When I arrived at the theater to see Men in Black 3, memories of the first film were at the forefront of my mind. However, I can’t remember much about the second film at all. Where the first movie was a clever mix of action and comedy, the second film was just a collection of silly moments, none of which are funny enough to be very memorable.
I’m sad to say that the third film is no different. Men in Black 3 seems like one outrageous moment after another, connected by a story that is less than interesting.
A space villain, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), has broken out of prison and seeks vengeance against his arresting officer, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Boris travels back in time and kills a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin), which dooms all of mankind to a destruction by alien warships.
Will Smith reprises his role as Agent J, who also travels back in time to thwart Boris’ plan. This whole time travel gimmick seems like a decent way to write Tommy Lee Jones out of the movie, since most of the film will feature Will Smith partnered up with Josh Brolin. It’s rather strange to see Jones receive top billing, since his screen time is quite limited.
Before I get into criticizing the plot, I’d like to say that the cast in this film does some solid work. I was particularly impressed with Josh Brolin, who does an excellent job of imitating the mannerisms of Tommy Lee Jones. Accepting Brolin as Agent K is very easy to do, and he should be commended for his performance.
Sadly, the talents of this excellent cast aren’t well utilized by the script. I’m sure you’ve seen a plethora of films that use time travel as a plot device. It’s overdone, and Men in Black 3 adds nothing new to the formula. You’ve seen this movie many times before; the only difference is that this time it’s all designed to make you laugh — even if you don’t actually laugh.
There are a few moments where the film’s simple humor works pretty well. Jermaine Clement is particularly funny as Boris the Animal; however, this is the only aspect of the film’s comedy worth mentioning. Most of the jokes are quite stale; you won’t find yourself quoting lines with your friends after you leave the theater.
In between the moments of subpar comedy we are treated to some action sequences, each complete with bad looking CGI. For a film with a budget of $250 million, one has to ask where all that money was spent. The first Men in Black is a fantastic-looking film, mixing CGI with excellent costumes and puppet work. However, Men in Black 3 relies entirely on CGI — and it just doesn’t look good.
The fantastic set pieces that really made the first Men in Black stand out are virtually gone. The original film did an excellent job of using New York City landmarks to ground the film in reality, and help make the experience seem as believable as possible. This approach is completely thrown out in Men in Black 3, which may as well have taken place on a different planet.
There’s just something about the whole Men in Black 3 experience that seems hollow, but it’s hard to completely put my finger on what that is. The dramatic change of look and tone between this film and its predecessor is enough to make these movies feel unrelated. This is a sequel that feels like its own movie; the plot begins and ends with little reference to the previous films. However, even as a standalone film, Men in Black 3 just isn’t very good.
You may have a little bit of fun, but the feeling won’t stick with you after the credits finish rolling. Everything about Men in Black 3 is forgettable, and the experience as a whole will leave you feeling completely unmoved. If you’re looking for some fun and laughs, it’s best just to rent the original.