokes are repeats too.

There are so many gags here that just fall flat; you almost begin to think they didn't care. There is an excessive use of wires here and they never work especially as Rip Torn is suspended for a 10-second jump kick. Jones gets almost the same spot as well as he kicks a "ballchinian" in the chin (think about it). The sudden disappearance of Linda Fiorentino is explained in one sentence and the excuse is, well, weak.

Taking over her role is a dog. Frank the talking pug, merely a one shot joke in the first film, takes over the movie at a few points and then seemingly disappears for the second half. The worms, a group of one-shot characters, also get extended screen time and they provide two of the movies three entertaining jokes. Even ILM blew it here. The opening moments have Will Smith careening through the subway system on the back of a giant toothy worm. Even a five-year old can figure out it's not real.

The final problem is that nothing ever happens throughout the entire running time. You wait, you wait, you wait, and then it's over. Even when the credits roll, you expect ANYTHING to happen because the ending was so abrupt it provided a meager finish. Where as the first film was original and fresh, this is stale and recycled. (* out of *****)

"MIIB" is available in both widescreen and pan & scan. Widescreen is the only thing that will ever show on my TV and that's what is reviewed here. This is a pretty much perfect transfer. Some light film grain is the only problem and you will only see that in a few scenes. Compression problems are either non-existent or well hidden by flawless black levels. Flesh tones are spot on. Maybe this transfer is why the special effects look so bad? (*****)

When it has a chance to work, this 5.1 mix is spectacular. Bass is fairly light, but the use of surrounds is pretty much without equal. The final battle, which takes place mostly off screen, is heard almost entirely from the rear speakers. Positional audio in the stereo channels is never really put to work, but they never really have the opportunity either. (****)

You know you've just watched a terrible movie when a five and half minute feature on the DVD offers more laughs than the entire 90-minute film. "Chubb-Chubb's" is an absolute must-see CG-animated short that took home a few awards the year it was released and was shown before this movie in theaters. You can also buy it on a separate disc for only a few dollars meaning you can bypass "MIIB" completely.

Anyway, director Barry Sonnenfeld provides a solo commentary track here, likely because everyone else was too embarrassed with the final product. You can also view it "telestrator" notes as well. "Alien Broadcast" is a features that branches itself from the movie to provide various information. The final feature on disc one is a trailer for the "MIIB" video game (PC I believe). Menu text here is stupid on disc 1, spinning in circles making it impossible to read.

Disc 2 houses everything else. First is an alternate ending that doesn't make any sense. A second alternate was supposedly shot but it involved the World Trade Center and it's not included here. A five-minute blooper reel is probably the best part of this disc and not surprisingly, it too is funnier than the entire movie.

A very short two-minute animatic of Seleena's rather abrupt landing is a look at the shot came together. Five scenes can be viewed in various forms of completion with the multi-angle scene deconstruction. Six creature featurettes of varying length focus on the various design stages certain aliens went through.

"Barry Sonnenfeld's Intergalactic Guide to Comedy" is a six-minute feature that feature various cast and crew speaking about the directors style. The music video from Will Smith is available here too. The photo gallery contains a whopping four pictures, each a release poster. It's a complete waste of space.

Finally, there are nine different featurettes that look at things like the sound, visual effects, specific characters, and the foley artists. The menu system used here is absolutely ludicrous, one of the worst I've come across. Not only does it take forever to get to because of an animation routine, you select the order you want to view them in. So, if you watch one and return to the menu to select another, you actually have to watch the first feature over again. You need to go all the way back to the main menu in order for it to reset. (****)

This movie isn't just a disgrace to itself, but to the original as well. A movie with a mix of both action and comedy should never be boring, but that's exactly the problem here. You simply can't have one actor trying to carry a movie and this one proves it.

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