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The Men are Back in Black and They've Still Got What it Takes
It's been a little while since I've pulled out the DVDs of the first two Men In Black films, but my general remembrance is that they seemed to have a bit more fun with the alien weirdness they portrayed than I'm seeing in Men In Black 3.
That's not a dig at MIB 3 (MIIIB?) or to imply that they don't have any alien weirdness fun, or that it's not a fun movie in general. It's very fun and very well done. I just mean there's a slightly different feel, though it definitely still feels like an MIB movie.
But first, the story:
We start with a villain. Boris The Animal (Jemain "Flight of the Conchords" Clement) is in prison with a severe axe to grind with Agent K (Tommy Lee "Does Nobody Remember I was Two Face First?" Jones). He has a tough time grinding that axe, however, since part of that axe is the fact that K took off one of his arms back in 1969. (Boris's arm, not K's arm.) Meanwhile, Agent K and Agent J (Will "Let's not talk about Wild Wild West, okay?" Smith) are preparing for a memorial for the late head of MIB, Zed, where we get a "rousing" and "touching" "eulogy" by K.
The next day, when J gets to work, he finds out that the man who recruited him into the agency has been dead for over 40 years. Boris did something to history and J is the only one who remembers how it should be. He has to time jump back to 1969 and stop Boris from killing his late former partner. (Oh how science fiction makes it hard to write a concise plot summary sometimes.)
After a ten year gap, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this one. I hoped for it to be fun. I hoped for it to be cool to look at. I hoped for most of the movie to be Shakira bellydancing. Well, two out of three ain't bad is it? (Siiiiigh. Maybe in The Dark Knight Rises.)
The effects here are extremely well done and serve the story well. And more importantly, for the most part, they don't really distract from the story or the actors themselves. With this kind of movie, it's so easy to make it a "look what we just did!" kind of movie and those are rarely satisfying for very long. (Are you listening here Phantom Menace?)
Jemain Clement as Boris makes a very enjoyable and menacing entry to the collection of MIB villains. He is clearly having fun in the role and I look forward to watching this one again.
On the other hand, part of the draw of the first two movies was the way that Smith and Jones worked off of each other, and Tommy Lee Jones isn't even in half of this movie. The good news, however, is that Josh "No Country for Old Goonies" Brolin does an excellent Tommy Lee Jones. The voice is very similar, and he works very well with Will Smith.
Now, if you really want to see this one in 3D, go ahead. Just know that this one's a conversion. It's too bad, because this kind of movie in real 3D (as opposed to fake slightly pop-up 3D) could be quite amazing to watch.
Oh, there's also nothing at the end of the credits even though there appears to be a recent law that makes that illegal. I guess they're hoping to make enough money their first weekend to pay whatever fine the movie police decide to impose.
And this one definitely deserves a look. That is, if you enjoy the kind of comedy from the first two, you should like this one. I don't know how diferent it would be with a different director, but Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the first two, clearly understands the franchise well enough to keep the fans happy.
(However there is no David Cross as Newton or Tony Shalhoub as Jeebs. But maybe the filmmakers just felt they didn't need them for this story and putting them in just to appear would have done them a disservice.)
When I said that the first two seemed to have more fun with the alien weirdess, I'm thinking about scenes like Will smith being flung about like a dog's chew toy by a tentacle giving birth, or a giant worm with a flower on its head eating most of a New York subway train. Or how about when they come right out and tell us that Michael Jackson is an alien?
This one has moments similar to that kind of stuff (if you look carefully, they seem to be implying that Lady Gaga—big surprise here — is an alien named "Lady Gaga" and I could have sworn I saw Howard Stern being lead through MIB headquarters by an agent) but it's much more focused on telling the story. It's still fun and weird, but that's all window dressing this time around.
Great window dressing, but the story and climax are extremely personal in this one. I was actually very moved at the end.
But what do you think?
I give this one an 8 / 10.
Men in Black 3 is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, brief suggestive content and a bit of language.