‘Men in Black III’ Deserves to Be Neuralyzed From Memory

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Average: 5 (8 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Men in Black III” is such a soulless venture, a film made by committee that doesn’t display the touch of anyone with any remaining actual interest in the characters. In the pipeline for years, the film has been fine-tuned to the point that all of its personality was buffed out in the process. It’s well made (as a budget north of $200 million will do that for you) but to what end? There’s so little artistic merit to the piece that it doesn’t even qualify as popcorn entertainment.

The problem is that “Men in Black III” is simply insufficient in whichever genre you want to place it. There are not enough laughs to call it a successful comedy. The science fiction is thinner than a ten-year-old could devise. And the action is as by-the-numbers as any blockbuster you’ll see this season. If not for a clever, fun performance from Josh Brolin this would be a complete waste of time.

Men in Black III
Men in Black III
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

As if no time has passed since “Men in Black II” (except for the bizarre disappearance of the entire supporting cast of the last film with nary a mention other than the off-screen death of Rip Torn’s Zed), Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) are bickering. K is still strong and silent. J is still boisterous and trying to get his stolid partner to break. Only in Hollywood do people not change in the slightest over 12 years between movies but that could be forgiven if the two iconic characters were given

Meanwhile, a notorious alien murderer named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) has escaped from a maximum security prison in space (with “Lockout” and this, we may have our most unusual recurring plot point of the year). It turns out that Agent K put Boris away back in 1969 and essentially ruined his entire species by destroying his plan to take over Earth. While locked up, Boris just happened to meet a fellow prisoner who figured out time travel and so the one-armed madman decides to jump back to the day that the universe changed and kill Agent K. Consequently, Agent J wakes up in a world where Agent K doesn’t exist (but can remember him for reasons that will just barely be explained later) and has to jump back himself to stop the madman with the help of a young K (Josh Brolin), a truly gifted alien (Michael Stuhlbarg), and the lovely Agent O (Alice Eve in 1969 and Emma Thompson in present day).

Men in Black III
Men in Black III
Photo credit: Sony Pictures

Many people seem to be giving “Men in Black III” a pass under the “well, it could have been worse” model of criticism. That’s nonsense. Yes, I suppose it’s a better film than “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” or some of the truly lifeless mega-sequels of seasons past, but shouldn’t our standards be a bit higher for a project with this much potential? Honestly, I rack my brain trying to think what there is to like about this film other than Brolin’s performance. It’s not a barrel of laughs. It’s remarkably not clever unless you think the concept that all models are aliens is clever. And it’s not filled with any memorable action set-pieces. Michael Stuhlbarg’s alien who can see all possible alternate universes simultaneously is a smart idea but even he’s poorly directed. Only Brolin comes out totally unscathed, delivering a clever, subtle impersonation of his co-star from “No Country For Old Men.” In fact, the word impersonation makes it sound too corny. He just honestly feels like a young Tommy Lee Jones. He’s far and away the best thing about the movie.

There are different kinds of bad blockbusters. There the ones that are just screwed from the beginning – titles based on source material that never should have been adapted or made by untalented people. Neither is true here. There are misguided ones, films that went wrong somewhere in production but films in which you can still see the film that might have been and recognize the honest effort. And that’s what drives me crazy about “Men in Black III.” I don’t feel any honest effort at all. It’s a paint-by-numbers excursion, a movie that feels like a script for a mid-season episode of the “Men in Black” TV series that never happened.

“Men in Black III” stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Alice Eve. It was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and opens on May 25, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

MovieFan25's picture


You know, M.I.B. actually has a different meaning…it means “Mutual in Bed”, and it’s awesome…try a search for it on youtube!

ziggy one of the best's picture

"Men In Black"

Gr8 movie this was by far the best of those other one

Manny be down's picture

Men In Black

this I think is a lot better then the other one’s so I did enjoyed it!!!

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