Men in Black
The MIB, a top-secret agency that polices, monitors and directs alien activity on Earth, has established the Earth as an apolitical “neutral zone” for alien refugees (as Agent K explains, like Casablancawith no Nazis). MIB agents have no identity or any public record of existence, and the MIB agency answers to no government. The funding for their agency comes from the patents they own on technology confiscated from aliens, such as velcro, microwave ovens, and liposuction. Any memory of MIB activity upon “mustering out” of the MIB is erased and a new identity is created for the departing agent. Into this strange world is ushered the initially skeptical Det/Sgt James Edwards (Will Smith), an NYPD officer, as he becomes Agent J, one of the newest MIB personnel. Tommy Lee Jones plays K, a senior MIB agent who recruits and guides J as he learns the ropes.
MIB agents wear sunglasses and dark suits, and appear at UFO landing sites, similar to paranormal reports of real-world Men in Black. Instead of intimidating or threatening witnesses, the MIB use devices known as “Neuralyzers” to wipe witnesses’ memories of what they have seen, and replace the memories with more mundane explanations, such as swamp gas or weather balloons. Neuralyzers are also used on agents who leave the organization for any reason. The MIB’s sunglasses protect them from the effects of the Neuralyzer.
The main plot of the movie revolves around a “Bug” (code word for a member of an alien species that is similar in many ways to a very large cockroach) searching for a miniature galaxy which is also a vast energy source. Upon landing on Earth, the Bug kills a farmer named Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio) and uses his skin as a disguise to aid in the hunt. A member of an alien royal family, masquerading as a diamond merchant, has concealed the galaxy on his cat’s collar. When he is killed by the Bug, his government prepares to destroy the Earth rather than let the galaxy fall into the Bugs’ hands. During their mission, J and K investigate a morgue where they meet Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), a cynical deputy medical examiner. Eventually, the agents kill the Bug (with Laurel’s help) and recover the galaxy. K then has J erase his memory so he can retire, and Laurel joins the MIB and becomes Agent L, J’s new partner.
In the final scene of the film, the camera pulls back into the sky through space past our solar system, past millions of stars, ultimately revealing that our galaxy is contained within a circular container resembling a marble. The container is then picked up by an alien hand which throws it, hitting another ‘marble’ which also contains a galaxy. Both marbles are then picked up by the hand and placed into a bag full of galaxy-containing marbles.
Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few alien movies, and this is one of my favorites. Granted, its not up there with the Star Wars films, but it is still pretty good.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ chemistry really makes the film. Both men give their respective roles their unique stamp and when they’re on screen together it interesting to see the contrasting styles. It was inspired casting putting these two on screen together. Wait forget the inspired casting mumbo jumbo, that was just pure genius!
The effects in this film take center stage when they are used, and why shouldn’t they? This is an alien film after all.
I was a little confused with the whole Arquillian galaxy angle, but from what I hear, it was more confusing in the initial script. To me it was a good and necessary plot device, as it explains why the bug came to Earth, but it just wasn’t explained as well as it could have been.
For those of you into the alien sci-fi genre…especially the older ones from back in the 40s and 50s, you’ll love this film. It hearkens back to those films as well as keeps it modern. A little bit of old and a little bit of the new. It really works. Watch and see. I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
4 1/2 out of 5 stars