Tuesday, May 29, 2012

here come the men in black ... again

 A definite summer popcorn movie, Men in Black 3 can't possibly be as fun as the first film, but it also can't be as awful as the second. Luckily, it manages to be maybe not exactly inspired, but at least silly and fun and for the most part, good-natured.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back as Agents J and K, the mismatched but strangely perfect partners who cruise New York City in the hip product-placed car of the moment. They are part of the Men in Black (MIB), a top-secret force who keep an eye on resident aliens and protect the world from its latest galactic threat. This time around it happens to be an incarcerated monster called Boris the Animal, from K's past, who escapes from his prison on the Moon and travels back in time to seek revenge on K, who foiled him the first time around.

When J wakes up the next morning and finds K not only missing but dead for decades, the new head of MIB, O (Emma Thompson, in a brief but welcome appearance), sends him a little further back in time to stop Boris from killing K and following his original plan, which was the destruction of Earth. This opens up an opportunity for Josh Brolin, who plays a young K, to turn in a wonderful performance and dead-on impersonation of Jones. His delivery and demeanor were so right-on that at times one might wonder whether Jones dubbed his lines.

J and K on the job (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones)
In 1969 (Josh Brolin, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Smith)
It's no surprise that he majority of the movie's best lines and one-liners belong to Will Smith, who is clearly enjoying being back in the black suit and skinny tie. His trip to the swinging '60s takes him to Andy Warhol's Factory and an Apollo launch as he and K try to stop Boris. The time travel, like in most movies doesn't always make sense, and a twist at the end that was fairly easy to spot may confound audiences, but the general mood is fast and fun, and J's easy rapport with both K's is fun to watch.

Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire) plays a most interesting alien that J and K run across. The same cannot be said for Jemaine Clement, who plays Boris. Not the actor's fault, the alien he plays is one-note, repulsive to look at, and an all-around bore. Why director Barry Sonnenfeld made his bad guy alien physically repellent rather than truly scary I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what the kiddies will think about the weird vagina dentata imagery going on in Boris's hands and other parts of his body. Thankfully Boris is just a small part of Men in Black 3. Rumor has it that Smith and Jones are up for a fourth installment. The films have been paced fairly far apart (MIB came out in 1997, MIB 2 in 2002) in the past. But would they be able to work Josh Brolin back into the mix?
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