Jun 6 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Men in Black III
MEN in Black III sees the return of alien-battler Agent J (Will Smith) as he travels back to 1969 to stop Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement) from killing Agent K (Josh Brolin) and changing history.
Ten years after the hugely disappointing Men in Black II, the third entry finds its way onto cinema screens on the back of rumoured shoot delays and script changes.
I loved the first movie but any hopes of a return to those standards disappear very quickly as Men in Black III can only participate in a very limp battle with number two for worst franchise instalment.
The first 20 minutes are rough... very rough. And the movie never really recovers.
Series helmer Barry Sonnenfeld is back in the director’s chair but he loses sight of everything that made the first film work.
Banter between Smith and Tommy Lee Jones? Virtually non-existent as Jones’ appearance is a glorified cameo.
The impressive practical make-up and special effects? Gone in favour of dodgy CGI that looks pretty poor for a big money blockbuster; very obvious use of green screen, especially during the opening moon prison break-out, is a real low light.
Four, yes four, writers contributed to the screenplay... and boy do they have wildly different resumés.
You have the grandeur of long-term writer David Koepp (Spider-Man, Jurassic Park), two men with inconsistent story-writing pasts, Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder, Madagascar 2) and Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Rush Hour 2 and 3), and debut big screen writer Michael Soccio.
If that sounds like a mish-mash then maybe that’s why a simplistic story and often dodgy dialogue translates on screen.
The time travel aspect does allow the writing team and Sonnenfeld to have some fun with late sixties staples – hippies, music, Afros and a fun cameo from Bill Hader as Andy Warhol that’s the movie’s best moment.
The Apollo 11 moon mission being connected to extra-terrestrial goings-on is recycled from Transformers: Dark of the Moon and using Emma Thompson (Agent O) to make weird alien noises during one excruciating scene is just plain wrong.
Speaking of wrong, what were the production team thinking with the creation of Boris The Animal?
The Men in Black franchise isn’t known for its high standard of villains but this is the worst yet.
The Flight of the Conchords’ Clement is forced to sport a bizarre English accent and angrily spew very bad one-liners (“you complete me”, “and, lift-off”) as one of the worst blockbuster antagonists since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze.
Even more annoying is Michael Stuhlbarg’s future predictor Griffin and the film contains one of the most rubbish, short car chases I’ve ever seen.
Sonnenfeld uses loads of high angle camera shots and scenes taking place at great heights, probably to cash-in on the IMAX and 3D crowds.
Thank heavens for Smith and Brolin. Both battle gamely on, the latter forcing through some laughs and charm and the former bringing some playfulness to Agent K’s grouch in a pitch-perfect impersonation of a young Lee Jones.
A neat story twist at the end can be seen coming a mile off but puts a new slant on Agent J and K’s partnership.
But the plusses of Men in Black III are few and far between in what has to go down as a disappointment.
If only you could get your hands on one of the MIBs’ Neuralizers to wipe the bad bits from your memory.
Rating – 5 out of 10.