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Men in Black (film)

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Title: Men in Black (film)  
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Subject: Men in Black, 1998 MTV Movie Awards, 2nd Golden Satellite Awards, 70th Academy Awards, Frank the Pug
Collection: 1990S Action Films, 1990S Comedy Films, 1990S Science Fiction Films, 1997 Films, Amblin Entertainment Films, American Comedy Science Fiction Films, American Films, American Science Fiction Action Films, Best Film Empire Award Winners, Buddy Films, Columbia Pictures Films, Comedy Science Fiction Films, Fictional Government Investigations of the Paranormal, Film Scores by Danny Elfman, Films About Extraterrestrial Life, Films Based on American Comics, Films Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Films Set in 1997, Films Set in New York City, Films Shot in New Jersey, Films Shot in New York, Films That Won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, Flying Cars in Fiction, Men in Black (Franchise), Screenplays by Ed Solomon, Superhero Films
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Men in Black (film)

Men in Black
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by Walter F. Parkes
Laurie MacDonald
Written by Ed Solomon
Based on The Men in Black 
by Lowell Cunningham
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Will Smith
Linda Fiorentino
Vincent D'Onofrio
Rip Torn
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Don Peterman
Edited by Jim Miller
Production
company
Amblin Entertainment
MacDonald/Parkes Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • July 2, 1997 (1997-07-02)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million[1]
Box office $589.4 million[1]

Men in Black is a 1997 American Men in Black who supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms who live on Earth and hide their existence from ordinary humans. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic. The film was released on July 2, 1997, by Columbia Pictures and grossed $589,390,539 worldwide against a $90 million budget. At the 70th Academy Awards, it won the award for Best Makeup, and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Original Score for music composer Danny Elfman.

An animated series based on the film, titled Men in Black: The Series, ran from 1997 to 2002 on The WB. A live-action sequel, Men in Black II, was released in 2002. This was followed by Men in Black 3 in 2012.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Development and writing 3.1
    • Filming 3.2
    • Design and visual effects 3.3
    • Music 3.4
  • Promotion 4
  • Reception 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Plot

Agent K and his partner Agent D intercept a truck smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Inside they discover an alien disguised as a human. When he runs, they shoot him and use neuralyzers to wipe the memories of the border patrol witnesses. D decides to retire and asks K to wipe his memory too. In upstate New York, an alien crash-lands and kills an abusive farmer named Edgar to use his skin as a disguise.

NYPD officer James Darrell Edwards III pursues a supernaturally fast and agile suspect. Before the suspect jumps to his death, Edwards sees his irises blink horizontally. At the precinct station, K questions Edwards and takes him to a pawn shop where the owner is revealed to be a disguised alien, showing him hidden alien weapons that the suspect attempted to use on James. After this, K neuralyzes him and leaves him a business card with an address. Edwards goes to the address and undergoes a series of tests, for which he finds unusual solutions. While the other candidates are neuralyzed, K offers Edwards the position with the Men in Black (M.I.B.), a secret non-government agency that polices extraterrestrial activity on Earth. Edwards accepts and his identity is erased, becoming Agent J, the newest M.I.B. recruit.

The alien in Edgar's skin goes into a New York restaurant and kills two aliens disguised as humans. He steals from them a container, searching for something, but finds only diamonds inside. After investigating the crash landing at the farm, K concludes that Edgar's skin was taken by a "bug", a species of aggressive cockroach-like aliens. He and J head to a morgue to examine the human bodies the bug killed. Inside one body they discover a dying Aquillian alien, who says that "the galaxy is on Orion's belt". The alien, who used the name Rosenberg, was a member of the Aquilian royal family and his death may spark war.

M.I.B. informant Frank the Pug, an alien disguised as a dog, explains that the missing galaxy is a massive source of energy housed in a small jewel. The bug and J separately deduce that the galaxy is hanging on the collar of Rosenberg's cat Orion, which refuses to leave the body at the morgue. J and K arrive just as the bug takes the galaxy and kidnaps the mortician, Laurel Weaver. The Aquillians deliver an ultimatum to M.I.B: return the galaxy within an hour or they will destroy Earth.

The bug arrives at the site of two disguised flying saucers, the observation towers of the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows, and abandons Weaver. The bug escapes on one saucer, but K and J shoot it down. It sheds Edgar's skin and swallows J and K's guns. K provokes it until he too is swallowed. J slows the bug down by crushing cockroaches, angering it, until K blows it apart from the inside, having found his gun inside its stomach. They recover the galaxy and are about to be attacked by the bug again but Weaver shoots it with J's gun. At M.I.B. headquarters, K tells J that he has not been training him as a partner but a replacement. At K's request, J neuralyzes him; K returns to his civilian life and Weaver becomes J's new partner.

