Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MEN IN BLACK III Review - He Said

Directed by: Barry Sonenfield
Written by: Etan Cohen and apparently 5 other writers
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jermaine Clement, and Michael Stuhlbarg
Synopsis: Escaping from prison after 40 years, Boris The Animal, travels back in time to kill Agent K to prevent his incarceration. Agent J follows him to stop him and teams up with a younger K in the process. Neurolizer jokes ensue. 

Talk about some tempered expectations here. MEN IN BLACK III is a movie that looked completely awful from the trailers. It looked like everything you'd expect out of something like SHREK 3; a completely vapid shell of movie that is a mockery of what the original once was. Hell, there is the time travel element that just screams lazy for a third part in a movie series. But I'm happy to say that despite that fact that marketing made the movie look awful, or maybe because I had some Left Coast Voodoo Imperial Stout, the movie was damn entertaining. It's not "great" as say, THE AVENGERS, which it dethroned from the top spot of the box office, but it had some good surprises thanks to some great chemistry by Will Smith and series newcomer Josh Brolin.

Let's first get into what really doesn't work. First, the set-up just feels like super convenient. They make a really huge point to let you know that K is a huge dick. He's stoic and apparently after 14 years, he is still the same person as he was before. Seriously, it's a really bad recurring joke of the movie series. And they only really talk about this particular personality trait due to the fact that they allude to SOMETHING that changed him from back in the day that feels like some pretty obvious foreshadowing. When this event actually happens in the movie, this moment was not justified at all.

If you remember the jokes from the first MEN IN BLACK, you're probably going to mildly laugh at the jokes during the third one since they rehash a lot of the older jokes. The most groan inducing moment is when in the background of the MiB headquarters, you see that they are monitoring aliens of earth, as you do. And then you see that Lady Gaga and Tim Burton are aliens that are being monitored. Ha. Ha. Ha. Because they're really weird and wear meat and stuff, right? That's why they're aliens!

And let's just say that movies that are not called PRIMER or TIMECRIMES usually have a tendency of messing up the logic of the rules of time travel that are established in their own movies. Since it's spoiler territory, I won't get too heavily as to HOW there's quite a few glaringly obvious plot holes all related to time travel. Needless to say, they are there. Heck, there are even full articles written about it.

As I mentioned before, though, I actually quite enjoyed the movie. Whereas Tommy Lee Jones seems to be a former shell of himself as Agent K, Josh Brolin kicks ass as a younger K with the same style of sass without the shitty attitude. Whenever Young K interacts with J, you feel some of that old spark that made the first MIB really fun. The fact that J has to go back to the 1960's makes for some really funny racial humor because as a character puts it, "it wasn't the best time for your people," and that would have been pretty lame if it had not been for Will Smith's "Will Smith-iness" and swagger carrying those jokes.

Jermaine "Jermaine" Clement from The Flight of the Conchords, unrecognizable as main villain Boris, is pretty much my favorite villain of the series. He's definitely a messed up alien, but there's no gross out factor like the villain of the first one. Instead, he just comes up as just a creepy and deadly dude that actually feels like he's a threat to the Earth and the safety of our protagonists. Also, I quite enjoyed some of the cameos this time around. They actually feel little more justified instead of someone like Johnny Knoxville in the second movie. When you see Bill Hader, you'll know what I mean.

But my favorite part of the movie was the character Griffin played by Michael Stuhlbarg. His character sees so many of the possible futures and outcomes and likes to talk about them in a very rapid neurotic sort of way. At one point, he describes a historic baseball game (I'm don't remember which one or who was playing it), and he talks about all of the components that happened in order to make that happen. How the ball that the pitcher threw was made with a slight irregularity due to the leather being faulty because the guy that was on duty just got cheated on by his wife and wasn't paying attention. He goes on to foreshadows other events in the movie as well. But what I loved about this character was the fact that that it reminded of the concept of consequence, and how very difficult that can be to really grasp. We never know how something that we do will affect our own life much less someone else's. I know that this is not the movie's intended theme, but if allowed to just forgive some plot inconsistencies, it very well could be.

As I mentioned, this is not a perfect movie, but I'll be damned if I didn't say that it was not a fun time at the movies despite the aforementioned issues. I didn't see the movie in 3D, so I can't speak for the quality of it, but then again I never see movies in 3D unless it's necessary. I can't shake the feeling that maybe my expectations were so low that I found it enjoyable.

In addition, check Meredith's review on Badass Digest for someone that dug the movie as well.

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