Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring:||Will Smith … Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones … Agent K
Emma Thompson … Agent O
Josh Brolin … Young Agent K
Alice Eve … Young Agent O
Bill Hader … Andy Warhol
Lady Gaga … Alien on TV Monitors
Tim Burton … Alien on TV Monitors
Justin Bieber … Alien on TV Monitors
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Hemisphere Media Capital
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|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“Back in time”
I’ll admit it; I may not be the best person to write an unbiased review of a “Men in Black” film. After all, I was but an 8th grader when the franchise began. That 1997 film was an 8th grader’s dream movie: funny, hip, gross, and more special effects than the law allowed. For better and for worse, I loved the original “Men in Black”. I realized my fondness for the film when I saw “Men in Black II” five years later. This sequel was universally panned by critics, but I still enjoyed seeing the characters back on the big screen. I also realized that my overzealous opinion of the original was a product of my age, but fifteen years later I was still more than happy to strap in for another adventure with the defenders of the galaxy, Agent J and Agent K. I am happy to report that both myself and the 8th grade version of me are thrilled with the results of “Men in Black III”, which comes close to equaling the sheer fun of the first installment.
Boris, aka “The Animal”, is one bad alien. He is so villainous, so vile, and so powerful, that a prison had to be constructed just to hold him. This prison is so big that it was constructed on the moon after Agent K arrested him in 1969. 33 years later, Boris has finally escaped. After his escape, Boris only has one thing on his mind: Revenge. His plan is to travel back in time to kill Agent K, thus freeing him from prison and allowing his species to conquer planet Earth. Before this can happen, Agent J has to travel back in time to stop Boris and save his partner, as well as all the memories that have occurred during their fifteen year partnership.
While time travel is a conceit that has been overdone in movies, when it is done right, it can still work. Fortunately, the plot of “Men in Black III” is airtight and well constructed. While the second film seemed to be made up as it progressed, there is a central mystery in this installment that anchors the exposition in a way that intrigues the viewer. Also, the chemistry of the three leads is excellent. I say three leads, because Will Smith’s Agent J has to play both off of modern day Agent K, Tommy Lee Jones, as well as 1969 Agent K, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin is excellent in the part, and his portrayal goes past an impersonation. Boris, played by Jemaine Clement, is effectively villainous while also being quite humorous.
Unlike my 8th grade self, I understand that the “Men in Black” series is not perfect and does, in fact, have flaws and limitations. As far as content goes, “Men in Black III” is similar to the previous two films, although it may be a little cleaner. There are no f-words, but milder profanities do fill the screen, along with a handful of uses of God’s name. There are a few women in revealing clothing, but no sexual situations and very little sexual dialog. The film is, at heart, a “creature feature”, which results in some interesting looking aliens, but also some gross-out moments and scary figures. The film earns its PG-13 rating and is not for younger children.
The pleasant surprise of this third installment is the film’s heart. Telling any specifics would give some great surprises away, but suffice it to say that the dynamic between Agent K and Agent J is the result of a deep, sacrificial bond. Friendship is championed as well as sacrifice. Honesty is also, surprisingly, given a strong nod in the film, which is the most redemptive of the series.
We all have movies that we love, not necessarily because of their quality, but because of when we saw them. Another way to put it is that not every movie is for every person. The same can be said about the entire “Men in Black” series, and specifically the third installment. It’s light, summer fun with a heart. It’s also occasionally profane and can get a bit sticky. Moviegoers who are uninitiated to the series will probably find little to enjoy here. Fans of the first film, however, will be more than rewarded for joining J and K on another adventure. And it’s to those people, and to my 8th grade self, that I say, “Suit Up.”
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.