Sunday, May 27, 2012

Movie Review: Men in Black III

The first Men in Black was far better than it seems like it should have been, and the second - unfortunately - was not. Our expectations for the third were a bit harder to pin down. It seemed unlikely that Barry Sonnenfeld would risk what remains of his reputation unless he had reason to believe the finished product would be worthwhile. On the other hand, this is the director of RV and Wild Wild West* we're talking about, so speculation as to his "reasons for making movies" are risky.

I'm pleased to report that Sonnenfeld either knew what he was doing or got damn lucky, because Men in Black III was pretty great.

The trailers set up the premise: Agent K's been murdered by a time-traveling alien, so it's up to J to go rescue him. I knew going in that time travel was going to be used to give Josh Brolin an opportunity to show off his Tommy Lee Jones impression. What I hadn't realized was that they'd invested more thought than that. This is, in fact, a science-fiction comedy about time-travel, rather than an SF comedy with time-travel tossed in. Or, to put it another way, time-travel is an integral piece of the movie, not a cheap ploy.

That's not to say it's used perfectly. There's some slight-of-hand tricks employed to make you overlook the fact that some aspects don't logically work quite as well as they'd like you to believe. And - as is usually the case - the rules governing the trope are neither completely fleshed out or rational. But who cares? When the chips were down, when it really counted, Men in Black III was more intelligent than I'd expected.

It was also more touching. The movie's resolution packs a surprising emotional punch. Yeah, it's still a comedy, but it's a comedy with just a touch of gravitas.

Sure, the villain wasn't really all that memorable, and several jokes felt flat or redundant from previous installments. But those are trifles. Men in Black III accomplishes the one thing I wouldn't have anticipated: in a summer with bigger alien-invasion movies, the third installment of a fifteen-year-old franchise actually justifies its own existence.

Men in Black III is a neat little movie. It's not on par with The Avengers, but - come on - you've already seen that two or three times, anyway. If you're a fan of part one, check this out.

*Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I've never seen RV. And, in the interest of fuller disclosure, I actually like Wild Wild West, despite being willing to admit it isn't exactly a "good" movie. Oh, and I'm aware of the background behind the giant spider and still like it. I mean, come on: how can you not love a steam-punk robot spider?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nobody was really ever praying and wishing for the third film in this series, but it wasn't all that bad. I still had plenty of fun with Will Smith and I thought James Brolin's whole impersonation/performance of Tommy Lee Jones, was spot-on and added a whole lot more comedy to the final product. Good review Erin.