Men in Black III Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by Etan Cohen
Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alice Eve, Bill Hader, Will Arnett
Release Date: May 25, 2012
What happened to Will Smith? There was a time (1997) when Smith made great, entertaining popcorn movies, but those days, it seems, are over. Since the back-to-back successes of Independence Day, Men in Black, and Enemy of the State, Smith’s filmography has been comprised of less hits and more misses: I, Robot, I Am Legend, Hancock, and his most recent film, 2008’s Seven Pounds, just to name a few.
After such a slump of underwhelming movies, it makes perfect sense for Will Smith to revisit the Men in Black franchise, even if 2002’s Men in Black II was entirely disappointing. On the topic of revisiting previous films, let’s take a moment to review Will Smith’s credits, as well as his upcoming projects:
Hancock 2, Bad Boys 3, I, Robot 2. Seriously? C’mon Fresh Prince, you’re better than that! Let’s hurry up and get this movie review started before someone green-lights Wild West West 2…
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Men in Black III reunites Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, members of a top-secret government agency tasked with protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe.
Men in Black III opens with a prison break on the Moon’s Lunar Max prison, where we’re introduced to the film’s bad guy: a Boglodite assassin by the name of Boris The Animal (Flight Of The Conchords’ Jemaine Clement). Boris is the extraterrestrial equivalent of the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage (R.I.P). I mean, look at this guy:
The bandana, the beard, the tasseled jacket, and sunglasses, the long, stringy hair – all present and accounted for. Boris The Animal is a top-rope elbow drop and a couple of Slim Jims away from being my all-time favorite professional wrestler. Can I get an Oooh Yeaaaah!?
Anyway, after escaping the Lunar Max prison, Boris relies on the well-worn plot device of time travel to solve all his problems. He time-jumps back to 1969 and murders Agent K (Josh Brolin) before his arrest, which dramatically alters the course of human events. Eluding his 40-year Moon vacation, Boris leads a Boglodite invasion that destroys the Earth. What Boris “Macho Man” Boglodite didn’t expect, was a bad-ass like Will Smith time-stalking him back to ’69 to prevent his partner’s death and the destruction of the planet.
Men in Black III is an altogether decent effort at summer popcorn fun. There are some clever cameos by funny guys Bill Hader and Will Arnett, and Josh Brolin does a fantastic job at convincing us he’s the 1969 version of Tommy Lee Jones.
Sadly missing from the film is Rip Torn as MIB’s Chief Zed, replaced by Agent O (Emma Thompson). Another new addition to the cast is Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, an inter-dimensional being with the ability to see multiple timelines at once. Stuhlbarg steals every single scene he’s in – he’s simply fantastic. Tommy Lee Jones does what he’s told – which is to say, not much. He’s the same wry, impenetrable old man he’s always been – leaving Brolin to do most of the heavy lifting with any character development Agent K experiences in the film.
Likewise Will Smith hits his marks and delivers his trademark Smith-isms on cue for the camera. Honestly, he looks pretty bored – kind of like Harrison Ford in Return of the Jedi when he’s forced to sing and dance with all those Ewoks.
All in all, Men in Black III is a half-hearted, messy film that manages to provide a few laughs and a couple surprises. The late ’60s are fully realized in Mad Men fashion complete with some excellent creature design and makeup by the legendary Rick Baker. Without giving away too much, Men in Black III has a strong, heartfelt finish that’s ultimately wasted on a just-OK movie.
And as for Boris, he served his purpose – posing a threat and creating a plot out of thin air – giving the MIB a reason to defend the planet and Barry Sonnenfeld an excuse to make another movie. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Men in Black 4 hits theaters in a few years, but only after Hancock 2, Bad Boys 3, and I, Robot 2.
If you’re going to the theater this weekend, you could do a whole lot worse (Dark Shadows, Battleship) than Men in Black III. It’s not bad, it’s not great – it’s just unnecessary. If I were you – I’d just go see The Avengers for the fourth time or save your money for Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises.