Review: 'Men in Black' shine 3rd time around

Film wins with originality

Author: Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer
Published On: May 26 2012 03:01:18 PM EDT

It's too bad that "Men In Black 3" will suffer from sequelitis even before fans make it to the movieplex. I was cynical as any fan could be. "MIB3"? Really? Go ahead, entertain me.

Surprise, surprise! "Men In Black 3" is original, entertaining and easily stands on its own. So for anyone who was trapped under a meteorite and missed the first and second installments, you'll fare just fine here.

What really drove the intergalactic bus on the first two films was the relationship between Agent J (Will Smith in a role that still perfectly suits him) and his work partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). But, here's the best choice the filmmakers could have made for No. 3. While there's no doubt the chemistry between the pair is pinnacle, rather than repeat the same dynamic that was so prevalent in the first two films, there's an introduction that creates a new (actually old) twist. They send J back in time where he meets a much younger K (Josh Brolin, who you've probably already heard does an uncanny Jones impression). While time travelling has been used as a device to change present fate in movies since the beginning of time (it was 66 years ago that the technique was used to perfection in "It's A Wonderful Life"), it couldn't be a better approach for this film.

It is really where "Men In Black 3" gets its luster. The film opens in present day where there's about to be a break at a moon-based maximum security facility, Lunar Max. "Boris The Animal" (a dastardly Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords"), has one big reason he wants out of prison. He has plans to time travel back to 1969 where he'll find the agent that put him behind lunar bars and left him with only one arm. Then, he'll kill him. But Boris is no regular prisoner, he's a Boglodite, part of a species of rogue aliens who Agent K made sure could never threaten Earth again. Yep, you guessed it, back in 1969.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld, who has been behind the camera for the all three films, shows once again that he has an understanding of what makes "Men in Black" tick. It's comic-book, sci-fi humor, that never takes itself too seriously. Sonnenfeld's mastery is evident in a scene inside a Chinese restaurant owned by an alien with way too many hands named Mr. Woo; it's flat out fantastic. The script, credited to Etan Cohen, who had a big hand in "Tropic Thunder" as a co-writer Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux, takes some liberties to not only change Agents J and K's fate, but to poke fun at some cultural references including a "reveal" of the real Andy Warhol and a notion that an Earth saving device hitched a ride to space on the historic Apollo 11 moon mission. And what about those Mets?

I can't say I'll get behind "Men In Black 4." By that time, I'll have to agree with Agent K when he says he's too old to be running around New York, chasing down aliens and shooting them with funny futuristic weapons. This time, however, Special Agent K and the whole crew show that they still have "MIB" mojo.