Movie Reviews

‘Men In Black 3’: A blast from the past

By Wang DexianMovies - 23 May 2012 12:00 PM | Updated 2:00 PM

‘Men In Black 3’: A blast from the past

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back to keep Earth safe from evil aliens

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The first ‘Men In Black’ film appeared on the scene out of nowhere in 1997 and immediately caught on with the masses with a loose sense of humour and some very eye-catching aliens.

The film was both a critical and commercial success, and was so darn popular that it single-handedly tripled Ray-Ban's sales of their Predator 2 sunglasses to a tune of $5 million! Those sunglasses folks sure do love their neuralyzers now.

Fast forward to 2002, a sequel is released. The result was almost something of a Dreamworks animation gone bad -- too many pop culture references, too many talking animals and not enough Agents K and J.

So, let's just be nice and say ‘Men In Black 3’ isn't one of the most requested for sequels. In fact, it just kind of popped right into our arms -- just like the first one.

MIB3’s plot revolves mainly around Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and how his past comes to affect the dynamics of his relationship J (Will Smith). In this case, the past reappears in the form of “Boris The Animal” (played by Jemaine Clement from New Zealand comedy folk group Flight of The Conchords), a savage looking one-armed alien who breaks out of a high security prison to seek revenge on Agent K.

Also read: Before they were the 'Men in Black'

His revenge plot involves him going back in time to kill K before K manages to shoot his arm off. Simple enough for a time-travel revenge plot. Unfortunately, that leaves Agent J to wake up in a reality where K has died. The absence of K in this new reality leads to a full on alien invasion led by Boris. Thusly, Agent J must travel back in time to save his partner before Boris' future self aids his past self in killing K. Yeah, that's a little mind boggling.

Josh Brolin puts on his best grumpy Tommy Lee Jones impersonation in 'MIB3'

This also marks Will Smith's first starring role since 2008's ‘Seven Pounds’. And his first comedic role since 2005's ‘Hitch’. And while we've come to love the straight leading man Smith in films like ‘Ali’ or ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, his sense of humour in this film really showcases what made us all fall in love with him in his ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ days. Smith’s witty quips and loose style of humour just flat out works as Agent J and it's a treat just watching him be funny again.

What really makes the movie tick amid all this confusing time-traveling is the relationship between Agents K and J. When Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones first appear on screen together, everything just comes right back. The play off between Jones' grumpy old guy and Smith's jibber-jabbering   wise guy act is very polished. You'll almost feel like 10 years didn't really pass us by at all.

When we catch up with them here, the two partners are obviously very seasoned with each other, having worked together for quite a while now. They obviously respect each other, but also they've come to put up with the quirks of each other.

Even with all the fancy-schmancy things going on with the movie like fantastic looking aliens, Earth conquering plots and an alternate reality 60s timeline, the heart of the movie is all about relationship.

Through K's past, the movie really explores how and why the two behave the way they do towards each other. Even while playing up the gags and jokes, the movie is grounded emotionally -- lending it some heft.

The time-travel stuff is fun, especially seeing Josh Brolin try his best to mimic Tommy Lee Jones as much as possible. For the most part, he does a pretty convincing job with his spin of a younger Agent K that already has signs of being grumpy old dude that he'll eventually become, but still is a very different man altogether.

In stark contrast, we also see Emma Thompson's Agent O played by a stunning Alice Eve in the sixties, and funnily, the movie hints at a flirtation between her and K; and what eventually becomes of them. Armed with Smith carrying the film through his humour, the time travel element does fit in very well with the ‘MIB’ series' stream of consciousness type of rambling humour.

Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like this alien? The other one, in chains

In usual ‘MIB’ fashion, there are lots of celebrity cameos (a certain Pussycat Doll) and a sprinkling of pop culture references, though thankfully it's only just kept in the background instead of being used as a crutch for a lack of plot and narrative like it was utilized in the previous movie.

There is less of an emphasis on the many aliens that showed up in the first two films, but still the movie doesn't seem to suffer for it.  Essentially, ‘MIB3’ is an interesting relationship and character study of both K and J disguised as a multi-million dollar action comedy caper.

The movie has just enough smarts and also enough action set pieces for a great time for the average movie goer. Thanks to its heart and ingenuity, it manages to be something more than just another average action flick.

Not to mention that ‘MIB3’ surprisingly redeems the franchise as a whole, recaptures the fun of the original and turns to be a worthwhile watch for almost anyone that loved the unique vibe of that first film.

‘Men in Black 3’ opens in theatres 24 May

Dexian or just Dex if you have an inability to pronounce Chinese names, is a fervent film lover who's known to read up on the most inane pieces of cinema trivia just so he has something to talk about when he's drunk. When he's not watching something, he can be found reading other useless Wikipedia articles on things like Nebulaphobia.