Review: Men in Black III / Cert: PG / Director: Barry Sonnenfeld / Screenplay: Etan Cohen, David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson, Michael Soccio / Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Alice Eve / Release Date: May 25th
The Men in Black franchise is one of the biggest wastes of potential in modern cinema. The first film built a wonderfully layered world which was well realised and full of possibilities. The second movie released in 2002 was just a retread of the plot of the first movie and failed to build on all of the good work of the first film. The third movie (ten years after the sequel) doesn’t exactly redress the balance but is definitely a step in the right direction.
Whenever you introduce time travel into a franchise you run into trouble. Introducing this element along with alternate timelines and convoluted plotlines can lead to nothing but confusion. This isn’t quite the case with Men in Black III but the time travel element to the plot feels like a contrivance so that they can mask the fact that, yet again, the core story is just a retread of the first two films. The travelling back to 1969 does at least give an excuse to introduce a young K played with a spot on Tommy Lee Jones impression by Josh Brolin and also throw in some gags about technology and Andy Warhol. The problem is the script meanders once it gets to the sixties, a lot of it feels unnecessary and hinders the plot. As much as people complain about the length of the first two movies, at least they were tightly scripted.
Boris the Animal never really feels like a truly terrifying villain and has some woefully unfunny scenes that waste Jermaine Clement’s natural gift for deadpan comedy. It never actually builds to anything resembling the giant monsters seen in the first two films and so instead ends with a whimper rather than a bang with an admittedly rather neat climb up the first rocket to the moon and a quite clever twist.
Despite the rather obvious problems with the screenplay, I had fun with Men in Black III. The chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is still very much in evidence and is also prevalent in the scenes between Smith and Josh Brolin. If they do make a fourth movie it would be good to get Brolin involved somehow because here he feels like he could carry the franchise with Smith should Jones happen to not show up for it.
Men in Black III will no doubt make a lot of money this summer due to Will Smith’s presence. Sadly for the audience and for Smith, it’s another case of a sci-fi franchise failing to be all it can be despite some great moments.
Expected Rating: 4 out of 10