|Men in Black II|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Sonnenfeld|
|Story by||Robert Gordon|
|Based on||The Men in Black|
by Lowell Cunningham
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$441.8 million|
Men in Black II (stylized as MIIB) is a 2002 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and written by Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro. A sequel to Men in Black (1997), which in turn is loosely based on the Marvel Comics series The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham, the film stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith reprising their roles from the first film, with Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shalhoub and Rip Torn in supporting roles. It was also the final appearance of Torn in the series (although he did make a brief uncredited appearance in Men in Black 3), as he died on July 9, 2019, about a month after MIB International was released.
Men in Black II was released worldwide on July 3, 2002, by Columbia Pictures, receiving mixed reviews from critics and grossing $441.8 million against a budget of $140 million. The film was followed by Men in Black 3 in 2012. Tim Blaney reprises his role in MIB: International, released in 2019.
In July 2002, Men in Black Agent J is called to investigate the murder of an alien, Ben, at his pizzeria. The waitress, Laura Vasquez, tells him that the murderers are Serleena, a shapeshifting, plant-like Kylothian who has taken the form of a Victoria's Secret lingerie model, and her two-headed servant Scrad and Charlie. Laura says they were looking for something called the Light of Zartha. J is strongly attracted to Laura, and in violation of MiB rules, does not neuralyze her to erase her memories.
J finds that little is known about the Light of Zartha, except that it is immensely powerful. As he investigates the crime, every lead points to his former partner and mentor, Agent K, who was neuralyzed upon retirement five years previous and remembers nothing of his MiB service. In Truro, Massachusetts, where K is now the town's postmaster, J convinces him by proving that all of his fellow postal workers are aliens. Back in New York City, Serleena along with Scrad and Charlie launch an attack on MiB headquarters before K's neuralyzation can be reversed, but Jack Jeebs has an illegal deneuralyzer in his basement. K regains his memories, but remembers that years before, he neuralyzed himself specifically to erase what he knew of the Light of Zartha and those memories have not returned. As a precaution, he left himself a series of clues.
At the pizzeria, they find a locker key. J and K fear for Laura's safety and hide her with the worms. The key opens a locker in Grand Central Station where a society of tiny aliens, who worship K as their deity, guard their most sacred relics: K's wristwatch and video store membership card. At the store, as J and K watch a fictionalized story of the Light of Zartha, K remembers the Zarthan Queen Lauranna long ago entrusted Men in Black with safeguarding the Light from her nemesis, Serleena, who followed Lauranna to Earth and killed her. After hiding the Light, a grief-stricken K neuralyzed himself so as to bury his sadness and ensure that he would never reveal its hiding place. K still cannot remember where he hid it nor what the Light actually looks like. Thinking it might be Laura's bracelet, he only remembers that it must return to Zartha soon or else both Earth and Zartha will be destroyed.
At the worms' apartment, they find that Laura has been captured by Serleena. With the worms, they counterattack MiB headquarters, freeing Laura and the other agents. Serleena attempts to retaliate by chasing them with a spaceship through New York but is eaten by Jeff, a gigantic worm alien living in the New York City Subway.
Laura's bracelet leads J and K to the roof of a skyscraper where a ship stands ready to transport the Light back to Zartha. K reveals that Laura is the daughter of Lauranna (and, it is implied, K's daughter) and she's also the Light. K convinces J and Laura that she must go to Zartha to save both her planet and Earth from destruction. Serleena, who has absorbed Jeff and taken his form, attempts to snatch the ship carrying Laura as it lifts off, but J and K blast her out of the sky. Since all of New York City has just witnessed this battle in the skies over the metropolis, K activates a giant neuralyzer in the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
Back at MiB headquarters, K and Chief Zed, have relocated the tiny locker-dwelling aliens to his Men in Black locker hoping to give him some perspective. When J suggests showing the miniature creatures that their universe is bigger than a locker, K shows J that the human universe is itself a locker within an immense alien train station.
