Back in Time

Men in Black 3 is a sequel 10 years in the making. A sequel I honestly never thought would happen. Tommy Lee Jones started to develop a reputation and Will Smith hadn’t starred in a movie since 2008. Not to mention director Barry Sonnenfeld not making a movie since 2006. So Men in Black 3 definitely took a lot of work to get made. And the final result is… different then what I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, Men in Black 3 is a great movie with good humor and a surprising amount of heart. I just thought its story and tone didn’t match up to the first two. Men in Black 3 is about time travel. Which seemed like an odd choice for a Men in Black movie. Although the method by which you time travel is unique. Jumping from a high distance. If you thought Tommy Lee Jones had less screen time in Men in Black II, he’s barely in this one. Instead he’s replaced by a younger version of himself. Which was a stroke of genius, because Josh Brolin is fantastic as a young Agent K. He manages to mimic Tommy Lee Jones flawlessly. It takes place in 1969. The new villain is both creepy and funny at the same time, but I can’t really describe what kind of alien he is. The ending is easily the strongest thing about the movie. There’s a twist that actually made me emotional. Men in Black 3 completes this surprise trilogy in the best possible way.

Agent J (right) and young Agent K (left) make a discovery

Preceded by: Men in Black II & Followed by: Men in Black: International

Back in Black

Men in Black II is just as good as the first movie. No matter what anyone says. The critics say it’s not as fresh and recycles the plot of the original. Parts of that may be true, but I thought it was just as fun and adds more than it reuses. The only real problem I can see is the running time. An unusually short 1 hour and 28 minutes. Plus an animated short called The ChubbChubbs!. Because of that, I saw Men in Black II two times in theaters. The second time I saw it was part of a double feature with Spider-Man (the only time I saw a double feature). It also made watching the movie on VHS quick and easy. Men in Black II takes place 5 years after Men in Black. J has to deneuralyze K after he neuralyzed him at the end of the first movie. The new villain is a tentacle alien in the form of a Victoria Secret model. She’s not nearly as good as the last villain, but that’s not a problem. Most of the jokes work, but there are some that feel a little juvenile. Like the infamous Ballchinian. There’s also a bit less K in the movie. J was the main character in Men in Black, but he has way more attention in this movie. Even characters that appeared briefly before like Frank the pug and the worms get more attention. Men in Black II gets a bad rap, but I’m sure if you watch the 2 movies together, you’ll find it’s a worthy follow up.

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Agent J (foreground) speaks an alien language in front of Agent K (background)

Preceded by: Men in Black & Followed by: Men in Black 3

Galaxy Defenders

Men in Black is the best example of taking an unknown comic book and turning it into something better as a movie. I’ll bet you didn’t even know Men in Black was based on a comic. Well it is, but not just that, it’s also sort of a Marvel comic. In the way that the comic was bought by Marvel. The movie is similar to the comic, but there are some changes that improved the original story. The comic is about men in black who police extraterrestrial life, as well as supernatural creatures. They also kill people who witness their activity and the tone is much darker. Men in Black the movie is strictly about aliens living secretly on Earth. They use their iconic Neuralyzer to erase people’s memory of aliens and then make up a memory for them. Having a comedic tone makes it one of the funniest action comedies of the 90’s. I was a huge fan of the movie when I was a kid. I’m not 100% sure I saw it in the theaters, but I did watch it a lot on VHS. I also had an MIB wallet and a Neuralyzer from Burger King. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are an odd combination, but they work well in the movie. Will Smith steals every scene he’s in, making this one of his most iconic roles. The aliens are fun, especially the villain Edgar. A giant cockroach played hilariously by Vincent D’Onofrio. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted the movie. The song is pretty cool too. Men in Black is a sci-fi smash that’s out of this world.

