Allrighty. Enough silence, back to what I do best.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved “Men in Black” and “Men in Black 2″. They both have the elements of classic summertime popcorn flicks. They have a lot of laughs, a lot of special effects and explosions, some solid talent and decent action. Mix in this whole pseudo universe they’ve created, one where aliens are common and well varied and there’s a top secret government agency out there to police them? Well, it just plays straight to a science fiction nerd’s heart.
Over the years, I have in fact thought to myself, “I wish there was another Men in Black movie out there”. Not because I thought that there was a particular story that needed to be told, but simply because they’re fun and Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith make me laugh. And honestly, isn’t that exactly what movies are supposed to be for? So when “Men in Black 3″ came out of nowhere, I was pretty surprised. Granted, I’ve slipped away from the movie news scene a bit, but I’d never even heard that this movie was being considered. As you can understand though, once I did hear about it, I was pretty damn excited. Here we are a week or two after release, I’m sitting in the theater when that familiar Danny Elfman theme starts to spin up and I start to feel a bit giddy as I get ready to visit some old friends I haven’t seen for awhile.
The trailers for “MIB3″ don’t leave much to the imagination. The pretty much outline everything for you right up front. Yes, this is annoying, but I was still prepared for some fun. We kick off the film with Nicole Sherzinger in a pair of pretty amazing thigh high leather boots coming to visit “Boris the Animal” in jail. It’s a super high tech jail, so it’s pretty obvious that it’s a “MIB” unit, so we know we’re getting right in to the nitty gritty as far as our film’s bad guy goes. With this being the third film in the franchise, we’re ready for this. This is how they all start out. Our big bad for this film is played by Jemaine Clement from “Flight of the Conchords” to a bit of success. In comparison to past villains, he’s not much standing next to Vincent D’Onafrio in a dead Edgar suit. He’s suitable though. He’s big and ugly and has some pretty gross alien features, so he fits mold. After learning that K has done Boris a great injustice in brief monologue, chaos ensues, Boris is on the loose and away we go. Bad guys vow to travel through time to nefarious ends, good guys vow to follow to thwart plans and *bam*, there’s your movie.
When I spell it out as such, “Men in Black 3″ sounds like it could be problematic. Pretty basic and rote. In truth, it is, but again it’s propped up be fun performances and some crazy action scenes. Will Smith has a certain schtick that he goes for in his role as J. It’s a tiny bit Fresh Prince, a whole lot of “Independence Day” “Welcome to ERF” swagger and a bit of some new stuff to round out the character. He’s got lots of zany facial expressions a even more quips, but that’s what I paid for. Tommy Lee Jones has limited play here. He’s got his gruff persona down pat; hell he’s made a career out of it. That’s what we love him for. The real star of “Men in Black 3″ is Josh Brolin as the young Tommy Lee Jones. This cat’s uncanny!
Josh Brolin has had a weird career you could say. He was great in “Goonies” and then was kind of quiet for years. (At least to me anyways, maybe I just wasn’t watching his flicks.) Then he blasted back in to prominence in “Grind House”. When he returned, he had a particular brand of cool that was akin to his father’s and started to dive in to a lot of genre flicks. Here, his aping of Tommy Lee Jones is pretty astounding. He’s got the cadence of his voice, the gruff deliver, even the steely eyes. It’s seeing this performance of a young Agent K that makes this movie pretty damn fun. It’s also fun to see a lot of the past years of “MIB” and such in the typical franchise fashion of what culturally prominent people were aliens, which were aliens, etc. but they could have done even more to be honest.
Yes, it’s popular to hate on time travel plots. They’re pretty cheesy and typically ham-fisted and typically do nothing but create plot holes and present themselves as a glaring MacGuffin. For “MIB3″, it’s a thin time travel plot, let’s face it. But, it’s pretty straight forward. They don’t pull any zany plot twists that involve people popping up out of nowhere, there’s no weird space time continuum confusion that makes your head hurt to figure out. It’s simply Agent J going back to 1969 to stop a bad guy who went back to 1969 to murder Agent K. Easy peasey, just like the trailer spell out for us. With them keeping the time travel conundrums at a minimum, this leaves us to focus on the laughs and Will Smith making faces and keeps things light and entertaining.
Is “MIB3″ perfect? Nope. There are many scenes that come across as awkward pauses in the general flow of the film. The camera tends to linger a bit too long on these moments leaving us wondering what we’re supposed to be catching in the background. (There typically wasn’t anything going on in the back ground in these moments.) It’s a lot of fun though. My family and I laughed pretty hard and enjoyed the 3D antics. It felt great to see Smith and Jones working together again and Brolin made a great addition to the mix. Ultimately, this movie left me with a good dose of closure for the franchise, so that I could walk away and feel that the whole package is nice and complete. I’ll look forward to the eventual Bluray box set and watch them periodically, with gusto!