Here come the Men in Black, again. This week Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to the iconic roles of Agent J and K. The mis-matched partners have teamed up again to give us a glimpse at a day in the life of galactic defenders fifteen years after their introduction to the big screen.
Leland and Spooky are on the case this week. Seeing what most people overlook and pointing out problems staring everyone in the face, the boys are here to bring you the Movie Issues Dual Review of MIB 3.
It has been almost 15 years since the first Men in Black film was released, but Director Barry Sonnenfeld is once more collaborating with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K. This time, to stop an alien threat Will Smiths, Agent J, has to travel back in time to 1969 and team up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin). Men in Black 3 brings back the same comedy and sci-fi action we’ve come to expect from the team and their franchise.
Men in Black 3 is a solid B-film from start to finish, bringing nothing new to the series itself except the chance to spend some more time with characters we know and love from the past two films.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are still doing what we expect in these roles, and they’re good at it. Both are seasoned actors that know these characters inside and out, though Smith carries the role better than Jones. The real surprise was Josh Brolin’s spot-on imitation of Jones’s Agent K. Brolin truly carries the film with a spot-on imitation of Tommy Lee Jones’ voice and facial expressions -t here are certain parts where you have to wonder if they didn’t just use CGI to make Jones look younger. Another newcomer is talented Emma Thompson, who has some great one-liners and nice chemistry with Smith. The film’s main treat is watching familiar actors play much-beloved characters.
What isn’t a treat is the overuse of the 3D special effects. Having things fly at you though the screen doesn’t always make for a better movie or scene. Movies have been telling great stories, showing suspense and tension for years without the gimmick of knives or alien blasts flying directly at you. What also doesn’t quite work is the overuse of green-screen and CGI. It’s quite obvious there are no sets and backgrounds in certain key places, and being in 3D means it’s really quite noticeable. Switching between fake backgrounds and real New York streets is very jarring on the eyes, and makes for poor editing that’s inexcusable in a movie with a budget of $200 million.
It’s no secret this was a troubled set, featuring issues like shooting without a finished script, actors quitting and even having to stop production for a few months to get “things back on track”. Those aren’t good signs for any production, let alone coming back to an established franchise that started fifteen years ago. So the question is: did we need a third one? Didn’t we say all we had to say in the last two films?
But despite it all they did manage to film a movie – granted, not the best in the world, but we’ve seen worse. If you want to go to have fun, laugh and spend some time with actors and characters you enjoy, Men In Black 3 is a decent watch.
If you’re looking for a smart, quirky sci-fi film, I’d say just stay home and watch the first Men in Black.
The first Men in Black wasn’t just successful due to the chemistry of veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones and rising star Will Smith, or even the menagerie of different alien characters that were given. It was also because the story of J and K was self-contained with a satisfying happy ending. Remember how it ends with Will Smith training Linda Fiorentino as his new partner? One and done.
Everything wrapped in a nice little bow. Viewers were given a peak into a secret world that could exist within their own without them even knowing it. That’s why it’s great: Men in Black is everything you want and nothing extra.
Skip MIB 2, and this week MIB 3 comes to theaters in an attempt to revive the franchise? Hopefully that’s the goal because it’s at least better than thinking Hollywood is trying to cash in on another retired franchise.
They’re better than that, right? Of course not.
In MIB 3 we find our favorite agents well into their partnership with each other existing in the present day. Everyone knows this is true because Will Smith tells them repeatedly how long he’s been a member of MIB. Despite that fact, he still reacts to the new menagerie of aliens and their odd customs like the Fresh Prince of bad manners. For a man who has become a senior agent, you’d think that the weirdness of even MIB Headquarters wouldn’t phase him, yet he still stumbles through the lobby and even his interactions with his partner Tommy Lee Jones.
Although only briefly in the movie, Tommy Lee Jones also doesn’t feel natural. He shows up on screen carrying emotional baggage invented seemingly from nowhere, and looks like he can’t wait to leave the set. His seemingly younger clone (Josh Brolin) manages to put some life back into the character of Agent K, and is probably one of the best parts of the movie really worth watching. Another fun performance comes from Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Concords) channeling a ruthless Tim Curry to play antagonist Boris the Animal.
The flaw of the movie itself is that it leaves at the exact same point it began, without having taught us much in between or justified its existence. It’s still the adventure that we’ve come to expect with a variety of surprises and plenty of aliens around, but there’s no point that leaves viewers inspired or awed – the movie feels like just another episode in an ongoing series. (It could have fit into two episodes of the rarely-remembered animated series.)
Mind you, the movie is still a fun popcorn flick, much like Battleship last week. But it lacks the spark of its originator.