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July 16, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-07-16

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, July 16, 1997
Smith, Jones can't save 'Men in
Black' from mediocre direction

By Kiran Nandalur
Daily Arts Writer
Imagine this novel premise: A team
of mysterious and secretive men regu-
late the immigration of aliens to Earth
and help preserve humans' peace of
mind and universal harmony. With this
interesting idea, the present-day ability
to produce dazzling special effects and
the backing of executive producer
Steven Spielberg, it would be easy to
conclude - that a
memorable and
amazing film couldR
be made. 1
C on s equ e ntly, N
"Men in Black,"
which encompass-
es these character- At B
istics, would seem
to have great potential, but instead the
mediocre, simple and predictable movie
falls short of high expectations because
'of poor direction.
The film stars Agent K (Tommy Lee
Jones) as a founding member of a
covert government organization, Men
in Black, which helps aliens take refuge
on Earth and also protects humans from
rebel beings with the help of high-tech
weapons. When his partner suddenly
retires, the serious - but not humorless
- character seeks a replacement.
Eventually, NYPD supercop James
Edwards (Will Smith) gets entangled in
an alien dilemma, gets recruited by
Agent K and becomes the reckless and

M
Br

jocular Agent J.
The mission of the two agents is to
stop an evil extraterrestrial bug from
capturing "the galaxy," a small sphere
of immense importance to many forms
of aliens. Along with medical examiner
Dr. Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), who
becomes involved with her autopsies on
dead aliens in human form, they battle
to retrieve the sphere, destroy the vio-
lent insect and save the earth from an
impending
destruction.
E V I E W The defining
.n Ba aspect of a great
len in Black action-cop movie
** is the dynamic
relationship
iarwood and showcase between the char-
acters. For exam-
ple, the chemistry between the nutty
Mel Gibson and the tightly-wound
Danny Glover in the "Lethal Weapon"
series helped them draw critical raves.
Comedian/rapper Will Smith has the
perfect opportunity in "Men in Black"
to shine in a comic-relief role to Agent
K's workmanlike attitude, but time
after time he plays the innocent buf-
foon instead of delivering the knockout
line. As for Jones, he would seem to be
perfect for the hard-nosed agent role,
but his extreme stoicism detracts from
the emotional connection between the
protagonists. True coherence is only
present when the freaky Dr. Weaver
and Agent J exchange sexual barbs.

Even without the compelling charac-
ters, the film could have been redeemed
with fascinating aliens (as in "Return of
the Jedi") but opts for possibly the
dullest space invaders in movie history.
The small brown creatures in the MIB
headquarters are supposed to be cute
and funny but come off as disgusting
and droll. An autopsy of one of the
leading space visitors reveals some-
thing out of a cheesy Ed Wood film.
With contemporary technology, the
film's creators could have done so
much more.
Another disappointing aspect of
"Men in Black" is the weak plot. The
significance of "the galaxy" is confus-
ing and ultimately unclear.
Consequently, the motivation of the
huge bug seems undirected, and his
interesting inferiority complex toward
humans is only touched upon. Finally,
the whole movie can be reduced to a
sequence of action scenes; thus it lacks
necessary thematic continuity.
Overall, "Men in Black" fails in
comparison not to other movies but to
the potentially excellent film it could
have been. The film continually reaches
for greatness but inevitably collapses
because of uninspired directing by
Barry Sonnenfeld. If Spielberg had put
his magical directing touch on the film
instead of acting as executive producer,
the movie could have been of higher
quality, instead of just another unmem-
orable blockbuster.

sommy Lee Jones and wim Smit, as Agents K and , respectively, save the worl
from evil alien bugs (top). The Men in Black use their "flashy ight thlngle" to
erase the memories of allen witnesses (bottom). "You didn't see anything. It was a
weather baiole. Real.*

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