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Men in Black III

A movie directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

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Back in Black. For real this time.

  • Jun 14, 2012
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

"Men in Black" was released in 1997 to positive reactions from both critics and movie-goers alike. It was praised for its innovative premise, inventive creature designs, and a believable chemistry shared between the leads. In 2002, a sequel was released; and neither fans nor critics were impressed. After that little mishap, it was made pretty darn clear that no one really cared whether they continued the franchise from that point on or not. Well, after a ten year wait, they've finally gone and done it regardless of what anyone was going to think. The key members of the team -the leads, director Barry Sonnenfeld, and make-up artist/creature designer extraordinaire Rick Baker - have returned to the world of "Men in Black" with the third installment. I suppose they hope to right most of the wrongs present in the second offering, and I think they do their job quite well. The fun of the premise is back and thanks to a little narrative tinkering, a lot of things feel genuinely new, so the newest film in the franchise is able to feel alive and energetic enough to please die-hards and newcomers alike. It's far from perfect, but I wasn't expecting it to be; so I can forgive the simplicity and the imperfections.

Nefarious criminal Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from the intergalactic prison that Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) damned him to back in 1969, hoping that he may travel back in time to that year to undo the past and kill K so that his alien race may invade the planet earth. This is just one of the two opening sequences that the film has, the other involving Agent J (Will Smith) and K fighting off giant fish and various other extraterrestrials hiding out as regular folks in a Chinese restaurant. After this little struggle, Boris pays K a visit and basically warns him of what he is about to do. Later that night, K returns to his apartment, ready for Boris to arrive, which he never does; since he has already traveled back in time and killed off the legend himself.

J goes to MIB headquarters the next day like it's any other. But when he asks the new head of the agency (Emma Thompson) - who took over after Zed (Rip Torn) passed away - where K is that morning, she and everyone else present doesn't seem to know who J is talking about. Since Boris has time traveled and they are currently in present day, K died over 40 years ago, in the year of 1969, and J's partners have been ridiculously disposable ever since (like they were in "Men in Black II"). To get his friend and partner back, J must find out how Boris traveled back in time. Apparently, he visited an electronics store run by a man named Jeffrey Price, who gave him a mechanism that allowed him to "time jump" off the Chrysler Building and back to the year that he desired. Of course, Price allows J to do the same. Once back in 1969, things get really trippy...but also ten times more exciting than they were before. Indeed, K has not died yet when J arrives in the past. Younger but just as alert and deadpan as ever, he is now played by Josh Brolin (who was a smart casting choice, given that he walks, talks, and acts kind of like Tommy Lee Jones); and K must convince him that Boris must be properly dealt with this time around.

Time travel isn't the best excuse to bring back the "Men in Black" franchise, but Sonnenfeld is a good filmmaker and he populates "Men in Black III" with enough plot twists, exciting action set pieces, quirky characters, and elaborate aliens by Rick Baker to satisfy any fan of the movies (save for the second, which even a lot of the loyal followers of the franchise hated). For instance, there's a good character played by Michael Stuhlbarg who provides a lot of comic relief while also possessing the ability to look into many forms of the future (it's revealed that he can do this because he is an alien from a very distant planet). And then there's Boris the Animal, who isn't the most threatening villain you're likely to see this year in cinema; but nonetheless, his lines are delightfully corny ("It's JUST Boris!") and Clement plays the part perfectly (under a lot of make-up, mind you). In the end, I'd have to say Brolin is the biggest surprise of the bunch; along with a touching twist ending that affectionately seeks to strengthen the emotional bond between the K and J characters.

