“Men in Black 3” Movie Review

     Many people were calling “Men in Black 3” the sequel nobody wanted or asked for.  Certainly, the timing is fine as its been 15 years since the original film and 10 years since the sequel many thought killed the franchise.  I gather there is an entire generation or two who hasn’t even seen either of the previous films so the event status of this threequel is without a doubt in question.  Making matters more complicated is the fact that star Will Smith hasn’t been in a movie since 2008, so the star power typically needed for a film to flourish may even be in question.  I’m here to tell you director Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Men in Black 3” is an outstanding chapter in the series and everything you loved about the original is back and even better as far as I’m concerned.

     If your familiar with the series than you already know the characters well.  Agent J, played by Will Smith, and Agent K, played by Tommy Lee Jones, are agents with a secret government agency called MIB, whose mission is to protect Earth from alien invasions and to keep an eye on those who already inhabit our planet.  Speaking of those aliens, you get the idea ace makeup and effects artist Rick Baker must’ve been saving his most prized creations for the possibility this film got made.  He and his creature effects team have really outdone themselves here.  No better example is the creation of the film’s villain, Boris the Animal, who looks like a reincarnation of Randy Macho Man Savage and has at his disposal many scorpion like creatures who live within him.  He is by far the nastiest most vile creature the series has had thus far.

     When it’s the third time around, the story is crucial in order to keep the series fresh and unpredictable.  With so much going on in this film, the screenwriters have definitely done their job.  After the aforementioned Boris the Animal escapes from a prison on the moon and is now loose on earth, Agent K reveals he had caught and imprisoned Boris back in 1969. It was in that year Agent K deployed a device which is able to shield the earth from an attack by Boris’ alien race.  Boris knows this and seeks out a fellow alien who has time travel gear.  Before we know it, Agent K disappears and as Agent J finds out, no one knows who he is.  He’s later told by his boss, Agent O, that K was killed by Boris back in 1969.  Agent J then realizes what has happened and that Boris has successfully gone back in time and killed K.

     As the Earth is invaded by a hostile alien force, Agent J goes back in time to 1969 and tries to prevent Boris from killing K.  This is where the film really gets fun.  First off, the young Agent K is played by Josh Brolin, who has perfected the nuances of Tommy Lee Jones so well it’s scary.  Together, they must stop both the Boris of the future as well as the 1969 Boris and ultimately save the Earth. 

     The nostalgic scene in 1969 is one to behold.  MIB generally looks the same, but the gadgets are still being refined.  The “neurolizer” that current MIB agents can carry in their pocket is in 1969 a giant person sized tube that fills a large room.  Young Agent K’s cell phone is about the size of a small fire extinguisher, and the weapons don’t seem to have the same immediate effect as the present day weapons do.  That’s not to say they don’t have several nifty gadgets at their disposal.  When their MIB car is disabled, K simply hits a button and out from underneath the car emerges two silver motorcycle like vehicles which have the rider sitting within one large circular track while it’s in motion.

     Many questions are answered in the film and the third act is truly something to behold.  I can see why people were skeptical when this was first announced, but after viewing it, I can confidently say those thoughts can be put to rest.  Will Smith returns to fine form after his 4 year long absence from the movies and both Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are excellent as usual.   Bringing back the director of the first two films in the series, Barry Sonnenfeld, was also a wise idea.  He brings a continuity I don’t think another director could have managed with this material and he also understands how to ensure the tone remains comic throughout.  Like “The Avengers”, “Men in Black 3” succeeds by engrossing us with an interesting story, larger than life characters, and imaginative creature design.  The formula for this type of film can be hit and miss, but these filmmakers have clearly done this one the right way.  GRADE: B+