Notable Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alice Eve, Bill Hader, Will Arnett
Review: Another year, another month, another week, another un-original remake/reboot/unnecessary sequel cash-in. So here again, ten years after the last attempt, yet another franchise attempts to be reborn for monetary gain. Men In Black II warranted no sequel, and such a large gap never yields beneficial results. Damn the man and his greedy pockets! Fight the machine and support original cinema!! Or crumble like I did and go see Men In Black 3 anyway, eating away my shame with a jumbo popcorn slathered in buttery yellow goo. If you’re going to sell out, might as well go all the way, eh? Yes, I’m just as much part of the problem as I am proclaimer of truths. But yet I sat through Men In Black 3 smirking, then chuckling, then laughing? Am I enjoying myself? Could this be? Did Men In Black 3 break the trend of re-incarnations better left dead? I would say so, considering Sonnenfeld’s three-qual might in fact be the best Men In Black yet. Both Agents J and K aged like a fine wine, and the introduction of Josh Brolin as youthful K offered a bold new take on a familiar alien world. Not just aliens, but time traveling aliens threatening history as we know it! I get a little excited for nostalgic pieces like this, curious how directors will spin the past and enjoy famous cameos as celebrities mimic personalities from the past. But hey, that treat might just be for me. The real treat? Actually liking MIB3. No mind erasing neuralizer needed after either!
Agent J (Smith) and Agent K (Jones) still continue their comical partnership protecting Earth from extraterrestrial threats, but J is becoming frustrated by K’s ongoing secrecy. But when an old enemy from K’s past escapes imprisonment, J learns certain information has been deliberately kept from him. Boris “The Animal” (Clement) was arrested by K back in ’69, lost his arm in a shoot out, and his race became extinct because K launched an Earth defense system specifically preventing Boris’ kind from attacking. Rightfully pissed off, Boris goes back in time to kill K and save his own arm, erasing K from current history. J awakens and goes to work finding out that K is dead while Boris’ kind are invading his home planet, sparking a plan of his own. If he can go back in time and prevent Boris from killing past K, Earth would be safe and K would be alive and kicking in real-time. And no pressure, any minor changes in historical details could alter reality beyond recognition. Is J up for the task?
I reserve Arnold’s “You’re one ugly mother f…” quote for this moment.
So what separated Men In Black II from 3? Feeling. Simple enough. Admittedly, the two films weren’t all that different. Both involve slapstick extraterrestrial humor, neither K nor J change personas, and the back story involves a main alien bent on some kind of domination. But Men In Black II carried along exactly as a studio pushed sequel would, trying to emulate the exact same instances that made the original such a hit. For that we are shown something safe, forced, un-inventive, and forgettable. Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) made a barely passable foe, jokes were flat, and a pulse could barely be located in the film. That was Men In Black II. Fast forward to 3 and we get something fresh. Writer Etan Cohen was able to play with the Men In Black universe and give us an ample amount of new material to digest, still involving the same characters. MIB3 not only takes viewers on a modern-day adventure versus a new foe, but offers insight into already established characters. We get to meet a young K in Josh Brolin, young O, fun is poked at K’s ever serious tone, J provides commentary on the past, Clement steps in as a funny but dangerous presence, Sonnenfeld throws in references to previous films instead of continuing dead jokes…Men In Black 3 avoids being just another sequel. A huge accomplishment for a franchise which no one begged re-opened, but now rumors of a fourth doesn’t sound all too horrendous.
Men In Black 3 is sci-fi comedy alien blasting fun, nothing more nothing less. Barry Sonnenfeld created a tremendous summer blockbuster both entertaining and worthwhile, more so than your average Transformers. Also refreshing was watching Will Smith return to form after even his son scored bigger roles in recent memory. Our sassy fresh prince is back in action, done trying to pursue happiness, become a legend, or lose seven pounds (did I miss the point of that movie). My message to the people: fear not this franchise reviver. Your life won’t be altered but you’ll have a good time, and what more could you ask for on a relaxing summer night? Other studios should take note: respect your audience, and we will respect you back.
Final Rating: 7.5 spiky little aliens out of 10
Oh Will Smith, why couldn’t you create the theme song as well? Boo Pitbull…