Men in Black II (2002)


The Last Suit You’ll Ever Wear … Again.

Still leading up to my review of the newest addition to the Men in Black movie, we come to the second movie in the series.  After the popularity gained by the first movie, it seemed obvious that they would follow it up.  But there’s always a bit of trepidation going into a follow up movie because they are usually rushed and/or forced which has a negative effect on the quality of the product.  I really have no predisposition towards the answer on this one because I have barely any memory of the movie.  I remember thinking the first movie was very fun, but I have no memory of the second.  So let’s find out how it went in my review of Men in Black 2, written by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Lara Flynn Boyle, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Rip Torn, Tim Blaney, Tony Shalhoub, Patrick Warburton, Jack Kehler, David Cross, Colombe Jacobsen, John Alexander, Peter Graves, Biz Markie, Nick Cannon, Jay Johnston, Martha Stewart, and Michael Jackson.

After the events of the first movie, Men in Black agent J (Will Smith) has become the top agent for the secret government organization.  A challenge arrives for him in the shape of a shapeshifting Kylothian queen named Serleena, who disguises herself as a lingerie model (Lara Flynn Boyle).  She recruits a stupid, two-headed alien duo Scrad and Charlie (Johnny Knoxville) and sets about her task of finding the ”Light of Zartha”.  When J finds out about it, the chief of the Men in Black, Zed (Rip Torn), says that the only person that might know about what happened to the Light is J’s former partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who had his memory erased by the neuralyzer at the end of the last movie.  J must find K and get his memory back so they can find the Light of Zartha before Serleena does.

I don’t think this movie was nearly as bad as many people did, but the movie does hurt my feelings a little.  At the end of the first movie, it was a sad and poignant moment when J had to neuralyze K so that he could go back to his old life.  This movie just shits right on that by going exactly backwards from it.  It’s preferable to the alternative of leaving K out of the movie because K was a great character, but it does deflate that moment from the first movie significantly.  The mystery in this movie is a little better done, as it becomes a treasure search once K has been brought back into the picture.  They follow clues to finally reach their destination and it’s an interesting new way to go about the story of their movie.  There were some good jokes in this one, but I felt like they really took it easy in some places.  Most of the jokes they went through in the middle of the movie were just the reverse of the same jokes they made in the first one.  Things like giving the “Noisy Cricket” to K, and even using some of the same exact lines, but his time it was J saying them to K.  The look of the movie has not changed drastically for this movie.  It’s still really good and really creative.  I would say the only thing that I would count as an improvement in this movie is the song that Will Smith made for it.  Nod Ya Head is a much better song than Men in Black, and I don’t care who knows that I think this.

The returning performances for this movie were of the same quality, but I would say the new additions do nothing to help the film.  Will Smith is mostly just as charming and funny as he was in the first movie, but he came off as a bit of a dick for the first part of the movie when he was too preoccupied being the best MiB agent.  I like him better as the fish out of water, but he gets back to that.  Tommy Lee Jones is pretty much unchanged in this movie.  He’s still a great compliment to Will Smith.  Lara Flynn Boyle didn’t work for me though.  She was great to look at, especially when she was in her underwear, but she was not at all intimidating as the main bad guy in the movie, and she was barely convincing to boot.  Johnny Knoxville played the role as classic comic relief, but was completely hit or miss.  Rosario Dawson was great in the movie, however.  Not only am I always happy to look at her, but she’s got this great charm to her that makes you instantly like her and seemed like she would be a great compliment to Will Smith.

Altogether, Men in Black 2 makes no drastic steps forward, but does make a few steps backwards, though not enough backwards to make the movie a bad movie.  It’s just inferior to the original.  It’s still pretty funny, but some of the jokes are easy, it’s still got a good story with a little more mystery to it, and the performances that return to the movie still bring it, though Rosario Dawson is the only new performance that’s any good.  But Men in Black 2 still manages to become a fun watch, so I’d still recommend it.  I own both, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to own it as well.  Men in Black 2 gets “I’ve dated worse” out of “Your brain needs to reboot.”

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Twin Peaks: Season 1 (1990)


Who’s The Lady With the Log?

I feel like I’ve heard so much more about this television show than I ever knew.  Hell, even after watching the first season, I can’t say I really understand it too much.  I know I had heard the name a long time ago, but never really felt the need to research it.  I had heard about the show again when I played the game Alan Wake, as many things I read about Alan Wake drew comparisons between the game and this show.  Finally, when Kevin Smith was recalling parts of the show on his podcast, I decided it was time for me to watch it.  This show is part drama, part comedy, part thriller, but pretty much all surreal.  Let’s see how well a very confused person reviews the TV show Twin Peaks, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and starring Sheryl Lee, Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Eric Da Re, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, James Marshall, Dana Ashbrook, Madchen Amick, Richard Beymer, Michael Horse, Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie, Russ Tamblyn, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Jack Nance, Warren Frost, Peggy Lipton, Kimmy Robertson, Harry Goaz, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, David Patrick Kelly, Walter Olkewicz, Victoria Catlin, Don S. Davis, Charlotte Stewart, Mary Jo Deschanel, Chris Mulkey, Catherine E. Coulson, and Miguel Ferrer.

