Old 05-31-2012, 07:11 AM
Men In Black 3

Thereís something awkward and uncomfortable about Men In Black 3, and itís a feeling not easily shaken. We shouldnít be too surprised though as this second sequel (coming no less than a decade after the underwhelming Part 2) has had a less than ideal production phase, being rushed into filming without a finished script (never a good sign), only to be shut down for a 3 month period so hired help David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson could fine tune the screenplay (though Etan Cohen is the only one of six contributors to be awarded a credit). A blunder from the start, the final product reflects the manic way in which this should-be-hit film was handled.

Once again banking on the unlikely relationship of gruff Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and the more genial Agent J (Will Smith), this third instalment plays as if this dynamic in their relationship is something new and fresh, yet we know K is a sour puss and as many jokes as J tries to crack, itís never going to light the old man up. And this is its main problem: weíve seen it all before. The early scenes where the duo are fighting off other-worldly creatures and using their unique brain washing devices on the general public to keep them blissfully unaware were met with an embarrassing bout of silence from the audience (you could practically feel the chill of air blow through the cinema with a tumbleweed in its path). Itís a real shame too because you can feel that thereís something entertaining packed into the surrounding walls of mediocrity.

After a relatively exciting opening sequence that sets up the filmís villain, Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement), an alien who has been imprisoned for attempting to destroy the planet (what else?), we learn that the former head of MIB, Z (Rip Torn) has passed away and O (a delightfully quirky Emma Thompson) has taken over. In keeping with the brisk pace of the films, it isnít long before J and K are fighting alien beings (where creature effect specialist Rick Baker demonstrates his skills) and Boris makes his unwelcome return, effectively wiping K from existence.

Using the ever-reliable (but plothole abounding) introduction of time travel, Men In Black 3 is indeed at its best when it implements the era change. Though everyone else at MIB HQ believes K is dead, and has been for 40 years, J knows of his existence and manages to travel back in time so he can intercept the moment when K and Boris originally came face to face. As to be expected, the film pokes fun at the era change but sadly, litttle of this promising situation is taken advantage of either. Jís run-in with a duo of racist cops and an interlude at a factory party hosted by Andy Warhol (admittedly played rather amusingly by Bill Hader), who is actually an undercover MIB agent, are prime examples of the filmís underwhelming screenplay.

Still, while most of this fails, there are shining moments thanks to the inclusion of Josh Brolin as the younger K. Though he doesnít look the 29 years he is meant to be portraying, and this is even referenced, Brolinís turn as K brings about a much needed new perspective to the character as we learn he hasnít always been the stick in the mud weíve come to know him as. Brolinís replications of Jonesí deadpan mannerisms are indeed enjoyable and the chemistry created between the two is what helps keep the middle section of the film afloat.

The setting of the Apollo 11 launch at Cape Canaveral for the filmís finale is where the film regains its lost momentum, overblown as it is, as J and K go up against Boris for what will hopefully be the last time. We shouldnít be expecting any real surprises so the inclusion of an unexpected and, dare I say, poignant twist is a true surprise and one that is very much needed, offering a new perspective on J and Kís relationship. Of course this opens up a smattering of illogical loopholes, but for the sake of the film and the fans that will no doubt lap up the story, weíll let this one be.

Passable entertainment at the very least, Men In Black 3 is much like its predecessor. It fails to live up to the promise of the original and despite all the heart, effort and talent behind the project, old has failed to become new again.
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