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Men in Black III Review
By Darrin Jones / May 26

Ingredients: If you liked the characters of Men in Black, the campy action of Wild Wild West, and the sci-fi spoofing of Galaxy Quest, you will like this movie.

There’s usually a clear indicator that moviemakers have run out of ideas for a sequel, that being that the sequel will either take place in space or take place in the past; Men in Black III takes place in the past. When alien super criminal, Boris the Animal (as played by Jemaine Clement), breaks out of his lunar prison, he travels back to the 1960’s to kill the M.I.B. agent that arrested him, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Agent K’s partner, Agent J (Will Smith), must travel through time to stop Agent K’s death and prevent an alien invasion. Whacky time traveling shenanigans ensue when Agent J runs into his partner’s younger self, as played by Josh Brolin, and the two must team up to take down the Boris of the past and the Boris of the future.

Now it might sound like I didn’t care for this third installment in the Men in Black series, especially given how horrendous Men in Black II was, but actually I kind of liked it. And the reason I liked it is because it had some deeper meanings and real development, unlike the previous disaster of a movie that was nothing but annoying slapstick. There’s actually a lot about Men in Black III that revolves around death and change. The film opens with the funeral of the M.I.B.’s ex-director Zed -- I guess Rip Torn really didn’t want to revise his role for a third time. And this prompts Agents K and J to consider their own mortality. The film also makes a good use of the time traveling mechanic to show the audience insights into Agent K’s well-hidden psyche without sacrificing the character fans of the series have come to know and love. Basically getting your cake and eating it too, with time travel! Also, besides a few really forced comedic moments pretty early on, this sequel returns to it’s pseudo serious portrayal of a secret government agency with an extraterrestrial twist. It was a nice return to form. Jemaine shows his surprising acting talent with the Boris character, really bringing out a creative and threatening villain. And I really liked the inclusion of the “fifth-dimensional” character, Griffin (as played by Michael Stuhlbarg). But the biggest selling point in the trailers, that I’m glad didn’t let me down in the film, was Josh Brolin’s scary good impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones. That alone made my day

But, of course, Men in Black III is still a sequel so there’s bound to be a few things that drag the movie down. So let’s get to the bad stuff. Emma Thompson is woefully underused as Agent O and the few scenes with her make her resort to hackneyed slapstick. The time traveling aspect, while an interesting gimmick, wasn’t really integrated into the film. The majority of the movie takes place in the 1960’s but other then a few references, you could hardly tell. It was wasted potential. And I’m still not sure why the Agent J character has to be constantly ill-informed and out of his league. Will Smith is an outstanding actor when he’s in a serious lead but for some reason in the Men in Black films, he just can’t shed is Fresh Prince of Bel Air persona. Oh, there’s also a bit of a surprise twist that some people might spot early enough but it felt poorly handled and only served to make the relationship between the characters and situation more confusing. But the complaints are mostly nitpicks. Men in Black III is a reasonably good finish to the Men in Black franchise -- if it is the end to the Men in Black franchise. Hopefully director Barry Sonnenfeld will finally get the hint and move on to something else. I mean, come on Mr. Sonnefeld, The Addams Family still isn’t a trilogy yet, you got to strike while the iron is hot!

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