Would Men in Tights II have been a good idea?

For all I remember of the original, the sequel of Men In Black looked a lot like it.

We have the initiation sequence of the movie, with the more experienced agent - in black, of course - showing the ropes to the less experienced. In this case, they reverse the roles to have our old novice, Agent J as the smooth professional, and split the novice between his new partner who doesn't work out, and old experienced Agent K, who has gone civilian and had his memories of being an agent wiped out.

Only now, of course, Agent K needs to be brought back because things are getting bad, and he is the key to fixing it all.

That sounds like a different setup than the first, but let's see how it plays out.

We have an alien on Earth that's not supposed to be on Earth, and guess what? It's a bad alien. One that can cause all kinds of trouble, and indeed does. I can't remember what the bad alien in the first one had a problem with, which may be the fate with the one here - but I give II for at least having some ingenuity in the storyline there. I will probably remember the details better, but the problem is that the movie is so unclear on half the details you might want to remember. It's like this alien's motivation simply doesn't matter to the filmmakers, which is very likely the case. They just needed something to fill the same threatening role from the first film, but the qualities they were interested in were being more clever and bigger and stylish than last time around. I felt there was really not even a character there, which is a shame because Lara Flynn Boyle is actually a decent actress that might have been able to bring something to the part.

They go from beat to beat in this film like spinning a rolodex. There's a cutesy moment, then something funny, then something scary or perhaps action related, and we just go on and on, thumbing from one to another. It's stitched together pretty well, in fact. I'm in no way casting any doubts on the regular production values of the movie. The problem is, you start losing the audience by not letting something actually stick in their heads for more than a second or two. Of course, they're trying to combat the opposite problem here, of losing people because of having too much to think about. It's the blockbuster way.

And, the core of the blockbuster way is really, when you get down to it, to make the same movie without anybody noticing. Certainly, that's what they're aiming for here, but it's a realtively transparent effort. The problem is that the first time around, you get to have a sense of wonder, learning the rules of the world you're in, and watching the plot unfurl with a sense of the status quo being threatened. The second time around, it's old hat - we don't feel the same way as the plot unfurls. Sometimes, we get a feeling of being maniplulated towward how they want us to feel. Sometimes, it comes across that they're trying too hard, or not hard enough. A sequel doesn't have to be bad, but it must be hard to resist the copycat instincts that pulls so many attempts astray. There should be room to expand and explore the ideas presented in the first one, and new ideas as well. Possibly, what we have here is confirmation that there weren't that many ideas to begin with.

The movie does not plunge into the truly awful depths, but rather shuffles about in the wading pool of mediocrity. There's enough here to entertain, but trust me that even without the use of a neuralyzer, you'll forget what really happened in the movie outside a couple key bits featured prominently in the trailer.

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Review: Back in Black... star5/10 SillyconJester

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