Back In Time

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  • Today in History for April 16th

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Ask anyone about alien invasions and most will just say they do not exist or send you to the nearest psychiatrist while the few people who do believe in alien conspiracy theories are probably all hopped up on "Marvel's The Avengers" glamour now. However, there was a time back in 1997 when our world was not saved by men in spandex or colourful suits, but by two mortals whose existence is only recognized by an agency that wants to keep their identity a secret to the world. Even their names consist of only an alphabet, and the "Men In Black" are none other than Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith). They first appeared in 1997 with the eponymous film title to battle an alien from a bug planet with an appetite for human flesh and a seriously bad temper. The duo then suited up again to save the world for the second time in "Men In Black II" in 2002 when an alien in the form of a seductive Victoria's Secret Model named Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) wanted to destroy earth to gain the elusive "Lights of Zartha", who happens to be the beautiful Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson).

Now, 10 years since the last movie, the ragtag duo is back with "Men In Black III". Veteran MIB field agent J soon learns that Agent K's life and the fate of Earth are at stake and that he must time-travel to 1969 to stop an alien criminal named Boris from assassinating K and changing the planet's history. There, he teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop the alien criminal, while facing a 24-hour time limit before he will be trapped in the past forever. But before we gear up for the next alien invasion, why don't we have a look at some of the best roles Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin have suited up for before their days as an agent!

Will Smith
"Bad Boys" (1995) as Detective Mike Lowrey

Will Smith was a well-known rapper in the 80's who made it big as Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith, a fictionalized version of himself as a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his aunt and uncle in their wealthy Bel Air mansion in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", where his lifestyle often clashes with that of his relatives. The wildly popular series showcased Smith's talent as a comedian and made him a well-known television star. But before the series ended in 1996, Smith had started his transition to the big screen by debuting in the action-comedy "Bad Boys" in 1995. The film also stars Martin Lawrence as his detective partner and best friend in the narcotics division of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Smith's talents for comedic acting shines here as well as one-half of the duo out to recover a massive amount of stolen drugs which were previously kept as evidence in their police station's safe. The film turned out to be commercially successful, and spawned a sequel titled "Bad Boys II".

"Ali" (2001) as Muhammad Ali

Playing the role of the infamous boxer Muhammad Ali for the film "Ali" turned out to be a game-changer for Smith. Under the direction of the notoriously obsessive Michael Mann, Smith took Hollywood's comedic impression of him and knocked it onto its feet with his portrayal of Muhammad Ali in the 10-year period of his life from 1964 to 1974. It was that time that the brash, motor-mouthed athlete made his name in the sport and married his first wife (played by Smith's off-screen wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith), converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay, as well as defied the United States government by refusing to submit to military conscription duty in Vietnam. In addition, the demanding role required Smith to put on the pounds, making him almost unrecognizable, which gained him his first Academy Award Nomination.

"The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006) as Chris Gardner

After showing off his chops for serious acting, Smith earned a second Academy Award nomination for as Chris Gardner, a salesman who went from living on the streets to owning his own brokerage firm. Set in early-'80s San Francisco, "The Pursuit of Happyness" charts the hard times of Chris Gardner, who is also a single father and Smith's son Jaden Smith co-stars, making his film debut as Gardner's son Christopher Jr. His tear-jerking performance in scenes where he and his son were evicted and forced to take refuge in the men's room in the subway station and when he races frantically from his internship work to land a place in shelters won the hearts of everyone, even the real Chris Gardner himself, who was first unconvinced that Smith can play him.

Tommy Lee Jones
"The Fugitive" (1993) as U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard

Similar to Smith, Tommy Lee Jones was first known for his roles in various TV series during the early 70s till the late 80s. With a diversity of roles ranging from a cowboy, Indian, astronaut, marshal, coach, terrorist, FBI agent, Texas Ranger, sports figure and many more, Jones has certainly established that he is a versatile actor. One such defining role is U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard in "The Fugitive". Based on the 1960s TV series, the lead was played by Harrison Ford, who stars as Dr. Richard Kimble, a man who was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife. During his transfer to death row, Kimble becomes involved in a riot caused by the other prisoners, which causing the bus to fall into the path of an oncoming train. Kimble manages to escape, and vows to track down the man responsible for the murder. Dogging the fugitive every foot of the way is U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, who announces his intention to search "every whorehouse, doghouse, and outhouse" to bring Kimble to justice. Unlike his dour TV series counterpart Barry Morse, Jones plays the role with a sardonic sense of humour. When a cornered Kimble screams, "I didn't kill my wife," Gerard merely shrugs and replies, "I don't care." The role not only launched him his career as a film actor, but also earned him his first Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor.

