Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MEN IN BLACK 3 – 2012 – THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM



“MIB 3 has everything that you could want from this series:  Ray gun fights, spaceship battles, sci-fi gadgets, cool aliens and most importantly lots of laugh-out-loud jokes!”


Science Fiction, Comedy and Action

 
Starring - Will Smith/Agent J, Tommy Lee Jones/Agent K, Josh Brolin/Young Agent K, Jemaine Clement/Boris The Animal, Emma Thompson/Agent O, Michael Stuhlbarg/Griffin, Mike Colter/Colonel, Nicole Scherzinger/Boris' Girlfriend, Michael Chernus/Jeffrey Price and Alice Eve/Young Agent O

 
Director - Barry Sonnenfeld

 
Writer - Etan Cohen (uncredited) David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson and Michael Soccio

 
Rated PG-13 - sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
1 hr., 43 min.

It has been ten long years since Men in Black 2, but I for one think it was worth the wait. Director Barry Sonnenfeld has only directed one other feature film since MIB 2 – 2006’s RV – so it was nice to see him return to the cinema with his most successful film franchise. Rumors were that Will Smith was not interested in returning to the role of Agent J and that was why there was such a long wait between MIBs 2 and 3. However, it was more likely that getting both Smith and Jones schedules to match was a more likely cause, as they had publicly admitted to want to return to MIB in 2008. The script, which was originally written by Etan Cohen in 2009, went through several rewrites, right up to the time and through shooting MIB 3, which began in November of 2010. The idea of the time travel storyline was credited to Will Smith by Sonnenfeld, who says Smith came up with the idea during the shooting of MIB2. Whoever came up with the idea, it was a good one as it allowed Tommy Lee Jones’ character’s background to be fleshed out more.



 
MIB 3 begins by showing the interstellar criminal Boris the Animal escaping from a prison on the Moon. After crashing his spaceship in New York City, Boris attacks K in a Chinese restaurant telling him, “You’re already dead… you just don’t know it yet”, before disappearing in an explosion. The next morning, Agent J calls K, but doesn’t get an answer, so he goes to K’s apartment and finds a young family living there. J returns to MIB headquarters, asking K’s whereabouts, but no one knows who K is, with the exception of new Chief Agent O, who informs J that K died in 1969.

Earth is suddenly attacked by hundreds of Boglodite spaceships. Agent J asks Chief Agent O why they haven’t activated the ArcNet shield and Agent O realizes that Boris must have traveled back to 1969 to kill Agent K and keep him from activating the shield, which would allow his fellow Bogoidites free reign over the Earth. Agent J finds the son of Obadiah Price – the creator of a time-travel device – and forces him to give him his sole remaining device, so that K can return to the day before Boris killed K in 1969.


J tries to avoid K in the past, but of course the younger Agent K arrests J during a car chase while in pursuit of younger Boris. J tells K the truth and K calmly tells J that he will help him to capture Boris and save the Earth’s future invasion by the Bogoidites.

Men in Black 3 succeeds because it develops both the complex plot and the deep relationship between J and K. The time travel story isn’t just window dressing to show J’s comical reaction to the late 1960’s cultural growing pains (which it dose), but to also tell the story of how Agent K became the sullen introverted person in the future. I really liked the way the story blended both these elements, without ever bogging down the pacing of the action or resorting to maudlin melodrama.



Much of the success of MIB can be attributed to Will Smith’s ability to slip back and forth effortlessly between comedy and drama. His scenes with both Tommy Lee Jones’ present K and Josh Brolin’s past K are both funny and touching. Little character touches like the country song that K is listening to in his car is the same in both the present and the past help to create a connection to the two actors that resonates with both characters. Enough can’t be said about Joss Brolin’s performance as the younger K. He doesn’t do just an imitation of Jones’ K, but actually seems to become the character. This makes the time that is spent in 1969 just as enjoyable as the time spent in the film’s present. While Emma Thompson’s Agent O isn’t given much to actually do in MIB 3, her character is very important to the story, so I was impressed by what Emma Thompson did with her character. I really enjoyed a new character that was introduced in MIB 3: the mysterious alien Griffen, played by Michael Stuhlbarg. Griffen is an Arcadian who possesses ability to see all possible futures and it is not as useful an ability as it might seem, as he has a tendency not to see the real timeline until the last possible second.

MIB 3 is filled with all the usual alien high-tech gizmos as in the past two films, but my favorites are the uni-motor bikes that K and J drive in 1969. Rick Baker contributed over 100 alien makeup effects for MIB 3 and every one of them is amazing! There is so much to look at in this film that it is easy to become distracted from the story itself.


Speaking of the story, one noticeable lack of a story element in this MIB film was a love interest for Will Smith’s J. I honestly didn’t even notice this missing element until the film was over, because the story was so focused on the relationship between J and K. There is a minor love element to MIB 3, but I won’t spoil it here; but it is a nice one.

MIB 3 has everything that you could want from this series:  Ray gun fights, spaceship battles, sci-fi gadgets, cool aliens and most importantly lots of laugh-out-loud jokes! This is not only the third film in the MIB series; it may the best one as well.


TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 9 Script – 9 Special Effects – 10

VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9

TOTAL RATING – 90


2 comments:

  1. I agree with you on this one man, I do believe it is the best in the series, I had tons of fun with it and loved the visual gags that Sonnenfeld adds to the film...loved all those retro gadgets! Especially that giant machine they put J in, cool looking stuff.

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  2. I’m glad you enjoyed MIB 3 at least as much as I did, Francisco!

    Although I didn’t dislike MIB 2 as much as the majority of fans did, I was hoping that MIB 3 would be more like the first film in its blend of out-of-this-world outlandish humor and down-to-earth character drama. At its heart, MIB is the story of ordinary humans who must face extra-ordinary circumstances, while keeping themselves human and yet be kept apart from humanity. I think MIB 3 succeeds at this even better than the first film, because it doesn’t have to explain how the MIB agency operates and can spend more screen-time on the character drama.

    I love the 1969 setting for the “time-jump” part of the film, as this allowed them to show – as you say – “all those retro gadgets”, which was one of the best parts of the film. One of my favorite gags in the ’69 sequences was when young-K wouldn’t give J a “space gun” at first and insisted on giving him a ’45 revolver instead. This was a fun nod to the first film when old-K would only give rookie J the “cricket” gun.

    Seeing MIB 3 has made me want to revisit MIB and MIB 2 – something I haven’t done in several years, because in the past I had watched them so many times I had actually gotten somewhat tired of them. I think it will take many, many viewings of MIB 3 before I tire of it

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