!!Jada Pinkett Smith Finally Let Will Out Da House (My Review Of MIB 3)!!

My Delorean, strangely ended up in 1997!?!

Now, newly fresh and spoiler free!!

This is a momentous occasion. What you are about to read will be my first "written" movie review, ever! I feel oddly proud that I will be able to take the passion that I have for the great pastime of cinema and share my thoughts and feelings about it with all of you. More than likely, you (the reader) will not always agree with my humble observations. This is the way it should be (the way it was meant to be) and certainly the intention of those creative minds behind films as a whole. I have always said that if you feel something while you watch a movie, whether that is happiness, sadness, laughter, hate, love, suspense, fear, or anticipation, then the film makers did exactly what they intended to do. If you felt nothing (hard to believe, even if it was hate for everything about a film) then someone failed in the mandate of movies to immerse you in a different world (or you just have problems that you might want to see a specialist about). I don't think I have ever not felt anything when it comes to film. I am of the mind that even the worst films can have redeeming qualities (even if you have to make those qualities up on your own, ah la MST3K style. I'm looking at you "Manos: The Hands of Fate!").  My love of movies outweighs any flaws that I might find in a film. Does that mean that every movie I see is great and above criticism? Absolutely not, I may really like a movie but dislike some aspect of it. Case  in point, I love the Star Wars Prequels but I think that some of the dialog in some scenes (some would say most, not I) borders on the ridiculous. Like Harrison Ford said, "George can write this $***, you just can't say it." So my goal is to try to provide you with my honest opinion and maybe entertain you a little, so you can make up your own mind to go see a movie or not (so I basically do very little). So now you have a little background into my thought process let's get to the review (it's about time, gosh this guy is long winded).

I got to see (finally) "Men In Black 3" this weekend and the first thing that entered my mind when the movie ended was, "How did I end up in 1997?" Seriously, I felt like I had just seen the first "Men In Black" movie again. That's not to say that MIB 3 is exactly like the first one. What I mean is that I got the same feeling of fun and happiness that I felt the first time around. In my book, the first MIB is a classic. Will Smith can make a summer popcorn flick and we, as an audience, tend to follow the man on whatever adventure he has in store (he is a very likable guy). He is still the same guy from all those other movies, but here he seems more comfortable and laid back in his delivery. MIB has always been a two man show and Smith plays well with others. The buddy formula of the first movie really set it apart from the standard sci fi "one man against a overwhelming force" thing. These guys (the Men in Black) were proactive to the threats they faced, always on offense never in defensive mode. You put a dynamic actor, like Smith, with the stoic straight man (the masterful Tommy Lee Jones) and you can only have two outcomes. First, it could fail miserably and feel unnatural in its execution. Second, it could work like a charm and be one of the great comedy teams on film. Well, it worked in the first two MIBs, and I'm happy to say that it works for the third. It felt great to see these two actors playing off one another and in MIB 3 there is the added layer of many years spent together between Jay and Kay that really comes across in their shared performance.

MIB 3 has the standard "bad guy has grudge, bad guy escapes to exact revenge, bad guy goes after our heroes, bad guy has an elaborate plan to accomplish this, and then fun ensues". But this film has the added bonus of having actors that understand how to play off each other and a director who can handle both action and comedy. There were many reports from the set that talked about the unfinished state of the script when filming began. There was a break halfway through the production in order to finish the script. This would seem to indicate that there were major problems during filming. I am happy to report that the rumors of doom and gloom were greatly exaggerated (thank you Mark Twain for the quote).  This feels like a well thought out concept and the execution is handled well. This brings me to the time travel aspect.
As you may or may not know, Josh is a huge "Back to the Future" fan (I think he has a man crush on Doc Brown). He loves, as you would think, all things related to time travel (he can't actually go back in time, but he has tried) so he would be right at home with this movie. The creative forces behind MIB 3 handle the time travel aspect with all the well planned forethought of a bunch of the theoretical physicists on a marijuana bender. I can just imagine these guys sitting in a room, hitting the bong, and planning every possible outcome of everyone's story depending on the changes that Will Smith's Jay makes when he goes back to the past. The bulk of this planning shows up in the character of Griffin, played to the fullest by Michael Stuhlbarg. The multiple futures, seen by Griffin and then articulated by Stuhlbarg to the audience, had to have a planning session all to themselves (do you just use a whiteboard or is there an app for that?).  Griffin is a great character and Stuhlbarg is great in this movie. The time travel in MIB 3 works and does so well. It can be easy for a film maker to paint his or herself into a corner with this plot device, but it never feels like that happens here. It all seems natural and not overly complicated where it would be easy to lose the audience.