I liked the film. The effects are thrilling, the action scenes are exciting, the characters are off-kilter, and the screenplay is clever enough to wrap them all up into one big ol' satisfactory package. I also liked how the film evoked the era of the 60's (Bill Hader does a hilarious Andy Warhol impression, and there's groovy music and one very funny scene involving hippies to boot). Yes, the film has its flaws - most of the laughs are sporadic, Smith and Jones cake-walk their way through all their scenes and seem eager for their pay-check, even though the former has some charisma and energy and the latter is only in the film for 20 minutes at the most - but these movies, what major Hollywood film does not? We have to embrace a good time like this, not shun it. "Men in Black III" probably won't appeal to those who don't like the series in the first place, but for anyone else who thought the second "Men in Black" was lacking so much as a soul, this one's got pretty much EVERYTHING that it did not. At this point, I could say bring on "Men in Black IV", although then again I realize it could go either way. But when Sonnenfeld and his team have their head 100% in the game, their passion is shown through the entertainment value of the finished product. So in this sense, I believe "Men in Black III" is sheer out-of-this-world fun.

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June 15, 2012
Very detailed review!
 
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More Men in Black III reviews
review by . May 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Great Fun As a
The original 1997 film “Men in Black” was a hit and was loosely inspired-based on the comic series by Aricel comics (later on owned by Malibu comics). Despite deviations from the comic book series (Agents J and K investigated all paranormal activities that included ghosts, demons and monsters besides extra-terrestrial lifeforms), the original film was clever, funny and definitely took the viewer into this fantastic world where aliens lived among us. The chemistry between Will Smith and …
review by . May 30, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      Playing it safe is not always the resolution to achieve success with your movie. Was playing it safe this time helpful? On one hand it was because the final stage was better set than the previous one. One the other hand it wasn't because they relied too much on Josh Brolin and on the franchise' popularity. It's irritating because I realized that they could have made something more epic if they had given more heart to the project. I'm also satisfied at the …
review by . June 06, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The original MEN IN BLACK was memorable because it was a quirky sci-fi movie that had just the right balance of comedy and action. MEN IN BLACK 2 followed in that same vein, but the film wasn't as strong and felt more like a retread. MEN IN BLACK 2 was released in 2002 and a decade later (due to script issues, scheduling conflicts, and budget problems), the boys are back in MEN IN BLACK 3 and while the film isn't as funny as the original, it's a far superior film to MEN IN BLACK 2.   …
review by . July 11, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
In 1997 the first Men in Black movie came out.  It was different, it was weird.  It exceeded expectations.  So when Men in Black 2 came out in 2002 it was exciting to see... but they did nothing to expand upon anything.  No new characters, new rules or anything.  And then they backtracked by trying to write Tommy Lee Jones back into the movie which meant that our villain was... stupid.  Men in Black 3 doesn't have to try to be better than the second movie because …
review by . May 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Men In Black 3' Two Jews On Film Agree It's The Best One Yet (Video)
   By Joan Alperin Schwartz      Okay people...They are back...      Those alien fighting dudes, in their black sport jackets, white shirts, skinny ties, shooting gadgets that can wipe your memory clean, faster than you can say 'The Martians Are Coming'      Not only are they back, after a fifteen year absence, but...Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) are better than …
review by . May 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Time travel movies are so difficult to get right. If they’re taken too seriously, the plot tends to get bogged down by confusing and abstract theoretical concepts, which often times fail to fully explain how and why certain things could have happened. If they’re not taken seriously enough, the story can fall victim to the impulsive and preposterous whims of the filmmakers. Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black 3 tells a time travel story …
review by . May 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
        It has been 15 years since J was recruited by K to join the Men In Black and a decade since the last time we heard from these agents.  Time has not been kind to this franchise, which really should have just stopped after the first movie.  But after such a successful original story, and huge star power from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones you can't blame the producers for trying to recapture the magic from the original.  That is what Men …
Quick Tip by . September 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Saw this on board the Singapore Airline flight just last week. Not bad entertainment and certainly feels like a trend on the recent moviesl the handover of old cast to the new (ie. Batman, Spiderman, Bourne Legacy, etc...). Except this one goes back in time to the partner in his youth. An end to triology perhaps?!
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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