It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 15 years since we were first introduced to that secret government agency known as the Men in Black. It’s even harder to believe that when I went and saw the third installment today I was sitting behind a group of kids who weren’t alive when the sequel came out almost 10 years ago. (I feel old now.)
Will Smith has made a career out of kicking alien ass. And in a summer full of alien invasion movies, some adding aliens for no real reason (cough *”Battleship”* cough), it would be easy for “Men in Black III” to get lost in the shuffle.
There’s a bit of a been-there-done-that feel to the whole thing. But my sense of nostalgia got the better of me; I’m happy to report that I wasn’t totally disappointed.
Most of the key players are back, this time around a super baddie named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) has escaped the alien prison on the moon and has come back to Earth for revenge on the agent who captured him, K (Tommy Lee Jones). Boris goes back in time to kill K as a young jr. agent and succeeds. But now the timeline has changed and only J (Will Smith) knows that something is wrong. It’s his mission to go back in time and set things right.
The style of the first two films is there and the time-travel storyline doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The first time I saw the trailers it seemed like a tired plot device and I thought the writers could do better, be a bit more creative. The original worked well because we were being reintroduced to a world we thought we knew but was still completely new.
The third time around the focus is more on creating the world of the 60’s than it is the alien world that’s already around us. The best parts are when the two collide. My favorite scenes in the movie involve Bill Hader as Andy Warhol, or I mean Agent W. He’s undercover and sick of having to talk about bananas and soup cans.
While Rip Torn does not reprise his role as Zed, and Frank the pug is only there in spirit (and some really big posters) there are some new additions to the cast. Emma Thompson, as Agent O, is fine nothing too special. But James Brolin is fantastic as a young K. He channels Jones so well I wondered sometimes if they hadn’t just used CGI to Benjamin Button him.
Clament’s Boris is a perfect villain. He’s truly an evil alien dusch. Nicknamed “The Animal,” Boris can grow claws from his feet and shoot poison dart things and his hand opens up and this weird spidery thing crawls out of it and the visual is really, REALLY disturbing. Much more so than it needed to be.
The story comes full circle and has some really touching moments that may have been a little predictable. (Seriously, even my mom saw it coming.) The story is well acted and the cinematography is bright and dynamic. There are some unanswered questions I have that seem to have just been written off, like how come J is the only one who remembers K not dying?
Overall, “Men in Black III” wasn’t a complete waste of time. Beside the lack of Frank, the biggest disappointment is that there’s no catchy theme song by Will Smith. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Those songs are catchy as hell and it’s been over a decade since we’ve had one.