Review by C.J. Bunce
What defines the Men in Black the best? The neuralyzer? The Noisy Cricket? The suits? Or maybe its the sunglasses. 1997, 2002, 2012, and 2019. Plenty has changed in 22 years since the first Men in Black movie, but readers of a new book on all four films in the MiB franchise will learn a lot hasn’t changed. As part of the release of the latest entry in the series, Men in Black International, Titan Books partnered with Columbia Pictures to put together Men in Black Films: The Official Visual Companion to the Films, an oversized, chrome, hardcover guide spanning the creation of the MiB universe and each film from the original comic books to the new movie.
Writers Lisa Fitzpatrick and Sharon Gosling interview the directors, writers, visual effects crew, and other artists and actors from each movie to find out why the series has resonated with sci-fi audiences. Moving between images from the film, the characters, and plots, to what happened behind the scenes to develop the ideas from page to final film, readers will get two views of the films: one in-universe and one real-world. It’s told chronologically, giving equal treatment to each film. Along with stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, James Brolin, and now Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, you’ll see familiar characters from the past played by Tony Shalhoub (Galaxy Quest), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water), Luke Cage stars Rosario Dawson and Mike Colter (Luke Cage), and Rip Torn (Defending Your Life), and you’ll meet new characters played by Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson.
The writers find lots of common threads with the first three films because of the overlap in creators, so look for some deep dives into the moviemaking process from director of the first three films, Barry Sonnenfeld, producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes (and how they coordinated ideas with executive producer Steven Spielberg), production designer Bo Welch, set decorator Cheryl Carasik, and, of course, Rick Baker, monster (and alien) maker, plus dozens more. It’s all a nostalgic look back to some of the major creators that guided the look of Hollywood in the 1980s and 1990s. It includes commentary from comic book creator Lowell Cunningham and the several writers that had a hand in the screenplays. From the great futuristic props to those sunglasses and black suit changes, every major talent behind the camera gets to share where the ideas came from, with full-color photographs documenting the production steps along the way.
Here is a look inside Men in Black Films: The Official Visual Companion to the Films, courtesy of Titan Books:
You may have forgotten all the nuances of each film, and if the new movie wasn’t excuse enough, this book will likely prompt you to go back again to watch the first three films in the series. How did the creators of Men in Black International decide to move away from the setting of the first film? Whose idea was casting James Brolin as a young Agent K in Men in Back III? Find answers to these questions and more inside.
Fans will also find some fun inserts: removable paper prop replicas, including the business card first handed to Agent J in the first film.
Providing great insight into one of the most beloved alien invader film series, Men in Black Films: The Official Visual Companion to the Films is available now here at Amazon. Men in Black International is now in theaters.