It has been 10 years since we last heard from the Men In Black. The successful film series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide at the box office, not to mention having vast DVD sales. Has the world forgotten MIB? Is it still relevant today when action/alien films are ten-a-penny? Well, this is a welcome return to the franchise – it delivers nothing new but fits like a comfortable pair of slippers and entertains nonetheless.
The film, like the previous two, is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and there is no need to introduce the familiar characters, although there are a few new ones to add into the mix. The plot starts off with Nicole Scherzinger helping free Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement) from prison – this really is a rather pointless cameo in her movie debut, where she does nothing more than walk around in a rubber outfit holding a cake. Boris is the last of the Bogladites, who are an ugly ruthless alien species hellbent on annihilating any other species and their planets too. Boris manages to go back in time, altering the present so that Earth can be now under attack from the Bogladites. And worst of all, all memories of Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) have been wiped of the planet, as Boris’ exploits in the past mean he died in 1969. Will Smith (Agent J) head back in time to set things back on track, but can he save the planet and Agent K? Of course he will – this if good old family fun!
Where this film works and many other recent alien films have failed (e.g. John Carter and Battleship), is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The comic timing is perfect and humour runs consistently both on the surface with the wisecracking quips between characters and also subliminally throughout the film, whereas many other films jump erratically between humour and action. Highlights of the almost subliminal touches are where we see Lady Gaga’s face being shown regularly in the MIB offices (is she an alien? – I think so!), and when we go back to 1969 the Aliens look like those that we would see in the likes of Star Trek, with large heads and shiny shimmering gowns, all very subtle but the attention to detail is brilliant. This is definitely a labour of love.
There are plenty of nice touches in the past, such as Will Smith being a black man in a fast car obviously coming to the attention of the police. The issue of racism is dealt with in a very clever scene. It’s also quite nifty that Andy Warhol is actually an MIB agent, who hates his role as he can’t tell the men from the women!
Apart from Will Smith and some of the incredible alien creatures, the film belongs to Josh Brolin, who gives an amazing performance as a young Tommy Lee Jones. His intonation, voice, mannerisms and characteristics make him wholly believable as a younger, less craggy version of Agent K. Brolin steals nearly every scene he is in with his smouldering intensity and jet black slicked hair. He is definitely one of today’s greatest underrated actors, from playing W Bush to his roles in True Grit and Milk.
Overall Verdict: Whilst most trilogies have run out of steam by the last film and are only made to milk the paying audience, MiB3 actually seems stronger than the first two and perhaps the 10 year gap has allowed the film and ideas to mature, so we are delivered a thoroughly entertaining film, with a nice little twist at the end….
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater