Sean K. Cureton

The Men in Black are Back

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on June 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

Theatrical Poster


Men in Black 3
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
3 out of 4 stars

Given the twelve-year gap between the release of this film and its predecessor, there was some question as to just how good this film could be. When the initial trailer first released for the film about four months ago, I remember thinking to myself that Sonnenfeld may have lost touch with just what made the Men in Black series cool and was simply banking in on a lucrative franchise with a half-assed sequel using the clichéd go-back-in-time-to-save-the-world plot device familiar to too many science fiction genre films. I was happy to find out that my initial wariness to the trailer was unnecessary, as Men in Black 3 is a more than welcome addition to the Men in Black film series.

This time around, Agent Kay and Agent Jay are forced to grapple with a villain named Boris The Animal, played by Flight of the Conchord’s Jemaine Clement, who is the last of an ancient alien race that was known to conquer and destroy other sentient races in space. Unfortunately for Boris, Kay was able to stop him from destroying Earth and the human race in the ’60s, when he arrested him and placed him in a high security prison located on the moon. Inevitably, Boris escapes from this prison at the beginning of the film, and decides to use time travel to go back in time and prevent the younger Kay from stopping him, thereby ensuring the invasion and destruction of earth in the present day. Jay must then go back in time himself to stop Boris from stopping Kay, which leads to a very funny and fun science fiction comedy with plenty of historical asides from the ’60s to sweeten the deal.

Josh Brolin, who plays the younger Kay in the film, is brilliant and does a very funny and quite accurate Tommy Lee Jones impression which allows for much of the time travel plot line to work so well, allowing the viewer to forget about the otherwise missed presence of the always funny Mr. Jones. In addition, Sonnenfeld has provided another great alien side character for this film named Griff, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, an alien who is constantly aware of all the different time lines that could possibly take place in the space time continuum and is forced to live in fear and anticipation of possible destruction and death at any given moment. Griff’s cheerful outlook, wide eyes, and physical presence are very reminiscent of a younger Robin Williams, from the Mork from Ork era, and is quiet possibly the best addition to the series in this film.

However, one thing that does seem to be missing this time around is some of the gravity and seriousness that was present in the first two films. When the destruction of earth was imminent in the first two installments of the series, the viewer was scared for Kay and Jay. There was an ominous tone in those films that allowed for the series to be both funny and scary because it seemed as though even in the most ridiculous scenes, the characters within the universe of the film knew that it was all very real. Maybe it’s the absence of Rip Torn’s Zed or Tommy Lee Jones’ dour manner, but there is just something not quiet the same in the Men in Black universe this time around, making Men in Black 3 less of a satire and more of a farce.

All in all, Sonnenfeld has created a sequel in Men in Black 3 that is hysterical and heart wrenching despite its use of the clichéd time-travel plot device. Agent Kay and Agent Jay are back in action, which is something to be very thankful and happy about.

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