Men in Black
Men in Black is one of the movies that helped shape Will Smith's career into that of a movie star. Between this movie, Independence Day and Bad Boys (all of which were released in quick succession), it was clear that Smith wouldn't be content with his music or TV career, but would go on to have a presence in film as well.
In Men in Black, Smith is paired expertly with Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men, The Fugitive) who plays the straight man to Smith's more outlandish humor in a way that pulls in audiences right from the start. Adding to the star power of the film is Vincent D'Onofrio (Daredevil, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Full Metal Jacket), Rip Torn as their boss, Zed (Cross Creek, The Larry Sanders Show), Linda Fiorentino (Dogma) and Tony Shalhoub after his time on Wings, but before he really made a name for himself in Monk.
Smith's character is inducted into a secret agency where his public identity is erased and he becomes known only as Agent J. Training with his partner, Agent K (Jones), J, learns that the world around him has a deeply hidden secret; there are aliens all around us. It is this agency's job to not only monitor and police the alien presence on Earth, but with the help of some nifty technology, keep their existence a secret.
Unfortunately for J, his first big case is quite a doozy. When a ship crashes in the rural areas of upstate New York, the creature inside takes over the body of a local farmer named Edgar (D'Onofrio), and starts a mission that leaves a trail of bodies in his wake. During J and K's investigation, they will have to consult the local coroner, Laurel Weaver (Fiorentino), as well as a few NYC inhabitants that are more than they appear at first glance. The most notable of these are Jeebs (Shalhoub) and Frank the Pug (voiced by Tim Blaney, Short Circuit).
During J's crash-course, on-the-job training, he will not only have to learn all the ins-and-outs that come with the secret agency, but he will also start to learn what exactly makes K tick and why he has become such a hard-nosed individual. The two will have to become partners quickly if they are going to stop the threat hovering over the Earth before it's too late.
Men in Black II
Like many trilogies, this second piece is a far cry from the original. The overall tone of the film is simply sillier. While the chemistry between Smith and Jones holds up strong, and the two of them mostly play their parts straight, many of the events and characters surrounding them end up being more slap-sticky, bringing down the overall feel. The most notable character to really change the humor dynamic of this film is Charlie & Scrad, a two-headed alien, both played by Johnny Knoxville (Jackass). There is also a noticeably lower amount of practicals used in the special effects department and with the 4K treatment, the not-quite-right aspects of these CG creatures stand out like a sore thumb, the least of which is Scrad, the smaller head on a stalk coming out of Charlie's back.
In MIB II, an alien threat thought resolved some 25 years ago has reared its ugly head again. A plant-like alien named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle, Happiness, The Practice) has returned to Earth looking for something. Unfortunately, the only one who knows where it might be is K, and he's been retired now for five years. J must reinduct his former partner back into the Men in Black, help him recover his memories, and figure out exactly what Serleena wants. When Serleena, along with her flunky, Charlie/Scrad, manage to take over the MIB HQ, J and K get out before they are captured and start to track down K's lost memories.
While some characters like Jeebs, Frank the Pug, and Zed return in MIB II, there are also some new faces like Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds, Eagle Eye and the Netflix Marvel series) who plays Laura, J's romantic interest. At the start of the film, J is also partnered with Agent T (Patrick Warburton, The Emperor's New Groove, A Series of Unfortunate Events), but after a bad incident involving a giant worm in the subway, J decides to force T into retirement, something he has apparently become known for in the agency.
Men in Black 3
The final part to the trilogy takes a different path, but it also manages to bring back a lot of the feel that made the first film fun to watch. A lot has changed since J first joined the MIB. At the start of this movie, Zed has passed away and he is being replaced by Agent O (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility, Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually). J tries to force K to open up to understand why K is such a hard-nosed officer, but the more J tries to pry, the more K shuts him down.
When the two get word that an alien K once sent to the supermax prison on the moon has broken out, K's outlook only gets more bleak. One day, J wakes up and realizes that nobody remembers K. He finds out from O that K actually died some 40 years prior and the two realize that someone has messed with the timeline. As it turns out, that old enemy of K's, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows, Moana) is hell bent on stopping K before the agent stops Boris and before K can put a powerful defensive shield in place that would stop Boris' race from invading the Earth.
J tracks down Boris' means to time travel and chases him to 1969. There he not only has to confront two Borises, but also convince Junior Agent K (Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men, Inherent Vice) to let him help. J is starting to realize that whatever changed K's attitude towards the world hasn't happened yet, but could the events surrounding Boris be that event?
MIB 3 also has a few amusing cameos in Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins, Inside Out) as Andy Warhol and Will Arnett (Arrested Development, The LEGO Movie) as J's partner during the brief time between K's disappearance and J going back in time to put things right.
When it comes to special features, Men in Black Trilogy: 20th Anniversary Edition is nothing to sneeze at, but while it has a prolific list of extras to watch, there isn't anything new in this collection. So, if you've already gotten a fairly recent copy of any of these movies on Blu-ray, then you probably already have the same extras found in this collection. Scattered across the three Blu-ray discs are several commentaries, a few interactive games, the music video that accompanied each movie (two by Will Smith and one by Pitbull) and a ton of featurettes.
The first film features ways to interactively learn about the visual effects of several scenes, how some of the aliens were animated, as well as how some aliens evolved from their concept art stages to their final forms. There are also storyboard comparisons, and even the ability to see how a couple of scenes could feel different if you fiddle with the editing some.
MIB 2's featurettes hit a wide range of topics. Everything from a featurette about the foley artists on the movie, to having actors loop over their own dialogue is touched on in this disc. There are also featurettes around Rick Baker, the designer of many of the aliens in the series, as well as Danny Elfman's approach to scoring for movies. There is also another featurette that dives into Director Barry Sonnenfeld's approach to comedy. Other extras include featurettes about each of the main aliens from the movie as well as the ability to deconstruct some scenes and use the angle button on your remote, provided your remote still has such a button, to see different aspects of these scenes.
Men in Black 3's extras focus a lot on how the look of the series has been updated in the 10 years between the last two movies, as well as one on designing the MIB HQ in both 2012 and 1969. There are also more in depth featurettes on several of the more special effects heavy scenes in the film and another set focusing on the new crop of aliens that are in this movie.
Men in Black Trilogy: 20th Anniversary Edition has a lot to offer, and with the exception of many aspects in MIB II, the movies do a good job of upscaling to 4K. That being said, unless you are really jonesing for newer copies of the movies to expand your Ultra HD library, if you've already got these movies on Blu-ray, the bundle might not be the best purchase.