Monday, June 11, 2012

Men in Black III

I remember way back in 1997 when a movie billed itself as “Protecting the Earth from the scum of the universe.” Called Men In Black, it starred veteran TommyLee Jones and a rapidly ascending actor by the name of Will Smith. It was a hit, as was the Men In Back II sequel in 2002, but could the franchise support a trilogy ten years after the last film? That’s the question I asked myself when Men In BlackIII was released on May 25.

Ten years is a long time in between films, and oftentimes it proves less than satisfying (i.e. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of theCrystal Skull). Could Smith, who is now one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, reprise one of the roles that helped make him a household name? Not only that, how would he do after not having made a movie for three-and-a-half years (his last was 2008’s Seven Pounds)? Could the 65-year-old Jones keep up with the demands of a sci-fi action/comedy? So many questions surrounded MIB III, and the simple answer to them all is this: If you liked the first two films, you’ll like the third installment.

For those who don’t know the premise of MIB III, IMDb explains: “Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.”

I can’t say that I was thrilled with the time-travel storyline prior to seeing it; in fact, it seemed to me like it might be a cheap excuse to lighten the load for Jones, who as I previously mentioned is getting up their in years. If that was the case, I knew I’d be disappointed as a Jones fan.

While Jones’ role is less than in the first two MIBs, he still puts in a strong performance in the beginning and end of the film. In the middle, Josh Brolin is brought in to play the role of a young Agent K. Now Jones is about a unique actor as you can get, so it seems like a tough task to find someone to fill his shoes. His grizzled deadpan and endearing bluntness are mesmerizing and emulating it almost seems impossible. I thought there was no way Brolin could pull off a convincing younger version of Jones, but I was wrong.

As it happens, Brolin does a tremendous job with the part. He was able to pull off Jones so well that the character transition was flawless. Brolin, who has truly become a remarkable actor, leaves himself out of it and give way to the character, if that makes sense. 

In other performance news, Smith doesn’t miss a step reprising the role of Agent J. What you saw in the first two films from him is what you’ll see in MIB III. The supporting cast was also solid  thanks to strong performances by Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mike Colter.

What made the film commendable, at least for me, was the emphasis on continuity. Instead of switching things up, like bringing in a new director, they stuck with what’s worked in the past and brought back BarrySonnenfeld, who directed the first two films. Interestingly, Sonnenfeld makes a cameo in the film as a guy watching the Apollo 11 launch on a couch while drinking a cup of coffee.

My only qualm with the film, at least as far as continuity is concerned, was the disappearance of Rip Torn, who played Zed, the director of MIB, in the first two films. In MIB III, it is revealed that his character has been killed off. I can only presume that it is related to Torn’s recent legal troubles involving alcohol. It’s understandable the studio would move away from it, but his absence doesn’t go unnoticed.

There wasn’t anything revolutionary about MIB III, but it was on par with the first two films in the franchise. Thanks to a little twist ending, that proves satisfying, I imagine this will be the last MIB film, though I could be wrong. Either way, if they left it as a trilogy they’d be going out on a strong note having put together a well-constructed finale. 

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 69%

Follow us on Twitter at Buddies4everMC, like us on Facebook, & find us on Google+ for all the latest and greatest movie reviews.

No comments:

Post a Comment