Often franchises sputter and die, especially when a long period of times elapses. Case in point: Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But several franchises continue to bring in and excite viewers each time. Men in Black III had a prickly production process, but it opened in first place opening weekend knocking The Avengers out of the top spot. While the total gross, isn’t quite yet enough to pay for the film, it was a much better movie than many anticipated.
Some of the best elements from the franchise are featured in this foray. Agent J is back wise cracking his way through fights with aliens. Danny Elfman’s bewitching score adds the perfect atmosphere. K is more sullen than ever. The variety in alien design is fresh and fun. And, as usual, several celebrities are outed as aliens (of course Lady Gaga is an alien!).
In this particular outing, Agent J has become obsessed with K’s sullenness which has grown more ever present with the death of Z. His desire to learn how K has become the man he is today is cut short by the breakout of a violent alien that K had captured. Boris the Animal decides to rectify the situation by traveling back in time to kill K before the agent can capture Boris and take off his arm. With J being the only person who remembers K, he travels back time to take down Boris the animal. There he meets the young version of K, and J gets insight into K’s past.
The time travel aspect lends a humor and freshness to the jokes and designs. Everything from the technology, to the clothing, to the aliens is designed in the ‘60s area without being garish. A look back at the ancient equipment, especially the nueralizer, proved for good humor as well as unique challenges for J. This different world helps keep the franchise from recycling too much old material.
Joining Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is Josh Brolin as a young K. Brolin captures Jones in a very believable way. In fact his multifaceted version of K is a refreshing aspect to the sully character. Through the story and the acting, the audience is taking through the same journey through K’s past that J does. But K is not the only person whose history is explored. J’s story gets emotional depth that the character has been lacking throughout the franchise.
Like the sequel, this third installment lacked the charm of the first movie. It’s not that the novelty has worn out per se. But the second movie tried too hard to add more action and this movie tried to out-emotion the previous installments. This subtle change in tone affects the sequels in a profound way leaving audience wanting a little bit more.
The casting is strong though I was quite surprised when I found out that I hadn’t been watching Tim Curry for 106 minutes. Jemaine Clement has down the surly Curry voice and the make-up made recognizing any face impossible. Bill Harder’s guest role was fabulous as guest start Any Warhol, and I would have loved to know a little more about his character. I was also thrown for a curve with Michal Stuhlbarg’s Griffin. I was convinced the prophetic character was played by Alias’ David Weisman. Stuhlbarg’s Griffin has the same quirky sweetness that Weisman’s Marshall had. He was dorky but lovable.
Overall, MIBIII adds depth to the franchise and gives the viewer insight into the characters. This humorous adventure into the world of the Men in Black should delight fans of all ages.