Friday, May 23, 2014

Flick Pick: Men In Black

Men In Black
(Columbia, 1997)

Most comic books should stay comic books, but every once in awhile, there's an exception. Even rarer, there's an exception that's smart, funny, and makes half a billion dollars profit beyond recouping budget. This would be the latter version. The fact that two such disparate actors riff so well off each other is a total treat to watch; that their last names happen to be Smith and Jones is icing on the cake. This monstrous blockbuster deserved every penny it made, entertaining audiences far and wide, while coincidentally tripling the sales of the Ray Ban sunglasses worn by the characters.


Weetabix said...

I love Tommy Lee Jones's character. The deadpan delivery kills me.

What other comic books were justifiably made in to movies?

Aesop said...

A small number of comic books are turned into good flicks.
A whole lot aren't, and are in fact positively horrible and a blight on the screen. They should be in the dictionary under "art crime".
(Like all of the Batman movies between the first one until the Dark Knights, any Superman beyond III, all of the Spiderman movies after the first one, The Phantom, Tank Girl, Judge Dredd, Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Sin City, Watchmen, Green Lantern, Green Hornet, Cowboys and Aliens, ad infinitum ad nauseum. As a rule, I assume movies based on comics or acting like it -Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow, most epic piece of garbage ever foisted on an audience, I'm looking at you!- will suck until proven otherwise, and anecdotally I'm about 80% right.)

Weetabix said...

"Art crime" - I like that. I may borrow that.

I must have a slightly better ability to suspend disbelief (or suspend disgust?). Part of it is probably that I don't read comic books, but I have a predilection for comic book movies.

Daredevil was bearable to me. Elektra? I still want that 90 minutes back. Ghost Rider was so bad I liked it. My kids really enjoyed making fun of it during the movie. Sin City? Weird, but interesting. Cowboys & Aliens - I liked it because... Cowboys!... Aliens!... Six Shooters!

Sky Captain, I have to agree with you on. The idea had potential, but they totally hosed it. The other on like that that offends me just to recall: The League of Distinguished Gentlemen. It had literary characters and Sean Connery. How could it go wrong? I didn't finish it. I snorted in disgust and turned it off.

And I think the Batman movie that had Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only movie I've walked out of the theater for.

So, what are your favorites? I tend to be prejudiced in favor of most of the Marvel movies.

Aesop said...

If Marvel keeps doing the Avengers right, and the ancillary prequels/post-quells, they'll become the new James Bond franchise, and I'll be watching them when I need a walker to get into the theatre.

And the Dark Knight trilogy.
Not least of which because it killed Heath Ledger off both figuratively and literally. He almost poisoned the well for future westerns with Brokeback Muontain, he made me root for Jason Isaacs in The Patriot, and The Four Feathers was such a betrayal of the source material that he actually surpassed Sean Penn and Tim Robbins on my personal list of actors with reprehensible leanings. That he had real talent made it all a greater pity.

Otherwise, as I said, if the source is a comic, 80:20 it's going to blow.

Weetabix said...

Call me a mis-actor-ist, but I still believe they should treat actors like race horses - let them perform, then store them in nice stables and give them frequent sunshine. They shouldn't be allowed in front of a non-movie camera.

Aesop said...

It depends on the actor.

Even though he's pedantic, James Lipton's Inside The Actors Studio series is pure gold, and a national treasure.

The only guy on late night who's been funny in the last 15 years is Craig Ferguson, and most of the people he books are worth watching.

I've killed the better parts of full days just spinning through his clips. Double points if you catch him interviewing a fellow Brit.

Doing research for this list, I'm often amazed at what I still find. A lot - probably more than half - of actors fall into your "feed them and let them play in the park" category, but then I'll come across random factoids like Donald Sutherland getting a double bachelor's in engineering and drama, and then bailed on becoming an engineer at the last minute to go to London and do plays.

But then you don't see him shilling for idiots and showing his ass on random topics either.

Weetabix said...

I watched one of the Expendables movies and got to looking up the actors. Dolph Lundgren has an interesting resume. (I didn't care for his Punisher.) Stallone's more versatile with writing than his onscreen persona would suggest.