The first Men In Black film was a fun, comic book style adventure that successfully combined the odd couple pairing of the ultra-serious Tommy Lee Jones and audience friendly Will Smith with a hokey evil-alien-comes-to-earth storyline. Its 2002 sequel was regrettable to say the least. Now, the Men In Black return for another adventure that, if nothing else will restore some respect to a franchise that doesn’t particularly need to be a franchise at all.
The new film begins with a spectacular set piece where the new evil alien Boris the Animal (a thinly veiled cold war reference keeping with the setting), played by Jemaine Clement , escapes from his inter galactic prison on the moon to return to Earth with the purpose of killing the man responsible for putting him there, Agent K (Jones), and taking over the world. To do this Boris travels back to 1969, and is successful in his quest until Agent J (Smith) travels back as well (in the films second incredible set piece where he literally falls through time). In 1969 he teams up with a younger Agent K (now series newcomer Josh Brolin) to stop Boris from killing the future K and completely his mission.
The film, as we have to expect from blockbuster season, is visually very good. Director Barry Sonnenfeld (a former cinematographer) joins the prestigious list of film makers that actually know how to make good use of 3D. His resists the tired routine of throwing things at the audience and instead uses the process to give increased depth to his images that works extremely well for the world he’s created and the subject matter.
The performances in the film are mostly fine. Will Smith is charming as usual; Josh Brolin is perfectly cast as a younger Tommy Lee Jones and Clement makes a scary villain. Jones is sorely missed in his limited screen time though and Emma Thompson as Rip Torn’s replacement is wasted. The screenplay makes fairly good use of its familiar time travel devise, which is intelligently designed even if we’ve seen it all before. The final twist, though contrived, is a touching potential coda to the series. The main issue with the script, as with most films targeted at adolescents, is that it has a tendency to talk down and over explain details to the audience, which will frustrate older viewers.
Making good use of its 3D visuals and time travel storyline with some good performances thrown in, the film is about as good as a Men In Black sequel can be, and that’s quite the complement.
Men in Black III will be in Australian cinemas from 24 May through Sony Pictures.