"Men in Black III" Review by The Cinema Jack
Was anyone truly clamoring for Men in Black III? I donít think anyone really wanted another sequel after the subpar Men in Black II in 2002. But, we were given Men in Black III anyway, and immediately, the skepticism rose up like a brushfire. Men in Black III has now come out, ten years after the second film and fifteen years after the first film, and it even started filming with an unfinished script. Surely, Men in Black III must be a horrible piece of filmmaking, with so many variables that had to have ruined it. Surprisingly, despite all of the warning signs pointing to a huge flop, Men in Black III is quality entertainment, much better than the last film and almost on par with the original film.
Rather than have Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) go through the motions, writer Etan Cohen (whose name is suspiciously similar to the acclaimed Ethan Coen of the Coen brothers) introduces a fresh plot involving time travel. Perhaps the use of time travel isnít fresh in the industry, but itís new for the franchise and allows the story to go in new directions beyond just the ďalien escapes, catch alienĒ routine that Men in Black II seemed to emulate with no deviation from its predecessor. The story begins with a monstrous alien named Boris the Animal, equal parts sasquatch and diabolical genius, escaping from the agencyís moon base. Boris, played by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords (doing his best Tim Curry impression), has only one arm due to a nasty shootout he had with Agent K a little over thirty years prior, before being arrested and confined to said moon base. He manages to back in time, killing Agent K and completely erasing him from existence.
Agent J seems to be the only one that notices that Agent K is gone, whereas everyone else seems to think he was killed in the late 60ís, and Jís craving for chocolate milk indicates that he was involved in some sort of timeline fracture that brought him to a reality in which Agent K did, in fact, die in the late 60ís at the hands of Boris the Animal. Now Agent J must go back in time to before Boris killed K and stop Boris from altering the timeline.
Josh Brolin plays a young version of Agent K, and his Tommy Lee Jones impression is impeccable. It almost sounds as if Jones dubbed his voice over, but thatís not the case, and it makes Brolinís acting so much more impressive. Michael Stuhlbarg of A Serious Man fame is also part of the supporting cast as Griffin, a unique breed of alien that is able to place himself within the fifth-dimension and see various timelines before they happen. Some may find this character annoying, some might find him hilarious. I did not find him either, but his character is very cleverly-written, especially in regards to his abilities.
First, I must impress upon you lesson on dimensions. The first dimension involves points in space which have no width or length but are connected by a line. The second dimension deals with length and width, such as planes. Where planes intersect, a line is formed. The third dimension adds depth to the length and width; a z-axis to the already-existing x and y-axes of the second dimension. We exist in the third dimension but only see in the second dimension; as such, you cannot see all sides of something at once, just the side that is facing you. The fourth dimension is where time becomes involved, as it encompasses every moment that happens, from the beginning of existence to the end, and possibly beyond those borders, within a three-dimensional space. Finally, the fifth dimension houses every possible fourth dimension timeline. In laymanís terms, every action involving multiple choices (and even the most mundane of actions has unlimited approaches to it) causes the timeline to break off onto its own branch, like a tree, in which one branch you do one thing, and in another branch you do something else. The fifth dimension is where that metaphorical tree is able to exist. I was able to appreciate how this complex concept was used to explain time travel in the film, because, in essence, this is how time travel could potentially work in real life. Rather than using flux capacitors and DeLorean time machines, Men in Black III opted to use a more complicated and intelligent approach in its explanation of time travel, and did so through Michael Stuhlbargís Griffin.
Even if you find Griffin annoying, you can still swoon over Will Smithís signature smile and charm. Heís hip, cool, slick, funny, and charming; basically, heís Will Smith, and weíve come to love Agent J for embodying the same traits that make us love Will Smith. Thereís a lot of subtle and dark humor in the film to accompany the dialogue Smith relays, and the action scenes are exciting, especially in 3D. Overall, Men in Black III is a solid action-comedy, with surprisingly good writing and some cool, technologically-geared action sequences, making for a shockingly fun ride.
If the review feels disjointed, it's because I wrote it over the course of like a week, a little bit every day, lol. Be gentle.