The base story of the entire first season gets kicked off right in the pilot.  Pete Martell (Jack Nance) discovers the naked corpse of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) by a river.  Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) and Dr. Will Hayward (Warren Frost).  Her death becomes big news around the tiny town of Twin Peaks, especially at the high school she once attended.  FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) comes down to aid in the investigation.  Over the course of the first season, they unravel hidden motivations involving sex, drugs, but a distinctive lack of rock and/or roll.  Laura’s parents, Leland (Ray Wise) and Sarah (Grace Zabriskie), suffer nervous breakdowns, but they take turns being crazy.  There’s a small group of people in the town, but they’re practically all cheating on each other.  A guy named Leo (Eric Da Re) is dealing drugs and beating his wife, Shelly (Madchen Amick).  Some of Laura’s friends, Donna (Lara Flynn Boyle) and James (James Marshall), start their own investigation into Laura’s death, eventually using Laura’s identical twin cousin, Maddy Ferguson (Sheryl Lee), to get at Laura’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn).  Cooper starts investigating leads based on a dream he has.  Also, this sexy 18-year-old falls in love with Cooper.  By the end, they narrowed in a bit on who killed Laura, but I was nowhere close to understanding anything.

I was almost as confused by the show as I was in my feelings about the show.  For a while, I was just put off by how weird it all was.  Let me give you some examples.  For one thing, there’s a lady that carries around a log that she claims has seen something that will help the police solve the murder, but they must ask the log for the information.  A dude sends his ex-wife a picture of a domino from in prison.  Someone assassinates a bird.  Suspects are decided based on how close to hitting milk bottles Agent Cooper can get with some rocks.  Cooper has an entire dream that’s really off-putting.  Everyone speaks weirdly because they all delivered their lines backwards and then had them played forward, a midget got up and started dancing, and Laura was saying something about her arms bending backwards.  It seemed that each episode took me one step closer to figuring it out, but then two big steps back in the same episode.  But, as time went on in the show, I started realizing that I was still really interested in it.  It was strange, but oddly engrossing.  It was confusing in the small scale, but I feel like I was beginning to understand the big picture.  They used some really cool and intriguing ideas too.  That dream, for instance.  It really did have a strange, otherworldly feel to it because of something as simple as recording their lines backwards and playing it forward.  You could kind of make out what they were saying, but it definitely wasn’t normal.  I did get vaguely annoyed at the end of the whole season because they just had to have the whole cliffhanger thing.  I get annoyed when shows do that at the end of their seasons because, typically, that would mean we’d have to wait a number of months to figure out what happened and, sometimes, we would never find out what happened because they show got cancelled before they could end it.  I was only able to get vaguely annoyed by this because I was streaming the first season on Netflix, where the second season was available as well.  This time the cliff is hung because I had a review to write.  I am so pro!

It’s kind of hard to judge some of the performances here, because pretty much everyone was acting so weird.  I was beginning to feel bad for Sheryl Lee because she, as Laura, was the driving force of the entire show, but she was dead before it began.  She got to pop in for some flashbacks for a minute or two, but it seemed like a bummer.  Then they threw her a bone and she got to come back … as her cousin that looks just like her with dark hair.  I don’t know.  I guess that could be a thing.  Kyle MacLachlan was good, and pretty close to normal until the dream started to make him weirder.  Also, he turned down naked Sherilyn Fenn, and it don’t get much weirder than that.  She was smokin’ hot.  I enjoyed the performance of Miguel Ferrer as the forensics expert that Cooper brought in, but mainly ’cause he was an ultra dick to everyone in the town for no reason.  Until Michael Ontkean punched him in the face.  There was something that was constantly off about Eric Da Re’s performance, but I could never tell if he did it on purpose or was just a strange actor.  Madchen Amick – who played his wife – was pretty hot though.  I also found Kimmy Robertson oddly cute.  Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie confused me.  They played Laura’s parents and, for obvious reasons, were a little distraught about the loss of their daughter.  What bothered me is that one of them would be having the nervous breakdown in one episode while the other was being strong, and then next time their roles would be reversed.  In or out, people.  It was also interesting to me that Lara Flynn Boyle was in this.  For one thing, she was very cute.  For another thing, she was in Men in Black 2.  But I never really understood her character either.  It seemed like she was trying, with James Marshall, to find out what happened to Laura, but I think they intended to cover it up for some reason.  I’m fairly convinced they weren’t the killers.  They seemed to be really good friends with Laura, pre-mortem.  Maybe the whole “three different semens and drugs” thing would’ve ruined her image or something.  Kobe seemed to get past it, though.

I’m really not sure what to tell you about this show.  It’s very interesting, but also very confusing.  I feel compelled to continue on to season 2, and possibly even to watch the movie that most people hated, but I’m also afraid that doing so will not only fail to clear anything up, but will only heap on more questions.  One thing’s for certain: Laura Palmer’s dead, and she isn’t coming back.  If you have Netflix streaming, and think you might be down with a confusing cult hit TV show, give it a look.  Hopefully season 2 will make more sense.  In the meantime, Twin Peaks: Season 1 gets “Fire walk with me” out of “She’s dead.  Wrapped in plastic.”

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