The original Men in Black, released in 1997, was a near-perfect Summer blockbuster and now, 15 years later, we have Men in Black III. Yes, let’s try and forget that Men in Black II ever happened. Barry Sonnenfeld is back in the director’s chair, along with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones donning the black suits once again, ready for another adventure fighting the scum of the universe. Joining Smith and Jones is the ever capable Josh Brolin, playing a younger version of Agent K. This time around, we have Agent J traveling through time to the 1960s, preventing the assassination of Agent K that would change history.
Sonnenfeld captures a bit of the magic that made the first Men in Black special, and compared to the second installment, it’s more than enough. It wasn’t a hard task, but this film completely outshines the second installment in every way. It takes a little while to get started, but once it does, it’s solidly entertaining with enough clever jokes sprinkled throughout, making the film tick. The storyline comes with the typical obstacles of a time travel film, but it does well enough and it surprisingly tied together at the end with a nice little bow that connects this film to the beloved first. One of the brighter highlights of the film is the special effects, quarterbacked by Ken Ralston, Jay Redd, along with Rick Baker. The aliens are disgusting and satisfyingly inventive.
There is no question that Josh Brolin completely owns this film in the acting department, offering us a very fantastic, sharp performance of a younger Agent K. Brolin captures Tommy Lee Jones’ mannerisms and voice very effectively, while also adding a bit of a softer side to the character since he is a less-weathered version of Agent K. Will Smith does a very familiar version of Agent J, playing it safe—which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Michael Stuhlbarg, as Griffin the foreshadowing alien, is also a nice little addition for the short screen-time he gets.
Men in Black III doesn’t touch the quality of the first installment, but it is a few flights up from the second installment. It also adds an emotional punch at the end that ties the two main characters together perfectly, possibly improving the first film when you watch it again.
The first 20 minutes of the film feels like a bunch of tired jokes and lazy writing. Will Smith’s Agent J almost gets repetitive with his style and delivery, although he never gets completely unwatchable.
Then there’s the main villain. He’s not menacing, he’s not funny, he’s not quirky, he’s basically a filler for the story to happen. Boris the Animal is really visually well-made, but there’s nothing else to him but special effects/make-up.
Tommy Lee Jones is barely in this film, and when he is, he looks completely bored. He practically sleepwalks through his lines when he’s onscreen.
The ending is touching, but there are some laughable parts to it, with plot holes that do not quite get covered up with “he was neuralized” (for those who have watched the film). Overall, the story wasn’t very engaging, as they are once again trying to save the planet from some distraught alien, but this time there’s time-traveling involved. The time traveling aspect itself has some plot holes, as with all time traveling films.
Men in Black
Men in Black II
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