They Are Back.. In Time

Barry Sonnenfeld

Will Smith
Tommy Lee Jones
Josh Brolin
Jemaine Clement
Emma Thompson
Michael Stuhlbarg

You’d think after the nightmare that was the second Men In Black film , we’d know not to trust whatever Sonnenfeld is pitching. You’d think that we’d see him waddling over with a big ol’ Stetson on his head and we would just shout, wave our arms and push him back out the door he squeezed through. But no, we think, ‘Will Smith’s signed on.. it can’t be that bad. Right? He’s learned his lessons from Wild Wild West, this might fun, this might be another Addams Family.’ And then it hits you, MIBIII is a colossal mistake but you’re still watching it and it makes.. no.. fucking.. sense!

Set ten years after the forgettable events of Men In Black II, K [Jones] and J [Smith] are still working with the MIB ensuring alien activity on planet Earth is lawful and adherent to code. Meanwhile, on a prison on the moon (’cause why the fuck not), a tart with a cake – who I am told was Nicole Scherzinger but I’d be surprised if anyone noticed.. I didn’t – helps the dreaded intergalactic war criminal Boris The Animal [Clement] escape. Actually, his name is just Boris – a joke that I never really got, despite the fact they repeat it some fifty times. Upon his escape, Boris travels back forty years and ensures he is never arrested in the first place by killing K. Somehow J is unaffected by this ripple and simply turns up to work the next day, looking for his moody partner. His new superior, O [Thompson] informs him that K has been dead for decades and a Boglodite invasion fleet will be entering Earth’s atmosphere shortly. Subsequently, J is sent back in time to prevent whatever changes Boris made in the past.

For a two hundred million dollar budget, it’s really hard to understand how this film got to be so insanely ugly. All the visual gags, action sequences and effects are pretty much lifted from the first two films without much alteration or improvement. Every time you think that an alien looks interesting or one of the props gives you that awesome b-movie vibe, you’re reminded that you’ve seen the exact same thing before.. over a decade ago. I’d say the cinematography is commendable but as the plot relies on so much green-screening, it’s almost impossible to compliment. Especially as everything sails by with almost no comprehensible structure, characters jump all over a single scene, the plot sluggishly crawls around looking for somewhere to lay down and die and the score flails wildly trying to figure out just what the hell is going on and how to express it musically. Ultimately, the visual and aural elements that should make this release so enjoyable feel tired and lacklustre, leaving Smith and Brolin on-screen desperately trying to cling onto some sort of artistic integrity. In fact, the only real reason this film is tolerable is the chemistry between Brolin and Smith which reignites the reason the first film worked so wholly.

One thing people will say with unanimous conviction is of the strength of Brolin’s performance and how he impersonates Tommy Lee Jones with exemplary accuracy. This much is true and I’d be happy to say the exact same, his performance was stellar. So was Smith’s for that matter.. I mean, he didn’t get the lines he needed from the script but he still hits every emotional note – one of his finest qualities that makes him one of the only actors you can happily watch in terrible films. On the other hand, there’s Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg and Emma Thompson. All of whom are incredibly talented individuals who have more than adequately proved themselves over the years, only to be squandered in minimal 2D characters, with absolutely no redeeming features.

Furthermore, by the film’s conclusion it’s obviously apparent that they had two or three clear ideas in mind: 1. Have some space badass escape from prison 2. Time travel to see a younger K 3. Have a touching scene at the close. That’s it, everything else was up for grabs and if what actually made it to the finished release was better than the stuff they didn’t use, it must have been fucking dire – probably along the lines of “Will Smith sees a huge alien fish in a tank and says, ‘You must be from the planet daaamn'” …oh wait, that was actually in the film. In all honesty, there’s no way to repair this. Men In Black was a really fun standalone action sci-fi piece and the animated TV series wasn’t half bad for those that wanted to revisit the world. The first sequence was an utter disgrace and this one’s highest point of praise is that it didn’t suck as much.

Release Date:
25th May 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
**this paragraph contains a major spoiler, albeit a baffling one**
Ok, so Young K and J are attempting to activate the ArcNet by attaching it to the top of Apollo 11 ….just go with it….. and both future and past Boris are trying to foil their plan. The thing that really confused the hell out of me was one single sequence, maybe even just one shot. J sees future Boris and calls out to him, then runs at him taking several barbed spines straight to the chest. Pierced and probably dying, J tackles Boris and both men fall to the base of Apollo 11, only for J to activate the time device sending him back thirty seconds. Which is just enough time to repeat his plan, foreseeing exactly where Boris would aim the deadly spiney spike things, avoid them and then throw him to his death. So the part that confuses me is a.) how come Boris doesn’t remember that exact sequence of events not moments before and b.) why does J tackle him the second time only to be locked in some weird hug briefly. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if not.. don’t watch this fucking film.

Notable Characters:
As stated earlier, Josh Brolin does a wonderful job of portraying a young Tommy Lee Jones.. but not a young K. I appreciate that over the last few films they’ve made K more cynical, jaded and run down but in the first film he was loud, vibrant and entertaining. Brolin gives us a brief glimpse at that but the script calls for far too much staring and frowning. So, instead, my highlighted character would have to be.. er.. those lanky little Mexican aliens or Frank the talking fucking pug, for not being in this movie and annoying the hell out of me. I tip my hat to you.

Highlighted Quote:
“Mommy, the president is drinking my chocolate milk”

In A Few Words:
“A handful of well executed concepts butchered by terrible editing, sloppy direction and mediocre acting”

Total Score: