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May 25, 2012
10:35 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Men in Black III
Films opening this weekend:
Chernobyl Diaries - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, McKinley Mall, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood , Transit, Galleria, Hollywood Regals; Transit Drive-In
Darling Companion - Eastern Hills Dipson
Men in Black III - Maple Ridge; Market Arcade, Flix Dipsons; Elmwood , Transit, Galleria, Quaker, Hollywood Regals; Transit Drive-In
Sound of My Voice - North Park Dipson
While strange for a Men in Black film to open with something other than a crashing spaceship, I'll admit to being ecstatic for the alternative. Having the sexy Nicole Scherzinger lead us into the maximum-security prison housing one of the universe's most notorious criminals definitely didn't hurt either.
What I really enjoyed about the pre-credit sequence to Men in Black III, however, was that our introduction to Bogladite destroyer Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) seemed to get the series back on track as far as giving a serious adversary to rally against. Retaining a darkly humorous edge like Vincent D'Onofrio's incomparable Edgar from the first, all memory of the campy antagonists from Men in Black II were washed away. Clement's deep, villainous, Bowie-esque growl set the stage for a fight worth caring about as far as science-fiction action comedies go.
This was a good sign, considering director Barry Sonnenfeld had his work cut out for him as four screenwriters put their stamp on the script. With so many hats in the ring, details about production beginning without a finalized script, and a work stoppage in order to fix third act plot holes, it was hard to feel ptimistic. And while parts do work much better than others, I still believe all involved created a much more enjoyable sequel that harkens back to the original's tone.
MiB headquarters has changed with a new chief—Agent O (Emma Thompson)—and an even starker white sterility, but Jay (Smith) and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) remain the top duo for catastrophic events. Good thing, since the impending war has become personal. Kay was not only the arresting officer forty years prior when Boris attempted to erase Earth from the stars, but also the human who took his arm. Vengeance drives the Bogladite to change the course of history by going back in time to regain his freedom and kill his enemy.
Just as he goes back to stop the future, Jay follows suit after realizing a temporal shift has deleted his partner from existence, landing in the not-so-friendly past of 1969. It's a mission to save his friend, avenge the planet, and finally learn what turned Kay so surly and emotionally despondent. The first two ends eventually become second-fiddle to the third as all heroics pale in comparison to discovering how the stony smile in love with a much younger O (Alice Eve) and still possessing a subtle sense of humor turned to hardened granite. And boy does Josh Brolin make this revelation a blast with his spot-on impression of Jones.
The set-up is necessary to establish Boris' animosity and Jay's desire to save his best friend, but it quickly devolves into broadly absurd humor. In fact, without Clement's menacing performance, the film's start would have sadly been right where the second installment left off. It thus becomes Jay's arrival to the past that finally gets the plot in motion, and Smith and Brolin are superb. These characters don't miss a beat and their chase of both present and future Boris recalls the fun had back in 1997.
Although I do think one bit of time travel confuses due to its lack of duplicity and that Kay's loss of joy could have been better served with an end to the series altogether, Men in Black III is still a nice return to form. Yes, I'd have been happier if Men in Black never became a franchise, but this entry washes away some of the last installment's bitter taste.
Men in Black III 6/10 | ★ ★ ½
 (l to r) Josh Brolin, Michael Stuhlbarg and Will Smith in Columbia Pictures' MEN IN BLACK 3. PHOTO BY: Wilson Webb © 2011 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.
 Jemaine Clement (right) and Nicole Scherzinger in Columbia Pictures' MEN IN BLACK 3. PHOTO BY: WILSON WEBB © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.