Men in Black III (2012) ☆☆☆(3/4) : They’re back – with a fun idea

Okay, Okay, I must admit that I was one of the skeptics asking why the hell we need another sequel for “Men in Black” series. I liked the first film for its fun one-joke comedy, and the sequel, which was made 5 years later, was a mild disappointment which attempted the same joke all over again while wasting its time in trying to bring back one of its main characters in action.

10 years have passed since “Men in Black II”(2002), so it was natural that I and other regarded the news about “Men in Black III” in a rather cynical and tired view. Amid lots of blockbuster sequels coming out at theaters every year, do we really need another sequel designed as a cash cow for the movie studio? “Men in Black III” may indeed be a cash cow, but, thankfully for the audiences like me who just want to have a good time at the theater, the movie has a nice idea for its comic nonsense plot along with one successful case of casting which works far, far better than we expected, and the outcome is the same but creative old joke with different things to show and tell.

As many of you already know, Men in Black, or MIB, is the secret government agency monitoring and administrating alien activities on the Earth. While most of the aliens come for a peaceful shelter for them(the running gag in the series is that the disguises of some aliens are actually the well-known celebrities of the global community, such as Michael Jackson, Steven Spielberg, or Lady Gaga), there are also dangerous criminal aliens threatening the safety of Earth, and it is MIB agents’ job to take care of these annoying alien scums. As one of my friends pointed out, they look too transparent in their attire to unsuspecting civilians while carrying out their missions, but don’t worry, because the people will soon forget about what happened and what these guys in black suits did afterwards – right after a certain tool is activated in front of them.

When we meet Agent J(Will Smith) and Agent K(Tommy Lee Jones), they remain pretty much same as when we saw them for the last time, except they get a little more accustomed to each other as the partners for 10 years. While their direct boss is now Agent O(Emma Thompson), Agent K is still a taciturn old dude with lots of things he is not so willing to share with his partner, and Agent J is sometimes exasperated by his partner’s reticence as before. Anyway, there are always works for them to be taken care of, so we see another creative presentation of various aliens created by the special make-up master Rick Baker, who deservedly won an Oscar for the first film. While these aliens look as strange as before, they are always constant amusements to look at in the series.

One of them is Boris(Jemaine Clement), an evil alien who has been incarcerated for more than 40 years in the special prison built on the surface of the moon. He recently escapes from the prison with a little help from his girlfriend(Nicole Scherzinger), and then he schemes to conquer(or destroy) the Earth by eliminating K, his lifelong enemy, from the timeline through the time travel to the past. Jermaine Clement is so good at suggesting the insidious viciousness in the innards of his character that I wondered whether Boris is a distant cousin to John Carpenter’s “The Thing”(1982).

His scheme seems to be successful. K gets wiped from the timeline, and then the Earth is suddenly invaded by Boris’s spaceships all over the world. Due to some reason which is not so easy to be explained, J managed not to be affected by this change on the universal level unlike others, so now it is his job to prevent Boris from killing K in the past. The movie does not give any plausible scientific explanation on the reason why J has to do a sort of four dimensional bungee jump near the top of the Chrysler building for going to 1969, but I guess the science is the last thing I should search for in this film.

While the movie has some funny gags and jokes associated with the 1960s(Bill Hader is hilarious as Andy Warhol), the most amusing part in the film comes from the interaction between J and a younger version of K played by Josh Brolin. I never thought for a millisecond Brolin looked similar to Jones while watching “No Country For Old Men”(2007), but Brolin does a masterful job of perfectly channeling the speech pattern and mannerism of Jones in the film while never losing that dry, droll sense of humor.

He and Jones create an interesting and sometimes touching relationship dynamic together with Smith, and that is why a relatively humble ending of the story at one certain place is as important as the exciting climax sequence which fatefully happens while Apollo 11 is on its first step of making the history. I still cannot see the whole business in the timeline as clearly as Griffin(nerdy and amiable Michael Stuhlberg), an alien with a funny cap who regards the time as another coordinate of his dimension as the creature of the fifth dimensional world, but I could see the bond between J and K has grown thicker than before in the end. Wait, is “before” the right word for their complicated business in the higher dimension beyond our perceptibility? I think I need Griffin right now, although I will not probably be able to understand what he says in his simple but cryptic manner.

The director Barry Sonnenfeld, who has collaborated with Jones and Smith in the series, made a fun film filled with lots of goodies to be appreciated. Along with Rick Baker’s fabulous job, I liked Bo Welch’s set designs, and I gladly welcomed the return of Danny Elfman’s spunky Oscar-nominated theme. As the others already said, this is not as bad as I and others worried, and I had a fun, so I guess it is not bad to hope that they will return with another good idea for the same old joke.

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2 Responses to Men in Black III (2012) ☆☆☆(3/4) : They’re back – with a fun idea

  1. S M Rana says:

    Jokes are nice and good one’s don’t suffer by repetition unless so complex one is left guessing what is the joke. Plot seems bit convoluted. But enjoyable is good enough. I prefer my light stuff from Bollywood–easier to connect! Informative.

    SC: I must confess that some of Bollywood stuffs made me cringe sometimes.

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