Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Men In Black III (2012)

Title: Men In Black III (2012)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson


It’s been ten years since the Men In Black last graced the silver screen with their alien filled, world destroying adventures. Not a lot of people liked MIB II (2002), I forget exactly why (maybe it wasn’t very good?) but same as the first one, that sequel made huge bank, so here they are again, Agent J and K, ready to kick some alien butt. The big question on everybody’s mind is, would this third entry be worth it, or redundant? Well, things were looking good for this sequel in my book when the cast returned. Another good omen was that Barry Sonnenfeld the director behind the previous two films agreed to direct this third entry. I like Sonnenfeld’s films, they always have something interesting to look at, they always have that kinetic camera, always moving somewhere. Make up effects genius Rick Baker, would be in charge of creating the alien make up effects and designs for this one, which is a major plus in my book. So, things were looking good for this new MIB film. Would the planets align once again for this third film? Would this one be equally funny and interesting?

Story this time around revolves around Agent K’s sudden disappearance from history. An old nemesis’s of K’s -an alien being known as ‘Boris’- has altered time so that K doesn’t exist. Interesting part about the whole thing is that even though K has been erased from time and nobody seems to remember him, J still remembers him as if he was alive. So it’s up to J to go back in time and stop Boris from altering the present. J’s mission this time around is to travel all the way back to 1969 to make everything alright.

Basically this is like Back To The Future (1985) or The Terminator (1984), but with aliens. I know what you’re thinking; it’s been done to death the whole time travel thing. And you’re probably right. By now audiences are so familiarized with the concept of time travel that in new time travel films like this one, characters don’t have to whip out a chalk board and explain everything to us. We already know the ins and outs of time travel and its effects on space time continuum; we got Dr. Emmet Brown to thank for that, he explained it all so well in Back to the Future II (1989). So anyways, yeah, this is one of those movies where altering the past has terrible consequences on the future. Though this might feel redundant, I always say its not what you say but how you say it, right? And MIB III manages to tell it’s time travel tale in a very interesting fashion.

Boris The Animal, the villain in the film

First off, the true strength of this film lies in its visuals. The way things look; this is something I’ve always loved about Sonnenfeld’s films. How he moves the camera, the strange angles, the things he chooses to focus on. Remember how the first MIB film opens up with us following a mosquito? Do you remember how much the camera moves on Sonnenfeld’s Addams Family movies? Well, MIB III is no different. Sonnenfeld’s camera movements have always felt like a rollercoaster ride, it’s part of what makes his movies so interesting. Kind of like the same reason why I loved those first Sam Raimi movies, the kinetic camera movements. Sonnenfeld’s camera movements were felt the most during the time travel scenes and the whole opening sequence which by the way take place on the moon! This movie was like eye candy to me, some scenes are filled with so many colors and details…my eyes were devouring this one. The film has great artistic design, which doesn’t surprise me in a film with such elevated production values. Reportedly, the film cost 300 million dollars to make. The most interesting looking scenes for me where those taking place inside of the MIB head quarters during 1969 when we get to see all the retro-futuristic gadgets the MIB had during those days.

And what would a MIB film be without its cool looking aliens? Nowhere that’s where. The big fun with these movies for me is seeing all the different aliens that show up. This one doesn’t hold back at all. Rick Baker and crew really outdid themselves this time with the creatures because we not only get the cool alien creatures we normally see in these movies, but when J travels back in time, we also get to see what kind of aliens were walking around the MIB headquarters during 1969; which was a pretty cool moment in the film because all the aliens look like the type of alien creatures you’d see in films from that era. This part of the film was an awesome homage to science fiction films from the 50’s and 60’s.  

Rick Baker cameo's as an alien with an exposed brain
Finally, I also enjoyed the revelations the film makes in respect to J and K’s personal life.  This film gets kind of emotional in a rather unexpected way. It connects J and K’s life in a very interesting fashion. Other pluses are Josh Brolin’s performance as a younger version of K, who was dead on channeling Tommy Lee Jones’s character. My last words on this one are that it was a very fun movie, very entertaining and never boring. The aliens, the gadgets and the action will keep you entertained all the way through. An extra tidbit of info: this was the film that finally took The Avengers (2012) out of the #1 spot at the box office, which demonstrates that Will Smith still has that huge box office drawing power. He’s still candy for the masses; he’s still got the appeal. MIB III isn’t a film that will change your life, it doesn’t offer up “the secrets of the universe” as it suggests in its previews, but I’m sure it will keep you entertained for its entire duration; this my friends was a very fun summer movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

I think waiting ten years to make MIB 3 was a mistake, but the nearly $70 million it raked in domestically in its opening weekend proved that there is still life in the MIB franchise. I’m worried about a fourth film though, because if it did truly cost $375 million dollars to make (I’ve read that figure includes marketing as well) then MIB 3 will have to pull in close to $500 million domestically for it to be considered a financial success. Given the large number of special effects driven fantasy and sci-fi movies coming to theaters in the next five or six weeks, that figure seems unlikely. Still, if this is the last MIB film, it’s a great one to go out on.

