MEN IN BLACK 3 (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012)
J (Will Smith) must time-jump to the summer of 1969 to save his partner
and the planet in MEN IN BLACK 3. He’s in pursuit of Boris The Animal
(Jemaine Clement), a notorious alien killer who escapes from a maximum
security prison on the moon and is hellbent on visiting the past so he
can eliminate Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones in the present-day scenes, Josh
Brolin in 1969).
succeeds, which wipes K from the memories of everyone at Men in Black
headquarters except for J. This historical revision means that K was
never able to put a safety shield around Earth, thus making it
susceptible to invasion from Boris’s warmongering race, the Boglodites.
New chief Agent O (Emma Thompson) figures out that time travel has been
involved and dispatches J to restore order by time-jumping to a day
before his gruff associate’s death at the Apollo 11 launch and stopping
IN BLACK 3 arrives fifteen years after the original and a decade after
the franchise’s first sequel. Consider this installment a reunion in
which Smith is in charge of assuring everyone that it will be a good
time and Jones makes a token appearance because he’s obligated to do so.
Inevitably someone has work done to maintain a youthful appearance at
these get-togethers. To keep up with the times it is rendered in 3D.
IN BLACK 3 can be a pleasant reminder of goofy, special effects-laden
summer blockbusters of old that weren’t preoccupied with origin stories,
world-building, and their own importance and seriousness. Director
Barry Sonnenfeld’s sci-fi comedy maintains a breezy tone that keeps it
agreeable even when the lightness feels more forced than natural. The
good jokes in MEN IN BLACK 3 don’t nudge the needle much on the
laugh-o-meter while the unsuccessful ones land softly instead of hitting
with a thud.
millions lavished on creature designs and action scenes are meant to
impress, yet the filmmakers are less concerned with drawing attention to
the expense than delighting in the absurdity of how the aliens look and
the craziness of the scenarios. Despite the huge budget, MEN IN BLACK 3
is comfortable as a B movie and isn’t trying to prove itself as
impersonation is so good it wouldn’t be a shock to learn that the
performance is actually achieved through CGI wizardry de-aging the
crusty Jones instead of a younger colleague imitating him. In
supporting roles Michael Stuhlbarg adds genuine sweetness as Griffin, an
alien who can envision the multiple conclusions of every scenario, and
Bill Hader gets laughs with his zany spin on Andy Warhol.
IN BLACK 3’s modest charms aren’t plentiful. The mild laughs come
sporadically. It delivers what is expected, more or less, and doesn’t
strain in the effort. The eager-to-please attitude and sleek sets
provide relief from the somber mood and environments in vogue in
tentpole films. As far as unnecessary sequels are concerned, MEN IN
BLACK 3 is a serviceable addition to the series.