Men in Black III

Feeling Neuralized Yet?

         
 

25 May 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

It’s hard to say here who really looks like they care about being involved. Men in Black III is a squeeze-the-ketchup-bottle effort to spit out whatever can be salvaged from a franchise about a government organization keeping outer space aliens in check. A lightning bolt must have hit the producers: Let’s have them go back in time! Would I really be ruining things if I told you the plot cranks forever until we get to the time travel? Will Smith seems chipper enough to play along. It’s almost hilarious, in a metaphysical way, just how peeved Tommy Lee Jones is to be back for this installment. He must have been relieved when they figured out how to lessen his screen time, by having Josh Brolin playing the younger version of him. Jones, you should guess as well as me, doesn’t want to be putting on a black suit and sunglasses for a popcorn movie anymore. He’d rather put on some cowboy boots to go shoot a “serious” western.

Agent J is reprised by Will Smith (“Hancock”), who must go back in time to save Earth from an ill-fated future, and to change his partner’s course of destiny. When Agent J goes back to 1969, his partner Agent K is embodied by Brolin, a good ’ol boy, Texas accent alien fighter. Jermaine Clement, humorless, with lizard-features, plays the alien-villain Boris the Animal. His hand opens up like an origami to shoot lethal palm-sized arachnids at his targets.

The movie’s outline is full of plug-in moments. It was as if the production meeting went like this: Let’s have a restaurant scene between some really slimy aliens and human imposters versus J and K; let’s set-up some dialogue that demonstrates the generational disconnect between J and K; let’s have some misunderstandings about the change of human history with J flustered with change of behaviors at headquarters; let’s have some kind of comic-threat scene of alien invasion; let’s put on an expensive time-travel sequence. And so on.

Once in 1969, the distrustful K (now Brolin) has a difficult time warming to J. They get a long, waxy dialogue over some homemade pie about the meaning of partnership. There are some more amiable sequences thrown in, where trust is bridged between them. And then several misfire scenes, you know, where the two of them have a chance to blow Boris away but miss repeatedly. The electric unicycle vehicle is a great technical idea that goes nowhere.

It all leads to a climax at Cape Canaveral, with J and K trying to stop Boris without interfering with the launch of the famous first expedition to the moon, byway of the Apollo 11. The shuttle blasts off alright, and you get  cool-looking shots of white phosphorous. It took nearly an entire movie until I found something inspired, something that felt like it took more thought to make than a mere plug-in idea. Of course, the “MIB3” makers already made public admittance that it went into production without a finished script. To be fair, there is one other jolly to be had: Brolin has imitated Jones down to the belt buckle.

The hit single “Back in Time” by Pitbull isn’t performed until the end credits. Bill Hader (“SNL,” “Hot Rod”) gets a few giggles by playing a disgruntled version of Andy Warhol. Minimal supporting work by Emma Thompson as the new headquarters chief, and Alice Eve as her younger ’60’s version. The 3D has only sporadic effects, the rest of the time it is an often arbitrary device. But what’s new with that?

105 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ACTION & ADVENTURE / COMIC BOOK MOVIE / FRIDAY NIGHT LARK

Film Cousins: “Back to the Future Part III” (1990); “Men in Black” (1997); “Men in Black II” (2002); “Hancock” (2008).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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