Despite some initial involvement from David Koepp (who left to work on Panic Room and Spider-Man), the script was written by Robert Gordon and later revised by Barry Fanaro, who added pop culture references, something which Gordon had deliberately avoided. Sonnenfeld took issue with the producers' focus on the love story between Will Smith's and Rosario Dawson's characters, saying that "I learned on Wild Wild West that audiences didn't want to see Will as the straight man. And until Tommy comes back into the movie, by definition Will's the straight man." Fanaro condensed the first part of the film and brought Agent K in earlier.
Principal photography began on June 11, 2001 and ended on September 23, 2001. The climax of the story was originally filmed against a backdrop of the twin towers of the original World Trade Center; but after the September 11 attacks, the climactic scene was refilmed. Other scenes incorporating views of the twin towers likewise had to be edited, or reshot.
Supervising sound editor Skip Lievsay used a Synclavier to recreate and improve the original recording of the neuralyzer sound effect from the first film (which was the sound of a strobe flash as it recycles) by removing some distortion. For some of the scenes with the Serleena creature, the sound crew "took tree branches, put them inside a rubber membrane and pushed that around and added some water." For the special effects scene where the subway train is attacked by Jeff the Worm, a specially designed vise was used to crush a subway car and make it look as if it had been bitten in half.
|1.||"Worms Lounge 1 (Worms in Black)"||Danny Elfman||5:20|
|4.||"Big Jeff"||Danny Elfman||2:25|
|7.||"Heart Thump"||Danny Elfman||1:51|
|9.||"Hunting For K"||Danny Elfman||1:41|
|10.||"J Nabbed / K's Back"||Danny Elfman||2:20|
|11.||"The Real Story"||Danny Elfman||1:41|
|13.||"The Defense Begins"||Danny Elfman||2:47|
|14.||"The Chase"||Danny Elfman||3:22|
|15.||"The Light"||Danny Elfman||5:44|
|16.||"The Finale"||Danny Elfman||0:18|
|17.||"Worm Lounge 2"||Danny Elfman||3:09|
|18.||"Titles Revisited"||Danny Elfman||2:57|
|19.||"I Will Survive"||Tim Blaney||3:03|
|20.||"Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)"||Will Smith featuring Tr?-Knox||4:20|
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 39% based on 199 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Lacking the freshness of the first movie, MIB 2 recycles elements from its predecessor with mixed results." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times said, "Within the trivial, ingratiating scope of its ambition... the sequel is pleasant enough" and, noting the vast array of aliens designed by Rick Baker, said that the film "really belongs to Mr. Baker." A review in The Hindu called the film "worth viewing once." A from Digital Media FX magazine praised the spaceships as looking realistic, but criticized many of the simpler visual effects, such as the moving backgrounds composited behind the car windows using blue-screen (which it called a throwback to the special effects of earlier decades). In August 2002, Entertainment Weekly placed the Worm Guys among their list of the best CG characters, and said that enlarging the roles of Frank the Pug and the Worm Guys in Men in Black II was beneficial for the "tiring franchise."
The film was nominated for a Visual Effects Society Award for "Best Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture" but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The film also earned a Razzie Award nomination for Lara Flynn Boyle as Worst Supporting Actress.
Released theatrically on July 3, 2002, Men in Black II was number one on its opening weekend, grossing $52,148,751, beating out The Powerpuff Girls Movie. The film held the number one position in its second weekend with revenue of $24,410,311, a 53.2% decrease from the previous weekend. The third weekend saw a 40.4% decrease, with box office of $14,552,335, coming in at number three.
In its fourth weekend, the film was at fourth place, with revenue of $8,477,202.Men in Black II fell out of the top ten after five weekends. After sixty-two days of release in North America, Men in Black II had grossed $190,418,803. 43.1% of the film's worldwide revenue of $441,818,803 came from North America.
Men In Black II was released on DVD and VHS on November 26, 2002, and on Blu-ray on May 1, 2012. It came with an alternate ending where J is sent to the homeworld of the aliens from Grand Central Station. The entire Men In Black series was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on December 5, 2017.