June 04, 2012

MOVIES: Men in Black 3 (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2012)

Men in Black 3 isn't bad. It gets off to a good start and ends well, with a pair of entertaining action sequences, but sags a bit in the middle.

The opening finds Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escaping from the ultra-secure prison where he's been held for forty years, ever since being captured by the Men in Black -- more specifically, by Agent K, who's still working for the MIB all these years later. K, of course, is Tommy Lee Jones's character, and he's as crusty and taciturn as ever, causing no end of frustrated amusement to his partner J (Will Smith).

But K suddenly disappears, and everyone else at MIB claims he's been dead for forty years; only J has the memory to figure out that Boris has gone back in time to kill K before K can capture him. To save his partner, J follows Boris back in time to the first manned moon launch, and finds himself working with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin).

Brolin's performance is one of the movie's highlights. The story is smart enough to let young K be a slightly different personality than present-day K (and the reasons for that change are part of the story), which means Brolin gets to be a little looser while still doing a terrific impression of Jones. (Because let's face it, Tommy Lee Jones as K is so tightly wound that any normal person attempting to duplicate him could be seriously injured.)

Also strong is Michael Stuhlbarg, playing an alien who helps J and K during their trip to the 60s. Griffin has the gift/curse of seeing all the possible futures at any given moment, and his worry about which one is actually coming is both quite funny and surprisingly poignant.

Less successful is Clement as Boris. The character isn't terribly interesting, and Clement's voice has been electronically altered (at least, I assume it's being altered; I don't think he could actually be speaking like that) to make it unusually growly and harsh. It's not pleasant to listen to, and it's often hard to understand.

But the final action sequence, set at Cape Canaveral, is exciting, and even if you can see the final big plot twist coming way too early, it's still fairly effective.

Better than the average Part 3 of any series, and moderately entertaining dumb fun.

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