Movie Review – Ad Astra


Movie Review - Ad AstraThis is a very intense and thought provoking movie. I can’t write the review today, but I’ll give it a B grade for now. I saw in in IMAX, which I recommend for the best “space” experience, and for the constant extreme closeups on Brad Pitt’s face.

Suffice to say for now the film (which means To The Stars in Latin) is extremely low key and existential. And is sort of about God without being anything about God at all.

Much to add later. I’m sure future classes about philosophy will eat this movie for lunch and dinner.

D-Box Experience
You really feel the experience of the rocket ship at take off and some feeling of what it is like when they are weightless in space. For this movie, I would give the D-Box experience a 5 out of 10.  (Special thanks to Troy Borysko for the input.)

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: Although the movie is 2 hours, it was easy to find Peetimes. It’s a slow, contemplative film, with a lot of ‘scenery’ scenes, and closeups of Brad Pitt talking to himself. I recommend the 3rd Peetime at the halfway point — it’s a nice long break with nothing going on. A lot of people (like a dozen!) got up just before the climax and missed the best part of the film. So go proactively at the one-hour mark.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ad Astra. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

All Men In Black Films, Ranked

men in black posterTo prep for Men In Black: International, I did a little series rewatch, and discovered a few things: the original movie is still fresh and funny, the second film still hurts to watch, and I totally forgot everything that happened in the third MIB outing. But that’s actually a good thing. It was like getting a brand-new bonus movie. 🙂

Here’s my ranking of all four Men in Black flicks, because ranking things is fun:

  1. The original Men In Black is far and away the best one. The quality of this movie is so high when compared to every other film in the series — you can pretty much stop watching these movies right here. (It’s not like any of the other films are required viewing.) This one had everything: cool characters, amusing aliens, a coherent storyline (this is crucial), and enough world-building to make the imagination soar. It’s legit funny.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have outstanding chemistry, bickering like an old married couple. Vincent D’Onofrio is a pleasure as a sadistic cockroach (never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that one). The effects still look good and it’s fun to think about what public figures might really be aliens hiding in plain sight. Movie Grade: AMen in black tommy lee jones and will smithSmith and Jones, rocking their suits.
  2. Men In Black 3 was a pleasant surprise after the awful sequel. If felt more nimble and recalled the playfulness of the first film. But instead of dredging the lake to recall old gags (Frank the Pug and the Worm Gang make an appearance and no more), there are new characters, and even a new (old?) version of Agent K, who did such a great job being Tommy Lee Jones that I forgot it was another actor (Josh Brolin) playing him. Also in spite of basing the plot around time travel — which can go badly wrong very fast — it somehow made narrative sense. MIB 3 doesn’t really expand on the world-building, but it didn’t need to. Lightweight fare. Movie Grade: B-
  3. Men In Black: International was the return to the MIB universe that no one asked for. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved they had great chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, so transplanting that here should have been a slam dunk. Hemsworth showed he could be very funny. So it was a huge disappointment that MIB 4 was so…lame. It was sub-average. I’m not sure what to even say about it, because the plot made no sense, the characters had understandable motivation, and honestly, this was such a miss-step. When the best movie chemistry is between one half of a buddy duo (Thompson) and a CGI character (that would be Pawny), you know something’s wrong. I’ll let the official movie review say the rest. What a wasted opportunity.  Movie Grade: C-
    pawny from men in black international
    You’ve been pwned.
  4. Somehow MIB 2 sunk all the goodwill from the original with a messy, unfunny sequel. The villain is so bad that she drags the rest of the movie into a black hole around her. There isn’t one scene with her that isn’t cringe-worthy. Frank the Pug was a great gag in the first film, but they overused him here. I can’t even think about what does work in MIB 2 because I keep getting distracted by what didn’t, but I’ll try: Smith and Jones still have a good knockabout dynamic, although it’s starting to fray at the edges, and Jones in particular seemed like he didn’t want to be there. I liked the repeat of the worm gag, but their extended cameo, like the Pug’s, verged on too much. Even though I just rewatched this, I’ve already totally forgotten the plot. Was there a MacGuffin? Did someone neuralize me? Oh, wait: this is the one with a universe hiding inside a locker, with little beings who worship Agent K. That got an actual laugh out of me. Movie Grade: D
    neuralizer and will smith
    Say “Cheese”…

The MIBs, Overall:

I could say the series is played out, but I actually don’t believe that. The premise is so  interesting, so ripe for exploration. If someone made a good script with fresh ideas that MADE SENSE, Men in Black could continue having epic adventures all over the galaxy. Come on, guys!

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Elvis is not dead. He just went home.

