Ah, the third movie in a series. If it isn’t a planned trilogy, this is usually a big disappointment (X-Men III, Rocky III, Godfather III etc. Although I liked two of those movies – Godfather III is horrible - they are considered disappointing). I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I think the main reason Men in Black 3 is as good as it is is due to them waiting ten years to make it. That gives the film makers time to develop a more creative and unique story rather than just relying on the same old recycled material that led to their success in the first place. It also allows the viewers to sort of forget what happened in the others and makes it newer to us. Finally, it allows for a new crop of viewers to emerge who may not have seen the older ones. In any case, for the most part, MIB3 seemed pretty fresh. There were some hold over jokes and gags from the previous films but that is expected and unavoidable because it is a sequel after all. I did think there was a little too much of “things you see every day are actually alien” but that’s the franchise for you.
Another reason that MIB3 is decent is due to the acting. Josh Brolin is absolutely fantastic as the young K. He nails the mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones’ older K perfectly and mimics Jones’ voice to the point that you would swear it is dubbed. (I watched an interview with Brolin regarding this and they swear it isn’t. When you hear Brolin’s normal voice you can see how he can mimic Jones without too much of a stretch.) Second, Will Smith is very decent in this role. He starts out like he’s going to do nothing but the tired “aw, hell naw!” acting that he has made famous. But he combines some of that with the emotion that we saw in The Pursuit of Happyness and I, Legend to make a very balanced character out of J. (As an aside, Fresh Prince of Bel Air fans will almost instinctively want to say “mind your business, that’s all. Just mind your business” when they hear him say, “Back up! Back up!” at one point. I know I did.) Finally, Michael Stuhlbarg was fantastic as Griffin. You almost believed that he could see every possible future and contingency. It was a surreal experience every time he was on screen. There was one performance that stuck out as particularly bad though. Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal was absolutely painful to watch. It was wooden and inconsistent and I was very disappointed in an otherwise decent actor.
You cannot review an MIB movie without talking about effects and makeup. Overall, they were just average. Brolin’s makeup was very well done to make him look like a young Jones. However, Jones’ makeup (in what I assume was an effort to make him look like an older Brolin) was very pancakey and made him look like a cartoon character and it was distracting. But they had to do something. Have you seen Jones lately? The alien effects were odd. They seemed both real and cartoony at the same time. While there was no obvious green screening, etc. they did look a little out of place. But overall, I’d say they were good enough for the theme and tone of the movie.
Overall, see it. It starts slow and like it’s going to be just a rehash of old jokes but it becomes better than that. There’s just one nagging problem with the movie regarding the time travel that I found annoying. If you don’t want any spoilers (although it’s minor), stop reading. But I need to mention it for my own sanity.
At one point, they look like they’re going to address why J remembers K but nobody else does after Boris goes back in time to kill K. Then, they just drop it completely and give none. Then they come back briefly and drop it again. It’s almost as if they wanted to address it but couldn’t think of a resolution for it. This is pretty major in a time travel story and has to be addressed. Otherwise it’s just annoying. If it was addressed and I missed it, it was too confusing or subtle to be effective because I was looking for it the whole time after J feels “the disturbance” in his apartment.