Release Date: May 25, 2012
Genre(s): Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson
Director: Barry Sonnenfield
Writer(s): Etan Cohen
Running Time: 106 minutes
Adaptation of: The Men in Black by Lowell Cunningham (Comic)
Synopsis: A decade since their last on screen adventure, agents J and K return for yet more extraterrestrial hijinks! After an old adversary of K’s escapes from prison, he seeks to change history by using a brilliant inventor’s time travel device. Once the timeline is changed, only J seems to remember what used to be, and upon learning that his beloved yet cranky partner has been murdered in the past, travels back in time to fix the fractured timeline.
It’s been a decade since we’ve seen K and J, can you believe it? I thought for sure the Men In Black series would’ve been practically printing money every two or three years after the second film. But now after such a long hiatus(not nearly as long as Ghostbusters III has been in development hell though), the destructive duo returns for a third—and possibly final—adventure. This outing not only has the most at stake for our heroes, but is also the most personal.
I loved the first MIB, but the second one—while fun—just wasn’t that great. So going into MIB3 I figured it had a 50/50 shot of either being decent or awesome. It turned out to be much better than MIB2, but still not quite as good as the original—and there’s nothing wrong with that; this film is still pretty damn cool. The story is a lot more personal this time around and revolves mainly around K, old(Jones) and young(Brolin). A former nemesis of K’s, an alien assassin known as Boris the Animal, escapes from a top secret prison hellbent on getting revenge against the man that took his left arm, arrested him, and consequently wiped out his entire race 40 years ago. He seeks a device from the son of a brilliant inventor to travel back in time to kill K and save his world-destroying people. Boris succeeds, and it’s up to K’s partner J—the only person who remembers the true timeline—to jump back in time and set things straight. Sounds pretty serious, huh? Well, the film treats the plot as such; there is a lot less comedy this time around, but still plenty to keep you smiling throughout each act.
The cast is spectacular and a definite high point of the film. Series regulars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to the roles they made great, and are joined by a variety of others including: Josh Brolin as Young K, Jemaine Clement as Boris, Emma Thompson as O, MIB’s new director, Alice Eve as Young O, Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, an alien target of Boris in 1969, and Lanny Flaherty as Obadiah Price, the son of the inventor. Brolin is absolutely perfectly cast here, as expected. He captures Jones’ mannerisms and image brilliantly, and it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Clement really surprised me in his turn as Boris, he’s usually a comedic character but really held his own as a menacing villain. I’d go to far to say he made Boris the Animal my favorite antagonist in the franchise thus far. There are some notable cameos in the film as well, such as Bill Hader as Andy Warhol, Will Arnett as Agent AA, and make-up maestro Rick Baker as an alien. Although I feel that both Hader and Arnett were both grossly underused.
The writing is pretty good, and stands up to the standards set by the other two films. Etan Cohen(co-writer of Tropic Thunder) further proves that he can balance action with a dose a comedy and a dash of heart. You’ll be very surprised at just how much heart this film actually has, it’s by far the most sentimental. It also manages to weave itself into the mythos of the other films in the series extremely well, especially the original MIB. However, there is a major plot hole regarding just how J was able to retain his memory of the original timeline. Unless I completely missed something it’s never explained, only that his new addiction to chocolate milk is a side effect of whatever miraculous event. I also feel that MIB is ready for a grand scale adventure—J and K are always up against a lone villain, I think they’re ready to repel an invasion, or at least a team of baddies. The second film hinted at that, but Serleena’s forces ended up just being henchmen.
This quite possibly could be the final Men In Black film, and if you want to see your pals J and K again then I suggest you go see this in theaters. We need a series like this every few years, it’s the closest thing we’ve got to the amazing Ghostbusters franchise. If you liked the other films, or even just the first one, you’ll enjoy this one as well. I didn’t see it in 3-D, so I can’t vouch for how well the effect works for this film, but I’ve heard it suffers from the usual post conversion blues. Shoddy 3-D or not, this is still a fun-as-hell, well executed, galactic quest you’re going to want to embark upon.