‘Men in Black III’ Movie Review
There were plenty of things working against Men in Black III before its release. First, the original sequel, Men in Black II, was a critical flop. Second, almost ten years have elapsed between films. Lastly, and probably scariest, was the fact that Men in Black III started production and filming without a final script. Production was actually stopped at one point to finish the script. Going into the film, I figured it would appear very disjointed and unorganized. For once, expectations ended up making me like a film more, as Men in Black III was surprisingly (I hate using this word) enjoyable. It wasn’t a movie I’d praise to the moon, but that it’s good enough to suggest seeing, especially if you are a fan of the series.
My expectations weren’t shattered right away either. From the opening scene, I openly cringed as Jemaine Clement’s Boris (the Animal) broke out of Lunar Max, a maximum security prison located on the moon, and looked deep into the camera while channeling his inner-Horatio Caine.
Once our favorite agents made it to the screen, things started to settle in. Boris travels back to Earth to avenge the extinction of his race and the loss of his arm. Agent K (Tommy L. Jones and Josh Brolin) was responsible for both of these things. Instead of taking it out on the present-day K, Boris time travels back to 1969 to eliminate the younger K (Brolin).
Things start to get interesting when time travel implications surface. Whatever does and doesn’t happen in 1969 directly influences the present. Therefore, Agent J (Will Smith) must go back in time as well, in order to stop the impending ripple effect.
The Men in Black series has never prided itself on being an extraordinarily deep sci-fi series. This isn’t a knock, but it’s meant to point out that the series is more about comedy than true science fiction. That makes all the little nuances pertaining to time travel overlookable. It isn’t nearly as tidy as it could be, but given the status of the production, we should be happy with what we got.
In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t have been able to guess they had problems. The story comes together pretty well. There is a particularly emotional scene towards the end that deserves recognition. Agent J and K both get some great backstory, with K being the obvious focus.
Brolin’s addition was another key reason the whole thing seemed to work. Not only does he look remarkably like a young Tommy Lee Jones, but he acted the part well. The character was consistent enough to believe, but different enough to understand that something drastic happened to change him from the person he was then to the person he is now.
The additions don’t stop there, though, as Bill Hader (playing Andy Warhol), Michael Chernus (playing an electronics store employee), and Michael Stuhlbarg (playing a future telling alien) all contributed a bunch of comedy. The main characters aren’t nearly as funny as we may remember them, but the new cast members help pick up the slack. I am a little sad (minor spoiler coming) David Cross didn’t make it into the movie, though.
Men in Black III turns out to be a much better movie than I expected. I blame myself for discounting the movie before I saw it, but I can admit defeat. Time travel was a risk (and it doesn’t exactly work), but the story gets summed up pretty well. As long as this is the final film in the franchise (unfortunately, I doubt this), I am completely on board. With the catastrophic potential, Men in Black III at least outdoes the first sequel, which is probably enough for plenty of people.