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Men in Black (1997)

Protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe.

Directed by:

Barry Sonnenfeld

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

UK Certificate: PG


Tommy Lee Jones is Agent Kay, a member of a top-secret but unofficial government agency called Division 6 which is headed by Zed (Rip Torn). Better known as the ‘Men in Black’ for the sharp black suits they wear, these are the agents that keep tabs on the sizeable population of alien visitors on Earth and investigate possible alien threats. When Kay finds himself in need of a new partner, he recruits brash NYPD detective James Edwards (Will Smith) as Agent Jay. Jay thinks he has seen everything during his time as a police officer, but discovers that the world is full of things for which he is poorly prepared. Jay also finds himself dealing with fantastic technology that he barely understands.

Jay doesn’t get long to acclimatise to his new position, as the two agents find themselves battling a deadly plot by an intergalactic terrorist, who is on a mission to spark intergalactic war by assassinating two ambassadors from opposing galaxies who are currently in New York. The terrorist is an alien bug-like lifeform that has taken to wearing the body of farmer Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio) in order to insinuate himself into earth’s population without being noticed. To prevent disaster and the destruction of the Earth, Kay and Jay must track down the terrorist, with the help of coroner Dr Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), before he can bring his evil plans to fruition.

Highly entertaining and full of good clean fun, ‘Men in Black’ is an extravaganza packed with excellent alien effects and plenty of action. Unapologetically humorous, it is loaded with one-liners and sight gags, as well as plenty of references to popular alien sci-fi and conspiracy theories. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are an inspired pairing, with plenty of chemistry as they squabble and poke fun at each other. If the film has one flaw, it is that the primary plot – the threat by the alien terrorist – is introduced quite late and not examined in any real detail. This is a minor flaw though, as the film maintains its entertainment value throughout.

‘Men in Black’ is an adaptation of Lowell Cunningham's cult Marvel/Malibu comic book series.

It's Got: Outstanding alien special effects and action.

It Needs: The primary plot to be introduced earlier and explored to more depth.

DVD Extras This single-disc Collectors Edition comes packed with added-value extras. Extras: Visual commentary by director Barry Sonnenfeld and actor Tommy Lee Jones with on-screen diagrams, Character animation studies, Scene deconstruction, Extended and alternate scenes, Photo galleries, Storyboard comparisons, Featurette, Documentary, Theatrical trailers, Production notes, Talent files. DVD-Rom Extras: Web links. Music Video: ‘Men in Black’ by Will Smith and Mikey. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


Evolution., Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, Men in Black II


Entertaining sci-fi comedy with great special effects and plenty of chemistry between Jones and Smith.