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Review: Men in Black III

May. 24, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: When Boris The Terrible (Jemaine Clement), the last survivor of a planet-destroying race of aliens, escapes his prison- he immediately travels back in time to erase the existence of the man who captured him, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Only his partner, J (Will Smith) remembers his existence, and in an effort to save his partner (not to mention the whole planet)- he also travels back in time, to 1969, where he partners with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to stop Boris' plan.

REVIEW: I know, I know- MEN IN BLACK III, who cares right? Given the fact that the last one came out ten years ago, and was essentially unwatchable, you can't blame anyone for wondering why, after all this time, they decided to make a third film. Bad as it was, MIB2 still made a big chunk of change- but it's reputation was so bad they probably HAD to wait at least a decade before trying another one, but against all odds, MIB3 is actually a pretty decent film.


The thing is, I've never been a huge fan of the franchise. I tried re-watching the first one a week ago, and it's an OK movie (with an admittedly great performance by Vincent D'Onofrio), but not as good as I remembered it being. But, despite all the script problems (this film started shooting without a full script, and was shut down for a few months to work out some kinks), and the putrid stench left by the second one- this really works and is something I don't think any of us expected it to be: a pretty good film.

The very thing that makes it work is that the formula is shaken up a bit. The time travel gimmick is old hat, but it's very effective in that it allows us to meet the younger K- as played by Josh Brolin, who turns out to be the shot in the arm this franchise needed. Of course, being that most of the film is focused on J and the younger K, Tommy Lee Jones isn't left with much of a role. In fact, what he has here is essentially a cameo, with maybe 10-15 minutes of screen time in all.


That said, Brolin more than makes up for his absence. In addition to doing an uncanny Jones impression, the fact that we're seeing a young K means that we also get a happier, more adventurous K, and Brolin brings a youthful energy to the part that actually reverses the dynamic a bit, and makes Will Smith the older, wiser one. For his part, Smith mostly sticks to his old-shtick, but being that he's now in his forties, he mugs a little less this time around- although I couldn't help but feel he takes a backseat to Brolin throughout much of the film.

The time travel motif also gives the film a slightly more sentimental twist towards the end, that pays off nicely in the character development of both K and J. It's nothing too profound, but it's a nice turn away from the franchise's usual tongue-in-cheek approach (although enough of that remains). In an effort to be competitive with the bigger tentpoles that are in theatres, MIB3 is also heavier on the action than the last two films, and while none of the action set-pieces are particularly thrilling (once again- the 3D is useless), Jemaine Clement (of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS) makes for a more menacing villain than you'd expect. Michael Stuhlbarg from BOARDWALK EMPIRE also pops off as an extremely likable alien that can see various possible time-lines play out before him. The filmmakers also get a lot of mileage out of the period setting, with lots of retro style aliens that (I assume) intentionally look like guys in rubber suits, and a great bit by Bill Hader as Andy Warhol.


Now, I'm not saying MIB3 is excellent. It's certainly not going to make anyone forget about THE AVENGERS (but hopefully it will allow some of us to forget BATTLESHIP). It has it's share of problems- mostly confined to a flabby mid-section of the film, which makes it seem long, despite it's relatively scant 100 minute running time. Also- Alice Eve and Emma Thompson feel a little underused as the younger/older version of K's love interest, Agent O- although Thompson has a fun bit near the beginning. However, these problems are still relatively minor compared to the last film. I've got to hand it to director Barry Sonnenfeld and company though. For this series, the third time really is the charm, and if indeed this is the last MIB (I'm sure that all depends on the gross), it's going out on a high note.

Source: JoBlo.com

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1:44PM on 05/27/2012
I was pleasantly surprised with this, Josh Brolin and Michael Stuhlbarg are excellent & Bill Hadar gives a great cameo as Andy Warhol.
With the possible exception of the time jump I see no reason to see it in 3D though.
I was pleasantly surprised with this, Josh Brolin and Michael Stuhlbarg are excellent & Bill Hadar gives a great cameo as Andy Warhol.
With the possible exception of the time jump I see no reason to see it in 3D though.
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8:57AM on 05/26/2012

Definition of Guilty Pleasure

The time travel stuff leaves more plot holes than a cheese grate, but the chemistry was awesome and Brolin stole the show. My intellectual film going mind rolled its eyes the entire time, my inner-child/geek was fully satisfied and the sentimental ending brought a tear to my eye- no fooling.
The time travel stuff leaves more plot holes than a cheese grate, but the chemistry was awesome and Brolin stole the show. My intellectual film going mind rolled its eyes the entire time, my inner-child/geek was fully satisfied and the sentimental ending brought a tear to my eye- no fooling.
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+3
5:58PM on 05/24/2012
What works for MIB3 is that it's not just another showcase for poor CGI effects, but a decent buddy movie. The time travel plot doesn't make much sense, but that can be said about most time travel movies.
What works for MIB3 is that it's not just another showcase for poor CGI effects, but a decent buddy movie. The time travel plot doesn't make much sense, but that can be said about most time travel movies.
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4:50PM on 05/24/2012

Cool

MIB have its fans, it certainly do better than Battleship.
MIB have its fans, it certainly do better than Battleship.
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+1
4:15PM on 05/24/2012

Saw it today...

