This week, Papa Kenn reviews the blockbuster sequel that no one asked for: MEN IN BLACK 3!
“Men in Black 3”
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Etan Cohen and Lowell Cunningham
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, and Josh Brolin
On the list of movie franchises that needed another installment, Men in Black was somewhere between Rocky and Old Yeller in the category of “Completely Unnecessary/WHYYYYYYY!?”. Well MiB got the sequel treatment yet again this summer, 15 years after the first and only good movie in the series up to now. So does this movie justify its existence as an unnecessary third installment?
No. No it doesn’t. Does that mean it’s a bad movie though? Eh…I’d say that MiB3 is resoundingly OK. But therein lies the problem, it never goes beyond OK.
The original was a fun and campy surprise for us all when it hit the scene back in ‘97 and treated us to an off-the-wall alien adventure that was mature enough to not be a kid’s movie, but also funny and silly enough to be more than appropriate for most age groups. Tommy Lee Jones was the straight-laced adult figure that kept everything on track and under control; Will Smith brought the humor and style to the show (in other words, he made it look good).
Then MiB 2 came out. It did well at first but money stopped coming in once everyone realized it was crap. It brought Kay back into the fold (no spoiler alerts if the movie was released a decade ago), but was otherwise completely unnecessary.
And now MiB 3 is out. It’s easily more solid than part 2, but falls desperately short of capturing the spirit of the original and maintains MiB2’s identity crisis of not knowing whether to pander more to the teenager/adult crowd or the “kids too young to be watching this” crowd. No longer having the benefit of being “the sequel” to a hit movie after MiB2 left so many fans jaded, they went all out with the budget and reportedly spent between $250-375 million. Given, the movie was plagued with delays and issues from the start, but I’d love to know where all that money was spent.
Maybe they spent all that money on the 3D, which was completely wasted and one of my primary gripes. If you’re going to use 3D in a movie with an intended audience ages 13 and up, don’t throw cheap 3D tricks in our face to try and justify the extra millions of dollars you spent trying to make your film look cool. It insults the intelligence of everyone that paid the extra fee for those stupid glasses, and just looks ridiculous when watching the same scenes in 2D. How do I know? I watched the movie in 2D and could point out every-freaking-time the movie was using those 3D tricks that would barely impress a 5 year old!
The budget and unnecessary 3D aside, there are three things that do help make this a movie worth watching:
1) Will Smith as Jay. It’s a character that Smith has owned since his first scene of the first movie, and he hasn’t relented at all. Though the humor may feel a bit dated at times, he’s still the same headstrong character we’ve come to know and love.
2) Josh Brolin is perfectly cast in the role of Young Kay. Both visually and audibly, he embodies the role of Kay as we came to know and love him in the first two movies.
3) An unexpected and very interesting plot point in the 3rd act. No further information on that because of spoilers, except that it leads into another gripe…
They don’t expand on that plot point at all! They literally take that game-changing moment and use it to wrap up the rest of the story in an overly simplistic end scene that honestly left me feeling hollow. Hollow, as if I had spent the last hour and 46 minutes being retrofit for the next Arquillian Ambassador (if you don’t get that reference, just stop the video and go watch the first MiB).
Another gripe is that Tommy Lee Jones is just too old for this. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for the man, and he has the uncanny ability to make [ALMOST] any movie better by simply being in it. But he is showing his age in MiB3 in the worst way, and it broke my heart to think that the MiB super agent of 1997 now looks like a man well into his retirement years.
Then finally, one of the most infuriating things about this movie is a particular character that I can’t name without giving away major spoilers. Basically, when the character was first introduced, I liked him because he was quirky and more than a little weird. But after that first impression, recurrent appearances irked me, though I wasn’t sure why at the time. Well, until my good friend Kyle Moody pointed out that the character was nothing more than a living, breathing plot device! He even participated in one of the most annoyingly unnecessary end-scenes that has ever graced the big screen. Yes, even worse than the end of The Mist, though equally depressing because it probably cost an extra million to finance the special effects.
So do I recommend Men in Black 3? No. Why? Ray Hargeaves of 2PStart.com put it best in a tweet when he said, “[the] action was weak, special effects were mediocre, and the comedy was too simple/obvious.” In other words: It’s a big fat, expensively made bucket of AVERAGE with no reason to exist, and looks like it’s flying at your face if you paid the extra fee to wear those stupid glasses.
Sure, you can go see it if you’re bored and want to see a movie this summer since you’re allergic to sunlight and waiting for Prometheus and Batman to come out. Then again, you could spend your money on a good movie and go see The Avengers. Again.
I give Men in Black 3… 5 / 10.
I’m Papa Kenn, and seriously…just go see The Avengers.