I didn’t think that there would be a Men in Black III movie and that was for good reason. The first sequel was released back in 2002, it wasn’t very good and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a third film. It did catch me off guard, but that was my fault. I didn’t think of some of the practices that are used in Hollywood. If a movie makes money, there’s always room for another sequel. Even if it’s with different characters (i.e. The Bourne Legacy and the Batman movies).
The story in Men in Black III unfolds as a new and more dangerous alien arrives on the scene to destroy the world and kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). It is then that his partner Agent J (Will Smith) has to step up and save the day. This is not a normal fight against an evil extraterrestrial though. For this job, J has to go back to 1969 to do it. There he meets a young Agent K (Josh Brolin) and learns about some of the secrets of the universe all while trying to do whatever he can to prevent the destruction of the world.
The first two movies in the M.I.B. franchise is sci-fi comedies that puts a heavy emphasis on both the sci-fi and the comedy, so I’d imagine that anyone familiar with those movies would know what they were about to see in Men in Black III. They start with the jokes and gags almost immediately and I’m sure some people are going to find much of that stuff hilarious. As for me, some of it is funny, none of it is great and none of it was terrible.
You’d also know that you’re going to get some interesting looking aliens that will be put on display. Virtually all of these aliens are very well done and some of them look pretty nasty. While seeing all of the creatures that have been created for this movie, it’s obvious that the team behind all of the make-up effects and CGI that we see should be commended for the work that they out in. All of their work is imperative when it comes to the film and its potential success.
After being on a ten-year hiatus, you know they had to bring in something new to Men in Black III. That something would be the added element of time travel. Some may look at this as just a cheap gimmick to justify bringing back a dormant and nearly forgotten franchise back to theaters. That may or may not be the only reason, but I don’t care if that’s why. I just want it to be good and I want it to mean something.
Unfortunately, the time travel didn’t do all that it could and it didn’t even effect the movie that much. When you’re supposed to be going back in time to the 1960’s, I think it’s best to show several distinct differences between the person from the future and the people from the past. With the exception of a few throw in scenes, they didn’t really do much of that and I don’t think they cared with some of it. One problem was a scene where Jay experiences racism to show what it was like in ’69 as a black person. I thought this particular scene was funny, but it was actually weird, because that stuff still happens sometimes in this day and age.
Another scene is where Agent J uses the word “shiznit” and the person that he’s speaking to doesn’t understand. That’s also weird, because I haven’t heard anybody use that term since like 2003. Is Agent J supposed to be from the past too? Those kinds of missteps makes it look like they didn’t completely care about making the movie as authentic as possible. It makes me wonder how much thought was actually put into the script. Besides the race relation scene, the disconnect in the use of slang and some of the outfits worn by some of the extras and actors with smaller roles, they really didn’t do much else to illustrate the differences from now and then.
On a positive note, Men in Black III does start off well enough despite the comedy not being all that strong. The tone, the action and the movie itself are what carries it in the early going. These scenes at first show the day-to-day lives of Agents J, K and some of the others who work for the clandestine organization put together to protect the planet from menacing lifeforms from outer space. We even get to hear a lovely speech from Tommy Lee Jones’ version K during this time.
Once we get past all of that, we get to venture to 1969 where we’re introduced to Josh Brolin’s version of Agent K. Off of the previous scenes, it continues to go well, but it doesn’t stay that way. After being in the past for a while, there is a decent sized down turn of sorts. The movie doesn’t sustain that engaging vibe that it had and everything seems to temporarily dry up a bit. There’s never a time in where Men in Black III completely fails or remains stagnant, but these scenes do hurt a film that never rises too far above mediocrity.
There are some scenes of good quality in Men in Black III, but there’s one that stands out more than any other. It caught me by surprise, because I didn’t think something like this would be in this movie. It’s a touching and heartfelt scene that helps to explain some parts of the franchise that are imperative to the overlying aspects of the story. It’s also used as a moment to humanize the characters in a way that they didn’t do in the rest of the film. This is easily the best scene in the movie and it even had a guy sitting in front of crying. That was some heavy stuff.
When I think about this movie, it’s a bit like The Dictator in a sense that it’s at least serviceable and I can see why some may like this more than I do. It’s a reasonably entertaining movie, but there just isn’t enough in it for me to give it my full endorsement. I liked it better than I did the first two, but that’s not saying much (That’s especially true for Men in Black II). This is a movie that’s slightly above average at best. It would have been nice if it were funnier, if they looked at the differences in the different eras more and if they would have included Nicole Scherzinger in more scenes. If they would have done those things, I would have given Men in Black III a higher score.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Tommy Lee Jones
Film Length: 104 minutes
Release Date: May 25, 2012
Distributor: Columbia Pictures