The Reel Thing: Men in Black III
By: Ray Cox, May 31, 2012
Men in Black - The men in suits travel back to 1969 to combat the evil Boris the Animal's plans to rewrite history- a Cold War history rewrite for our times.
The third time is usually the charm, and so it is with Men In Black III.
This latest retelling of agents protecting the world from unruly aliens is as good as the first and much better than the lackluster second film in the series. Starring always-excellent Will Smith as Agent J, Josh Brolin as the younger Agent K breathes life into the Tommy Lee Jones character by giving him something the stone-faced Jones never did—a personality.
Both agents go back in time—to 1969 actually—to confront, or rather reconfront, an old nemesis, Boris the Animal, the only survivor of the Boglodife race.
Time travel is often a risky proposition, but it works well here, even if the 44 year-old Brolin has to play Jones at 29, a running gag for Smith who has his own problems. It seems a black man in an expensive dark suit driving a shiny new Cadillac in 1969 raises a few eyebrows.
When Smith tries to explain to two cynical policeman that just because he is black does not mean he stole the Cadillac—even though he did—he realizes he is out of his element.
Smith’s wit and Brolin’s dead-on imitation of Jones, the steely stare and tiny tics as well as the Texas drawl, only carry the movie so far. Thankfully, Boris the Animal, played with tremendous zeal by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), is a riveting and revolting villain trying to rewrite history by returning to the past.
Although the viewing public was hardly screaming for another sequel, director Barry Sonnenfeld, who did the first two, apparently had long-standing plans and waited for writer David Koepp (Spider Man) to craft a script.
The film is enjoyable for the most part, although why it needed a 3-D version is dubious. Seeing slimy creatures oozing from every pore up-closer and more personal is not as romantic as it sounds.
The four leads—Smith, Jones, Brolin and Clement—give us enough to get by on, but some of the other roles are incomplete or jettisoned altogether, like Boris’s girlfriend, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.
Renowned British actress Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee) in the role of Agent O, head of the MIB brigade, is largely wasted, as is her younger self played by The Raven’s Alice Eve. With all respect to Ms. Thompson, Eve could never morph into the elder agent, no matter how many decades passed.
All in all, it could have been better but it is good enough to cause fans of the franchise to overlook the flop of the second Men in Black. Maybe we can rewrite history, after all.