In Men in Black III, Will Smith’s J must travel back in time to save both the world from an alien invasion and Tommy Lee Jones’ K from certain
It’s too bad he couldn’t go back in time and make this the second film in the series to save us all from Men in Black II.
It’s rare that a series recovers after an entry as creatively bankrupt as the 2002 sequel; but MIB III does just that.
And although it certainly doesn’t go so far as to inspire confidence in any subsequent sequels also being worthy, it does make for a fun
(and funny) film.
The 1997 popcorn masterpiece it isn’t. A good waste of 106 minutes it is.
After a string of more straight-laced roles, Will Smith returns to the wacky expressions and delivery that made him famous in the first place.
I won’t say that the act that started to grow stale is fresh again, but it’s fun to see him doing his thing again in one of his most notable roles.
The real show-stealer is Josh Brolin as the 1969 version of K.
Brolin’s replication of Tommy Lee Jones’ mannerisms and distinct cadence is absolutely perfect. It’s almost eerie how close it is.
But Brolin isn’t merely a caricature. He’s natural enough that the performance stands on its own.
I honestly don’t think it would have been any better if the filmmakers actually travelled back in time to have the real 1969 Tommy Lee Jones
in the film.
I also liked the villain, Boris the Animal. “It’s just Boris!” he cries.
Boris is a horrific creation complete with tubes for eyes and spiky alien critters living inside his hands. He is a disgustingly over-the-top
and hilarious creation; especially when we see what he looked like back in the 60s.
With the time travel element, Tommy Lee Jones plays a much smaller role this time around, but he’s reliable as always. He does get a great
moment when he provides the eulogy for the dearly departed Zed (Previously Rip Torn before his litany of personal issues).
Especially noteworthy in a supporting role is Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin; a frantic fifth-dimensional alien who can see all possible timelines
at once. He has a lot of fun in this role and gets some very funny moments.
Men in Black III hums by at a brisk pace, never overstaying its welcome and providing enough humor and action to be a satisfying
It has to be mentioned that one of them is a chase sequence involving ‘monocycles’ that bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Garrison’s ‘It’
from South Park. A couple features have been removed, of course.
The climax of the film is a fight atop the Apollo 11 launch pad. It’s elevated by cool visuals and energetic camerawork.
There is also a surprisingly touching moment that follows and wraps up the plot and the characters’ arcs very nicely.
Series director Barry Sonnenfeld really does a nice job here and appears to have made a concerted effort to deliver a lean, energetic and
dramatically satisfying entry.
While it may never reach the heights of the original Men in Black, Men in Black III is a lot of fun and a nice return to form for the series. The
time-travelling plot leads to some great comic material (Andy Warhol’s true identity, early model Neuralizers) and provides a couple of
fantastic supporting roles for Brolin and Stuhlbarg.
Fans of the original (And, really, who isn’t?) should see this film without hesitation. The movie may venture back to 1969, but for me it felt
like going back to 1997 when the Men in Black were the coolest dudes in the universe.
* * *
(out of four)
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Etan Cohen
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin,
Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg
Music by: Danny Elfman
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Released: May 25, 2012; 106 Minutes