I could have easily written off the MEN IN BLACK series after the second film. Even the first has lost its luster in terms of how much I remembered liking it when it first came out, but the second film is one I’ve seen in its entirety, however in more than a dozen sittings where I watched a few scenes at a time. I love sci fi movies and I love the premise of the MEN IN BLACK series, but there is something about them that just doesn’t allow them to age well after my initial viewing of them. That being said MEN IN BLACK 3 is the far superior sequel that at least stands up against the original- rather or not it stands the test of time is another story.
Jay (Will Smith) and Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) return once again as an extremely dangerous alien escapes from MIB’s secret moon prison and finds a way to go back in time to exact revenge on Kay by killing him. In the Kay-less future Jay tracks down the source of the change and also returns back in time to set things right.
The best part of this sequel is that while the effects are still pretty cartoonish and probably won’t age well they are still way better than the effects in MEN IN BLACK 2 and the humor this time around is much more present than its predecessor. For me, the second film was annoyingly entranced with its own quirkiness especially the inclusion of Johnny Knoxville’s character and the third film does ad a quirky side character, Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), but this time around it’s much funnier and more interesting.
Smith’s sassy jokes and overall presence are also heightened even if I feel like it is about time for the character- or series in general- to be hung up while on what I perceive to be its high point. I was happy also to see Jones take more of a backseat this time around in favor of Brolin’s impeccable Tommy Lee Jones impersonation. Stuhlbarg is easily my favorite new addition to the film even though he is very underutilized, while Jemaine Clement’s character, Boris The Animal quickly got on my nerves although I was a fan of the alien’s design and physical presence.
Aside from some pretty good jokes here and there, some fun CGI effects and the attempt to deepen the overall journey of Jay and Kay in these films I found my overall interest in the film drifting during quite a few stretches of the film. The action in every film has never been stellar and MEN IN BLACK 3 is no exception. It does earn some extra points for differentiating itself from its predecessors by adding that extra bit of story toward then end and with the entire time travel stuff.
MEN IN BLACK 3 is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel, even in terms of MEN IN BLACK movies which is both good and bad for the overall experience. Good in the sheer fact that by not going completely off the rails it is accessible for a wide audience and different enough to draw some people who may have given up back into it. Bad because while it is fun for at least one watch and then there’s never anything spectacular to return and watch it again. In the end it is worth a rental to see Josh Brolin impersonating Tommy Lee Jones and for a lot of the fun jokes that are to be had along the way.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)