The Men in Black are back, this time to fight a threat from the past. It’s up to Agent J (Will Smith) to bring back Agent K’s (Tommy Lee Jones) memories so he can fight back.
This is a very bad movie. There’s really no other way to say it. Pretty much everything they got right in the first is thrown out in favor of cheap jokes that completely contradict the entire point of the first. The movie starts off breaking its own rules with J fighting an alien in front of hundreds of people, which they specifically point out in the first movie is something they do not do. Then when he gets back to headquarters, they congratulate him on the job, as if there aren’t a hundred people who totally saw it happen. This sort of logic continues throughout the movie.
What’s worse is the side characters. In the first film there are a number of characters that just showed up for a quick joke and then left. In this they decided to make all of those little characters into sidekicks, with Frank the Pug and the worm aliens from the break room now tagging along on missions for no reason. They also don’t ever actually do anything on those missions other than be loud and annoying. Because of this, the movie also uses a lot less practical effects, opting for a lot more CGI. But the CGI they are using is awful, even by the standards of ten years ago. It looks very fake, mooting the point of making the aliens at least somewhat believable as was the case in the first movie. It severely abuses its budget for the sake of big dumb action and loses focus on the characters and the mythos.
That being said, the biggest crime is the way both of our main characters are treated. What was great about J in the first movie was that they just let Will Smith be Will Smith. The best moments of the first were seeing J bumbling around MIB HQ and making funny remarks about what’s going on. It makes sense that he would mature between films, but despite acting way too serious for Will Smith at the beginning, the moment K gets his memory back he goes back to being an idiot. But not the lovable idiot from the first movie. Now he’s just around for exposition and a few jokes that ultimately either go nowhere or just don’t work.
If you liked the first, you’re going to be disappointed by the second. Luckily it’s a very short movie, so its not nearly as painful to watch as it could have been.