Josh Wilding Reviews: MEN IN BLACK 3 (3D)

After a ten year absence from the big screen, is there still room in a crowded summer of blockbusters for Agents J and K? Well, Men in Black 3 is released on May 25th, and you can find out whether or not it's worth checking out right here in this spoiler-free review.

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By Josh Wilding - 5/16/2012
In Men in Black 3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back… in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him — secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind.



Men in Black 3 is a return to form for a franchise which began all the way back in 1997 and was followed up with a disappointing sequel in 2002. Fast forward ten years and the threequel not only outshines its predecessors, but manages to stand out in a summer crammed full of blockbusters. Director Barry Sonnenfeld and screenwriter Etan Cohen find a near perfect balance of humour, action and impressive visual effects (not to mention a pretty damn good story too). Will Smith (Agent J) is reunited with Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) in the first act of the film, and despite a ten year gap between this and the last instalment, their chemistry is as fantastic as ever and it's business as usual for the duo when we first meet up with them. However, the escape of the revenge-fuelled Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement) from a lunar prison means J is forced to head back in time. Why? Well, it turns out the villain jumped back to 1969 to kill K and only his partner remembers him. From here, the story is fairly straightforward, although there are still enough twists, turns and set pieces thrown in to keep Men in Black 3 feeling fresh and far from your bog standard time travel fare for the most part. Sonnenfeld has a great handle on the action and you will have no doubt by the time the credits roll that bringing him back was the right decision.

As you may have already guessed, both Smith and Jones deliver the quality performances we've come to expect from them, while the latter adds a believable and understandable level of weariness to the ageing Men in Black agent. His K understandably ends up taking a back seat for a lot of the movie, but Smith has no problem cementing his leading man status when the spotlight is placed on him despite an absence of four years from the big screen. However, it ends up being Josh Brolin's younger Agent K who steals the show as the actor delivers a performance which is entirely his own despite being clearly influenced by Jones's mannerisms. This younger version of the character shows us a side of him we haven't seen in the series before and it really is hard to imagine anyone else managing to do a job anywhere near as good. He's endearing and entirely convincing in the role and the chemistry he shares with Smith is a match for that the latter shares with his older counterpart. Clement seems like a strange choice to play the villainous Boris, but a combination of his creepy English accent and a brilliant make-up job really helps him to sell the character. He's not fleshed out a great deal, but his thirst for revenge and generally viscous nature is more than enough to make him an effective foe for J (and both K's) to face off against. Emma Thompson's O is on fine form as the head of the Men in Black, and so it's a shame that Alice Eve (who plays the younger version of O) has such a small and underwritten role in Men in Black 3. The few scenes she does have are actually really very good and she too shares a great deal of chemistry with Brolin. However, it's hard to really care all that much about the connection between the younger and older versions of each character as the relationship in both time periods never really gets chance to convince. The cast is rounded out with a brilliantly eccentric turn from Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin and Bill Hader's take on Andy Warhol results in some of the funniest scenes in the movie.

Men in Black 3 features impressive 3D and so it's hard to not recommend that as the optimum format to view the film in. As is often the case, it does feature a few scenes which feel no such benefit from the effects and others which could have really done with taking more advantage of them. Those which do however are amazing. It turns out that there is a lot more to that scene from the trailers in which J jumps through time and this alone justifies the higher ticket price, as does the action packed last act and several other moments. The visual effects are equally as impressive, although there are a handful of scenes where effects do look like effects. Whether the majority will notice such minor occurrences is highly unlikely though. Rick Baker's aliens look superb (especially the retro designs in 1969) and they are all arguably far more memorable and cleverly realised than any of those which have come before. The set designers also deserve a pat on the back for the wonderful job they did of creating an authentic and entirely believable 1969 setting. While its not as stylised as, say, the 1970s designs in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows, it is far more grounded and thereby completely convincing. Men in Black 3 is a great looking film with a rousing score and killer soundtrack.

Men in Black 3 could very easily be the end of the franchise or, depending on its success, the beginning of more to come. Regardless of whether they do decide to continue with a fourth instalment or a reboot, it would be a real shame if this really is the end of J and K's adventures on the big screen. If the film falters anywhere, it's that it feels a little too short. The story isn't necessarily damaged in any significant way because of this, but a few extra scenes here and there to flesh out some of the characters could have potentially added another star to the score below. You see, Men in Black 3 really is that much fun. It may not be as near-perfect as The Avengers, and it falters every now and then in terms of effects and humour, but the movie is just great fun from start to finish. It's not at all mindless (one twist in particular packs a real emotional punch) and while it wraps up a little too quickly, the fact that the script is a little too thin in places is the only major complaint you'll probably have. For anyone who didn't enjoy the last two films, it's unlikely that they'll suddenly fall in love with the franchise, but they might just fall in love with this movie.

Men in Black 3 avoids the threequel curse of the likes of Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand and instead ends up being the best film in the Men in Black franchise. Fantastic fun which will leave you wanting more.




Be sure to stay tuned to CBM next week for an exclusive interview with Men in Black 3 director Barry Sonnenfeld in which he discusses everything from the story to deleted scenes, the chances of a fourth movie and more.

STARRING:

Will Smith as Agent J
Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K
Josh Brolin as Young Agent K
Rip Torn as Chief Zed
Emma Thompson as Agent O
Alice Eve as Young Agent O
Nicole Scherzinger as Lilly
Bill Hader as Andy Warhol

RELEASE DATE: May 25th, 2012.