Note: contains minor spoilers for the Men in Black trilogy

Men In Black: International opens this week.  Now is as good a time as any to revisit the series and examine it.  What makes these films so successful?  What is their secret?  Let’s take a look at the original trilogy to find out.

Men In Black

Surprisingly, most of the elements that make the MIB films tick are present in the first act of the first film (roughly the first 22 minutes).  The blueprint for the series’ success is set up at the beginning of the very first film.


One of the most important elements of the MIB series are the memorable creatures.  From the pawn shop dealer Jack Jeebs, to the sarcastic worms who love caffeine and cigarettes, to the baby alien J helps deliver to Geoff the giant subway worm, and to Frank the Pug, the Men in Black movies always have memorable aliens.  This is thanks in large part to the legendary make up artist Rick Baker, who won an Oscar for his work on the first MIB.    

The first film opens with Agent K busting a space alien named Mikey posing as an illegal alien crossing the border.  K shoots him when he tries to run…which brings us to another element that makes these movies tick.


Guns.  Noisy cricket.  Neuralizers.  Monocycles.  Jetpacks.  What is a Men in Black film without some high-tech fun?  We get our first taste of this when K shoots the alien Mikey with his futuristic-looking sidearm.  Then K uses a neuralyzer on the border patrol agents to erase their memories.  The neuralyzer — or “flashy thingy” as Agent J calls it — is perhaps the most useful (or at least) piece of MIB equipment. There is even one in the Statue of Liberty’s torch for city-wide emergencies.  

Smooth Dialogue

After neuralyzing the border patrol agents, Agent K gets his first memorable line.  “I’m just a figment of your imagination,” he says in response to someone asking who he is.  The Men in Black movies are known for slick dialogue, but the first film is probably the most quotable.  Especially Agent J’s line, “I make this look good.”  Later in the film, Zed describes MIB agents, saying, “”You are a rumor disguised as deja vu.”  And, of course, near the end K explains, “Elvis is not dead.  He just went home.” 


Comedy is another essential ingredient to the MIB movies.  After the introduction to K, the audience gets to meet Will Smith’s character, the soon-to-be Agent J.  He gets one of my favorite Will Smith moments of all time.  He’s a cop.  While chasing a suspect, he jumps off a bridge onto a double decker tour bus.  He says, “It just be raining black people in New York,” and keeps going.  It’s hilarious. 

Later in the film, the audience finds out Sylvester Stallone and other famous people are aliens.  This gag gets even better as the series goes on.  The twist with Andy Warhol in Part 3 is the best! 

Agent J also gets the other piece of dialogue that always makes me laugh from the original.  He’s trying to tell Gladys to create a better life for herself after neuralyzing her.  “…And hire a decorator to come in here quick ’cause damn.”  (You have to hear him say it.)

MIB 3 introduces a quirky comic role who is one of my favorite movie characters of all time.  Michael Stuhlbarg plays Griffin, a being that can see all future timelines at the same time. Stuhlbarg’s manner — how he is friendly and frantic — reminds me of a young Robin Williams.    

A Good Villain

Each of the MIB movies has a strong villain.  Vincent D’Onofrio’s Edgar is a tough act to follow, with his odd speech and mannerisms.  It’s a performance that sticks with you.  However, Lara Flynn Boyle as Sarleena and Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal are pretty scary in their own right.  In the original, the audience gets to meet Edgar the man, who is a monster even before an alien force takes over his body. 


The chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (and later with Josh Brolin) has been essential to the success of the franchise.  Act one of the first film ends with Agent K taking Will Smith’s character to the pawn shop to see if he can identify an alien weapon.  Even though Smith is not K’s partner yet, he and K easily fall into a good-cop-bad-cop routine as soon as they walk into the store.  The two agents have a great partnership throughout the series, and they feed each other great dialogue even when K doesn’t recognize J due to amnesia or time travel.  

MIB: International

So how much of this formula will the new Men in Black movie adhere to?  The film has new creatures. Kumail Nanjani voices a small alien called Pawny in the trailer that provides some comic relief.  The bad news is that Rick Baker retired some time after the third film and was not available to lend his talents to this film. There is also some new technology, including a new car with different features, and a powerful weapon the agents try out in the desert.

The trailers are lacking in smooth or memorable dialogue and the comedy is a little corny. The Thor reference has been the best joke so far. Rebecca Ferguson’s character Riza seems to be the main villain, but we’ve only gotten glimpses of her in the trailers. It’s hard to tell if she’ll be as menacing as Edgar or Boris.  As far as chemistry goes, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have worked together as Thor and Valkyrie on Marvel films. Hopefully some of the chemistry from those films will translate here. They seem to work okay together in the trailers, but there isn’t much to go on.

