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Men in Black 3, 3D (12A) Reviewed

Rachel Winterbottom confirms not all good things come in threes

Published on May 28th 2012.


Men in Black 3, 3D (12A) Reviewed

AFTER the success of the first film in 1997 (based on Lowell Cunningham’s eponymous comic series), Men in Black 2 suffered from the law of diminishing returns. After a ten-year hiatus, the alien-regulating dapper folk are back in a time travelling reboot, a move that the world will only welcome if past mistakes have been learned from.

While Clement's villain doesn't quite exceed the ghoulishness of Vincent D'Onofrio's Edgar the Bug, Boris is still a standout beast.

One-armed alien criminal Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement from the brilliant Flight of the Conchords) has broken out of LunarMax, his moon-based prison. As the last surviving member of the Boglodyans, a race made almost entirely out of fingers (complete with detachable symbiotics), Boris intends to exact revenge on Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) for the loss of his arm and his people.

Boris plans to return to a significant point in 1969 in order to remove K from history and prevent the extinction of his race. When K vanishes from the present, it is up to the only one who remembers he existed, his partner Agent J (Will Smith), to go back in time to try and stop Boris from killing youngish K (Josh Brolin). If J fails it isn't just his craggy mentor at stake – the earth will be destroyed by the newly restored Boglodyans who annoyingly have chosen that same day to invade.

Men In Black 3Men In Black 3

Director Barry Sonnenfeld has once again been unable to recreate a film as good as the first instalment of this trilogy. While all the same ingredients are in place for this science-fiction action comedy – witty repartee, colourful action scenes, chemistry between J and both Ks – it's all starting to feel a little repetitive. A problem not helped by the time travel elements.

There are some saving graces. Legendary makeup artist Rick Baker's iconic special effects in An American Werewolf in London (1981) set the bar jaw-droppingly high even by today's standards. Thanks in part to improvements in CGI since MIB 2, Baker has followed his work on the first two Men in Blacks with an eerily unique Big Bad. Baker's design and Clement's gleeful performance as Boris the Animal help to make this a more palatable film.

While Clement's villain doesn't quite exceed the ghoulishness of Vincent D'Onofrio's Edgar the Bug, Boris is still a standout beast. The childlike alien Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), who sees uncountable future possibilities all happening at once, is another wonderfully eccentric Baker creation.

Men In Black 3Men In Black 3

There are also a few enjoyable action set pieces (the most notable being set in a seafood restaurant), and although you could take or leave the 3D, it is particularly effective for J's time leap off the Chrysler Building.

The chisel-jawed Brolin is another highlight. After playing George W. Bush in W., he is used to portraying emotionally stunted characters. Brolin falls well short of parody as the younger K by impressively perfecting Jones' s thousand-yard stare, voice and mannerisms. Unfortunately, Brolin hasn't been given much to build on; even the romance subplot between Agent O and K is chaste and underdeveloped.

Emma Thompson is cast as the token female and love interest O. Her brief stint as the agent is only made notable by her creative use of hair gel, before she is swiftly replaced by Alice Eve as the young 1969 version of O (and her equally ridiculous hairstyle).

By going back in time Sonnenfeld retreats from having to considerably change his characters or add to their stories. As good as Will Smith is, even he can't make up for a plot that essentially centres on uncovering why K does not have a personality, particularly when the reason is revealed in a mawkishly contrived finale.

MIB 3 is not as funny as the previous films (the Worm Guys and Frank the Pug might have been overdone but they are still missed here) and, while logic has never been a priority for the Men in Black, there is a time travel clanger in the climax too frustrating to be excused. This third outing is a lightly entertaining caper, but instead of offering audiences the chance to relive the glory of the first film, it’s just another unnecessary sequel.

4/10

Follow Rachel on Twitter @frostycheeks

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