May 29th, 2012 by Ross Thibodeaux
It's been almost a decade since we last caught up with the Men in Black and almost as long since we've seen 'Big Willy' Will Smith in a summer box office smash. (his last summer release was I, Robot back in 2004) Was Men in Black 3 worth the wait or did a number of script rewrites and production delays cast a black shadow over this would-be Memorial Day weekend juggernaut? Find out below.
Fortunately, Men in Black 3 delivers. No easy task, considering the film began shooting with an unfinished script. In comparison, it falls somewhere in the middle of the previous installments as far as quality goes (sorry Johnny Knoxville) but still manages to bring the trilogy(?) full circle by revisiting narrative groundwork setup by it's predecessors. The crux of the creative team that adapted Lowell Cunningham's comic book into a cinematic success back in the late '90's return with a few noteworthy additions including Emma Thompson as Agent O and Josh Brolin, doing a spot-on impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones, as a young Agent K. Among the other usual suspects are director Barry Sonnenfeld and of course Will Smith, doing a spot-on impersonation of himself, as Agent J. Despite the new additions to the cast Men in Black 3 does little in the way of reinventing itself but with the inclusion of plenty of cartoonish alien encounters, neuralyzed onlookers and a despondent Andy Warhol ( SNL alum Bill Hader) even today's audiences are sure to be entertained.
The basic set-up begins with the escape of a violent alien fugitive biker, Boris the Animal (an unrecognizable Jemaine Clement), who lost his arm in an altercation with a less surly Agent K back in the swinging sixties. Escaping the outerspace Lunarmax prison, and the company of his girlfriend Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, Boris arrives back on Earth where he discovers a method of time travel that grants him the ability to reduce K to nothing but a memory before their ill-fated standoff. When Agent J (Will Smith) shows-up at MIB headquarters looking for K, and a tall glass of chocolate milk, he discovers that his partner actually died decades before they ever met. By way of a 'time jump' he follows Boris back to the 1960′s in an effort to not only save K, but prevent a full-on alien invasion that the Men in Black had, in the prior version of reality, managed to stop. Whew! Head spinning yet? Using time travel as a plot device is always a tricky task that few films can pull off successfully but thanks to the second act addition of Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), an alien who is capable of viewing multiple versions of reality simulataneously, Men in Black 3 hits the mark. Granted, it's not the most scientifically sound time travel film but any grazed over explanations are easily forgotten once Agents J and K distract with their familiar comedic schtick. However, Men in Black 3 is not without a few unavoidable distractions. Most notably is a glaringly obviously tacked on plot twist during the film's climax that will surely tug on the heart strings of even the grumpiest curmudgeon.
An unfinished script, rewrites, cast members dropping out and extended production delays were all signs pointing to a misfire the likes of which he haven't seen by Will Smith and Barry Sonnenfeld since Wild Wild West but fortunately for everyone, that bullet was dodged. Men in Black 3 doesn't tread any new ground but fans of the series should be thoroughly satisfied.
Men in Black 3: Now Playing
1hr 43 min
2012 Summer Movie Smackdown results:
Battleship: 2.5 stars
Men in Black 3: 3.5 stars
*Ratings are based on a five star system