(Published in The Sunday Guardian on May 27, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/a-wobbly-ride-this-one)
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Rating: 3.5 stars
We thought the Men in Black franchise had died and been buried with the dud sequel of 2002, but now it’s back, with an added dimension. And hence I got to spend an evening gaining deeper insights into creepy aliens. Am I getting poetic about 3D? Never mind.
So, yeah, the secret agency that tracks extraterrestrials is called back into action when Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from his maximum security confinement on the moon to travel back in time. Possibly sitting on the pot with gravity issues, Boris does a “Why didn’t I think of this before?!” Save the arm Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) hacked off by travelling back in time and killing Young Agent K (Josh Brolin)! It’s all so simple, really. Until you factor in Agent J (Will Smith).
After the chaotic opening sequence, we’re thrown into time travel mode. Which is how we meet Young K and the horrifically gross creatures that crawl out of orifices (and non-orifices) in Boris’ body to feed on enemy flesh. That’s also how we find out just how much Agent K has been keeping secret from the partner he used to patronise.
The revelation in this film is Josh Brolin, whose chemistry with Will Smith is a perfect match for that of Smith’s pairing with Tommy Lee Jones. Brolin deserves special credit for impersonating Tommy Lee Jones closely enough to make me spend a good chunk of the film wondering how on earth they managed to pull off making Jones age in reverse. His voice and intonation are so well-matched with Jones’ that I still suspect Jones dubbed the character.
Time travel is bound to be tricky in Hollywood, and naturally Men in Black III makes very little attempt to escape the kitsch. Yeah, you have a bizarre moonlanding sequence that makes about as much sense as the need to jump out of iconic buildings or objects to push a button in the nick of time. Which is to say, a lot of how much you enjoy this depends on where you’re coming from. A screening of The Grey isn’t the best place to be coming from into a film this wacky, but hey, I enjoyed the silliness of it all immensely.
The Verdict: Time travel in an MIB movie with all the glory of 3D may leave you with some trepidation, but this brings back the mindless fun that first made us laugh 15 years ago.