Movie review: ‘MiB3′ comes out of nowhere and entertains … a little

By Ben Kendall

“Men in Black 3″ was better than I expected. But going into a film with remarkably low expectations can do that. The first one was clever, but a little underwhelming, whereas the second one was complete and utter crap. The new installment brings a little bit more life into the franchise.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones again reprise their roles as agents J and K. Agent K disappears after being killed by the future double of an alien assassin back in 1969. For some odd reason, J remembers K’s presence, despite the world changing around to suit the absence of his character.

Why J remembers K from an alternate reality when not yet being involved in the time travel that occurs in the film isn’t explained aside from his desire for chocolate milk and physical discomfort. But then why nobody else who was also close to K (like Agent O, Emma Thompson’s character) has the same experience doesn’t really make sense. But hey, it’s “MiB3.” If I went into a movie like this expecting to pick it apart on nerdy little details, I’d be writing this all week.

No, I’m going to do it anyway.

OK, so he goes to find a guy that has a time travel device to go back to 1969, where the assassin guy went to get one of the other time travel devices to commit his past murder. But why just take one of the time travel devices? Why not take both? Why not just kill the guy who has the time-travel devices when you come to get the one you need and then the alternate future would be secured, since nobody could come after you if for some odd reason the future J retains his memory inexplicably? That doesn’t make much sense.

Maybe I’m not thinking fourth dimensionally. I have a problem with that.

The art direction was a little heavy handed. The 1969 they go back to was a little too 1969, if that makes sense. It seemed really produced and clean. I’m saying that in a bad way. Everything was just a little too crisp. They drove classic cars around, but you could tell that they were somebody’s babies considering how nice they were. Maybe that isn’t a decent critique. But I don’t imagine that everybody in 1969 wore “swingin’” new clothes and washed their cars every day.

The Andy Warhol cameo was a good touch, and a wonderful comment on post-modern art, in an oblique way. I can’t believe I just wrote that. “MiB3″ comments on post-modern art. It happened. The movie might be worth it if not for just that one scene.

Some words on Josh Brolin: his performance as a young Tommy Lee Jones is great. Brolin astounds time and again when he lends his talents to a role. Which in itself is astounding since you couldn’t time travel back (and kill the guy who has the time travel devices so nobody can follow you as that is just good practice) to when he played Brand back in “The Goonies” and know that he would be awesome in “No Country For Old Men,” and “W.” I felt like he was the young Tommy Lee Jones. That by itself is remarkable.

I was also a bit shocked to see that the film was written by Etan Cohen (not Ethan Cohen of the Cohen brothers). He wrote “Tropic Thunder” and “Idiocracy,” both on the strong end of mediocre on the comedy movie spectrum. The guy knows what he’s doing, I have to admit.

Character development was a huge part of the plot. A sequel of a tired franchise having strong character development and good performances is rare. Seeing Smith’s character connect with Brolin’s younger version of K was excellent.

Also following the first film, you have a talented actor in the villain role that isn’t really allowed to show his range. Jermaine Clement (of “Flight of the Conchords”) is Boris the Animal, some alien escaped convict that hates K, and is one-armed. Giving him a permanent injury was a dash of clever and made him stand out, but it isn’t enough. He was almost a copy of Vincent D’Onofrio’s villian with his growly voice and murderous rampages.

“MiB3″ was fun. It was even better than I expected. But was it worth paying money and spending time on? It’s a wash. It’d be a good “I have nothing else to do” movie. If you dig the franchise, go ahead and see it. Otherwise maybe wait for the rental.

Grade: C+

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