This Memorial Day weekend brought out a staple of the summer blockbuster season – a high profile sequel with big stars, a big budget and movie execs looking for big box office receipts.
A movie like Men In Black 3 is going to make money just off name recognition alone, but I don’t think it is good enough to bring in the bucks the execs are hoping for long term. MIB 3 is a very uneven movie with moments that really pulled me in and moments that left me rolling my eyes in boredom.
Returning to the franchise are the two main characters J and K, played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Both know the roles like the back of their hand by now and do a good job. Joining them are Jermaine Clement as the new villain Boris, Emma Thompson as the new MIB senior officer O, and, the best addition to the cast, Josh Brolin as the 1969 version of Tommy Lee Jones surly character K.
Clement does a good job as the villain but isn’t given much to do other than growl out menacing dialog. The character just doesn’t have much depth. Emma Thompson is also good but is given so few scenes and all of her dialog is simply explaining information the main characters/audience need to know. It was a real waste because O has a history with K that is hinted at but never given a chance to blossom – a missed opportunity.
The reason that Josh Brolin is the best addition to the cast is because the movie is boring and hard to watch until he shows up about a third of the way into the film. The first third of the movie sets up the plot with Boris escaping a prison on the moon, K finding out that he has escaped, and Boris traveling back in time to change the future and get revenge on K. The problem is that it feels exactly like the previous MIB movies. There are some weird aliens, J makes some jokes, K acts old and tired. It’s just boring. Then, J has to go back in time to 1969 to set everything right and the movie picks up. Josh Brolin does an amazing job of impersonating Tommy Lee Jones. I am not sure if they adjusted his voice in post-production but he sounds exactly like a young Jones.
The story gets rather interesting toward the end as J and young K have to race to save the future. They meet Andy Warhol, befriend a weird multidimensional alien played by Michael Stuhlbarg, and everything culminates with a stand off with Boris at the 1969 launch of the Apollo 11 mission headed for the moon. The problem is the plot is filled with holes as some things aren’t explained enough and characters aren’t given the opportunity to really have much depth. The movie does have a pretty solid ending, but it just can’t make up previous short comings.
I will say that I really enjoyed parts of the movie, mostly Josh Brolin, fun settings like the Apollo launch, and the solid last few minutes.
Overall the film just felt slapped together and full of missed opportunities. The few enjoyable moments are overshadowed by the boring first third, the huge plot holes, and a strong feeling that this was just a money grab by the studios and not a real labor of love for the filmmakers. I feel bad saying it but the film is sub-par at best.
2 of 5 stars