Men in Black 3
Men in Black 3 2012
And now it’s time to finish up this alien crime-fighting trilogy with the third installment. Though of course in this day and age it’s doubtful that this franchise will settle with a mere three films though there’s no telling if the next one will end up being a sequel or a reboot. Of course, with the way the film universe is situated, it would be easy to create a sequel with all new characters, but still within the same continuity but I’m getting way off track here. While I did watch this film back when it came out in 2012, that was during my first year of writing for this site and I had a bit more narrow definition of what I was going to be covering. But even if I didn’t think of these films as being superhero films, they are still based off of comics as inspiration if not directly source material. While the first two films had five years in between them, the next two had a ten year gap. And yet, with a larger gap came a fresher outlook on the characters and the setting. Instead of rehashing the plot of the first two films, it went in a different direction and brought up a tried and true sci-fi concept with time travel, brought in Josh Brolin doing a spot on young Tommy Lee Jones impression, and Jermaine Clement doing a spot on young Tim Curry impression. It was just as much fun as the original, and brought in some nice callbacks without feeling rehashed.
Even though it’s three movies deep, Men in Black is all about the fish out of water story. In the first film, it was J who was the fish out of water when he was exposed to this world of aliens within our own world. In the second film, the roles were reversed as K was the fish out of water as he had been neuralized and had to be brought back into the fold by J who was now the seasoned veteran, so to speak. And so the natural course of things was to have events unfold so that J once again becomes the fish out of water as K gets erased out of existence. It’s up to J to go back in time and work with a young K to prevent him from being killed in the past, thus erasing the present. The chemistry works just as well as it did in the first one where K is already a seasoned pro and unphased by anything that comes at him. Meanwhile J isn’t the wide eyed rookie from the first film, but he is still completely out of his element within the relatively early stages of the Men in Black.
The time travel element of the movie is nicely done, though the explanation of why J is the only one unaffected by the disruption of the timeline is a little iffy. Eventually it’s revealed that he remembers the old timeline because he was in the same area as a child when the disruptive event happened. Griffin is also a fascinating character that helps explain the concept of infinite possibilities while still being comic relief due to his quirky mannerisms. There’s also what feels like a slight homage to Back to the Future since time travel is only possible when reaching a certain speed, though they reach that speed through falling rather than through a DeLorean. There’s also a nice touch of how both Boris the Animal and J use time travel smartly and effectively. Many time travel movies involve people mistakenly travelling through time and end up having to fix the mistakes they caused. But here, both people using time travel manage to use it effectively and correctly. Boris initially succeeds in killing K and saving his arm, and J goes back a few days early to allow himself time to get situated.
One of the biggest problems of the last film was how all the characters and jokes from the first film were shoehorned into the second, making the jokes feel rehashed instead of revisited. Here, there are a lot more subtle references to the first film, like Frank the Pug who is merely referenced in a billboard when J first goes back in time, along with a few other nice easter eggs for those who pay attention to the film, or those who check out IMDB Trivia. There were also a few replacements, like Emma Thompson who replaces Rip Torn as the head of MIB in the present and has a fantastic introduction during Zed’s funeral where she goes into a wacky alien speech, but she remains perfectly deadpan through it all which is just perfect. There’s also a brief scene with Bill Hader playing undercover agent Andy Warhol that is a nice bit of fun playing with the ridiculousness of the pop art and fashion scene of the 60’s as well as today.
Aside from the comedy, what really helps sell this film is the main villain, Boris. He has such an interesting design with the greasy, long hair, the weird black goggles in his eyes, and the fingerlike appendages around those eyes and in his hands and feet. He also has the ability to shoot these deadly spines from his detachable and mobile appendage that generally resides in a cavity within his hand. I mentioned earlier that Jermaine Clement has a great voice reminiscent of many of Tim Curry’s earlier roles such as Darkness in Legend or Captain Hook/Long John Silver. His prison escape at the beginning is also a great moment showing his ruthlessness and ingenuity. It was a great time getting the chance to revisit this franchise, and the last entry in the series is as good, if not better than the first. The chemistry is there, the comedy is there, it looks amazing, and it has a nice bit of a touching moment at the end to wrap things up. Really a great experience. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.