Men in Black III

As a series Men in Black has never been a favorite.  The first movie was entertaining if not inspiring and the second was so bad, they didn’t make a third until ten years later.  The root of the problem is not entirely the quality of the filmmaking.  A large part of the problem is the basic concept.  First of all the idea of a secret organization set up to deal with aliens, or vampires and other supernatural or super scientific phenomenon that the world at large is unaware of had been overdone even in 1997 when the first film came out. 

Plus I don’t really find it a compelling world.  I think director Barry Sonnenfeld and his screenwriters are too busy going for laughs to fully flesh out how this world works.  The technology they use, most of it of extraterrestrial origin, doesn’t seem to have any logical limits.  If they have a problem, like their car has been wrecked, there’s two one wheeled motorcycle thingees packed into the frame.  The only exception of course is when it is convenient to the plot that they be temporarily stymied.  This organization deals with aliens every day, uses their technology, and yet doesn’t have a way into space?

Obviously this is a choice.  These are comedies and that kind of rigor doesn’t really apply.  All I’m saying is that by doing that they are relegating themselves to be lightweights.

Will Smith as agent J and Tommy Lee Jones as agent K are the reasons to see these films.  Separately they are entertaining; together they have a unique chemistry.  J’s natural garrulousness reacts with K’s stoic folksiness to comic effect. 

But of course Tommy Lee Jones is absent for the bulk of this film.  J travels back in time to stop a dangerous alien assassin named Boris the Animal, played by Jermaine Clement, who K had caught in 1969, from going back in time and killing the young K.  Playing that young agent is Josh Brolin who does Tommy Lee Jones so perfectly, the chemistry with Will Smith is preserved.  It’s an amazing performance.  I look forward to watching young and old K working together in the next one. (You know they’re going to do it.)

Other performances are good as well.  Clement is a very convincing villain and Rick Baker’s special effects make him even more creepy.  Michael Stuhlbarg is wonderful as Griffin, an alien who has the ability to see all possible futures and yet still maintain a sense of innocence.  There are some clever aspects to the script that I won’t spoil for you.

Men in Black III is perfect lightweight summer entertainment.

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