"Batman Forever" (1995) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face

Joel Schumacher's "Batman Forever" might have been hailed as the Batman with nipples, but it cannot be disregarded for Tommy Lee Jones have definitely did what Jack Nicholson has done for The Joker in Tim Burton's "Batman". The film features a playfully evil side of Jones as the criminal Two-Face, a former district attorney driven insane after the disfigurement of his face when a mob man throws acid in his face. Blaming Batman for his plight, he teams up with The Riddler (played by Jim Carrey) to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. Despite receiving mixed reviews, "Batman Forever" was a success with audiences, and Jones' portrayal even left him with a nomination at the MTV Movie Awards for Best Villain.

"No Country For Old Men "(2007) as Ed Tom Bell

Arguably one of Jones' best performances in years, his run as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in "No Country For Old Men" proves to be a winning formula for Jones after so many flops. Joel and Ethan Coen's Oscar-winning crime thriller follows a Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) who discovers two million dollars while wandering through the aftermath of a Texas drug deal gone horribly awry, and his decision to abscond with the cash sets off a violent chain reaction. Caught up in this affair are Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a hitman who has been hired to recover the money and Sheriff Bell, a disillusioned man of the law who struggles to contain the rapidly escalating violence in his once-peaceful Lone Star State town. With stars like Josh Brolin, who plays the younger version of Jones in "Men In Black 3", Woody Harrelson and Javier Bardem, "No Country For Old Men" is the Coen brothers' finest film with Tommy Lee Jones in it.

Josh Brolin
"The Goonies" (1985) as Brandon "Brand" Walsh

There will hardly be any 80's kids who had been kids who has never heard of "The Goonies", a group of adolescent misfits who banded together to go on a treasure hunt. But many will definitely not realize that the boy who played Brand, the head-band wearing jock and older brother to the central character, Mikey (Sean Astin), is actually the surly Josh Brolin of surly! Based on a screenplay written by Chris Columbus from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, "The Goonies" tells the story of a group of pre-teens who live in the "Goon Docks" neighbourhood of Astoria, Oregon, who set out on an adventure to search for the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy in order to save their homes from being sold to developers. Their adventures see them encountering the badass Fratelli family and outsmarting the many deadly traps set by One-Eyed Willie. As Brolin's film debut, "The Goonies" has not done too shabbily indeed.

"No Country For Old Men" (2007) as Llewelyn Moss

Compared to most actors in Hollywood, Brolin's ventures into films are not constant, as the actor prefers to stay out of the limelight and only take on films with heavy subject matters or part of an establish franchise. One example is when he snapped up the role of Llewelyn Moss in the Coen brothers' unconventional crime thriller "No Country For Old Men", which turned out to be a breakthrough for both the directors and Brolin himself as it went on to garner critical acclaim and win Oscars. His character was that of a West Texas cowboy who goes on the run after stumbling upon drug money worth $2 million. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues between Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) and hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is one of the most memorable narratives made in the film, and demonstrates the versatility of Brolin's serious acting chops. This film also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Brolin's co-star in "Men In Black 3" in which the latter plays a younger version of Agent K.

"Milk" (2008) as Dan White

Known for its controversial subject matter, "Milk" certainly does not disappoint as one of Brolin's best, with a 94% from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. In the film, Brolin plays the role of Dan White, the city supervisor who gunned down gay rights activist and politician, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). The film suggests White might be a closeted gay man, which gives even more credit to Brolin for daring to take on non-stereotypical roles, and earned him his first ever Academy Award nomination. "Milk" chronicles the struggle of Harvey Milk, a gay activist in America who became California's first openly gay elected official who fought for gay rights.

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