Theatrical Review: Men In Black III

The vicious alien known as Boris The Animal has just escaped imprisonment on the moon and is now hellbent on getting his revenge on the man who put him there: Agent K of the Men In Black. Boris’ plan is to go back in time and stop K before the young K can stop him, and he succeeds wiping out all existence of anything that K has accomplished with one exception; his partner Agent J still remembers everything. Now Agent J plans to go back in time to 1969 and keep Boris from eliminating the young Agent K.

That’s the nutshell premise to Men In Black III, the latest film in the series and it’s also the latest movie from director Barry Sonnenfeld who directed the prior two movies. Sonnenfeld was last seen on the big screen in 2006 with RV and prior to that, 2002 with Men In Black II. He’s been spending the last few years working in television. Now honestly, until a few months ago, I wasn’t even aware that there was a third Men In Black movie even coming and I more or less thought that this series was pretty much through (especially considering that MIBII really wasn’t that good of a film). When I saw the original trailer for Men In Black III I thought it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun and thankfully, it is.

Men In Black III takes a bit of a different turn from the prior two movies providing more of a focus on J and K’s partnership and their origins. It’s got a lot of sentimentality and I think it’s hitting this series at just the right time. Oh, it still has all of the alien wackiness of the first two movies, but it takes a second place to a bigger display of heart. The start-up of the film is a little on the slow side, but once Agent J makes his time jump, the pace of the film picks up considerably. the film’s humor isn’t raucous, but more gentle inducing more smiles than belly laughs.

The film absolutely looks terrific and it’s clear that Sonnenfeld shot this with 3D in mind. It wasn’t shot in 3D, but converted, but it was a planned conversion. It really does look terrific and thanks to Sonnenfeld’s shooting style, it absolutely works with lots of in-your-face 3D effects as well as plenty of scene immersion. The visual effects are beautiful and master make-up effects artist Rick Baker gets a chance to shine here with his alien make-up work. Composer Danny Elfman has also returned to the series and provides the right familiarity with his score.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones both reprise their roles as J and K respectively, and while Men In Black III won’t be seen as their best work, it’s still good stuff and the two still display the same chemistry that was seen in the prior films, but getting even a little stronger by the end. Josh Brolin plays the young Agent K in 1969 and it’s a pitch-perfect impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones, yet there’s still a little glint of wonder to this character that the older K doesn’t have. Smith and Jones are great, but I tend to think Brolin steals the show.

New to the series, you have Emma Thompson playing Agent O who assumes command of the Men In Black after the passing of Zed (played by Rip Torn in the prior movies). Alice Eve (most recently seen in The Raven) plays O in 1969 and I think both version of this character are welcome additions to this series providing Agent K with way more depth than previously seen. Michael Stuhlbarg plays Griffin, the last survivor of an alien race who can see all of the possibilities of the future at any moment, and he also provides a nice sense of wonder. Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords plays Boris The Animal and he’s pretty good as the vicious villain sort of reminding of what you might get if you crossed Mark Ruffalo with Tim Curry. There’s even a couple of nice cameos with Will Arnett playing Agent AA, who’s K’s partner in the altered future and former X Factor judge and Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger playing Boris’ girlfriend who helps him escape from the moon.

Men In Black III is a fun movie and in my mind, just the right sort of movie to follow in the wake of The Avengers, it’s a smaller sort of blockbuster still filled with terrific visuals, but with a bigger display of heart. It’s comfort food on the big screen with some new spice added thanks to terrific work from Josh Brolin. If you’re like most, you loved the original film and were disappointed by the second, fortunately third time is indeed the charm here and I expect you’ll have a good time with Men In Black III.