Men in Black 3 – Movie Review
These days, it seems like a ton of movie franchises are making comebacks that are actually decent (and have made plenty of money as well). To name off a few, last year we were treated to X-Men: First Class and the very funny film The Muppets, and later this year we will see returning franchises in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hobbit. Among films from returning franchises, one happens to be Men in Black 3. Although this series never technically left us or was rebooted (like most), Men in Black 3 is the first film of that franchise to be released in a decade, making it a pseudo revival of the Men in Black series. However, are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones still the right team for yet another action-packed, sci-fi comedy?
On July 16, 1969, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) arrested an alien named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), who had plans to use his people to invade Earth and destroy the human race. However, in the process K also sets up what’s known as the ArcNet space defense mechanism and Boris becomes imprisoned on the Moon subsequently after the Apollo 11 landing. Fast forward 40 years – Boris escapes the prison and seeks revenge against K since he shot off Boris’ left arm in the process of arresting him. Soon after, K learns of his escape and regrets not killing him four decades earlier. The following day, Agent J (Will Smith) visits the apartment of the slightly depressed K and is curious to find that he is no longer there (another family is occupying it). After returning to the MIB headquarters, he learns from MIB head Agent O (Emma Thompson) that K has been dead for 40 years, apparently killed on the very day he arrested Boris the Animal. O and J then realize that in order to bring back K and also halt an impending alien invasion of New York City, J must travel back in time to 1969 to release the ArcNet into space, rescue the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) and also kill Boris before he can kill him…
Here’s a little disclaimer: going into Men in Black 3, I didn’t expect to leave the theatre with a positive attitude. However, once Men in Black 3 ended, I was relieved that that film is definitely an improvement over its predecessor. Not only that, Men in Black 3 is also a good film. Consistent with the other films in the series, the third installment is an action-packed sci-fi comedy, but a slight problem with this is that this film is not constantly funny. Thus, the best way to describe the comedic consistency in Men in Black 3 is to say that it’s funny in moments scattered throughout the runtime (however, when those precious moments come up, my friends and I found ourselves howling with laughter). As far as action goes, there are plenty of memorable moments, especially with a cool gunfight in the beginning, the time travel sequences, along with a good climax. However, where Men in Black 3 certainly excels is placing focus on storyline and character development. From the beginning, we get a clear picture of which character the villain will be and what needs to be done in order for J to save K (along with inevitably the rest of the world). Although Boris the Animal is not exactly a well fleshed-out character at all, the story should be commended for exploring the relationship between J and K and delving into their individual characters. It’s great to see how they come to terms with each other in both the present day and in 1969, and a shocking albeit touching plot twist in the very end did well for me to sympathize with both of those characters and present the reasons for why their partnership was eventually established. In that sense, I would say that Men in Black 3 is much more of an exploration of J and K than necessarily an action comedy about saving the world from a vengeful alien, but even so, writer Etan Cohen managed to toss around these two things with a surprisingly story-focused and entertaining script. Men in Black 3 isn’t as fresh, memorable or developed as it could have been, but don’t let that take you away from seeing this film though, because Men in Black 3 is a good movie, just not a great one.
This is the first film that Will Smith has starred in since 2008, and for that reason his performance feels more fresh and entertaining that it probably would have been if Men in Black 3 was released as early as 2009. This is so because he uses his usual Will Smith-branded type of acting that involves a comedic, less serious and action hero oriented approach; as I had said though, since I haven’t seen him in a new film for such a long time, his performance feels more welcome to me and is oftentimes hilarious. Tommy Lee Jones is great as always, for now he is pretty much synonymous with the character he plays in Men in Black 3. However, we don’t get to see that much of him in this film, because who replaces him as the young Agent K in most of Men in Black 3’s runtime? Yup, Josh Brolin does, and I have to say that he turned out to the perfect man for the role. He not only looks like a young Tommy Lee Jones, Brolin also perfectly embodies the already established character in both his voice and his performance.