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Agent J (right) and Agent K (left) use the Neuralizer

Followed by: Men in Black II

Long Lost Twins

The Parent Trap (1998) is the much more well known remake of the original movie of the same name. However, I saw this version before I saw the original. Mostly because it was Lindsay Lohan’s first movie. Which technically makes her a “Disney kid.” Lindsay Lohan plays twins Annie and Hallie. She was such a great actress, also using an American and British accent (oddly enough, her British accent could use some work). The Parent Trap (1998) is a surprisingly, almost word for word remake. The girls meeting at camp, discovering they’re twins, switching places, meeting each others parent, their father being in a relationship, eventually getting their parents back together, it’s all there. I know what you’re thinking. If everything’s the same, wouldn’t it be bad or pointless? Actually no, both The Parent Trap movies are great. Not that their aren’t some small differences. The twins are 2 years younger then the original twins. None of the character names are the same, except for a cameo by the actress who played Vicki in the original. They still do the hair cutting scene, but they add in an ear piercing scene. Their father still lives in California, but their mother lives in London (which makes more sense then Boston). It takes place in the 90’s, so it’s a tad more modern. Which is why the split screen effect has improved so much. It was impressive back then, but now you can have the actress overlapping and touching more. Whether you see the original or the remake of The Parent Trap, you’ll love them both just the same.

Annie James and Hallie Parker

Remake of: The Parent Trap (1961)

A Laugh Affair

The Parent Trap is all about long lost twin sisters. Most people of my generation are familiar with The Parent Trap, because of the remake.  So am I, but I think I was at least aware that there was an original. I ended up watching it a few years after seeing the remake several times. The original The Parent Trap came out in 1961. Two identical girls meet at camp and immediately hate each other. They play pranks on each other and eventually end up in an isolation cabin. It’s there they discover they’re twins that have been separated by their parents. One of them stays with their mom and the other with their dad. So they decide to switch places in order to meet each other’s parent and maybe get them back together. It may seem like an unlikely situations, but you’d be surprised. Although it was a lot more uncommon for married couples to get divorced in the early 60’s. Hayley Mills plays the twins Sharon and Susan. She gives a great performance as a British and American twin (her American accent could use some work though). It’s one of the earliest examples of a dual performance. The Split screen technology to put one actress in the same frame is still impressive. It’s also known for the song “Let’s get together,” performed by the twins. If you’ve never seen Disney’s original The Parent Trap, do what I did and watch them back to back. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how similar they are.

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Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers

Slacker from Space

Paul is what you’d expect from a Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen comedy. Only with aliens. I’ve talked about my opinion of all three Cornetto trilogy movies before and I’ve giving my opinion on another raunchy Seth Rogen vocal performance (Sausage Party). Since Paul is a combination of all those things, I should have expected the movie I saw. Pegg and Frost are big pop culture guys. They like to put references to other movies in their movies. Paul is filled with sci-fi references. They even got Sigourney Weaver to make an appearance. It’s about two adult nerds who travel cross country to Comic Con. Along the way they encounter Paul. As Amy from Futurama put it a “little grey dude with a big oval head.” Your classic Roswell alien appearance. The movie certainly made me curious when I first saw the trailer. I thought the concept was interesting, but one part of it held me back. The fact that Seth Rogen voiced the alien as a crude, profane, offensive, a**hole. Basically what you get when Seth Rogen has free range to do whatever he wants. When I finally did watch Paul, my opinion was and still is mixed. I appreciate the love letter to nerd culture, but I just can’t get past how offensive the movie is. Pegg, Frost, and Rogen almost always make blasphemous jokes, but this is the worst I’ve seen of it. The existence of aliens doesn’t disprove the existence of God. It’s such an unnecessary part of what should have been a more focused alien comedy.

