Saturday, May 26, 2012

Back in Black Again...Again?: Our Review of "Men in Black III" (2012)

Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family)

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson

Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content

Synopsis: After an intergalactic serial killer named Boris the Animal (Clement) escapes and goes back in time to 1969 to kill Agent K (Jones), Agent J (Smith) must also travel back in time to save K, and in turn, save the world from a catastrophic alien invasion.


Andrew: Hello readers! This afternoon Sarah and I hit the theatre to catch this year’s big Memorial Day weekend film Men in Black III, starring Will Smith (Hancock), Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive) and Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men).

Sarah, we talked about our expectations for the film in our weekly preview yesterday and you said you were hoping it would be better than Men in Black II was. Was it?

Sarah: It WAS better than Men in Black II, but that’s not necessarily high praise coming from me. Even the storyline, while cheesy at the beginning, was better than the second one. I think it may even rival the original film! We saw our two favorite Men in Black trying to save the world again from very disturbing bad guys and they didn’t fail to deliver for Earth.

A: I’m a little half and half on this one. There are certain aspects about MIB3 that are absolutely better than MIB2, and some parts of MIB2 I felt were better than the new one, but I completely disagree with you that the third chapter is anywhere close to the original.

S: I think that both share the element of humor and I actually think the bad guy in MIB3, Boris the Animal (Clement), rivals the Bug in the first one. Granted they seem to have a lot in common and have bug like features, but I would say it’s hard to tell which villain is more evil. And I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed the time travel aspect. I didn’t think I would but I did in the end.

Agent K (Jones, left) and Agent J (Smith) return for a third go-round in Men in Black III
A: Ok, let me put it this way. I think almost everything about the first MIB film is great. The action, the humor, the performances were fresh, and I like the storyline about the galaxy on Orion’s belt and how it played out.

In contrast, I feel that MIB3 did a fairly solid job executing the time travel plotline (which could have been terribly botched), but essentially any part of MIB3 before Brolin enters the picture is subpar.

Honestly, there are a few points I’d like to make. May I?

S: Go for it.

A: Here we go:

- Tommy Lee Jones is in the film for a hot second, and when he IS on the screen in the first act, the writing makes it seem like K and J have been partners for weeks, not 14 years.

- There’s a funeral scene for Agent Zed - he’s replaced by Emma Thompson (Love, Actually) as Agent O - that was wholly unnecessary, or at least completely unfunny.

- The opening scene where Boris the Animal escapes is too easily done (why would they EVER allow him a visitor of ANY sort?) and I just find that villain too silly at points. (QUICK MINOR SPOILER ALERT: Plus Agent J is able to distract him way too easily in the climax.)

All those things just weren’t as good as the original to me. THAT SAID, as soon as Brolin enters the picture the movie brightens up by a lot and is actually quite excellent from there on.

Boris the Animal (Clement) escapes from prison a little too easily for Andrew's taste
S: I’ll give you some of those points. While Boris was definitely way too easily thrown off by people calling him “Boris the Animal”, I think they did a good job building up his reasoning for acting the way he does. And I think the funeral was a nice way to kind of get rid of Zed’s character, to kill him off, and it certainly wasn’t funny but it was a nice way to transition to Agent O.

I think it’s safe to say that Brolin’s performance as a young Agent K is SPOT ON. And is the bright spot of the film. There are times where I knew it was Brolin but he sounded and acted SO MUCH like Tommy Lee Jones that it blew my mind. And for that alone I give the film a lot more credit.
Here’s a question for you: What did you think about how they answered the time travel conundrums that a lot of movies and TV shows sort of fall victim to?

A: Without giving away any spoilers, I thought they did a pretty good job assuaging my fears about the time travel. As I said in the preview yesterday, I wondered why Agent J seemed to be the only person who remembered Agent K after Boris goes back in time to kill him. (That’s the basic premise of the movie, readers, if you didn’t know that and get angry with me, it really isn’t ruining anything for you.)

Well, a tech nerd who gives Agent J the time travel device answered my question with a simple remark and his words ended up coming back around in the climax. It actually makes a little bit of sense if you don’t think about it too much. So kudos to the writers there.

I was also a fan of a Michael Stuhlbarg’s (Boardwalk Empire) character, Griffin, who is an alien that can see and experience every single possible future scenario all at once. I think they used his character in a pretty smart way that enhanced the time travel plot and added a bit of emotional heft to the climax.

S: Totally agree. I think the way they handled it and solved the problem without dwelling on it too much. It was what it was and they weren’t apologetic.

My favorite part of the film was Brolin as Agent K, and like I said in the preview I said I thought he would steal the show and he did. I also liked some of the smaller performances by Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live) as Andy Warhol/Agent W and Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League) as a young version of Agent O.

But may I go on a small tangent real quick about why I’m not going to give this film a high grade?

Josh Brolin's performance as a young Agent K is the highlight of the film
 A: I’d like to hear this.

S: I don’t understand the allure of Will Smith. I don’t find him that great an actor. He commands the star power and salaries equal to Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks and people love him, but all they’re getting is The Fresh Prince. The TV show was great, but he really hasn’t changed his persona to much anything of what he’s done. And that’s a shame to me.

He hasn’t done anything in four years and maybe there’s a reason for that. He can say all he wants that it is because he’s focused on his kids’ careers, but can we look back at what he’s coming back to the industry with? Sequels to his older movies and a movie with M. Night Shymalan that includes JADEN SMITH! Ugh!

I will give him credit for one movie that I was actually moved by, and that was The Pursuit of Happyness. Yes he received an Oscar nomination for it and it made about $300 million, but other than that I’m not impressed with his filmography.

A: Wow! Tell me how you really feel!

S: I think the bottom line is that these movies are meant to be purely entertaining. This was clearly not the strongest of the trilogy, and while I don’t find the whole series to be great movies in general, it’s a fun family-friendly way to kick off the summer season.

A: Ok, fair assessment. If anything, the second half of the film redeems the first half, particularly the surprisingly emotional and sweet ending. So what’s our final grade for Men in Black III?

S: It’s not a must-see in theatres, but it’s a good way to kill some time this Memorial Day weekend or as a matinee any other time.

(Out of Five Clapboards) 
Photo Courtesies: TheYBFMTVScreen Rant


  1. I liked the first two MIB movies.

    I will read your review, once I am done watching this one :)


  2. Excited to read what you think after you've seen it! Enjoy!