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OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 5/16/2012, 2:05 PM
I CALL BS YOUR HONOUR !
Julesimanerd - 5/16/2012, 2:06 PM
glad, this movie looks great
Fogs - 5/16/2012, 2:07 PM
Good to know. Specially after the shitfest that was the second.
PaulRom - 5/16/2012, 2:11 PM
Great review as usual. More excited for this film now.
jackdawak - 5/16/2012, 2:13 PM
Stoked!!
NerdyGeek - 5/16/2012, 2:13 PM
Oh wow, I hope you weren't paid for this Josh. Can't believe that this is getting a good reception.
Ha1frican - 5/16/2012, 2:15 PM
Didn't expect that...
Mrcool210 - 5/16/2012, 2:18 PM
huh, i might end up seeing this now
marvel72 - 5/16/2012, 2:20 PM
still waiting for the dvd.
stark - 5/16/2012, 2:21 PM
Any other reviews out there? Im not sold yet.
KALel3412 - 5/16/2012, 2:22 PM
awsome review, but avengers is not near perfect imo
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 2:26 PM
I take you at your word and will check it out - great review AND YES AVENGERS IS NOT NEAR PERFECT KAL--- ITS PERFECT. ;)
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 2:27 PM
@Murdock
based on trailers you have TDKR at 5 stars ? someone link me to those trailers
KALel3412 - 5/16/2012, 2:28 PM
no its not sir
MassExecutions - 5/16/2012, 2:29 PM
Sweet.

It's got a good cast and its worked before, so I don't think 4 stars is beyond possibility.
JoshWilding - 5/16/2012, 2:35 PM
BattlinMurdock: I gave Battleship 2*. http://tinyurl.com/cz7d8n9

mrthingswehate: I was a couple of minutes late, so I have no idea unfortunately. The screening was at Sony Pictures in London, so knowing my luck they probably did!
DoomXfactor - 5/16/2012, 2:35 PM
I'll watch it on DVD. The first two weren't that good
imnotahero - 5/16/2012, 2:36 PM
I'll wait for a review from someone who doesn't sound like they are taking bribes.
Sortis - 5/16/2012, 2:37 PM
hmm interesting, I figured it would be the worst one, still probably won't go see it though, probably go see Avengers again lol
AsianVersionOfET - 5/16/2012, 2:47 PM
Wait...huh?
ralfinader - 5/16/2012, 2:53 PM
I'll see it in the theater if it plays at the one near my house, otherwise it is a purchase when it is released on DVD.
OdinsBeard - 5/16/2012, 3:17 PM
wow! first x-men first class now this... i guess its best to start production WITHOUT a script these days!
tqb - 5/16/2012, 3:33 PM
See the sky fall trailer???
coalesce - 5/16/2012, 3:43 PM
I'm glad for the review. They actually filmed part of the movie a few blocks away from apartment in Richmond Hill, Queens. The crew was really nice to the people who hung out watching the filming, hoping to see someone famous. They didn't give the residents any guff and asked us all politely to cross the street when necessary and all that. Just for that, I hope the movie is a success.
pro346 - 5/16/2012, 3:51 PM
Thanks but I'll wait for a reviewer that actually likes good movies....
ronnie42 - 5/16/2012, 3:52 PM
Oh god please don't force 3d on us. I hate 3d only movies. 3d does my head in, half the movies aren't even in 3d half the time, they overcharge.

Cartoon22 - 5/16/2012, 4:11 PM
Josh do you need to see the other 2 to understand this one? /:-|
Ryguy88 - 5/16/2012, 4:20 PM
You seem to be very optimistic about movies Josh, good review but I'll need a second opinion.
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 4:34 PM
As an entertaining popcorn summer movie it looks like at least a 4star flick (look for me in the Andy Warhol party scene- I'm one of the painted models)
Batman looks like at 3.5 in trailers mainly because unlike TDK where they gave us glimpses of Ledgers outstanding performance we really haven't seen anything from Bane but 2 lines of hard to decipher dialogue.
The 4 min preview of TASM bumped prelim star rating to 4
Battleship might as well be Hungry Hungry Hippos for all I care.
SWATH looks good only because I have my Thor crushinhigh gear.
After 17 viewings of the Avengers I still have it at 4.9 stars because I'm nitpicking(Shawarma scene should have been shown mid credits- Thanos at the very end)
MiracleMe - 5/16/2012, 4:39 PM
Excited about this movie because of Josh Brolin more than anything else. That guy has grown into one of the best actors working today!
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 5:08 PM
me(the one and only Baroness) and my girls with Barry Sonnefeld MIB3 Andy Warhol party
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
BackwardGalaxy - 5/16/2012, 5:20 PM
the hell? no way... really?
valeriesghost - 5/16/2012, 5:33 PM
Great review Josh, but my cinema money is going elsewhere this summer
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 5:39 PM
the brunette in the stars and stripes paint on the left - the only comic book nerd in the bunch lol.
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 5:40 PM
@Bagadoosh
where is that at in vegas ?I like the little blonde-she looks like fun ;)
Bandrews1 - 5/16/2012, 5:41 PM
Good to know, it looks like I'll be going to see this one.
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 5:43 PM
If anyone goes to the Lincoln Center NYC for the midnite show of TDKR look for us dressed as Catwomen
Coachella - 5/16/2012, 5:44 PM
Didn't Josh also give Dark Shadows 4 stars also?
NathimusPrime - 5/16/2012, 6:10 PM
wait wait wait, what was wrong with the second one
TheBaroness89 - 5/16/2012, 6:10 PM
Dantes Inferno- check. I'm an on the fence kind of chick-if I like you and vibe with you-girl or guy...then we probably end up making out. Especially if I'm downing Red Nose Bulldogs at Blockhead's Burritos.

Please don't say Josh gave Dark Shadows 4 stars... I went yesterday(snuck in after Avengers)- had to be woken up. Then we were so disappointed we saw Avengers again to wash out our eyes.
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