Back To The Future
RATED: ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | WORTH: Matinee or DVD
Rated: PG-13 Sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
Release Date: May 25, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 43 mins
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writers: Lowell Cunningham, David Koepp, Etan Cohen, Jeff Nathanson, Michael Soccio
Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Bill Hader, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alice Eve
SYNOPSIS: Agent J travels back in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s in order to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.
REVIEW: Barry Sonnenfeld, director of both Men in Black, Men in Black II, plus Get Shortyand both Addams Family films, returns ten years after the last MIB film to let us catch another glimpse of the the odd couple agents that entralled us in the original film in 1997. Using a collective of writers for the third installment, Sonnenfeld employs the scribing talents of Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder), David Koepp (Angels and Demons), Jeff Nathanson (Tower Heist), and Michael Soccio (The Kings of Queens), all based on the original comic by Lowell Cunningham.Agent J (Will Smith, Seven Pounds) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones, Captain America: The First Avenger) continue to thwart alien incidents that affect New York and the outer boroughs, Agent J still wondering why his partner is so sullen and stoic. One of Agent K's early arrests, Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement, Dinner for Schmucks), escapes from the super maximum Lunar Max moon prison with forty years of hatred for the man who took his freedom and one of his arms. Hatching a plan to erase the one mistake of his past, Boris promptly finds an illegal time jump device with the expressed focus to kill Agent K before he is arrested and before he loses an arm. When Agent J wakes the next day and is the only person to remember that Agent K was just alive yesterday instead of being killed in 1969, the new head of MIB Agent O (Emma Thompson, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2) points Agent J to the same source for time jumping that Boris had used, an electronics store owner Jeffrey Price (Michael Chemus, The Big C). Once in the past, Agent J comes across the younger, more hopeful and easy-going Agent K (Josh Brolin, True Grit), head Agent X (David Rasche, United 93) and a young vibrant Ms. O (Alice Eve, The Raven) in an attempt to save his partner before Agent K becomes nothing more than a distant memory.
Starting in 1997, Barry Sonnenfeld brought Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith together as the supreme odd couple protecting the earth from the scum of the universe. With the veteran, seen-too-much-in-his-career Agent K and the young, hot-headed upstart policeman turned naive intergalactic cop, the first entry based on the Malibu Comics had plenty of action, comedy and story to go around. Five years later, the crew returned with another adventure that combined comedy, a cast of quirky alien characters and villains, and a story worth telling. Now, fifteen years after the start of their journey, Agents J and K return for possibly their last adventure.
In Men In Black 3, the spirit of the story continues seamlessly from the first sequel - even with so much time passed. Tommy Lee and Will settle into the same crotchety rhythm that was so appealing in the first two films. Like in the second movie, though, Tommy Lee Jones' role is critical but diminished. In fact, in Men In Black 3, Tommy Lee sets the stage for the tale but disappears altogether in the wrinkled timeline in favor of the younger version in Brolin. Smith has to take a brand new tact with Brolin's young Agent K, unsure how the young agent turns into the cranky old man that recruited him into the MIB. Sonnenfeld makes sure to keep the same chrome and curved look and feel as the other MIB movies, with the addition of 60s era cars, fashions, and politics. And Brolin does entertain as he nails the young Agent K with his tone and mannerisms.
One of the things that seems to be missing from MIB3 is an edge of humor. In MIB, we were delighted by a talking pug, a morgue clerk embodied by David Cross, a pawn shop alien Jack Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub, Monk) and a twitchy insectoid alien in a meat suit named Edgar played well with Vincent D'Onofrio. In MIB2, Shalhoub, Cross and the pug returned, and the evil shape-shifting villainess Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle) was accompanied by the loony and goofy side kick Scrad (Johnny Knoxville). In MIB3, the villain Boris is all venom and bony shards, with no redeeming or humorous qualities. The pug is gone. Cross and Shalhoub are missing in action. The worms are back in brief cameos and the majority of the jokes rest squarely on Smith's shoulders. He has broad shoulders, but even Smith can only handle so much. Michael Stuhlbarg (Hugo) is cast as the last of his kind fifth-dimensional alien Griffin who sees all possible futures at once and who may hold the key to defending the modern day alien invasion with a 1960s trinket, reminding me of a overly sedate young Robin Williams.
Men In Black 3 has dazzling practical and creature effects. Rick Baker mixes 1960s nostalgia with wonderful CGI FX with the many layered creepy crawly alien assassin Boris. The story continues in the fine tradition that Sonnenfeld, Jones and Smith crafted fifteen years ago. The story fills both rushed and leisurely at times, taking in many sights without the opportunity to soak in the ambiance. Smith's Agent J asks Brolin's Agent K how old he was with the response of twenty-nine. Agent J comments that he must have some city miles on 'em. It's always fun to peek into the world of MIB, but it may be time for some additional new blood or time to hang up the suit and shades.
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