Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Men in Black III

Get out your neuralizers and... get out your neuralizers and... get out your neuralizers and...we're reviewing Men in Black III!

"Just the aliens, ma'am."
It's hard not to see this as anything but a quick cashgrab sequel.  Hardly any of the actors(or even characters) from the previous two movies return, and it doesn't have that same MIB feel.  Still, it does have a bit of fun.
An evil alien named Boris the Animal(Jermaine Clement) escapes prison to seek revenge on agent Kay(Tommy Lee Jones), by erasing him from time.  The only way Agent Jay(Will Smith) can save his partner is by going back in time to the 1960's and work with past Agent Kay(Josh Brolin) to stop Boris.

This hardly feels like a Men in Black sequel. It feels more like a Men in Black reboot, except no one told Will Smith. The only ones to come back for the production are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and Even Jones they replace with Josh Brolin for over half the movie.  There's no Zed, no Frank the Pug, no Jeebs, no twins, even the worms are only here for literally five seconds.  I can understand the human actors, but not having any of the aliens?  And with no explanation?  Even the MIB headquarters is redesigned to look like an Apple Store cafe. It's been ten years since the last MIB movie, and a lot of the style is gone.
MIB producers, why would you take
this out ten minutes into the movie?! 

Not to say that it's completly devoid of alien charm.  They do have some cool aliens and devices, but not as many as you'd like and not as ground-breakingly awesome as the first.  The main bad guy is played by Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords, and that's just awesome in of itself.  He has a cool weapon set and a gnarly design; they do a great job of making him seem just a bit off for being human.  I wish there was more to him but he's still a pretty fun villain.  His sexy girlfriend (played by Nicole Scherzinger) looks like a cool character, but she's gone after ten minutes into the movie, which is a shame. Was she a human or an alien? And what exactly was her connection to Boris? She didn't even have a name!  Michael Stuhlbarg plays a fun alien with some nice effects when you get to see his full self. There's also a neat fight in the beginning in a chinese shop with a lot of cool alien designs, but the world overall lacks the depth of the MIB universe.  By now they put forward the idea that practically everyone's an alien, but it never feels that way.  Gone is the idea that noting is what it seems.

Come to think of it, Boris feels a lot like Edgar, especially concerning the Mcguffin and the final battle between him and Jay.

The story feels very similar to an episode of Men in Black: The Series and in there they can at least explain better why Agent Jay can remember Agent Kay and no one else can.  They've got some interesting ideas and it does have some emotional parts, but it's annoying how this story retcons and rewrites the previous two movies.  They throw in stuff here that was never in the first two and just expect everyone to accept it as being there the whole time, things that would throw ideas from the first two out the window.  For instance, who is O and why haven't we heard anything about her, especially if she's supposedly been there since the 60's?  Why doesn't Jay get more respect considering he's been there for 14 years? He seems to be in mess of a position than he was in the second movie!  Why hasn't Kay re-retired by now, or wouldn't it had made more sense for him to get Zed's old job instead of the new O?  Wouldn't that have been a more interesting story? Oh wait, they did that on the MIB cartoon too.

It does at least give an excuse to give some new faces a chance to shine in the MIB universe.  Josh Brolin really does do a great impression of Kay, though there's still not much explained in Kay's character.  Bill Hader and Will Arnett both give funny performances. Mchael Chernus is alright, but he's a poor man's Jack Jeebs.  Tommy Lee Jones just feels tired. I'm not sure if that's great acting portraying Kay as getting tired of it all, or poor acting because Jones doesn't care anymore.
Now sing the toothbrush song.
There are a few good action shots, but there's not that much humor, not nearly as much as the previous two.  I hate that I keep comparing it to its predecessors, but that's what's going to happen when you watch it.  A few funny bits here and there, but most of it you already know about from the trailer.  I hate that I keep comparing it to its predecessors, but that's what's going to happen when you watch it.  As for 3D, there are a couple of good shots, but on the whole, it's not needed. I am glad they didn't shoehorn the "universe within a universe" shot it had at the end of the last two.

Men in Black III is a fun movie, but it's not as good as II and certainly not as good as I.  It doesn't have the same MIB feel as the others, but there is fun to be had.

THE GOOD: Some good alien designs, a few good fight scenes, some interesting ideas, Jermaine as the villain, Josh Brolin is fun as Kay, a couple of funny performances from new actors.

THE BAD: Not as good or original as the first two, barely any of the original actors and characters return, doesn't have the same feel, not as funny, the story changes stuff from the previous two.

THE VERDICT: $$$ There's fun to be had, but if you're expecting a return to the MIB, you'll be disappointed.  Maybe go see it, or maybe wait for it to come out on netflix while you watch episodes of the cartoon series.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Men in Black I and IIIndependence Day, Wild Wild West, 

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The first fight scene at the Chinese shop. Sure it's in the previews and you've already seen most of the parts, and it's not like you haven't seen Will Smith fight a bunch of aliens, but it's still pretty fun with some interesting alien designs and a few nice special effect shots.

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