Men in Black III

The Men in Black are back, and they’re up to their old tricks. Battling aliens, zapping people’s memories, and having witty exchanges between one another. The Earth is imperiled, and this time in order to save it, Agent J (Will Smith) has to travel back in time to work with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin).

For people who are fans of the first two, this movie should deliver what you’re expecting – it’s pretty much a healthy dose of “More of the Same”.

It sets the bar for itself low, jumps over it easily, and then happily accepts the “Hey, ok,” that most audiences are bound to give it.

The “Men in Black” films have always been lighter entertainment – they never took themselves too seriously. Part action, part comedy, heavy on the special effects, there’s always been a dash of “Looney Tunes” to them. When that factor is working, it adds a sense of laid back cool to the proceedings – a nonchalance that becomes part of the charm. When it’s not working, it comes across as lazy, as if the film isn’t even trying.

I vacillated between the two as I watched “Men in Black III”. I’m well aware (the movie doesn’t let you forget) that this is lighthearted popcorn fare that’s not supposed to be taken too seriously. But there were more than a few moments when I felt as if the movie wasn’t even trying.

Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), an alien that K imprisoned decades, earlier busts out of prison and finds a way to travel back through time in an attempt to kill K. The stakes are even higher considering that K also prevented an alien takeover of Earth during incident where he arrested Boris. Boris’ initial trip back is successful – K vanishes and the invasion has begun, except that Agent J hasn’t forgotten his partner. Now it’s up to him to travel back in time prior to Boris’ trip, and help Agent K to evade assassination and to successfully prevent the alien invasion.

The high point of the movie is the charisma of the cast. Josh Brolin does a PERFECT Tommy Lee Jones (in fact, I’m going on record now as saying I’d be in favor of MIB:IV if it meant getting those two onscreen together playing the same character at the same time), and of course, Will Smith has charm to spare. They’re the ones who play off of each other, and turn less than stellar comedic material into decently entertaining fare. The chemistry between either duo is amusing, and their reactions and one liners in the face of the absurdist situations they’re put into are really the best element of the movie.

In ’97, the original “Men in Black” had a few things going for it that this one can’t have. It was original, so the introduction of the story itself held a charm, and it was still in the first wave of CGI heavy movies. So audiences were impressed with the aliens, and the effects in a way that now, 15 years later, we can’t be. Without those two elements, the movie is left to its own devices, and aside from the charm of the cast, it doesn’t have much. The plot isn’t complicated enough to merit a second thought, and the action sequences are harmless and mildly humorous.

One could praise this movie for achieving what it sets out to do, but just as easily, you could condemn it for setting its sights so low.

For a comedy, it’s not all that funny. For an action movie, it’s not all that exciting. As a blend of both, it’s a decent enough way to pass a couple of hours at the movies or on the couch, but it’s not something I would recommend anyone reschedule their Memorial Day weekend plans for.

B-

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26 thoughts on “Men in Black III

  1. The thing I loved the most from the first men in black was the chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. That’s why I’d go see a sequel. Yet, they inexplicably remove the best element? I don’t care that Josh Brolin does a good Jones impression – I want to see the real thing. I’ll probably wait till this is on tv to see it.

    • Yeah… well, Brolin is pretty good though, and Jones sees a little tired of it, honestly. I half suspect that’s why they made it like this… an attempt to “pass the baton”, you know?

  2. Thanks for the review. This is a Red Box rental. It’s too bad because I loved the other movies. I like cheesy, comedic action movies. Fifth Element is one of my favorites and Van Helsing. This summer I have to pick my movies carefully, so it looks like Spiderman and Dark Knight are the 2 for this summer, Paranorman and Frankenweenie too.

  3. Cool, I was hoping for a B- or better. Told the hubby it wasn’t worth us going if Fogs didn’t give it at least a B-! Luckily the smaller local theatre doesn’t upcharge for 3D Sun-Thu, so it seems it will be a great way to waste a Wednesday afternoon! I’ll let you know my thoughts on Thursday…thanks for the review , Dan!

    • Ok, cool, Kim. I remember you saying you were hooked on 3D now, I hope it doesnt disappoint. Not all 3D is created equal, you know.

      It was ok, I’m sure you know what you’re in for going in, so you wont be disappointed, but it doesnt stand any chance of becoming one of your favorite movies ever, either. You know?

  4. I didn’t have any interest in this franchise but I’ve got to admit the trailer is quite funny. For me the only reason to see it is Tommy Lee Jones and yeah, Josh Brolin did a killer impersonation of him! I didn’t know Jemaine Clement is in this too, that guy is a hoot. Ok I might give this a try when it arrives in the discount theater :)

    • Yeah… that’d be a good time to give it a look see.

      Jemaine Clement IS a riot. Here not so much. For whatever reason, he’s getting villains roles lately (he was the villain bird in “Rio”).

      Brolin was great, he and Smith are the best part of the flick. Easily. Jones only has a scene or two bookending the flick… It is what it is.

  5. I just want to see this just because of Josh Brolin doing Tommy Lee Jones ;) I’m sure you know why lol

    • They were both in one of the greatest movies ever, dude! :D

      That’s why I’m (mildly) hoping for a MIB:4. I’d love to see the two of them onscreen doing this bit together, that’d be great.

      Of course, they didnt have any scenes together in NC either….

  6. I had considered reviewing this movie, but instead I put it on a poll where it only got 2 votes. I’ll likely check it out when it comes out on DVD. I enjoyed the first one a lot, and after the second one I had a feeling of diminishing returns. I’ll probably check this one out, but I’m not in a hurry to do so.

  7. Nice writeup. I loved the first film, and I avoided the second upon hearing bad reaction to it. Do you think I’d be able to understand the 3rd without the background knowledge of the second?

    • Yes. Absolutely.

      I would dare say they’re completely independent of each other. I haven’t seen MIB:2 since it came out – so I basically cant even remember it – and I don’t feel I missed anything.

  8. From what I have seen so far from other reviewers, it appears there is a divide on how good (or awful) MIB 3 is. I think I too will wait until later to see it, but I am pleased it made over $200 million worldwide at the box office!

    • Yeah, I saw that. From your post, ironically. LOL. Consider me smack in the middle then. Its not that great, its not that bad.

      A good time killer if youre so inclined to check it out. Not much more though Aidy-san. Not much more.

  9. Sounds like what I was expecting out of this film. I do still want to see it, more so because I saw the previous two at the cinema. So it’s all nostalgia for me.

    Oh and Jermaine Clement. And Josh Brolin.

  10. This was a fun flick, but nothing too entirely special. Just a bunch alien fun with Will Smith, a guy who needs get back out there pronto! Good review Fogs. BTW…thanks for that post again me brotha! Really meant a lot!

    • Oh, no, man. Dont mention it. Happy to do it. Love sharing props with others… plus, you know, I cant knock out as many movies as you can! :D So I need the “fill” LOL

      You’re dead spot on on MIB:3, I actually need to swing back and chek out your review, when I wrote up the FF I hadnt seen the movie yet. Which means no reading reviews!

    • Nah. I mean, it is what it is. You probably know what to expect, so if you ward to it, I dont think you’ll be too disappointed.

      Did a podcast last night, and Tank loved it. So… mine’s not the only voice out there. It’s batting 67% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, and I think that’s about right.

  11. Pingback: Review: Men in Black 3 « The Focused Filmographer

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