posted on May 25, 2012 09:47
Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black came out in 1997 and was a smash hit. Men in Black followed up the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, making it the second year in a row that Will Smith dominated the Fourth of July weekend while kicking alien ass. Then, five years after the original, Men in Black II tried to repeat its success. Unfortunately, it failed to reach $200 million domestically, let alone the $250 million of the original. Not only was it not as successful in the box office, it did not fare as well with critics, or the general public. Upon leaving the screening of Men in Black 3, one of the most mumbled phrases I heard was, “Well, it was better than the second one.”
Men in Black 3 opens on an alien bad guy named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escaping from his prison on the moon. Now back on Earth, Boris finds Jeffrey (Michael Chernus) who helps him time travel. Meanwhile, Agent Jay (Smith) and Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) are having their usual one sided banter of Jay trying to be personable, and Kay being stone-faced. After Kay discovers an alien that is a signals the arrival of Boris, the Men in Black go their separate ways. Jay awakes the next morning with a migraine and a craving for chocolate milk.
Jay makes his way into the MIB office, where he finds out that Kay has been dead for over forty years. Agent Oh (Emma Thompson) recognizes the symptoms of time travel and helps Jay track down Jeffrey. Jay then travels back to 1969 to find Boris before he can kill Kay. There are greater consequences to Kay’s death, like an impending alien invasion. So, Jay goes back in time, runs into Young Kay (Josh Brolin) and Young Oh (Alice Eve). Young Kay and Jay then go out to save the world and a mysterious alien named Griffin (Michael Sthulbarg). Griffin can see multiple time lines at once, and is the key to saving the future.
MIB3 starts off slow and slowly gains speed. The whole first act of the film is just lazy and has no heart. The movie started filming back in 2010, but then production was shut down until early 2011. Why? To finish writing the script! What a terrible idea, and it shows. The story is clunky. Too many times the four writers emphasize something as foreshadowing, but they shove it in your face.
Yet, MIB3 does have a silver lining. Josh Brolin’s impression of Tommy Lee Jones is spot on. He and Michael Stuhlbarg are absolute scene stealers. Finally, we have a film where the 3D was not annoying and pointless. MIB3’s visual team did a great job – it was smooth, unlike the post-conversion films of late (Captain America, The Avengers, Green Hornet). The last positive part is the score by Danny Elfman, who once again proves that he is one of the best in the industry. His score changes with the eras, and harkens back to his own original score for Men in Black. While on the music, the less said about the Pitbull song, the better. They should have let Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith do one. “Back in Time” is a terrible song, and not the Huey Lewis one.
Will Smith has been on acting hiatus since 2008’s atrocious Seven Pounds. In that time, he has produced a film for his son, a television show for his wife, and a music album for his daughter. I am just sad that this is what he chose to make his return. His next film is the next M. Night film who hasn’t been solid since Signs. MIB3 is a haphazard story thrown together with quick convenient fixes (the neuralyzer) to keep this film moving forward at all cost. If you are tired of seeing The Avengers, Men In Black 3 could be a decent escape for you until the next big blockbuster film releases in June.