...not as good as the first (which was my favourite movie when I was 12), but waaaay better than the second. Give it a shot!
...not as good as the first (which was my favourite movie when I was 12), but waaaay better than the second. Give it a shot!
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3:44PM on 05/24/2012

What!?!?!

Did I miss something or did he not mention Jemaine Clement at all??
Did I miss something or did he not mention Jemaine Clement at all??
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4:12PM on 05/24/2012
Check the second last paragraph.
Check the second last paragraph.
1:39PM on 05/24/2012
I saw this movie about a week ago and while not a big fan of the franchise (hated the second one) I was interested in seeing Josh Brolin's impression of Tommy Lee Jones. I have to say that he made the movie as good as it was. By far not a perfect film but much better than I would have thought going into it. I'm not a big fan of all the 3D myself but saw this one that way since it was free and I have to agree that it was pretty useless aside from the building jump shown in the trailers.
I saw this movie about a week ago and while not a big fan of the franchise (hated the second one) I was interested in seeing Josh Brolin's impression of Tommy Lee Jones. I have to say that he made the movie as good as it was. By far not a perfect film but much better than I would have thought going into it. I'm not a big fan of all the 3D myself but saw this one that way since it was free and I have to agree that it was pretty useless aside from the building jump shown in the trailers.
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12:44PM on 05/24/2012

Good to see its decent enough to go watch....

"once again- the 3D is useless"

And I know which version im watching....
"once again- the 3D is useless"

And I know which version im watching....
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12:31PM on 05/24/2012

Battleship

Was pretty good in my opinion. My dad wanted to see it, so I went with him. I had had low expectations of that movie but the movie was awesome and the last twenty minutes were pure epic. I came out of that theatre smiling and saying "Damn, that was a balling ass movie!" The reviews on here made it seem like it was gawwwwwbage. So I'm not sure if I can trust this review. lol
Was pretty good in my opinion. My dad wanted to see it, so I went with him. I had had low expectations of that movie but the movie was awesome and the last twenty minutes were pure epic. I came out of that theatre smiling and saying "Damn, that was a balling ass movie!" The reviews on here made it seem like it was gawwwwwbage. So I'm not sure if I can trust this review. lol
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12:51PM on 05/24/2012
I loved the part when they actually played Battleship to shoot down the aliens however....I was kinda disappointed we didn't get a "They just sank our goddamned battleship" out of Liam Neeson.
I loved the part when they actually played Battleship to shoot down the aliens however....I was kinda disappointed we didn't get a "They just sank our goddamned battleship" out of Liam Neeson.
3:33PM on 05/24/2012
No the trailers made Battleship look like garbage.
No the trailers made Battleship look like garbage.
11:07AM on 05/24/2012
i don't for the hate its getting, I am excited to see this.
i don't for the hate its getting, I am excited to see this.
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11:00AM on 05/24/2012
Well I dig these movies & i know some didn't care for part 2, but it's good seeing this one getting some positive reviews. I will be checking this movie out for sure.
Well I dig these movies & i know some didn't care for part 2, but it's good seeing this one getting some positive reviews. I will be checking this movie out for sure.
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+3
10:06AM on 05/24/2012

IT

Anyone see the episode of South Park when Mr Garrison invents a new mode of transport called 'IT'....see picture 2.
Anyone see the episode of South Park when Mr Garrison invents a new mode of transport called 'IT'....see picture 2.
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7:42AM on 05/24/2012
Very excited for it.
Very excited for it.
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5:45AM on 05/24/2012
I'm one of the very few people who loved MIIB and have been waiting for this movie since 02. However, all the adds and the Pitbull theme song leave me very underwhelmed. I like this review but it's the same thing that every other critic has said, "better than II but not that great". I hope for someone like me whose a massive MIB fan (1st, 2nd AND animated series) this movie delivers.
I'm one of the very few people who loved MIIB and have been waiting for this movie since 02. However, all the adds and the Pitbull theme song leave me very underwhelmed. I like this review but it's the same thing that every other critic has said, "better than II but not that great". I hope for someone like me whose a massive MIB fan (1st, 2nd AND animated series) this movie delivers.
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+7
4:55AM on 05/24/2012
Was planning to check this out, but now I am glad that it doesn't suck. I've enjoyed the franchise, despite the lackluster part deuce, so it's good that this is enjoyable.
Was planning to check this out, but now I am glad that it doesn't suck. I've enjoyed the franchise, despite the lackluster part deuce, so it's good that this is enjoyable.
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+7
4:04AM on 05/24/2012
Really glad to see this turned out to be more worthwhile than just a cash-grab. I'll have to make time in my movie schedule to go see it.
Really glad to see this turned out to be more worthwhile than just a cash-grab. I'll have to make time in my movie schedule to go see it.
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3:02AM on 05/24/2012
I am probably going to see this I really enjoyed the first one while the second one was okay at best, since this seems closer to the first I am gonna check it out.
I am probably going to see this I really enjoyed the first one while the second one was okay at best, since this seems closer to the first I am gonna check it out.
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+13
2:56AM on 05/24/2012

May have to re-consider on whether or not to see it.

Did not expect a review like that, let alone from someone who's never been a fan of the franchise. Might check it out.
Did not expect a review like that, let alone from someone who's never been a fan of the franchise. Might check it out.
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+10
2:14AM on 05/24/2012
For some reason I did not expect Chris Bumbray to give this a 7. Werid.
For some reason I did not expect Chris Bumbray to give this a 7. Werid.
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