Film Review: Men in Black 3
NOTE: Don’t get butthurt that I’m a butthead. Read the About and Review Format pages. I’m not a monster, I’m an alien. An illegal alien. Seriously, don’t tell Immigration.
To be completely honest, I forgot this movie was even a thing until my friends (I know, can you believe it?) suggested going to see it. Men in Black 3? Really? Because the second one was so good, and recent too. Topical!
Considering its pedigree, I think this could have been much worse.
TL;DR This is unnecessary. I don’t think anyone will argue that. There’s nothing new or exciting. CGI porn runs rampant. Some touching moments and occasional humour. 2 out of 5 stars.
Men in Black 3 has a textbook case of sequelitis. When the fate of the world has been at stake twice, you don’t really have anywhere to go. This time they’ve gone for the personal angle, putting Tommy Lee Jones’s K in peril. Will Smith’s J has to go back in time to save him.
Yes, it’s a time travel movie.
For fuck’s sake, has nobody realised yet that time travel is terrible? It’s too complicated. Especially linear time travel, like in this movie. The only way to get away with it is to play it off extremely flippantly, like when Fry becomes his own grandfather in Futurama. Hell, this movie doesn’t even follow its own rules.
When Boris (the villain) goes back in time, he meets up with his younger self. So the film establishes that going back in time means being an extra person in that timeline. However, near the end of the film, during the climactic fight between Boris and J, J uses the time travel device to send them both back a minute-ish so J can dodge Boris’s attacks. But when they get there, there are two inconsistencies. Firstly, they are not extras. There’s no “J and Boris from a minute ago” already there. Wrong. Secondly, Boris uses the exact same attack pattern as before, seemingly unaware that he has travelled back in time. J, on the other hand, dodges these with ease, because plot. Wrong.
I know that sounded SUPER nerdy, but time travel plots fucking suck because of shit like this. Just don’t do it, guys.
The CGI during the first time J time travels (he has to jump off a building to do this. TL;DR) is absolutely horrifying. I’m not sure if it was trying to be a throwback/shout-out to the primitive CGI of the first movie/s, but it was just awful. Just. Awful. Irredeemable.
Before J goes back to 1969, a character makes a joke about how it wasn’t a good time for black people. This is supposed to be funny. Worse, when he gets there he steals a car to pursue Boris. Some police pull him over, and an appallingly racist scene is played out because the cops only pulled him over for being black in a nice car. And it gets worse. After lecturing the police about racism, J then admits he did steal the car, proving them right. This is supposed to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, I like an uncomfortable joke as much as the next Gilbert Gottfried, but a Men in Black movie isn’t the right place for it. And it’s so incongruous to the rest of the movie that it should have just been cut out.
Not all is lost, though.
When the jokes are on-form, they are funny. Emma Thompson plays agent O, and she gets a few good scenes. Alice Eve plays 60s O, and also does a good job.
Nicole Scherzinger’s cameo at the start was cute. The Pussycat Dolls are still a thing, right? Oh.
And Josh Brolin as 60s K does a good job grounding the egregious overacting of Will Smith.
Why I hate this movie:
Nobody needed a Men in Black 3, certainly not one with a plot this inconsequential.
Boris (although funny) is terribly written. He offs every single one of his targets by shooting them in the head. However, when it comes to fighting J, he goes for the shoulders. Fucking stupid.
There’s an alien called Griffin who can see possible futures. This is a polite way of saying he’s a cover-all plot convenience, and Deus Ex Machina. He has no character to speak of (he just goes with J and K because he thinks they’re nice). His only motivation is to save Earth because he lost his homeworld and he’s sad. He does fucking nothing to prevent the shit that happens to him. And he’s carrying around the magic gadget that will save the world. There is no further explanation. It’s simply “Oh, here’s a thing that will protect your planet. It’s the size of a Pringles can lid, and it somehow works just by being in space. I don’t know why this didn’t save my planet. I better get attacked again, now.”
There’s a child actor at the end who plays J when he’s, like 3. I bet Will Smith was disappointed he didn’t have another kid around to shove into a role.
Reasons to watch:
There’s a moment in MIB headquarters where the display for aliens is visible. It shows Lady Gaga. Easy target, but it’s fun.
The Andy Warhol jokes are hilarious. Pretentious artists are so easy to pick apart.
Boris (played by Jemaine Clement) is funny and menacing (unless fighting a main character). And appropriately disgusting, transformation-wise. Jemaine Clement seems to be cornering the market on deformed, badass villains (he was the cockatoo in Rio).
Josh Brolin as 60s K does a great job of humanising Tommy Lee Jones’s grizzled, older version. This is an important plot point, and is never too overblown. His quiet scenes with J are genuinely funny, and just plain genuine.
The ending also gave me the warm fuzzies.
Despite some heart, this movie is an unnecessary cash-in. There’s nothing new here. Nothing ever feels properly at stake, not when your villain goes around murdering the fuck out of everyone, then can’t get his shit whenever the protagonists show up. And time travel should just not be done. No no no. 2 out of 5 stars.