The first one came out in 1997 (Yes, that long ago) and the second was out in 2002, so why did they feel that the third one was needed, and having the franchise thought to be dead for nearly a decade? I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think they needed to make the third one. I felt that as much story as needed be told was, and even felt the second was nothing more than a bid to cash in on the golden calf by throwing a really fun concept at a lack-luster script to try and draw the masses, so I figured the third installment would be nothing more than an excuse to make money.
I was actually pleasantly surprised. I could say that there wasn’t really a need for them to make this other than to maybe apologize for making the second one, and there were definitely more than one or two flaws to it, but it was a lot of fun. The movie picks up as though J and K have been working together for 15 years, and an alien that K put away 40 years ago escapes from the prison built on the moon. The escaped alien then decides to go back in time to kill K for capturing him. Shortly thereafter, there is a shift in space-time, and J seems to be the only one that knows about it. Luckily, the new director knew K well, and believed J when he talked about what K was like, despite everyone else at HQ thinking that he was crazy. So the director decides to send him back in time to save agent K, and so the fun begins. It is also pretty awesome that he goes back to July 16, 1969, and the launch of Apollo 11 is the setting for the film’s climax.
The only reason that this movie worked as well as it did was because you can tell that everyone involved was having fun. Since the majority of the film takes place in 1969, Tommy Lee Jones isn’t in too much of the movie, but for the parts he is there for he is spot on. Will Smith, back from his 4 year acting hiatus, did seem a little rusty at the first, but then fell back into the groove. The 2 best additions to the cast were Jermaine Clement (half of Flight of The Conchords) as the villian, and Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men) as the young agent K. Clement was used sparingly, and always left you wanting more from his character, and Brolin did a fantastic job of mirroring Jones’ mannerisms and characteristics flawlessly. There was also quite a few pleasant cameo appearances that were as delightful as they were rewarding. Will Arnett plays J’s partner in the alternate future where K died in the 60s, Bill Hader plays an undercover agent that J and young K make contact with in the past, and Emma Thompson has taken Rip Torn’s place as the director of the MIB.
Of course, there were more than a few flaws, most of which stemmed from the fact that the main thrust of the movie does involve time-travel, and that is always a recipe for trouble in keeping a plot coherent. Such as the fact that J was the only one that remembered K being alive, and nothing special happened to explain why he was the only one unaffected. There is also a part where the guy who instructs J on time travel that he shouldn’t contact past K at all, but when he does, there are no repercussions, like there were in say Back To The Future. The major problem that I had with the movie was the fact that there was a problem with the relationship that J and K have at the beginning of the movie based on a guarded insecurity on K’s part, but after being partners for 15 years, it was difficult to swallow that the 2 of them weren’t close enough to go into that without J having to go back in time. Even at the conclusion of the movie where there is a bit of a reveal that I don’t want to spoil, it still doesn’t resolve in a manner that I felt was satisfactory, and felt a little forced. It was as though at the end, K decided that he wasn’t going to be grumpy anymore, but he still wasn’t going to talk about his problems/feelings. Then again, I could understand the argument that is a character flaw, not a story flaw, but I felt it could have resolved a little better.
Men In Black III is rated PG-13 mostly for violence and subject matter, but it isn’t anymore violent than the first two. There is a part at the very beginning where Boris escapes that is a little rough, and the nature of his species is somewhat gruesome. If you go into it expecting it to be the light-hearted romp that the first one was, you won’t be disappointed, since it stays very true to the tone set by the first movie. I gave the movie a solid 7 out of 10, since I am not champing at the bit to see it again, but I know I will pick it up when it creeps to the top of my Netflix queue. It seems as though MIB is now in the annuls of most threequels: The first is the best, third is pretty good, and the middle film is the weakest link in the bunch. There is actually some speculation that there is even a fourth in development, and both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have said they would do it. Then again, if they keep the same pace, it won’t be out until 2032. So go out and see this, as it is a pretty good date movie: there is comedy, action, and even a little romance.
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