Cast

Production

Development and writing

The film is based on Lowell Cunningham's comic book The Men in Black. Producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald optioned the rights to The Men in Black in 1992, and hired Ed Solomon to write a very faithful script. Parkes and MacDonald wanted Barry Sonnenfeld as director because he had helmed the darkly humorous The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values. Sonnenfeld was attached to Get Shorty (1995), so they approached Les Mayfield to direct, as they had heard about the positive reception to his remake of Miracle on 34th Street. They actually saw the film later and decided he was inappropriate. Men in Black was delayed so as to allow Sonnenfeld to make it his next project after Get Shorty.[2]

Much of the initial script drafts were set underground, with locations ranging from Kansas to Washington, D.C. and Nevada. Sonnenfeld decided to change the location to New York City, because the director felt New Yorkers would be tolerant of aliens who behaved oddly while disguised. He also felt much of the city's structures resembled flying saucers and rocket ships.[2] One of the locations Sonnenfeld thought perfect for the movie was a giant ventilation structure for the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, which became the outside of the MIB headquarters.[3]

Filming

Filming began in March 1996. Many last-minute changes endured during production. First, James Edwards chasing a disguised alien was to occur at the Lincoln Center. But once the New York Philharmonic decided to charge the filmmakers for using their buildings, Sonnenfeld and Welch went for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Then, five months into the shoot, Sonnenfeld decided that the original ending, with a humorous existential debate between Agent J and the Bug, was unexciting and lacking the action that the rest of the film had.[3] Five potential replacements were discussed. One of these had Laurel Weaver being neuralyzed and K remaining an agent.[2] Eventually it boiled down to the Bug eating K and fighting J, replacing the animatronic Bug Rick Baker's crew had developed with a computer-generated Bug with an appearance closer to a cockroach. The whole action sequence cost an extra $4.5 million to the filmmakers.[3]

Further changes were made during post-production to simplify the plotline involving the possession of the tiny galaxy. The Arquillians would hand over the galaxy to the Baltians, ending a long war. The Bugs need to feed on the casualties and steal the galaxy in order to continue the war. Through changing of subtitles, the images on M.I.B.'s main computer and Frank the Pug's dialogue, the Baltians were eliminated from the plot. Earth goes from being potentially destroyed in the crossfire between the two races into being possibly destroyed by the Arquillians themselves to prevent the Bugs from getting the galaxy.[2] These changes to the plot were carried out when only two weeks remained in the film's post-production, however, the film's novel still contains the Baltians.[6]

Design and visual effects

Production designer Eero Saarinen, who designed a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. As the arrival point of aliens on Earth, Welch felt M.I.B. HQ had to resemble an airport.[2]

Rick Baker was approached to provide the prostethic and animatronic aliens, many of whom would have more otherworldly designs instead of looking humanoid. For example, the reveal of Gentle Rosenberg's Arquilian nature went from a man with a light under his neck's skin to a small alien hidden inside a human head. Baker would describe Men in Black as the most complex production in his career, "requiring more sketches than all my previous movies together".[3] Baker had to have approval from both Sonnenfeld and Spielberg: "It was like, 'Steven likes the head on this one and Barry really likes the body on this one, so why don't you do a mix and match?' And I'd say, because it wouldn't make any sense." Sonnenfeld also changed a lot of the film's aesthetic during pre-production: "I started out saying aliens shouldn't be what humans perceive them to be. Why do they need eyes? So Rick did these great designs, and I'd say, 'That's great — but how do we know where he's looking?' I ended up where everyone else did, only I took three months."[7] The maquettes built by Baker's team would later be digitized by Industrial Light and Magic, who was responsible for the visual effects and computer-generated imagery, for more mobile digital versions of the aliens.[3]

Music

Danny Elfman composed the film's score, making use of his usual combination of orchestra and electronics. The score also makes prominent use of jazz for the M.I.B. theme, which consists of an ostinato, usually played on lower instruments. Will Smith recorded a song based on the film's plot, also called "Men in Black". Elvis Presley's cover of "Promised Land" is featured in the scene where the MIB's car runs on the ceiling of Queens–Midtown Tunnel.[5]

Two different soundtracks were released in the U.S.: a score soundtrack and an album, featuring various songs. In the U.K., only the album was released.

Promotion

Galoob released various action figures of the film's characters and aliens. An official comic adaptation was released by Marvel Comics. The official Men in Black game is a third-person shooter developed by Gigawatt Studios and published by Gremlin Interactive. Released to lackluster reviews in October '97 for the PC and the following year for the PlayStation. Also a very rare promotional PlayStation video game system was released in 1997 with the Men in Black logo on the CD lid. Men in Black: The Animated Series was created by Sony Pictures Television, and also inspired several games. Men in Black was the inspiration behind the Men in Black: Alien Attack ride at Universal Studios Orlando, in which Will Smith and Rip Torn reprised their roles. A Men in Black role-playing game was also released in 1997 by West End Games.

Reception

Men in Black won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.[8]

The film was well received by film critics and currently holds a 92% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes film critic website, and the consensus on the site states: "Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit."[9] The film holds a 71% on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10] On Empire magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, "Men in Black" placed 409th.[11]

Following the film's release,

External links

  1. ^ a b "Men in Black (1997)".  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h David Hughes (2003). Comic Book Movies. London:  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Metamorphosis of 'Men in Black'", Men in Black Blu-ray
  4. ^ "Summer Movie Preview".  
  5. ^ a b c Barry Sonnenfeld, Tommy Lee Jones. Visual Commentary. Men in Black. 
  6. ^ Donnelly, Billy (May 25, 2012). "Things Get A Bit Heated Between The Infamous Billy The Kidd And Director Barry Sonnenfeld When They Talk MEN IN BLACK 3".  
  7. ^ Steve Daly (1997-07-18). "Men in Black: How'd they do that?".  
  8. ^ "Men in Black (1997) — Awards and Nominations".  
  9. ^ "Men in Black".  
  10. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/men-in-black
  11. ^ "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  12. ^ Jane Tallim (2002). "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor... Spend Another Day". Media Awareness Network. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 

References

American Film Institute Lists

[12]

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