The Men in Black universe is a lot of fun. It would be nice if this turns out to be a way to keep it going.      

Before you take on the scum of the Universe, make sure you have the RunPee app on your phone.  You won’t want to miss any of the good parts of your favorite science fictions films. Whether you’re planning to see MIB: International, Gemini Man (so that’s where Will Smith is!), Ad Astra (so that’s where Tommy Lee Jones is!), or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (so what’s where Emperor Palpatine is!), we’ll have Peetimes for your movie so you don’t miss out.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news by following us on Twitter @RunPee.

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

men in black poster
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, out to save you from the scum of the universe


Everyone listen now: what you may think you just experienced is a house party with drunk teenagers and a crazy, lonely lady. In actuality, you traveled back in time 22 years to help us, the Men in Black, save the galaxy from an alien invasion. We’re looking for some new recruits and think all of you have potential, so you can call me Agent N. Let me explain what happened here today, so you can determine if you want to join us.

Let me set the scene. First, the Men In Black is an organization that keeps track of every alien life form not from Earth.

Second, we recently got a rookie named Agent J (former name Will Smith), who was partnered with our ace in the hole Agent K (former name Tommy Lee Jones).

Third, it just so happened that an alien bug decided to crash land here in search of something. We later found out he was looking for an alien prince hiding himself and a whole galaxy here on Earth. Long story short, the rook’s first day on the job somehow was smooth sailing — even though you may be hearing all of this thinking, “There’s no way this can go well”. No matter what you think, that’s the basics of what you need to know.

Now, let me explain some tiny details that might help you determine if you want to join the Men in Black permanently or not. Without a doubt, some of the jokes we like to crack on the job don’t land like we wish, but our aim is still pretty good. Especially between Agent J’s strong charisma and Agent K’s deadpan delivery, bouncing off each other.

You may also see some of our alien companions and realize they actually do look good, even though you all are from the future. Our 1997 technology advanced the human eye to make everything seem much better. When our alien friends are there, you can’t properly distinguish them from when they’re not there. And don’t tell them otherwise.

If you haven’t seen the report yet, consider this a warning. Our job may not be glamorous, even at the climax of our mission, which in this most recent mission was exactly the case. From what I’ve seen on the report, apparently all that happened was Agent J distracted the alien by swinging some sticks and getting flung around, while Agent K damaged the creepy-crawly in a slow but effective way…just for some girl from the morgue to give the final blow.

Everyone who has seen the report keeps talking about Frank the Pug and the Noisy Cricket, since apparently they stole the show. So if a dog they talked to for 3 minutes oozes enough charisma to leave a lasting impression, so can the Men in Black.

And of course, we need to have a moment of silence for Agent K…who at the end of his mission revealed that he wasn’t looking for Agent J to be a partner, but to be a replacement. For Men in Black agents who show no emotion to begin with, we were heartbroken to see Agent J use the neuralyzer on Agent K. Thankfully, we had a happy ending, but a heart-wrenching one at that.

Now it is time for you to decide if you’re going to join us in the Men in Black or not. If you are, you can stop here and you’ll get further notice later. If not, then let’s walk this way and let me explain what the neuralyzer is. ↓



A neuralyzer is a special tool we use to make sure you don’t remember anything we don’t want you to, so look right here at the red dot and…


…What you just witnessed here today is a couple of high school girls who decided to live it up a little after not going to any parties at all and instead spent all their time studying…

– – Written by RunPee guest writer Nicholas Collier, who secretly wants to join the MIB. Nick says, “I’ve been watching movies since I got my glasses in 5th grade. Movies are what I love, what I know, and what I aspire to create. Find me @LightCameraNick on twitter, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”  

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Movie Review – Lincoln – An A+ Presidential Biography

Spielberg has given us a three dimensional  insight into the last few months of our most beloved leader. In Lincoln we see him not only as the President during the most difficult time in our nation’s history, but also in an equally demanding role as husband and father.

Make no mistake, this is not a movie about the Civil War per se…but just as important to our country’s future was the passing of the 13th amendment. Lincoln is more of a court room drama than an early version of Saving Private Ryan.

In the opening scene we see 30 seconds of  battle field action, followed by two hours of a different battle fought by lobbyists, politicians, and other nefarious characters.

Along the way, there are brief detours into the private life of Lincoln himself, and his family. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Fields, and Tommy Lee Jones are definite Oscar contenders, but they were not the only stellar contributors to the movie: James Spader provided much needed comic relief in this intense film.

The bar has been set very high for presidential biographies with this one.

Movie Grade: A+

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Movie Review – Vice – Deeply Funny But Tonally Strange

Movie Review – Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter