It only took 10 years, but the Men in Black are back in theaters in all their quirked-out extraterrestrial glory.
Depending on how much you liked the first two, this could be good or bad news. "Men in Black III" plays out in much the same way as the franchise's first and second installments. The plot is obviously different, but thanks to the return of director Barry Sonnenfeld, composer Danny Elfman and most importantly Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the black-suited alien busters are the same as they ever were.
"MIB 3" ups the ante from 1 and 2 with an adventure that covers both time and space. Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones)'s former nemesis Boris The Animal escapes from LunarMax prison and, deciding that revenge is a dish best served before the problem even occurs, travels back in time to kill K and usher in Earth's takeover by his home species, the Boglodytes. It's up to Agent J (Will Smith) to follow him back to the '60s and save K's life before Boris rewrites history.
The new premise is a bit of a handful – I'll get to that in a second. It's no match, however, for the enduring MIB spirit of zany gags and subtle (and not-so-subtle) pop culture digs. The advantage of adding an extra time period to the mix only offers up more punchline fodder.
"Alien" cameos – both in-person and name-dropped – potpourri the movie, and both '60s and modern-day icons get pegged for extraterrestrials. It makes for a good quick couple of laughs, but it got old quickly before – with a celebrity pool twice as big, it gets old twice as fast.
There's much more to "MIB 3" than cheap jokes, though. There's also a whole new time travel element to contend with. The movie keeps explanations brief, which leaves a lot of holes if you spend some time actually thinking it through, but it doesn't spend much time on the logistics, so you don't. It's just another goofy, off-hand plot device, which for this kind of movie is just fine.
Instead, "MIB 3" keeps things moving with Will Smith's ever-punchy on-screen persona and – much more importantly – Josh Brolin's dead-on performance as a young Tommy Lee Jones. The facial expressions, the inflections ... it makes the movie. His performance is all the more awesome when it goes up against the casting for young Agent O (Alice Eve, playing the '60s version of Emma Thompson).
Finding a blonde British girl just doesn't cut it, but the mis-cast makes Brolin shine even more. Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords as Boris The Animal (I know, right?) also does a solid job of owning his scenes, but Brolin really jumped into Jones' skin for this one.
Really, "Men in Black III" is a matter of preference. If you're a fan, you'll be happy to know it sticks to the standard MIB precedent. It's no Oscar winner and it's not worth the 3D upgrade, but it's a legitimately fun movie.
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