I can tell you why I didn’t like MIB 2 as much as MIB or MIB 3: Its running time was only 88 minutes, which is ten minutes shorter than MIB and fifteen minutes shorter than MIB 3. It just went by too fast and told too small a story. Worst of all was that K wasn’t and active agent for the first third of the film and J is stuck with the dull Agent T as his straight man. Even with these faults I still enjoy it: I particularly like scene where the “coffee aliens” are hiding J’s girlfriend in their apartment.

I don’t think the time travel element in MIB 3 felt redundant, because they really didn’t emphasize the paradox element too much. In fact, J spills all the details of the “future” to young-K pretty quickly and this also is one of the funnier K straight-face reactions in the movie. Back to the Future and The Terminator didn’t invent time travel in the movies. George Pal’s 1960 film adaptation H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” covers some of the same paradox ideas of time travel as well – although without the humor of BttF or MIB.

I enjoy Barry’s camerawork as well. Although I saw MIB 3 in 2-D, I was still swept up in how well Sonnenfeld used the camera to create extra depth of field to scenes, as well as intensify the movement of the car chases and such. The camera didn’t seem to linger on the details of the MIB headquarters in this film as much as past films and I’m sure I missed all kinds of cool visual jokes because of it. Rick Baker and his make-up magicians outdid themselves in this film! He reportedly created 100 different aliens for this film (there is part of the $300 million right there), but they really helped give the feeling of true alienation to the film.

I too thought Josh Brolin’s young Agent K was “dead on channeling Tommy Lee Jones’s character” and this really made the past sequences work. If his Agent K was not as good as it was, the whole character aspect of the plot would have fallen flat. I also liked Emma Thompson as Chief Agent O, who had the unenviable task of replacing Zed from the first two MIB films. I’m assuming Rip Torn’s legal issues are what prohibited his returning as Zed in MIB 3, so at least they made Agent O’s character important to the plot in both timelines.

Here’s to hoping MIB 3 makes another $50 million or so next weekend, because I for one think there is still plenty of life left in this franchise!

Franco Macabro said...

Fritz: That's the big risk studios take with expensive blockbusters, if they dont make their money back fast, they loose fast too. MIB III has another couple of weeks before the other big Summer films pop up: Batman and Spidey. Let's see what happens, but I have a feeling that Darknight Rises is going to suck the life out of all the movies that are in theaters during it's release.

I havent seen MIB II in eons, I think I'll give it the old re-watch, I do remember being a bit dissapointed by it, but I did like that giant worm monster in the end, thats about all I can remember!

Don't know about you dude, but a villain going back in time to kill somebody that pesters them reminded me a lot of The Terminator. Having to reach a certain speed to time travel, going back to the future, these elements all reminded me of Back to the Future. I know Back to the Future and The Terminator didn't event time travel, but MIB had something in common with these two particular time travel films.

I saw MIB III in 3-D and it was worth it, I love the depth created by the 3-D effect, especially in fx heavy films like this one. The 3D worked so well with those things that Boris shoots from his hands.

Oh yeah, those scenes on the MIB headquarters were sweet, especially when they put J in that giant machine...all those colorful lightbulgs...candy to the eyes!

I wouldnt mind seein another MIB III in the future, these movies have so many possibilities, I'd love for the Men in Black to go to another planet or something, that would be cool.

Thanks for commenting Fritz!

Vladimir said...

I have been following your blog for some time I can't tell. Becuase of the obvious reasons I'm not able to leave comments a lot. Your effort here, is excellent. Having seen the film last weekend, I can't wait to read your review on Prometheus, I must say.

Franco Macabro said...

Wow, you saw Prometheus? Or MIB 3? Either way, you can expect a review for Prometheus as soon as I see it, which should be on opening night, June 14. Thanks for your kind words Vladimir, and you can comment whenever you like, in fact, I urge you too, I love reading my readers comments.


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