Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Men in Black 3 (2012)


“A miracle is something that seems impossible but happens anyway.”

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin
Writers: Etan Cohen, Lowell Cunningham

I loved the first MIB movie, and despite its numerous flaws I can watch MIB 2 and still get some enjoyment from it. When I heard that after ten years MIB 3 was going to make it’s way to the cinema’s I was a little bit cautious. Stories from the set were the script wasn’t even finished when shooting began. As such this movie should not have been good, it should have been a disaster, and yet miracle of miracles it defied expectations and was better than it had any right to be.

Somehow in the midst of all the chaos, they managed to strike upon the same tone as the first movie. Instantly it’s a step ahead of the second movie which really just tried to use the same jokes, but forget about feeling the same. While not everything works, there is more than enough to be interested in MIB 3. The time travel aspect is probably one of the biggest problems the movie has, but it allows for us to be introduced to one of the most interesting characters in Griffin. Writing wise we have jokes that hit more than they miss and therefore people will be entertained.

Will Smith slips into the character of Agent J with ease. It’s also been a while since I’ve watched a movie with this Will Smith and I kind of missed it. Tommy Lee Jones is actually really disappointing as he seems to be going through the motions. Actually if he was going through the motions it would be better, as he seems close to collapse at various times throughout the movie. On the other hand Agent K still get’s a strong showing thanks to Josh Brolin who plays the younger version of the agent. To call it an impressive impersonation is not doing it justice, as he manages to not only capture the essence of Tommy Lee Jones but expand upon the character and making it his own. It’s an impressive feat. Another great turn comes from Jemaine Clement as movies villain Boris. Amazingly Boris is a threatening presence and is a somewhat unique portrayal. But the real joy of this movie comes from the character of Griffin played by Michael Stuhlbarg. His character exists in ‘five dimensions,’ and has some of the cooler lines in the movie. It’s also a unique character that I haven’t seen about nine or so times.

When the movie uses practical effects it looks fantastic, and some of the retro designs of MIB offices are funny. For some reason the movie seems to really be firing when the practical stuff is present. There is just a sense of fun that comes through; almost you can sense the joy the designers were having. Unfortunately a lot of the CGI doesn’t really work, especially the time travel sequences. I couldn’t help but feel like I was trapped in a video game.

Plot wise is where the movie really comes apart. The time travel makes the movie an incomprehensible mess, and the more attention you pay the worse it gets. The biggest insult is that the movie really goes a long way to destroying a lot plot beats set up in the first movie. The introduction of Agent O not only further undoes the emotional story of Agent K, but it also wastes Emma Thompson’s time. Truly this movie defines the notion of ‘if you don’t question it, you will enjoy the movie more.’

In the grand scheme of the movies it’s got nothing on the first movie, but there is a lot more to like here than its sequel. It’s a shame Tommy Lee Jones didn’t bring his A game as everyone else does bring a lot of charm to the screen. The time travel aspect does bring some great visuals to the movie. It’s not a flawless movie and I can see why some reviewers will not like it, but general audiences should find enough here to have a good time.

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