Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Men in Black 3

I should have included this movie in the Summer Movie Preview from a few weeks back since a) this is a science fiction themed film that is b) based on a comic book, and that’s clearly up my alley. However I literally just plain forgot that this movie existed. That is probably a good clue of what my personal feelings going into this flick. Anyway…

Dear Hollywood, 

 I understand that you’re currently in a phase, a possibly never-ending phase, where you’re banking off brand recognition for your films in order to make profit. So I do understand the logic behind making a sequel to a film that came out ten years ago. But there is question that you don’t ask yourself enough when you green light this stuff: do we, as a society, need this movie? Men in Black 3 fifteen years removed from the original Men in Black doesn’t seem like a film that caters to a clear cut audience. It can’t be aimed at children since how many young kids are old enough to even remember Men in Black? Is it aimed for people my age? Because I feel that the ability to care about such an old franchise passed about seven years ago. I’ll give your credit for bringing in Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and original director Barry Sonnenfeld. But you lose all that credit since Sonnenfeld started filming BEFORE THE SCRIPT WAS EVEN DONE! 

My point is this: Men in Black 3 shouldn’t exist, especially after Men in Black II which was an awful, awful film. Just because you can make a terrible sequel doesn’t mean you should. Do you really think this film will be a huge hit here in 2012? 


Beta Magnus

Full review after the jump.

The boys are back!
(Although I don't recall anyone asking them to come back)
After the funeral of Director Z (“Zed”) Agent J (Smith) and Agent K (Jones) get involved in a case that leads them into a trap set up by an old enemy of K’s, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) who has just broken out of prison. Boris escapes but the next morning J realizes that K is missing. In fact no one seems to know who K is. It becomes apparent that Boris the Animal may have used Time Travel to erase K’s existence so J’s new mission is follow him through time and save his partner.

Before I say anything else I should go ahead and let you know that this film is much better than Men in Black II. MiB II was a piece of shit that made zero sense but thankfully its sequel is more successful on just about every level. It’s not, as the commercials have implied, better than the original Men in Black however so don’t be confused.

Anyway the best parts of this movie were all the new additions to the franchise. I’m talking about new characters and new locations; they looked good and felt very fresh, and believe me this movie needed all the freshness it could get. I’m counting Josh Brolin’s Young Agent K among this category. Brolin is one of those actors that end up being a great character actor but always somehow get upstaged by someone else in the film no matter how hard they tried. Anyway I loved his portrayal of Young Agent K (and I think it’s super appropriate and hilarious to have a 44 year old actor play the 29 year old character because, well, it’s still Agent K). He does a great Tommy Lee Jones impression and also brings a sense of happiness and swagger that manages to paint it as a much different character from the older K. Plus I thought that Brolin and Will Smith had good chemistry as partners; pretty reminiscent of Smith and Jones fifteen years ago. There’s a threat of this moving getting sequel at some point looming over us. If it happens the writers need to figure out a way to bring Brolin back because that is the only way a sequel will work at this point. I also really liked the character of Griffin and I think he may be the most interesting being to be featured in the entire franchise.

More please
Also I liked that MiB 3 learns its lesson from MiB II by not having the parade of dumb sidekicks from the earlier movies all over the place. The first movie was fine but the second movie had waaaaay too much Frank the Pug and the worms. Here the worms play about as big a role as they did in the first film (meaning not much) and Frank is completely absent, save for a few Easter Egg references. The movie is stronger for it. Though I wouldn’t have minded a quick cameo from Tony Shalhoub as Jeebs, but that’s mainly because I like me some Tony Shalhoub.

Most of the cast is pretty good. Special mention for Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal; Boris is basically the best villain the series has ever had in terms of motivation and threat level (and again: lacking stupid sidekicks, unlike the debacle in Men in Black II). Also is it just me or does Jemaine sound a lot like Tim Curry when he wants to. I kept wondering if Curry was voicing Boris during the whole film.

The movie looks pretty good as well, as far a special effects go. I’m not sure that it looks like a 215 million dollar movie but it’s still pretty good.

Weirdly the biggest problem is with the two leads in the film. Tommy Lee Jones just looks tired and every bit as old as he really is. Not to sound cliché but I really think he’s getting too old for this shit (and considering that his character originally retired in the first movie because he was too old for this shit and this is 15 years later that’s saying a lot). It was a smart choice to replace him with young K for most of the movie. Will Smith isn’t bad here per se but it feels very much like he’s just going through the motions. Agent J is basically the exact same character Will Smith always played throughout the 90s and also basically during the 2000s even though we pretended like he wasn’t for some reason. And even though J is not as frustrating as he was in the past films (he seems to have a better handle on what’s going on than in the older flicks but in 1969 he still kind of plays “Ignorant Rookie” a bit) his mannerisms and little one-liners are just boring. Agent J is boring. Will Smith is boring.

Woo! Haha!
The relationship between J and K is also pretty much the same as ever despite the fact that they’ve been partners longer than the probable target demographic has been alive. It’s a plot point though so it’s intentional but the resolution to the plot point, and the revelations as to why K is such a grump, is pretty stupid and disappointing. The time travel mechanics are a bit wonky but probably no worse than most time travel films.

By the way…where the hell was Agent D in 1969? You know, the old fart form the beginning of the first movie who was K’s partner before J? It would have been really cool to see that guy as a young(er) agent giving a Young K the business. Come on, writers, how’d you let that slip away?

Pictured: The reason this movie doesn't suck
Men in Black 3 is fine, but it’s formulaic. It’s got a lot going for it but it’s still basically the same old same old and considering how old this franchise is that’s a serious problem. This movie needed to be a bolder direction and needed to take some chances but it did neither. The storyline is nothing special; it’s another “Will Smith Saves the World” check-out summer film (even though it’s been a minute since we got one of those) and if you like that sort of thing you’ll likely enjoy this movie. This movie is “okay”; it’s saved by Josh Brolin, who carries the film on his back for about an hour, and several other newer elements. It’s fine, inoffensive and you may like it. It’s better than MiB II by about 1000% which is the most important thing.

Men in Black 3 gets 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


-Everything new in this film is great

-Josh Brolin is a great Agent K


-It feels like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are here for a paycheck

-The movie is pretty much standard affair for MiB

-The big reveal at the end of the film is really disappointing and ultimately doesn’t really explain anything

1 comment:

  1. Good review Beta. Didn’t love it by any means, but still a whole lot of fun considering the second one was such a buzz-kill. Glad to see Will Smith back on the screen too!


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