Men in Black (PG-13)
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This is based on a comic book series, which I haven't read, but would certainly like to, someday. The movie has had two sequels, as well as inspiring an animated series. I'm watching the first movie on the night the third movie hits theaters, since I won't get to see that until it comes out on DVD. Anyway, I don't recall whether I saw the first movie in the theater or not, but I doubt it. Surely I've seen it at least a couple times on TV or video or something. But I'm just watching the DVD for the first time, in order to write a review. And, of course, to enjoy the movie yet again, because it's freakin' awesome. Oh yeah, also there's an awesome song inspired by the movie, performed by one of the movie's stars, Will Smith. Anyway, that's enough intro, I'll get into the actual review, now....
It begins... well, actually it begins with a dragonfly, but that's not really important, except to set up a joke that will only make sense later, in retrospect. The first important scene has a man trying to transport illegal immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico, but he's stopped by the police. Before they can really do anything, a black car shows up, with two men dressed in black- K and D. They select one Mexican from a lineup, and walk him off a little ways into the desert, telling the others they can leave (to the annoyance and confusion of the police). It turns out the man they've taken is actually an alien named Mikey, who was in disguise. The situation is well in hand, until one of the cops comes after them to find out what's going on, sees Mikey... and things get out of hand. D is too slow to react, so K (played by Tommy Lee Jones) has to deal with it. After stopping Mikey from killing the cop, K uses a gadget called neuralyzer to make all the cops forget what they've seen. Then, there's a rather touching, sad moment between K and D, when it becomes clear D is no longer capable of doing the job, and has to be neuralyzed, himself.
There's a quick flash to the next scene, in New York City, where police detective James Edwards (played by Smith), is chasing a suspect. It's not at all clear what he's suspected of, but the chase is incredibly difficult, because he has abilities that no human should have. Edwards eventually catches up to him, and the guy gives some vague warning that "he's coming" and "your world will end." Then he jumps off a building. Whether or not it makes sense that Edwards was chasing him, it was important, because it brought Edwards to the attention of K, as we'll soon see.
Next scene is at a farmhouse, where a guy named Edgar is berating his wife, Beatrice, when suddenly something from out of the sky crashes into his truck. He goes out to investigate, and... something grabs him, skins him, and... wears his skin.
Later, when everyone back at the precinct disbelieves Edwards' report, one person shows up who does believe him... deputy medical examiner Dr. Laurel Weaver (who we like). But then K shows up and neuralyzes her. Of course, K also believes Edwards' story, and ends up recruiting him into the Men in Black, an agency that has been monitoring alien activity on Earth, ever since 1961. (At any given time, these days, there are about 1500 aliens living on Earth, most of them decent folks.) Anyway, James Edwards is no more. Now he's just... J.
So, K and J start investigating an alien leaving town, who's not supposed to. Soon they find that just about all the aliens on Earth are starting to leave, because another alien, called a "Bug," has arrived. He's the one currently wearing an "Edgar suit." Meanwhile, there was another alien, an Arquillian royal, who was guarding a galaxy. The Bug kills him and another alien, in an attempt to take the galaxy. But he fails to get it. Later, K and J visit the morgue, where they meet Dr. Weaver again. J also meets the Arquillian, who gives a message with his dying breaths, but it makes no sense. Soon after that, an Arquillian fleet arrives just off planet, and issues a demand to MIB to deliver the galaxy, or they'll destroy the Earth. So, J and K will have to try and find the galaxy, while Edgar the Bug is also trying to find it. And Dr. Weaver gets caught in the middle of all this. (Btw, if you're wondering how a galaxy can be on a single planet, don't worry: all the MIBs were confused at first, too.)
Anyway, I feel like I've said enough about the plot. Don't want to spoil anything else, though it's safe to assume the good guys win in the end. And there's a scene near the end that neatly bookends a scene from near the beginning. I do feel like I should mention some characters I haven't mentioned yet, like Zed, the head of MIB; Jeebs, an alien who was selling alien weapons; and Frank the Pug, an alien who serves as a snitch for K. Anyway... it's an awesome sci-fi movie with great effects, aliens, and whatnot. A great plot. But it's also an awesome comedy. And it's got lots of nice, humanizing touches. I love a lot of lines in the movie, sometimes for their humor, and sometimes their humanity. Or a mix thereof. Anyway, the whole cast is great. J and K are both really funny and they're both pretty bad-ass, in a men in black kinda way. And in spite of a tricky learning curve for a totally crazy job, and in spite of being a wiseass, J obviously has moments where it's clear he has a detective's mind. So he's not just a goofy sidekick to straight man K, he's also intelligent, and worthy of K's decision to recruit him. Um... there's also a revelation in the end that sets up the sequel, but I won't reveal that until my review of the second movie.