Men in Black 3
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement
Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
Due Out: November 30, 2012
PLOT: Agent J (Smith) travels back in time to prevent the assassination of Agent K (Jones). Once in 1969, he teams up with Agent K (Brolin) to stop Boris the Animal (Clement) from succeeding.
WHO’S IT FOR? Anyone looking for a way to spend an hour and 40 minutes could do a lot worse, though it’s fans of the first Men in Black who should really find a lot to enjoy about this fun return to form.
Between how unnecessary this sequel felt and the much-discussed production woes, I had no hope for Men in Black 3. Plus, the abysmal Men in Black II erased nearly all of the goodwill I had from the highly enjoyable first. Ten years on it felt like a waste of time to return to these characters. That’s why I couldn’t have been more surprised to discover that this wasn’t simply better than expected, but an honest-to-goodness quality film. To take it a step further, I’d say director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen made a film whose sense of fun and spectacle exceeds the original.
It’s true that things take a while to really get going. Once Will Smith’s Agent J is back in 1969 hanging out with young Agent K and Bill Hader’s Andy Warhol, however, it settles into an entertaining groove that lasts throughout the remainder of the run time. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith returning to these characters is fun (especially Smith, considering this is his first film since 2008’s Seven Pounds), but the real standouts of the cast are Josh Brolin and Michael Stuhlbarg. Stuhlbarg is a delight as the all-seeing Griffin and Brolin delivers a remarkable performance that transcends mere impression as young K. His chemistry with Smith rivals that of Smith and Jones, something that lets us learn more about these characters and makes the emotional climax work.
Some of the special features are worth checking out as well. The 26-minute making of starts out as standard back-patting amongst the cast, but halfway through it shifts to focus more on the design of the film. This section highlights the impressive effects (which are looked at more thoroughly in a great visual FX featurette) as well as Rick Baker’s outstanding makeup. The level of detail in the makeup is remarkable, whether it’s for the background aliens on Coney Island or the work on Boris the Animal (a formidable antagonist played well by Flight of the Conchord’s Jemaine Clement). While there’s been some terrific makeup work this year, the behind-the-scenes shows just how worthy of Academy Award consideration Baker’s work is.
Men in Black 3 isn’t the type of film that will be appearing on top ten lists, but it’s still one of my biggest surprises of 2012. Not only exceeding expectations, but being my favorite film in the franchise, this is a Blu-ray I see myself happily throwing on whenever I need a little pick-me-up.
MOVIE SCORE: 8/10
Special Features Exclusive to Blu-ray:
Spot the Alien Game
The Evolution of Cool: MIB 1960′s vs. Today
Keeping It Surreal: The Visual FX of MIB 3
Four Scene Investigations
Five Progression Reels
Special Features (Blu-Ray and DVD):
Partners in Time: The Making of MIB 3
“Back in Time” Music Video by Pitbull