Men In Black 3 has become a blockbuster underdog, mainly because it’s the movie no one was asking for, and has to overcome a lot of bad buzz about re-shoots. It’s been 10 years since we last saw Will Smith‘s Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones‘ Agent K monitor alien activity on Earth, and the new film offers a time travel twist which introduces Josh Brolin as the new K, placing Jones in the back seat. Does MIB3 have what it takes to overcome being a little outdated and a “troubled production?”

Find out in our review of MIB3

The Players:

  • Directors: Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Writers: Etan Cohen, David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson, Michael Soccio
  • Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
  • Cinematography: Bill Pope

The Plot:

When Agent K’s (Jones) life and the fate of the planet are put at risk, Agent J (Smith) takes it upon himself to travel back in time to right the wrongs of the future. J seeks help in an unfamiliar era, teaming up with young K (Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind.

The Good:

  • Josh Brolin As Young K: MIB3 took a risk by breaking up an iconic duo and replacing Jones with Brolin – though everything suggested that Jones’ was one of the stars of the film, his performance is basically reduced to a cameo. But the movie doesn’t suffer because of it as Brolin gives a pitch-perfect performance as young Agent K. His impersonation of Jones is uncanny but entirely his own. He displays a softer side of the character, playing K as a charming and optimistic fellow instead of the world-weary cynic of the last two films. His chemistry with Smith comes easy, and both actors play off each other well.
  • Time Travel: Smith’s Agent J travels back in time to the Mad Men era (or at least that’s the film’s most obvious touchstone), and it’s where the movie really takes off. The 60′s section of the film offers the film’s best moments, including a trip to Andy Warhol’s The Factory where Bill Hader gives us his best Warhol, and a surprisingly lighthearted moment of period racism when Smith’s K gets pulled over for being a black man in a fancy car. In the past we also meet a sweet and likable alien named Griffin, played by Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Stuhlbarg. He’s a pivotal part of K and J’s mission to save the world, and gives the movie a needed spoonful of quirk.
  • Visuals: Visually, the film is amazing. It’s a bright, colorful and full of spectacle. And the 3D actually serves a narrative purpose – including visual jokes. In one particular funny scene, we see Nicole Scherzinger carrying a wobbling two-layer cake, intercut with closeups of her vibrating buttocks that kills. But like a lot of 3-D, these scenes are at the beginning of the movie and by the third act the 3-D isn’t as noticable.

The Bad:

  • Weak Bad Guy: The main troublemaker, Boris the Animal, is played by Flight of the Conchords actor/musician Jemaine Clement and he’s transformed into an unrecognizable, disgusting creature (courtesy of the amazing make-up artist Rick Baker). And though he looks great, he doesn’t really make for a memorable villain. There’s nothing beyond the make-up. He’s a plot point, and little more.
  • Not Memorable Enough To Make A Stink: MIB3 is better than expected, but not only is it coming 10 years late, but it’s not a movie anyone was asking to see. And once you see it, it’s hard to find the motivation for it other than “Seemingly Viable Franchise.” At this point getting the band back together isn’t enough to justify buying a ticket.

Overall:

MIB3 is better than you’d think, all things. The performances, visuals and a few of the jokes make it painless. But one does not expect to call a franchise tentpole blockbuster “diverting” (at best). And in the competitive summer marketplace, it’s just not good enough.

Rating: 6.5/10

Men In Black 3 opens in theaters Friday, May 25, 2012.

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