“I'm an agent of Men in Black, but I'm from the future. We're partners, twenty-five years from now you're going to recruit me. And 14 years after, the guy you DIDN'T let me kill at Coney Island he escapes from prison, and jumps back in the past and unleashes a full-scale invasion of Earth. We have about 19 hours to catch him and kill him, so really we need to go right now!”
- Agent J
- Young Agent K
Here’s what I wrote about this one in my original theatrical review:
“After the abysmal nature of Men in Black II, I can’t really think of anyone that I know, even in passing, even only slightly, maybe not even at all, that was clamoring for the return of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones). Considering Columbia Pictures, producer Steven Spielberg, the two main stars and director Barry Sonnenfeld hadn’t been breaking down any doors to get a third film made over the past decade, it’s safe to say they weren’t initially excited about the idea, either.
Yet here we are, facing the crystal clear truth that a Men in Black 3 does indeed now exist. Still based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham, still directed by Sonnenfeld, still produced by Spielberg and still staring two actors who could do just about anything they wanted to if they set their hearts of hearts upon it, one has to imagine Columbia offered everyone involved a gigantic pile of cash in order to get this thing into theatres. Either that, or they’ve got some pretty amazing blackmail packages on all the main players, each of them compelled to come back almost as if their very careers, or maybe their lives, who really knows after all, depended on their doing it.
Sarcastic kidding aside, maybe ten years away from this franchise has actually done Sonnenfeld and company some good. While not essential, while certainly not a film that’s going to be remembered very long after the fact, truth be told, even with all the stories of cost overruns and an unfinished script circulating during principal photography, Men in Black 3 is actually something of a hoot. Etan Cohen’s (Tropic Thunder) scenario manages to fix the majority of the problems that plagued the last film, returning to the same devil-may-care yet bizarrely grounded lunacy of the 1997 original, making the finished product far more enjoyable than it arguably has any right to be.
Granted, it should be noted there were numerous other writers (including Jurassic Park scribe David Koepp and Tower Heist impresario Jeff Nathanson) who reportedly worked on the project at one time or another, and there is something to be said about how the narrative sometimes bounces around willy-nilly, especially early on, probably because of that. All the same, Cohen is the only writer given credit here and as such should get the kudos for helping produce a finished product that feels so self-contained and more or less in control of itself. It may bounce around some, it may not always do the best job at making complete sense, but overall the progression of the story is on solid ground, and considering we’re dealing with Star Trek level time travel shenanigans that’s kind of saying something.
The other thing the movie has going for it? Josh Brolin. Pure and simple, casting him as the younger, 1969 pre-Moon launch version of Agent K was total genius. Brolin is Tommy Lee Jones, inhabiting him to such an extent the effect is borderline eerie. But this isn’t a caricature; this isn’t some sort of mirror-like impersonation performance piece. The actor delivers a fully formed portrayal that’s funny, energetic, exciting and, most startling of all, emotionally moving. He’s not going through the motions here, not just picking up a paycheck, the actor investing so much of himself inside the character and the film the full effect is frankly astonishing.
Smith and Jones? Can I say the same? Well, not entirely, but they’re far more invested here than they ever were in the disastrous second feature. Granted, this time around they have something to do, neither of them just retreading the same gags from the first flick only bigger and at a higher volume. Sonnenfeld and Cohen actually give the pair something new to do this time around, not following in the same missteps of the preceding chapter and instead going places that help make the characters more three-dimensionally interesting.
As for the plot, the less said the better. Not because I worry about spoiling anything, in all honesty there’s not a lot to spoil, but more because much like the first film the whack-a-do nature of the comedy makes talking about the intricacies of the story mechanics not particularly important. Point A begins where you expect it to, Point B happens like clockwork and Point C is more or less a forgone conclusion, none of that is a surprise. What is a shock is just how much fun Men in Black 3 turns out to be, and even though as sequels go it’s a highly unnecessary one that doesn’t make the smile on my face after watching it any less prominent.”
Men in Black 3, quite surprisingly, holds up remarkably well at home. I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie nearly as much as I did the second time around, finding many of its freewheeling and free-spirited 1969 hijinks just as enjoyable sitting on my couch as I did resting in a movie theatre. Is it great? No. Does it get the job done? Yes. For fans of the series, that’s probably all that matters. As for newcomers, the fact there are some laughs and some nice ideas should be more than enough to make watching it palatable, maybe more than once.
Men in Black 3 is presented on a dual-layer 50GB 3DBlu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer. It is also presented on a standard 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.85:1/1080p transfer.
First off, Men in Black 3 was a 3D conversion, making the 3D Blu-ray image about what you’d expect it to be. While better than average (as far as post-conversions go) it’s still nothing to write home about, and for those like me who aren’t particularly fond of 3D I found nothing here that changes my mind. (7/10)
The 2D Blu-ray, however, is outstanding. No artificial banding, color levels pop and blacks are consistent and strong throughout. This is reference-level stuff, and if you want to should off the high definition capabilities of your player and your television this is a great disc to do just that with. (10/10)
These Blu-rays feature English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks as well as French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and feature optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Exclusive Extras found on the 3D Blu-ray include:
· The Case of Boris the Animal: The 3D Models of MIB 3 – Interactive extra that drove me a little nuts, if I’m being totally honest. Someone with more patience than I would likely get a heck of a lot more out of it.
· Converting to 3D (1:31) – Visual Effects Supervisor Corey Turner on how to convert a movie from 2D to 3D.
· The Amazing Spider-Man Theatrical Trailer (2:34)
Extras on the 2D Blu-ray include:
· “Spot the Alien” Game – Dumb. Very, very dumb. That’s all I have to say.
· Partners in Time: The Making of MIB 3 (26:24) – Much better than average making-of featurette that I thoroughly enjoyed. Worthwhile.
· The Evolution of Cool: MIB 1960's vs. Today (11:14) – A look at Men in Black as conceived for the modern world as well as that days before the Apollo Moon launch. Solid.
· Keeping it Surreal: The Visual FX of MIB 3 (10:26) – Standard visual effects centered featurette. Worth a look, but only one.
· Scene Investigations (17:25) – Filmmakers and cast take a look at several of the film’s signature set pieces and how they were developed. Quite interesting.
· Progression Reels (17:37) – Great piece looking at how several scenes were augmented by special effects and the transformation process from initially filmed sequence to finished product was obtained.
· Gag Reel (3:54) – For a movie that was funnier than I expected it to be, this gag reel is particularly awful. Just sayin’.
· “Back in Time” Music Video by Pitbull (3:34) – This song isn’t that great, and neither is the video.
Men in Black 3 was surprisingly entertaining for being a movie sequel no one particularly was clamoring for or for being a production with as many apparent behind-the-scenes troubles as it apparently went through. I liked it, and while it doesn’t erase the memory of the execrable second film from my memory and makes me not hate it nearly as much.