Men in Black III (2012) – Review

3 Stars


The good news, the third film in the Men in Black franchise is a big improvement over the soft-boiled sequel. The bad news, the movie runs out of ideas early on then moves in fits and starts. MIB3 as it’s advertising campaign refers, is greatly benefited from the easy charisma of star Will Smith. His boundless energy and quick-witted line readings are just the shot of fun the film and audiences are looking for. After an extremely disjointed first act, the screenplay settles into a relaxed groove. The set-up this time, is that agent J (Smith) must travel back to 1969 to stop a disgusting creature from being jailed. It turns out the implications of the alien’s incarceration has dire affects on Agent K (Jones), and humanity at large. The time travel plot device is inserted to pair J with the 29 year old version of K (Josh Brolin).

The rest of the picture takes place in the decade of free love and the height of counterculture. MIB3 is a slight and amusing picture with a couple of chuckles but no real laughs. There are a few gags that score; one involving racial profiling, and the other, a trip to visit Andy Warhol. My biggest problem with the picture, is that once the screenwriters get Smith’s character back to 1969, they do not give him much to do. It must be said, Josh Brolin does a fantastic job of mimicking Tommy Lee Jones. Although at times I felt like he was slipping into his George W. Bush impersonation. The interaction between Smith and Brolin is just engaging enough to anchor the story and adds a new dimension to the well-known characters. Jemaine Clement plays the villain, a violent multi-headed monster known as Boris the animal. However with all the time jumps, cute as a button plot turns and unnecessary subplots, the script leaves Clement’s appealing character awash for long stretches.

As I watched the film I began to take notice of the little things happening in the corners of the frame. It created a sense of realization of what a complete universe director Barry Sonnenfeld has been able to maintain over the course of 15 years and three films. The production design, art direction and set design is seamless from picture to picture. The score from Danny Elfman is bombastic and admittedly effective. Creature designs by Rick Baker are as berserk and outrageous as anything previously seen in the series. If MIB3 had been the first of the series, it would not be an encouraging start. For the third in a series spanning a decade and a half, it is an enjoyable yet totally disposable piece of popcorn entertainment.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin

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