Men in Black 3


Will Smith as Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K
Josh Brolin as Young Agent K
Jemaine Clement as Boris
Emma Thompson as O
Alice Eve as Young Agent O
Bill Hader as Andy Warhol
Nicole Scherzinger as Lilly
Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin
Yuri Lowenthal as Knuckles (voice)
Joseph R. Gannascoli as Mets Fan
Lenny Venito as Dom
Keone Young as Mr. Wu
Michael Chernus as Jeffrey
Geoffrey Cantor as Technician
David Pittu as Roman
Brad Abrell as Mannix (voice)
Tony Joe as Tommy Agee
Anthony J. Gallo as Lem
Francesca Tedeschi as Warhol Girl

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

It’s fun seeing Smith and Jones back on the screen, Josh Brolin as young Agent K, and the impressive 3D, but “Men in Black 3” is only mildly entertaining. A lack of alien ‘wow factor’ and a time travel centered plot seem to veer it away from what made the first film so entertaining.

After 15 years of having worked together, Agent J and Agent K have fallen into a groove. But when Boris the Animal escapes from a maximum security MIB prison, Agent K becomes even more tightlipped and mysterious than usual. Despite Agent J’s best efforts to get him to talk, K won’t fill him in on what’s going on. Then the unexpected happens – Agent K disappears from existence.

It turns out that after escaping from prison, Boris the Animal went back in time and killed Agent K, thus erasing him from our timeline. Now only Agent J remembers who he is. And even worse, the changes Boris made to history have allowed an invasion by his alien race in the present day.

Now on a mission to save Agent K and the entire world, Agent J jumps back in time to 1969 to stop Boris from murdering his partner, but in the past, the aliens are about the only familiar thing to him.

“Men in Black 3” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content.

What Worked:
Seeing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones together on the screen again after so many years is like having a family reunion. They’re old friends that you didn’t realize you missed. They fit perfectly in their old roles and quickly hit the same stride that they left off with in 2002’s “Men in Black II.” And though Jones isn’t on the screen all that long, Josh Brolin joins the cast as Young Agent K and does a spot on impression of him. It’s eerie how well he does this performance, but it never feels like an impression. You believe you’re seeing a younger, albeit less jaded, version of Agent K. Also joining the cast is Emma Thompson as O, the new director of the MIB. She, too, has little screentime but she does generate some great laughs in her scenes with Smith. It’s pretty impressive that Smith doesn’t steal the spotlight from her.

The new bad guy for this film is Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal. I loved him in “Flight of the Concords,” so it’s a real treat to see him as this over-the-top alien with a creepy secret. Everything about him unsettles the audience from his odd voice to his awful long tongue.

I saw “Men in Black 3” in 3D and enjoyed it. The scenes where Agent J has to jump off of the building are particularly effective with the 3D presentation. It really emphasizes the height of the building and the jeopardy Agent J is in. And when Boris shoots spikes from his hands, they literally fly out of the screen at you. I heard the audience gasp at that while watching the movie. So if you like 3D, this is worth a little extra cash for a little extra spectacle.

What Didn’t Work:
Something’s wrong with the universe when I rate a popcorn movie lower than Ed Douglas! Being a huge fan of the original “Men in Black,” I went into “Men in Black 3” with high hopes. Maybe my expectations were too high, but while I found this film entertaining, I never felt it quite hit its stride. I think there are a lot of reasons why.

First of all, it really felt like it lacked the alien elements of the earlier films. With the exception of Boris, most of the aliens are just walking around in the background like in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Things aren’t helped any when they go back in time. When in 1969, it all becomes about the odd clothes, cars, and racism rather than about the aliens. Even the aliens in 1969 are weak when we discover that they are… models. That’s right, they’re simply beautiful people in weird costumes. Did they run out of money to pay Rick Baker or something? The same goes for Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, whose main alien characteristic is that he can tell the future. It doesn’t feel very alien. Overall, “Men in Black 3” lacks the ‘Wow’ factor of the previous films.

Another problem I had was the fact that they seemed to ignore the continuity they set up in the first two movies. In “Men in Black,” Agent K longed for the girl he wanted to marry but couldn’t because of the MIB. In “Men in Black II,” we found out he fathered a child with an alien who he loved but could never be with. In “Men in Black 3,” he has yet another forbidden love interest. It just felt like it was done as a matter of convenience, not because it was a natural part of the character’s story arc (especially in the movie’s finale which I won’t spoil here). The same goes for a plot point involving the Apollo mission. The rocket becomes critical to saving the world, but everyone seems to forget the fact that the MIB police aliens who arrived on earth on vehicles capable of space travel! Why would you need the Apollo rocket? That’s like the Navy desperately needing to borrow your kayak. Why do it that way? For the simple reason that it looks cool (and it certainly does). You start to get the feeling that the creators had several action scenes or comedic moments they wanted to do and the script was a way to loosely tie it together.

All in all, the whole film felt just OK, not great. I think there were better written episodes of the cartoon series than this. It just never hit its stride with moments where everything was working well together. Instead, it was just a lot of mildly amusing moments strung together.

The Bottom Line:
I really, really wanted to like “Men in Black 3” a lot, but I walked out of the theater only feeling a little entertained. If you liked the previous “Men in Black” movies, I definitely recommend you check it out in theaters, but keep your expectations in check. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either.