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Men in Black

Protecting the Earth from the scum of the Universe. 

Year: 1997 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Men in Black

Forget the hugely inferior sequel, forget the attempts to recapture the formula in Wild Wild West, this smash hit science fiction comedy has lost none of its wit and spectacle and is still truly deserving of your attention. What with the dire buddy-movie-slash-effects-driven- comedies that followed, it is important to remember why Men in Black was so successful in the first place.

The film follows Will Smith's smart talking New York cop as he is unwittingly drawn into the world of the Men in Black; Earth's protectors from the scum of the universe. While the world keeps itself busy, oblivious to the usually rather angry and not particularly nice forces which surround it, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and his secret organisation ensure the Earth's survival on a daily basis. Indeed it is not long after Smith becomes Agent J that Earth comes under threat from a very disgruntled alien race who politely inform that they have no option but to blow it up. So it falls upon J and K to recover a galaxy, kill a rather large cockroach, charm a cynical mortician (Linda Fiorentino) and get on each other's nerves in order to retain the Earth's spherical shape.

The film's brilliance lies in its perfect casting of Smith and Jones, acting out roles which are spruced up versions of their most famous characters, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Jones' US Marshal from The Fugitive. The interplay between the duo is undoubtedly the highlight, but it is backed up by superb visual effects, a wonderful Danny Elfman score, clever writing and energetic direction from the man behind The Addams Family, Barry Sonnenfeld.

The aliens themselves are also incredibly imaginative, with scenes inside the MiB headquarters filled to the brim by amazing creatures and bizarre inventions. In fact the word imagination perfectly sums up Men in Black and separates it from the usual Hollywood blockbusters. With its effortlessly cool double act and hip, smart dialogue, the film constantly surprises and charms, at no point resorting to cliché. A rewatching of this hilarious film in the light of what has followed it will remind you how good blockbusters can be.

Peter Lefort

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones team up in this big budget, all action, summer blockbuster promising loads of action, bags of great special effects, aliens of all shapes and sizes, not to mention the trendiest outfits this side of Reservoir Dogs or The Blues Brothers. Well actually the same outfits as Dogs or Blues Brothers!

Unbeknown to most of us, all sorts of alien races have been visiting the Earth for decades, possibly longer. The majority are harmless, some even friendly, but predictably there are troublemakers. That's where the Men in Black, an ultra secret and highly-trained agency that operates above the US government, come in. They keep tabs on immigration, working with alien empires to boot any space scum they don't like the look of off our planet. Their top operative is the black suited, Ray Ban-wearing Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). But as an interstellar war threatens, with earth as the battlefield, he needs a partner.

Enter Will Smith, the cop with attitude who becomes embroiled when he chases a suspect who is more than he might at first seem. Subsequently Smith is recruited and together they must save the earth from the scum of the universe.

Kevin Green

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Screenings of this film:

1997/1998 Autumn Term (35mm)
1997/1998 Autumn Term (35mm)
1997/1998 Autumn Term (35mm)
1997/1998 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)