01/07/2012. Contributed by Frank Ochieng
It has been a decade since the last instalment of Men in Black invaded our cinematic sensibilities in 2002. Now ten years later Agents J and K are on the loose yet again to save the world from creepy creatures in the giddy-minded sci-fi chucklefest Men in Black III. No doubt that MIB fans will rejoice in the hyperactive third edition of the frivolous film franchise.
Normally revisiting a dormant film series after a lengthy hiatus is quite questionable given the following concern: will Men in Black III have what it takes to renew the interest in the dark-suited, shade-wearing tandem out for some freakish adventure in high-tech butt-kicking? Why not? After all, the MIB hype-machine has never been tarnished as the first two predecessors were vastly popular for the audience’s popcorn-pleasing consideration. Plus, it does not hurt to get reacquainted with one-time summer box office champ Will Smith and the Oscar-winning sullen-faced Tommy Lee Jones as they wallow in madcap merriment.
What is engaging about the entertaining prospects of Men in Black III is its surprising fresh and stimulating storyline highlighted by reasonably imaginative special effects and Smith’s familiar swagger. If MIB III is going to resemble a visual video game it might as well emulate the fun and frolic of one in empty spirit. So the third time around for Smith and Jones is deemed rewarding in fighting the evil forces that exist. Energetically colourful and infectiously wacky, Men in Black III fulfil the required sense of frolic and escapist jocularity in this updated romp.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld concocts a suspenseful, solid narrative that adds intrigue and imagination into the fold of MIB folklore. The sentiment for Agent J (Will Smith) is mainly about curiosity pertaining to his straight-laced, stone-faced partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). This of course begs the obvious question: just how much does someone know about their co-worker and the background and/or backstory that are attached to their persona? Well for Agent J he will find out soon enough, which brings up this particular adage…”be careful for what one wishes at the moment”!
In order to answer the lingering curiosities about Agent K, the inquisitive Agent J travels back in time to 1969. It is essential for J to nostalgically hunt for K in the past because there is no trace of his sidekick in the present. Thus J is off and running to see if he can piece together the mystery surrounding K’s whereabouts and personal blueprint.
In the meanwhile, we learn of the ominous presence of the imprisoned illegal alien Boris “The Animal” (Jemaine Clement). Boris has been jailed in a maximum-security prison for forty years and is predictably carrying a hefty grudge against the individual responsible for his major incarceration. Who is the sorry soul that dared to put Boris “The Animal” away? Plus, who is the sorry soul that disabled Boris and made him a one-armed freakazoid in the process? The answer is Agent K and he is on borrowed time as far as the vengeful Boris is concerned. In short, Boris wants his captor D-E-A-D and follows up on his hazardous agenda while miraculously escaping the prison.
Agent J is befuddled as he tries to figure out how to solve the various dilemmas that threaten the young Agent K (played in the time travel sequences by Josh Brolin) as well as the whole world (for which the beastly Boris wants to destroy as well in addition to eradicating his nemesis K). Can J save his partner’s life in the yesteryear and preserve the planet from Boris’s self-destructive mission? Will J and K apprehend Boris and not compromise their existence in their futuristic timelines?
Overall, Men in Black III’s playful and precise visual stimulation are amazing. Cinematographer Bill Pope and set designer Bo Welsh’s flourishes capture the imaginative eye which compliments the film’s aesthetic effects. The assortment of aliens is uniquely offbeat and distinctive. The movie competently showcases the two eras—2012 and 1969—with detailed vitality. The quirkiness and outlandish occurrences lend MIB III its rousing recipe of spectacle wonderment.
The performances are spry and inspired particularly by Josh Brolin as the younger 1969 version of Tommy Lee Jones’s Agent K. The resemblance and mannerisms are uncanny and spot-on as Brolin has some wicked satirical fun in aping the stiffened veteran performer Jones. Also notable is Michael Stuhlbarg’s (“Boardwalk Empire”) turn as Griffin, the clairvoyant alien on the scene. There are funny bits about famous faces considered as extraterrestrials versus the “real deal”.
Considering how 2002’s sluggish Men in Black II was conceived, 2012 looks as if MIB III will be a profitable launching pad for more “alien”-ation in store for the two black-suited clad critter caretakers of the universe. Hey, it could have been worse if we were subjected to yet another Ghostbusters sequel. (NOTE: reportedly there is a Ghostbusters III in the works for the summer of 2012).
Whoops…so much for backhanded sarcasm, huh?
Men in Black III (Sony Pictures)
1 hr. 50 mins.
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement, Alice Eve, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Hader
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction/Comedy/Action Adventure Fantasy
Critic’s Rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars)
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