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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: June 2: Men in Black


June 2: Men in Black

"A streetwise NYPD detective joins a secret organization that polices extraterrestrial affairs on Earth."

I believe now, 15 years after its release, I can call Men in Black a classic. It's aged incredibly well for what it is, as it relies heavily on its special effects and humor, two aspects of a film that can come across very dated in some films. Of course, a large part of it is the fact that the man behind the scenes, creating all the aliens, is Rick Baker, the master of makeup manipulation and creature creation (Who I mentioned in my An American Werewolf in London review as the man the Academy created an Oscar catergory for). The aliens are really the stars of the film. Each one is created as its own unique character and not just another weird face you see in the crowd. Baker takes regularly odd-looking people and transforms them into imaginative things that leave you baffled, humored, and entertained. 

That's just a little taste. 

The above picture is Vincent D'Onofrio in the role of Edgar the Bug, an evil alien that comes to earth to destroy another galaxy and the world. The Men in Black, a secret agency that keeps all the planet's aliens in check by tracking, deporting, and even working with them, knows the threat Edgar presents. Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) recruits James Edwards (Will Smith) to be his new partner at the agency, and together, while teaching the newly appointed Agent J this rather unique line of work, the two must track down Edgar and thus, save the world. The film plays out like a buddy cop film, and while the duo try to find Edgar and solve the mysteries behind his "invasion", they run into a handful of friendly, shady, and very comical aliens. The story isn't greatest, but it really doesn't matter when the ride is so fun. Jones and Smith have a lot of chemistry and it's always fun seeing Jones in a comedic role as his face and demeanor just scream "I'm a party pooper". However, even with these two stars leading the cast, the best performance is from D'Onofrio who absolutely transforms himself as Edgar. His facial features, tics, and body language is incredible and he turns Edgar into a menacing, gross, yet perfect villain

He's a lot like Beetlejuice, but with a lot less of the hormones and a lot more of the extra skin hanging off his face and limbs. 

By now, I can almost assume nearly everyone has seen Men in Black. It's a staple in not only the sci-fi genre but in the comedy world as well. Not since Ghostbusters has a film blended the bizarre, the weird, and the strange so well with a sense of humor. Men in Black simply works- on all levels. It has a great cast and mind-blowing special effects and makeup. And, the whole thing is fun. If you haven't seen it, go and watch it already because it is certainly worth the time. If anything, the film will leave you wondering what else may be out there in this vast universe and if that ugly guy who hangs out at the corner talking to himself is actually a little alien hiding inside the body of a bum. 

The Good:
a unique premise (based off a much darker comic book) that blends the fantastical with the comical
The Better:
Vincent D'Onofrio as Edgar in performance that has gone a very long time without the recognition it deserves
The Best:
Rick Baker's special effects that are still better than a hell of a lot of the effects in movies today 

Overall: 7.7/10


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