Let me begin by stating the obvious – Men In Black 3 is one hell of an unnecessary threequel. But there’s Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and that more than makes up for its stale formula and lukewarm welcome. They make this look good.
The third Men in Black movie is packed with enough jokes and cameos to delight fans of the series. Fortunately, this third film brings the franchise to exactly where it should be - at the heart of goofy, yet classy comedy, one which gives impulsive chuckles. This was a major issue with the overbudgeted and bloated Men In Black 2 where every joke and sight gag felt so forced and obvious that it was never really funny. Men In Black 3 brings back the good natured panache of the original film, and though it isn’t as fun, the result is pleasing enough for those who became fans of the series back in 1997.
When we last left Agents J (Smith) and K (Jones), they had just fought off the scum of the universe, and unsurprisingly not much has changed. We’re introduced to Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), a villainous alien who breaks out of jail and vows revenge against Agent K who had locked him up forty years ago. As a result K disappears from the face of the earth, and Agent J is left to travel back in time and save his partner and the whole planet.
If you find this crummy, don't worry, because the Men In Black series has never really been big on storytelling. It has always been about watching rubbery aliens and Smith delivering punch-lines while dealing with the equally rubbery Jones. The aliens are back in droves and they are deliciously bizarre thanks to the imaginative mind of the legendary artist Rick Baker. Smith is the most likable and funniest movie star and his charismatic work here further proves that there is no one who can pull off sheer screen presence so effortlessly. Jones is his usual deadpan self and his blank stares are as effective and amusing as ever. The costars have fun with their roles as well – Josh Brolin is hilarious as the younger K and does a perfect impression of Jones without coming off as a parody. Emma Thompson as Agent O (replacing Rip Torn) and Bill Hader as Andy Warhol are a lot of fun in their cameos. Equally impressive is the CGI that doesn’t seem very new but is incredibly detailed and epic. There is a lot of the series’ trademark cartoonish violence, sadly presented in jarring 3D. But beneath the big effects the film is just a series of skits, and the gags are funny enough to work.
Naturally, Men in Black 3 isn't without its faults. Despite the great performances and production design the film gets hokey at times, especially when it brings in an emotional twist in the second half. The villain is very ugly but isn’t very threatening to look at – a major blunder seeing as Vincent D’Onofrio in the original is one of the greatest screen villains of all time. Also, most of the action scenes don’t really add anything to the plot – they just exist for the popcorn mayhem. The time-travel storyline, despite clocking in at just 100 minutes is way too familiar and predictable. But it’s easy to get past these gaffes and Men in Black 3 works as an effective entertainer. The original is still the most interesting and sophisticated, but compared to the horrible sequel, part three is the next best thing. Watch it, in 2D only.
(First published in MiD Day)