Men in Black 3 – 2/5 stars

Threequels are a tricky business.
Many have been released and not many of them have cut the mustard.   Nothing is fresh anymore – the plot, characters, even the jokes seem stale.   If anything, they are like the Recycle Bin of films; past films and any bad jokes edited out from the initial releases are in there and they form the basis of the threequel.

So now, you have a film that was a summer blockbuster in 1997, which had a disappointing sequel five years later and now, 15 years after the first film….they are protecting the Earth from the scum of the Universe.  Again.

Men in Black 3 follows Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones), who are growing wearier with each assignment.  When a psychopath alien called Boris  (Jemaine Clement) escapes from space prison, he travels back in time to kill the MiB agent who had arrested him and shot off his arm – Agent K.  With his partner erased from existence, J has to go back to 1969 to save his partner (played in the past by Josh Brolin).

Here is the thing about time-travel: some of us (i.e. die-hard nerds who totally understands the paradoxes and timelines posed by the Back to the Future series) are now familiar with the once-confusing subject matter.  Seeing this film brought up a lot of inconsistencies…I will leave you to see it for yourself.  If anything, it is used as a major plot development but comes across as loosely used, so all the sci-fi conventions about time-travel go out the window.  Director Barry Sonnenfield has made MiB3 a colourful film, but with Danny Elfman’s mismatched trademark gothic soundtrack, it seems to stay in the past and fail to bring in that much-needed vibrancy this film needed.

Like the first two films, MiB3 is all about Will Smith.  He adopts a less carefree attitude and becomes more aware about the secrets of the universe and it is good to see him on screen after four years.  His banter with Agent K is always good, especially with Josh Brolin, who steals the show: he plays the younger J so well, you could imagine him and Tommy Lee Jones being related.  With new MiB head Agent O (Emma Thompson) behaving more like the headmistress rather than the chief of a super-secret organisation, it seems the veterans – Thompson and Lee Jones – take a step back.  Even Boris, who provides the ‘ewww’ moments, remains a background bad guy throughout the film.  But this is probably to allow Brolin and Smith to develop this friendship/partnership that has always seemed so constricted and subsequently brings a welcome fresher chemistry in comparison to Men in Black II.

Overall, Men in Black 3 is essentially a film just to have fun.  Watch it for Brolin’s uncanny take of Tommy Lee Jones but that’s really it.

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