Paul lays back

Land of Laputa

Castle in the Sky is a grand anime adventure with a multi-layered premise. Which is why it’s one of Hayao Miyazaki’s longer movies. Most anime movies that I’ve seen have complex premises. It’s something you eventually get used to. Castle in the Sky is about a lost princess, a magical world called Laputa, pirates, and ancient robots. If you follow Studio Ghibli movies like I do, you’d know that this movie is the first. Characters are still blurred, but there’s actually a straight forward villain. Even in the 80’s the animation is grand and richly detailed. So if you’re ready for a denser anime movie, Castle in the Sky is a good choice to start with.

Laputa

Join the Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising is a fair follow up to Pacific Rim. 5 years after the first movie, the world hasn’t faced an attack by Kaiju since. They still have and build Jaegers though. Which means the Kaiju are going to return right? Well that’s where the movie lost me. Guillermo Del Toro doesn’t direct the movie and it shows. Kaiju were a big part of Pacific Rim, but they don’t appear until the very end of Pacific Rim Uprising. The threat at the beginning is actually a rogue Jaeger. Which makes it feel more like Transformers then I think they intended. Not that the fighting isn’t still awesome. It’s just a lot more polished. Pacific Rim had Del Toro’s signature brand of dark and grimy action. Pacific Rim Uprising is just a little too bright and clean looking. The characters are about the same as they were before. Which is just okay. Using teenagers to fight was a little odd though. But like Idris Elba, it was nice to hear John Boyega use his British accent. There’s also a character twist that I thought seemed a little ridiculous. Other then that Pacific Rim Uprising is a lot like the first movie. Only without an Academy Award winning director behind the helm.

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The Jaegers 2.0

Preceded by: Pacific Rim

Jaegers and Kaiju

Pacific Rim is the cinematic equivalent of smashing two action figures together. From visionary director Guillermo Del Toro, Pacific Rim blends together his love of monsters with a classic Kaiju tale. It’s just a lot more of a blockbuster then he usually does. I’ve always been a big fan of giant monster movies. So when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I wanted to see it. So I saw it in the theaters and I loved it. While the biggest and most memorable part of the movie is the giant monster/robot fighting, there is a story to go along with it. Pacific Rim plays on the idea that extraterrestrials can come from the ocean instead of space. Which is where the Kaiju (Giant Beast) come from. So the only logical thing to do is to build giant robots called Jaegers (hunter) to fight them. The fight scenes are simply awesome. Laser blasting, sword slicing, using a ship as a baseball bat, all awesome. The rest of the story is about something called “drifting.” The process by which they operate their Jaegers. It involves two people linking their minds together so that they can both pilot it. It’s pretty much the only deep thing about the movie. The characters are alright for what they’re supposed to be and it is nice to see Idris Elba using his British accent. Pacific Rim is giant monster movie that’s sure to entertain, as long as you don’t think too hard about it.

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The Jaegers

Followed by: Pacific Rim Uprising

Super Shaq

Steel is what happens when all good DC superhero movie ideas are ignored. You end up with one of the most forgettable superhero movies of all time. Steel is a character that was created after the “Death of Superman” storyline. Four replacement Supermen were created in order to fill the void left by Superman’s absence. Steel is a black man named John Henry Irons, who wears a steel suit and uses a sledge hammer. Why does that warrant a full length movie adaptation? The movie Steel stars Shaquille O’Neal. In his second worst performance after Kazaam. It was also enough to keep him from starring in movies after it bombed. Steel is mainly about dangerous military weapons ending up on the streets. With the help of his wheelchair bond (the only thing people liked about the movie) military buddy and Shaft (yeah they dragged poor Richard Roundtree into it) John Henry Irons suits up as Steel. Wearing one of the worst superhero costumes ever put to film. It’s a laughably bad rubbery suit with barely any mobility. They didn’t even give it a cape and “S” symbol and the suit is supposed to cover his whole body. He also uses the sledge hammer as a gun instead of swinging it. Shaq was too tall to have a stunt person, which means the action is lackluster at best. Steel isn’t offensively bad. It’s just another crappy 90’s superhero movie, but with a souffle!

Steel in combat