Can I just say (because I'm going to anyway), that Rick Baker is a master. The man is a national treasure and the world of film is better because of his work. From Star Wars right up to this movie, he has always delivered some of the best makeup effects ever seen on celluloid (and digital too). Even in movies that were panned by critics, Mr. Baker's designs and executions have never been in question. It is no different here. The  Contrast between the aliens of today as opposed to the aliens of yesteryear is breathtaking to behold. Mr. Baker has won his share of Oscars, but the current trend of giving the award to those who do minimal facial work, while certainly not to be discounted because it does take skill to do that aspect too,  is a disservice to the incredible work that he brings to every film he works on. I'm not saying that he should be an automatic win at the Academy Awards (yes I am) but let's be truthful the man is the pinnacle of physical makeup effects (holy cow, this guy's a fanboy and have you noticed how he talks in third person sometimes? That's just weird...  wait, what?).
The bad guy in MIB 3 reminded me a lot of that character in the first film (played by Vincent D'Onofrio). Here he's played by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame (also those funny Outback commercials from not so long ago). If you don't know who that is stop reading right now, go to youtube (look, I gave you a link), and search for the Hiphopapotamus vs. the Rhymenocerous, and then come back...  go ahead I'll wait.
Back? Good, let's move on.

Here Clement is in another zone entirely. Gone is the affable weirdness he shows in his comedy acts and in its place we have this evil creature bent on the destruction of Agent Kay. If I hadn't known going in that it was him and couldn't place his voice (which at times is highly masked behind voice modulation) it would have floored me to find out who was playing the character of Boris the Animal (don't call him the Animal). If Clement is this versatile an actor, hey Hollywood sign this man up for as many roles as possible.
Which brings me to the pièce de résistance (oh sorry, I used French there. That was uncalled for), Josh Brolin. Josh Brolin is a god (not "the God", but a god) and he proves that here, for like the hundredth time. Why does someone not cryogenically freeze Josh Brolin's sperm, then impregnate as many women as they can find (willing of course) so that those mini Josh Brolins can grow into big Josh Brolins and then we can enjoy his acting for decades to come? WHY?!? Sorry, got a little carried away there. But like I was saying, Josh Brolin is fantastic in MIB 3. He is not just doing an impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones he literally becomes Agent Kay as a younger man. He had me convinced that they were the same person just separated by many years. It's not too over the top and it's not too understated, it's just right. Only an actor of Josh Brolin's talent could pull this off and he does so in spades. If for nothing else, see this movie for Josh Brolin alone.

This movie only works if everyone from the original productions are back. Thankfully they are. From Steven Spielberg as executive producer (a role that no one really acknowledges him for) to the director Barry Sonnenfeld, this movie is dead in the water without their guiding force. It is also nice to see Danny Elfman back to do the score. I don't always like everything that he does (too repetitive), but without his music it wouldn't have felt like Men In Black. Everyone put in a top notch effort and it shows on the screen. Thank you very much.

From the return of action stars like Stallone and Schwarzenegger to the journey of Ridley Scott back to the world of "Alien" in "Prometheus", I can't help but feel like that young man who could not wait to get into a theater to see the latest blockbuster. Men In Black 3 is just another welcome return to a beloved and familiar series. It adds a layer of understanding to these characters and their world that takes me right back to the happiness It felt like seeing Men In Black (the original) for the first time. It also adds a wonderful bit of heart to the relationship between Jay and Kay that I was not expecting (and I always like surprises). As much as I liked The Avengers, I had just as much fun watching MIB 3. I could not recommend this movie more. Quit reading my silly comments and go see MIB 3 now. What are you waiting for? Huey Lewis to sing you a song?

Todd (just bounce with me) B.

For the record, My infant daughter thought it was "just alright, nothing special." Can't win'em all I guess!?!