Synopsis: In Men in Black 3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back…in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him — secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind.
Release Date: May 25, 2012 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Fantasy, Thriller
It has been ten years since Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) were running around battling aliens while protecting the earth in a Men In Black franchise picture. Their return comes with much fanfare, and on Memorial Day weekend as is customary for the men in black. The Summer season of popcorn flicks and big-budget spectacles has always “officially” begun the last full weekend of May, and this year Men In Black 3 is the tentpole film aiming to start the profitable summer movie-watching season. The only problem is that Men In Black 3 is not a film that will elicit enough excitement from audiences to make it a blockbuster hit that is also a great time at the movies.
Men In Black 3 begins in the present, with a woman, played by Nicole Scherzinger (formerly of the Pussycat Dolls), delivering a specially made cake to an inmate at the Lunar Max prison on the Moon. The inmate is the last remaining alien of the Boglodite race, Boris ‘The Animal’ (Jemaine Clement); a race that for years destroyed planets and lastly tried to destroy earth before Agent K beat them at their own game 40 years ago on July 16, 1969, the day of the Apollo 11 moon launch at Cape Canaveral. In classic Men In Black fashion, Boris is not the average nemesis. In each eye he has a telescope/binocular-esque part, an extra-long reptilian-like tongue, and his body appears human until areas open where a smaller alien crawls in and out, and shoots deadly darts. The cake and the woman enable Boris to escape his prison and he has one item on his to-do list, go back in time to kill Agent K before he shoots young Boris’ arm off, imprisons him, and stops the Boglodite invasion in the process.
Back on earth, Agent K and Agent J are experiencing life as usual by being called out to stop an illegal use of aliens as specialty cuisine in a Chinese restaurant. The inclusion of one specialty on the menu recalls a memory in Agent K of Boris and immediately he knows this is not the run of the mill alien bust he and Agent J are accustomed to in their line of work. The events that follow will result in the erasing of Agent K from the present, only to be remembered as an agent who perished 40 years ago and, to add an additional twist, never installed the important protective shield that stopped the Boglodite invasion. All of this is made possible because time travel does indeed exist, and Boris knew where to find the machine that would take him back in time to change the future. Agent J just happens to know as well, thanks to Agent O, the newest member of the Men In Black team played by Emma Thompson, who shares with him secrets that even his clearance was not privy to prior. Agent J is about to go back in time to 1969, meet the young Agent K (Josh Brolin), help save the world, and even find closure of his own in a melodramatic twist that fits well to end the Men In Black story.
By every account the story sounds like a great deal of fun in Men In Black 3, and the characters of Agent J and Agent K have always relied on their incredible chemistry to make the films more than gadget and alien filled action pictures. Will Smith returns as his usual Agent J self, spewing one-liners at aliens and urging K to divulge anything about himself–but he never does. The real change in the film is the inclusion of Josh Brolin as a young 29 year-old Agent K in the year 1969. The casting of the young K had to be perfect or the film would not work, Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K is very type-specific, especially his voice and the inflection and diction in how he speaks. Brolin amazes as Agent K’s younger doppelganger, so to speak. Much of the very moderate humor in the film develops from seeing Brolin impersonate Jones as Agent K, and Will Smith’s Agent J continually chiming in asking “What Happened To You?,” and young K answering, “I don’t know, it hasn’t happened yet.” These questions are raised because, and this may come as a shock, Agent K in 1969 is a jovial man who is smitten with the young Agent O (Alice Eve) and an all-around great guy to spend time with; quite a difference from the stuffy and secretive Agent K of the future whom Agent J has only ever known.
From a character perspective Men In Black 3 is faultless as everyone plays their respective parts perfectly. Jemaine Clement’s Boris ‘The Animal’ is the sole letdown, and not from Clement’s performance as it is done with just enough heightened seriousness to be often times funny. Unfortunately it is the character of Boris himself as written in the script that fails. He is bland and forgettable, never becoming a true villain to fear throughout the movie, nor appearing as a great threat to anyone or anything. This may be the outcome of a script that favors the relationship between Agent J and the young Agent K over vanquishing the bad guy. More time is spent in Men In Black 3 on personal and emotional items than action and spectacle leading the entire film into an uneventful state of affairs. There are of course plenty of gadgets to keep the eyes entertained, and the occasional alien species to remark upon but these two necessary and expected items for a Men In Black movie are also lacking in quantity. You do not see many aliens in Men In Black 3, but you do see an awful lot of Agent J and Agent K, plus a few other notable cameos including Bill Hader as Andy Warhol, a human, much to the viewer’s dismay. Men In Black 3 easily passes the time, even if the viewer is placed into a state of forced complacency when what you really desire is a rollicking fun time vanquishing aliens, deadpan comedy, and fancy effects–all of which you receive far too few of and none memorable.
Employing the incredible talent of seven-time Oscar-winner Rick Baker (Men In Black, Ed Wood), the aliens created in Men In Black 3 are top-notch special effect creations. There are a myriad of aliens created for the first act of the film, one in particular that strikes you as magnificent is the fish delicacy that resembles a chinese dragon. Then there is the very large fish, nearly man-sized, that Agent J takes on in the middle of the street and restaurant, with a mouth full of teeth and slithery skin that is impeccably created. Rick Baker does not limit the creativity of the aliens he has created for Men In Black, nor do the visual effects team led Ken Ralston and Jay Redd inhibit the grand scope of creating the Men In Black world of gadgetry and effects magic on screen. From spinning light-cycles, to use a term that may properly describe what Agent K and Agent J drive in 1969, or of course the weaponry used to annihilate aliens from earth, the effects work in Men In Black consistently keeps the eyes busy marveling at the computer-generated creations.
But not everything is perfect, and the beginning sequence where Boris jumps onto the moon after blowing a hole in the prison’s roof does not set the stage well for the effects of the film as it looks like cheaply done green screen work. As is the plummeting of Agent J down the side of a skyscraper before he time jumps. This will also plague interior shots at Headquarters and a clear deflection of the less than stellar effects work being downplayed by awkward editing between Agent J and Agent O’s top-secret conversation in her alien-head shaped center office. The effects work on Men In Black 3 is an accomplishment, the use of 3-D does nothing to make it any more amazing unless you really enjoy a laser light show trickling into the theatre seats. The small discrepancies in quality are noticeable, but easily forgotten when a well-done effect is rendered on screen or a new gadget proves entertaining to see used.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Barry Sonnenfeld
- Producer(s): Laurie MacDonaldWalter F. Parkes
- Screenwriter(s): Etan CohenDavid KoeppJeff Nathanson
- Story: Michael Soccio
- Cast: Will Smith (Agent J)Josh Brolin (Young Agent K) Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K)Alice Eve (Young Agent O)Emma Thompson (Agent O)Bill Hader (Andy Warhol)Jemaine Clement (Boris The Animal)
- Cinematographer: Bill Pope
- Production Designer(s): Bo Welch
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s): Mary E. Vogt
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By: Danny Elfman
- Country Of Origin: USA