Men in Black III (2012)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement.
Plot: Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Sci-Fi
Rating: PG13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
The 'Men in Black' are back after a decade of absence from the big screen. Actually, that's not so much a big deal as few people care whether there is a Men in Black III or not. The big deal here is that Will Smith is back after four years (that feels like an eternity for die-hard fans of the popular actor) since Seven Pounds (2008) and Hancock (2008).
There was a time when Smith would light up the box-office with summer blockbusters like Independence Day (1996), Bad Boys 2 (2003), and I Am Legend (2007). The success (or failure) of Men in Black III will tell us if Smith still has got his mojo.
For those who are new to the MIB universe, not to fear as no curve balls are thrown. The filmmakers make sure viewers are acquainted with the rules and logic of the world Agent J (Smith) and his partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) operate in.
There are only two important things that you need to know: One, K and J are super-secret spies who hunt down rogue alien creatures on Earth. Two, and this is plainly obvious, they've been buddies since 1997, which was when the first MIB installment was released to popular acclaim. The less said about its sequel Men in Black II (2002) the better though.
One could argue that Men in Black III is more of the same. Only that this is much more fun than the second installment. Throw in a premise that deals with time travel and a self-proclaimed indestructible villain that has escaped after being locked up on the Moon for forty years, and you get some serious chaos.
Every time travel movie will have its fair share of inexplicable plot points, Men in Black III is no exception, except that the plot can get pretty mind-boggling, and just like saturated fats, it's not the good kind. But of course, in such a universe as blatantly outlandish as the MIB's, viewers tend to be more forgivable if things don't seem to make sense.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld, who also helmed the previous two movies, keeps consistency in check, at least in terms of mood, which is a weird mix of situational humour, and humour that is supposed to be funny but not (and vice versa). The dialogue occasionally falls flat, and the pacing is not as tight as it should be, leaving some dull moments that even Smith cannot pull a rabbit out of.
Men in Black III redeems itself somewhat from its dumb blockbuster tag with a surprisingly touching epilogue that explains not only the frosty demeanour of Agent K, but also the secrets he has been keeping from Agent J all these years.
The bulk of the film takes place in 1969, where we see a young Agent K (Josh Brolin). Brolin's quite admirable effort in capturing the accent, mannerisms, and facial expressions of Jones' character means that Jones is not sorely missed, despite the fact that the success of the MIB franchise relies almost entirely on the chemistry between Smith and Jones.
Men in Black III offers disposable entertainment, the kind that few remember after leaving the theatre. It makes for a good two hours of escapist fun though.
Verdict: Disposable entertainment, but one with a surprisingly touching epilogue.
GRADE: C+ (6.5/10 or 3 stars)
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