Do you remember Star Trek: The Next Generation? Man, there were some great episodes on that show. I remember when I was a kid I couldn’t wait to see a new episode with ‘Q’ or the Borg (ships go BOOM!). Then there would be a boring episode that would usually take a break from that year’s story arc and focus on a certain crew member. I called these “B episodes” and they were usually about girl drama with Diana Troy or some coming-of-age crap involving Wesley Crusher. Well, I hate to disappoint any MIB fans out there but that’s what MEN IN BLACK 3 is… just another “B Episode.”
In case you’re a caveman that’s just been thawed out from a block of ice, Men in Black is a movie franchise about a secret organization that monitors and polices alien activity on the planet Earth. The last two movies have focused on the buddy-buddy MIB team of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) and their adventures, which generally end up saving the planet from alien threat(s).
I liked both of the previous films. The original Men in Black is great because, other than the special effects and aliens (most created with practical FX courtesy of SFX veteran Rick Baker), you as the viewer get to follow Agent J as he gets recruited and learns the ropes of his new profession while his mentor/partner Agent K treats every fantastic/horrific alien encounter as another day at the office. Both characters are well written and the duo of Smith/Jones do a great job bringing them to life. There are a lot of comical moments, especially with alien pawnshop owner Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub) and Frank, the talking alien pug.
The sequel, MIB II, is a true detective tale with a great backstory that gives more insight into Agent K’s life and interjects some romance to Agent J’s life as well. While its a good film, however, MIB II is not great. Don’t get me wrong, the overall story has a lot more comedy than the first film, but the ending lacks a certain “something.” Overall the film could have used some more fine polishing ,but considering that a lot of the story was going to be about the Twin Towers being an intergalactic prison and then during the first months of filming… well, you know what happened. After the aftermath of 9/11, MIB II had to be rewritten (in a hurry) and scenes needed to be re-shot. It’s actually a miracle that Sony came out with MIB II at all.
So, after seeing MIB III all I can really say is that it’s the weakest movie of the three. Even though the film has a strong opening prison scene (probably left over from MIB II’s original script), most of the movie just falls flat. Almost all of the funny scenes have already been shown in various trailers and commercials over the past 3 months! Story-wise, it’s a little too straightforward for the team (either in 2012 or 1966) when it comes to finding clues that propel them to the next point of interest. Each scene just feels rushed with very few of the comedic moments that you expect from a MIB film.
All the actors pull off great performances (Brolin’s version on Tommy Lee Jones is spot on), but with very little time spent on each scene it’s hard to care what’s going on. It’s also kind of sad that there is no presence of previously established characters such as Jeebs, Frank, or David Cross’s character (Morgue desk man/Video Store Clerk). Come to think of it, there are NO CELEBRITY CAMEOS in this movie. The only intriguing character is Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), a lonely alien that… you know what, I don’t want to spoil his shtick for you, suffice to say he’s a fascinating character. His observations, while very comical, aren’t quite funny enough to carry the entire movie.
Good, but not great.
If you can just wait for DVD/Blu-Ray/cable/Netfix or go see it in a month at your local double feature drive-in or dollar theater.