It was 1997, when movie theaters were flooded with a sci-fi comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, which would soon become a huge hit. Men in Black – 92% hit the big screen on July 2 of that year in the United States, while in the rest of the world it did so between August 1 and 2. Its most recent anniversary is a very important one, since it marks the 25th anniversary of the launch that started a franchise that is still in force today.
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Men in Black is the term by which, according to contemporary speculation, some people refer to secret government (or non-government) agents who are responsible for concealing the alien presence on Earth. The same term is used to talk about mysterious men who work for unknown organizations, or the government, with the intention of protecting state secrets or hiding things that are strange to the public. This name arose, according to information from Historyin the year 1947 when these figures related to UFO appearances jumped from theories to public knowledge.
Men in Black film 92% adopt this when presenting to Will Smith in the role of James Darrell Edwards, better known as Agent J, already Tommy Lee Jones in that of Kevin Brown, or Agent K. The first is a former NYPD officer who has just been recruited as the Man in Black and the second is his moody mentor. The idea of a secret organization monitoring alien activity on Earth is a strong narrative concept in itself, but none of it would have worked without the odd couple these actors made: Will Smith as the cocky new recruit and Tommy Lee Jones. as the veteran who has seen it all.
This uneven character dynamic between Agents J and K is what made the film the highest-grossing film of 1997 with over $250 million at the domestic box office. In that same year it was among the first worldwide, only being surpassed by the box office monster that was Titanic – 88%. But when production was in its early stages in March 1996, the leading couple on Man in Black could have been very different.
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Tommy Lee Jones apparently needed to be convinced by director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose track record of offbeat genre comedies like Addams Family made it perfect for this tape. The role of him was about to be played by Clint Eastwood, who turned it down. Jones accepted it after Steven Spielberg assured him that the script would improve. The filmmaker’s word was enough for him, as the actor was disappointed with the first draft as he felt he didn’t do the original story justice.
Something similar happened with Will Smith, actor that Sonnenfeld wanted for the role of agent J from the beginning, which was about to not reach this leading role. The Sony Pictures studio wanted to have Chris O’Donnell, who came from playing Dick Grayson in the two most criticized adaptations of Batman to date. It is said that the director convinced him not to accept after saying that he was not good at directing that project. Another actor considered for the role was David Schwimmer, and Smith, like Jones, had to be convinced by Spielberg, one of the film’s three producers, to take the job.
In another of the main roles you can see the actor Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays Edgar the Insect, the villain of the film. This is a gigantic alien that comes to Earth to kidnap it and use it to destroy the Arquillians. He uses the identity of a farmer he killed to hide under his skin and not be discovered. D’Onofrio is also Edgar the farmer before he kills him.
men in black it won over critics and audiences alike, receiving much praise for the performances of Smith and Jones, its screenplay, and its production design. He arrived at the Oscars with several nominations, including one for his art direction and another for his soundtrack, finally taking the award for Best Makeup. Its popularity was so great that it had an animated series from 1997 to 2021, two sequels and a spin-off called Men in Black: International – 43%.
Next, we will remember what the critics said about this film:
David Hunter from The Hollywood Reporter:
A wildly entertaining mix of alien conspiracy scare played for laughs and French Connection thrill meets Ghostbusters… Men in Black is so much fun that one is a little disappointed when it ends after a financially short 98 minutes.
Paul Tatara of CNN.com:
Men in Black is the most tongue-in-cheek, sharp-edged, and most entertaining special effects film in recent memory, a simultaneous entrant and derisive spoof of the bang-for-your-buck behemoth genre.
Stephen Thompson of A.V. Club:
Men In Black deserves credit for complementing its special effects with a light-hearted script and genuinely charismatic performances from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
John Hart of Seattle Times:
Men in Black is moderately funny, well-constructed, and mercifully short, but it doesn’t live up to the craziness of its first half.
Gene Siskel from Chicago Tribune:
A smart, funny, modern adventure movie set in a summer of car crashes and explosions.
Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly:
Every time the movie makes you laugh, you might as well feel like you’ve been shocked with a neuralizer.
Dave Kehr from New YorkDaily News:
His attitude is somewhere between the morbid deadpan of the Coen brothers and a Letterman-esque sense of the absurdity of life in New York’s rich ethnic stew.
Jay Boyar’s Orlando Sentinel:
There’s a joy here that you don’t often find in a special effects movie.
Leigh Paatsch of Herald Sun (Australia):
The gremlins and gadgets are the real stars of this show.
Tim Brayton from Alternate ending:
As well as being uniquely and necessarily a creature of the second half of the 1990s, quite possibly the best popcorn movie of that half decade.
Danielle Solzmann of Solzy at the Movies:
Men in Black is the rare breed of a sci-fi blockbuster that audiences no longer get a chance to see in theaters.
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