Men in Black II (MIIB) is a 2002 American comic science fiction action spy film starring both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. The film also stars Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shalhoub and Rip Torn. The film is a sequel to the 1997 film Men in Black and was followed by Men in Black 3, released in 2012. This series of films is based on the Malibu / Marvel comic book series The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham. A video game partly based on the film was released in 2002 titled Men in Black II: Alien Escape.
Five years after Agent K's retirement, Agent J (Will Smith) is now a top operative for the MIB, the New York City-based agency that secretly monitors and regulates extraterrestrials' activity on Earth. J has no permanent partner since K resigned and Agent L returned to work in a morgue. Subsequent partners have not lived up to J's standards, so he neuralyzes them back to civilian status.
While investigating a crime at a SoHo pizzeria and questioning the waitress Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson), J uncovers a plot by Serleena, the shapeshifting Kylothian Queen. After destroying several planets, she sneaks onto Earth, and disguises herself as a lingerie model (Lara Flynn Boyle). In her own form, she resembles a plant-like hydra. The memory-wiped "neuralyzed" Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) has resumed civilian life as Kevin Brown, a postmaster in Truro, Massachusetts. Unbeknownst to him, the post office workers are aliens monitoring him. To stop Serleena, J must convince Brown to rejoin MIB, as Agent K is the only living operative who knows how to find the Light of Zartha.
While J prepares to deneuralyze Brown, Serleena takes over MIB HQ, which locks down, causing the deneuralyzer to go into a standby mode and flushes them out on Times Square. After J searches for the deneuralyzer on the internet, he takes Brown to Jack Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub), who owns an illegal deneuralyzer. Although K eventually starts to regain some memories, he cannot recall the "Light of Zartha." K neuralyzed himself in order to keep the information from himself and left clues for himself. They first go to the SoHo pizzeria and take Laura to the "worm guys" in their apartment for her safety. They also find a key for a locker at Grand Central Terminal, where they find a locker full of micro aliens that live in the locker with their own city. K retrieves a watch, which is actually counting the time until midnight, which is an hour away, and a video card. J leaves his own watch for the aliens to replace the watch K collected.
They then go to a video store, where they watch a tape that jars K's memory. In a fictionalized version of the truth, 25 years ago, the Zarthan Queen Laurana arrived on Earth to hide the Light of Zartha. Wanting to remain neutral from the war, the MIB refused to help. Serleena arrived to steal the Light, but K activated the Zarthan ship and sent it away. Believing the Light was aboard, she chased the ship after killing Laurana. K reveals that the ship was a decoy; the Light remained hidden on Earth for safekeeping, but Serleena realized this.
Meanwhile, Serleena frees MIB's worst high-security prisoners and recruits them as her henchmen, including Jarra, J's old nemesis who tried to steal Earth's ozone layer. Believing the Light is in the bracelet worn by Laura, Serleena kidnaps her and prepares to send Laura back to Kyloth. K and J, helped by the worm guys, assault MIB headquarters, defeating Serleena's henchmen and rescuing Laura from being launched, with J defeating Jarra. However, K warns them that if the Light is not sent to Zartha, it will explode and destroy the planet.
As J, K, and Laura head for the departure point, Serleena chases them in a spacecraft. J eventually lures her into the subway, where she is eaten by Jeff, a giant alien worm living in the New York subway system. At the departure point, K reveals that Laura is Laurana's daughter and also the Light of Zartha. To save Earth and Zartha, Laura leaves Earth. She and J are both reluctant, since they have fallen for each other. Serleena, having assimilated Jeff, returns to capture Laura again. K and J are finally able to destroy her and Laura escapes to Zartha.
To cover up the events caused by Serleena's rampage, K activates a giant neuralyzer hidden in the Statue of Liberty's torch. K and Chief Zed (Rip Torn), the head of MIB, try to console J for the loss of his love. For comfort, K puts the tiny city of aliens into J's locker. When J suggests showing the miniatures their world is bigger than a locker, K reveals that they themselves are in a locker of a huge alien station.
- Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K / Kevin Brown
- Will Smith as Agent J / James Darrell Edwards III
- Rip Torn as Chief Zed
- Lara Flynn Boyle as Serleena
- Johnny Knoxville as Scrad & Charlie, Scrad's second head
- Rosario Dawson as Laura Vasquez
- Tony Shalhoub as Jack Jeebs
- Patrick Warburton as Agent T
- Jack Kehler as Ben
- David Cross as Newton
- Colombe Jacobsen as Hailey
- John Alexander as Jarra
- Michael Jackson as Agent M (cameo)
- Peter Graves as Himself
- Tim Blaney as Frank the Pug
Despite some initial involvement from David Koepp (who left to work on 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. The climax of the film was originally to have taken place at New York City's World Trade Center. However, this had to be changed following the destruction of the buildings in the September 11 attacks. The day after the attacks of September 11, a spokesperson for the studio said that the ending would be refilmed.
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.
The soundtrack to Men In Black II was released on July 2, 2002.
The film received mixed responses from critics, with praise for the acting and humor, but had criticism for the fast pacing and poor CGI. The sequel gained a 39% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as opposed to the 92% rating given for its predecessor, based on 193 reviews and a Metacritic score of 49. A. O. Scott of The New York Times said that, "Within the trivial, ingratiating scope of its ambition, though, the sequel is pleasant enough," and, noting the huge 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." Another review from Digital Media FX magazine praised the spaceships as looking very 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 the enlarged roles of both Frank the Pug and the Worm Guys in Men in Black II was beneficial for the "tiring franchise". The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Lara Flynn Boyle as Worst Supporting Actress, but she lost the award to Madonna for her cameo in Die Another Day.
Men in Black II was a commercial success, although not to the extent of the original. Released theatrically on July 3, 2002, Men in Black II was number one on its opening weekend with revenue of $52,148,751. The film held the number one position in its second week with revenue of $24,410,311, a 53.2% decrease from the previous week. The third week saw a 40.4% decrease with the revenue of $14,552,335, coming in at number three.
After the first month the film remained at fourth place, with revenue of $8,477,202. Men in Black II fell out of the top ten after six weeks. After sixty two days of release in North America, Men in Black II grossed $190,418,803. 43.1% of the film's worldwide revenue of $441,818,803 came from North America.
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