I saw the first Men in Black on a date — in the U.S. — with a boy I liked very much. I laughed so hard the whole theatre stared at me, and I couldn’t help but dance to the title song by Will Smith. I saw the movie again back home in Belarus with my BFF, crowning Jada Pinkett Smith as the luckiest girl on Earth. She was capable of creating a secret language to keep important info safe from alien invaders. I could not believe anything like that could be made by humans. Well, and a few aliens.
Men in Black II landed in my home collection this year when my 5-year-old expressed a keen interest in the franchise. It was funny, a solid treadmill movie, but nothing like the original. I held my breath for Part 3.
With a heavy heart I have to admit that Men in Black 3 is a disappointment. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and written by Etan Cohen, it should be great — but somehow it’s not. It’s the curse of every sequel. It would have been a marvel had we not seen the original. The trouble is we all saw it and it was darn good. The elements of the first instalment are all in Men in Black 3 — the chases, the black suits, the in-jokes, the ugly aliens, the beautiful Bill Pope cinematography, the Danny Elfman score — but the sheer subversive edge of Part 1 is nowhere to be found. Even my 5-year-old left with tears in her eyes, and all for the wrong reasons.
It’s hard to put my finger on it: Will Smith who plays Agent J is back in great form and Josh Brolin who plays Young Agent K more than compensates for a sad performance by Tommy Lee Jones (Old Agent K) who looks so feeble any average alien can have him on the floor if they blow softly on him, let alone use extraterrestrial supersonic weaponry. The jokes are there but some of them fall flat in a half-empty matinee theatre, leaving an awkward aftertaste. What a shame.