Assessing 15 years of alien scum, pie, and saving the universe with the Men In Black

06 Jun

Welcome to day two of the blogathon! First off, here’s the video of me talking about The Hunger Games on 11Alive news. I really hope I represented the fandom well, and that we’ll know if it’s coming to Georgia soon.

Now to our main topic of the day.

Long ago, when I was a little thing in this dimension, I was scared of anything monster-like. Aliens, ghosts, creatures in the night, what have you. It was a bad time for me to be easily scared. I still jump a little at some things, but I’m nowhere near as scared as I used to be. I think this tide started to turn with the first and second Men In Black movies. Yes, the giant bugs and the vine monsters were scary, but it helped knowing that there were endlessly cool people behind the scenes with big technology ready to save the universe at a moment’s notice. Those first two movies were some of my favorites for a while, and made me fear the scary things a little less. There was even a Halloween where I donned my own black suit and shades.

Over the years, I liked the second one a little less, but I still found comfort in the series. I even saw the recently released Men In Black 3 twice during opening weekend. I enjoyed it immensely, but I know that there were parts of it that didn’t quite compare to the rest of the series I loved. So not too long after, I posted a list of personal rankings to my tumblr to suss out how different elements of the series measured up to me. Now here, for your reading pleasure, is the more fleshed out version of the list. Spoilers for the 3rd film are sprinkled within, and yes, this is just an assessment of the movies. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the animated series, and I never read the comic books.

Let’s start with…

Overall Movies

  1. Men In Black – You can’t mess with the original. Even after 15 years, everything in this film proves to be funny even after multiple viewings. Just like Ghostbusters before it, everything in this movie came together in the right way to create a wonderful monster-busting comedy.
  2. Men In Black 3 – After the second film, I was a little worried about what this one was going to be like. While the movie wasn’t quite as good as the original, the film’s time travel plot managed to breathe new life into the franchise while bringing back some of the first film’s humor. Not to mention Josh Brolin’s brilliant impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones as a young Agent K.
  3. Men In Black II – Talk about your wasted potential. While I don’t hate this film, it’s easy to see the cracks in the franchise with this one. Will Smith as J was not meant to be a straight man, and a good villain was wasted on a plot that really only tried to show why being an MIB agent secretly sucks.

The Ladies

Each Men In Black film has had a female character alongside our intrepid duo of J and K. They were love interests, of course, but they sometimes had a bit more to show for it.

  1. Dr. Laurel Weaver/Agent L (Linda Fiorentino, Men In Black) – It will probably kill me forever that Linda Fiorentino didn’t return for future films. Dr. Weaver/Agent L was a super interesting character. She was sarcastic and clever, and she didn’t take no for an answer. I would have loved to see her and J’s dynamic while K was retired.
  2. Agent O (Emma Thompson/Alice Eve, Men In Black 3) – I sort of wish the reverse of L for O. I wish we had seen her throughout the whole franchise. I would have loved to see O from the beginning. What qualified her to take over for Zed, her dynamic with K after they had ended their relationship, and how she would have treated all of the bizarreness that comes with the job. I really credit this to Thompson’s hilariously worn down performance as well as Alice Eve’s adorable innocence as the same character. If there will be a fourth movie, I look forward to seeing more of Agent O.
  3. Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson, Men In Black II) – It pains me to rank Rosario so low on this list since I’ve been in love with her since the days of Josie and the Pussycats. However, it just KILLED me that she was reduced down to being the love interest of plot convenience. Dammit, if Rosario Dawson is going to play a Psychic Alien Princess, at least give me better foreshadowing or better powers beside making it rain when she’s sad. SHE’S ROSARIO DAWSON. SHE’S WORTH IT.

Best Villain

Well, for every Earth saving hero, you need a formidable villain. And the MIB franchise has had a few.

  1. Serleena (Laura Flynn Boyle, Men In Black II) – Serleena is exactly what I mean about the wasted potential about the second movie. She was a cool and creepy villain. Seemingly indestructible, could look and sound like anyone, not afraid to use sex appeal to get what she wanted, and millions of slimy tentacles that could crush you at any second. Serleena deserved a better plot than chasing a love interest of plot convenience. I might be the only Serleena fan, but that’s because I know she was a lot more fearsome than what the movie gave her.
  2. Edgar The Bug (Vincent D’Onofrio, Men In Black) – I don’t know what else to say about Edgar besides the fact I still have nightmares about him and his grossness. He’s still my standard for gross monsters. You can’t be as disgusting as Edgar The Bug? Sorry, you just fail at making my skin crawl.
  3. Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement, Men In Black 3) – Yeah, Boris is fearsome and gross, but so what? On the second view, I found it hard to fall into the same suspense with Boris the way I fear Serleena or Edgar. Sorry Jemaine, but Bret McKenzie really did get the better deal with writing for The Muppets.

Best Cameos

The Men In Black movies are chockfull of jokes about the aliens that walk among us. Basically, every celebrity you love is one. Mick Jagger breeds with Earth women, and Lady GaGa isn’t really Stefani Germanotta. Still, there have been great moments where these celebrities show up in the films.

  1. Bill Hader as Andy Warhol/Agent W in Men In Black 3 – When I heard that Bill Hader was playing Andy Warhol, I sort of expected the Alien twist. I mean, isn’t that the joke the franchise has set us up for over the years. Imagine my surprise when Mr. Warhol turns out to be an exasperated MIB agent himself. This unforgettable cameo perfectly mixes Hader’s excellent celebrity impressions and his ability to be completely ridiculous on a moment’s notice.
  2. Michael Jackson as “Agent M” in Men In Black II – This is a brief moment in the second film, but it’s pure brilliance. Again, there are the implications that the King of Pop is an alien, which would explain his eccentricities in the MIB universe. However, we see that he’s working alongside MIB to become an agent. I secretly hope that Zed recruited him after the events of the movie.
  3. Patrick Warburton and Will Arnett as Agents T and AA in Men In Black II and Men In Black 3 – While these were two different actors in two different movies, they essentially served the same role: the partner that was never supposed to be. Still, for however briefly they’re in the film, Warburton and Arnett shine with the kinds of humor they have been known for.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t rank David Cross, it’s because I consider him to be a character on his own in the universe of Men In Black. I’m sad he didn’t return for a 3rd cameo. Men In Black 3 could have used more David Cross and Frank the Pug.

Finally, it’s time to address the final cherry on top of this franchise: the ending theme. Something that’s quite controversial to a few. Me included.

Best Song

  1. ‘Black Suits Comin’ (Nod Ya Head)’ – For all the flaws of the second movie, it really had the best single. Will Smith may not be able to pull off Jay-Z level of braggadocio, but he really manages to create a fun song that perfectly describes both J and the MIB. I don’t even know what the hell he even means by “nod ya head,” but I don’t care. This is pure poppy hip-hop goodness.
  2. ‘Men In Black’ – If I had ever had to explain what the Men In Black franchise was in 4 minutes or less, I would use this 90s-tastic single from the first movie. Will Smith, I love you and your happy rapping so…
  3. ‘Back In Time’ – …Until you relinquished the single for MIB3 to Pitbull of all rappers. It barely has anything to do with the movie besides the hook and occasionally mentioning some things from the franchise. DISHONOR ON YOUR COW, SIR. DISHONOR ON YOUR COW.

Well, I feel like that’s all I have to say about the Men In Black for now. Except maybe my massive feelings for Griffin and how he would be bros with The Doctor, but other than that, that’s all I have to say today. Come back tomorrow when I talk about… well, I don’t know yet, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. See you then!

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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Film, Music


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