Summer Movie Slam: ‘Men in Black III’

Well, if you had told me 3 months ago that ‘Men in Black III’ would end up being a better movie than ‘Prometheus’, I would laugh and just assume that you have no clue what you’re talking about. But, here we are.

Thinking in retrospect, I really do love the first’ Men in Black’ movie. Wildly entertaining, original in every way, full of satire and dark comedy, and it took the “Buddy Cop” relationship to the realms of Sci-Fi with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones at the helm. ‘Men in Black’, along with ‘Independence Day’, really made Will Smith a star and eventually allowed him to become one of the most successful actors of the 2000’s. It killed at the Box-Office, making over $250 million (and in a pre-‘Titanic’ world, this number was ridiculous), it also garnered respect from both the critical audience and the public at large. It had all of this, not to mention the “Noisy Cricket”, an “Edgar-suit”, and Frank the talking dog.

Then ‘Men in Black II’ happened… Goodness. I feel that there’s no need to go into further detail, because it would just be several sentences of mean, and no one would want to read that.

‘Men in Black II’ was so bad, that I, like many others, just assumed that the franchise was as a dead as disco. Not only was the sequel bad, but franchise director Barry Sonnenfeld went on a long streak of making really awful movies, including (but not limited to) ‘Wild Wild West’, ‘Big Trouble’, and ‘RV’. Yikes.

However, the powers that be decided to make a third installment, bringing back both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (which I assume were paid incredible amounts of money in order to be convinced that it would truly be better than the second) to reprise their roles as Agent J and Agent K. They even signed on Sonnenfeld for another crack at it. Talk about believing in a guy that no one else would.

Surprisingly- scratch that- Shockingly, ‘Men in Black III’ was not only better than the awful sequel the preceded it, but it is also one of the best movies that I’ve seen this year. As funny and entertaining as the first, with a new twist on the story, ‘Men in Black III’ takes all the good from first film, heats it up in the microwave, and served it all over again. Some people don’t like leftovers, but it tastes delicious when you’re expecting garbage.

‘Men in Black III’ opens with the lunar prison break of Boris the Animal (played by Jermaine Clement), a savage alien killer that was put away by Agent K back in the 60’s. He travels back to earth to exact his revenge K, and decides to do this in a more roundabout way: by going back in time to kill his nemesis.

At the MIB headquarters, we find a frustrated J and an ever so disgruntled K. We learn that since the second film, Agent Zed has died and has been replaced by Agent O (played by Emma Thompson). But then, just as our fellow agents find out about the escape of Boris the Animal, K mysteriously disappears, not only from his home and his work, but he also disappears from the memories of the people that once knew him well.

Agent J realizes what has happened; Boris the Animal went back in time to kill Agent K. What is Will Smith to do but go back in time himself to stop the psychopathic extraterrestrial? Pretty cool, right?

Believe it or not, the best thing about this movie are not the performances by Tommy Lee Jones or Will Smith, but the performance of Josh Brolin playing the young Agent K. Some would say that Brolin is simply doing an impersonation of Jones himself, but what he really does is show a different side to a once very flat character, giving the audience a deeper look into who Agent K really is. Not only does this element of time travel allow J and K to connect like never before, but also allows us to connect with them more as well. Brolin does this with a masterful precision and control, making sure that the viewer never loses sight of the character at hand.

Side-note: Josh Brolin is not quite at “man-crush” in my books, but he’s definitely getting there. Still growing as an actor, I see this guy really taking off in these next few years.

When you really get down to it, the reason ‘Men in Black III’ was able to return this franchise to providence was it decided to focus its energy on what made the original one so good in the first place: original story telling, and a real relationship between our two lead characters. The second movie was no good because it had no story that grabbed us, no real goal that the audience was trying to reach with the characters. Heck, half of the movie was just everyone trying to figure out what’s going on, and in the end, we still didn’t get a clear answer. The latest film remedies this problem by giving us a story we can get into and characters that we can stick with from beginning to end.

Does anyone even remember an authentic moment between J and K from ‘Men in Black II’? Did they even speak to one another!?

Woah… ease up. Remember, we’re talking about ‘Men in Black III’, not it’s ugly step brother.

Brolin and Smith really do have a great contrasting chemistry that works, and it brings us back to the original formula that made this franchise work. Although it isn’t fresh this time around, it remains refreshing, and makes ‘Men in Black III’ a movie that is worth watching.

My Note: ‘Men in Black III’ is really just the microwaved leftovers from the original movie, but at least it’s edible.

My Grade: B

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