Published May 24, 2012Who wants a big, fat paycheque? All the primary players in this desultory franchise extension, would be my guess. What other motivating factors could entice Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Barry Sonnenfeld to participate in such a mediocre retreading of a once novel idea ten years after the last instalment?
Nothing of import has changed this time out for the black suited agents monitoring alien activity on planet Earth; it's just gotten staler. There's a more structured plot driving the broadly comedic scenarios in MIB III than there was in the widely panned sequel, but it actually gets in the way of some of the fun, requiring actions and dialogues that exist solely to advance a pretty pointless story instead of revelling in random weirdness and Rick Baker's wild creature designs.
Opening on a close shot of a wobbling cake and Nicole Scherzinger's cleavage, Sonnenfeld's boyish urges are satisfied right away. The sexual humour barely survives the first scene, though one character does have a vagina dentata palm. After the chesty cake bringer busts intergalactic menace Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement, Gentlemen Broncos) out of prison and he travels back in time to stop Agent K from incarcerating him, thus enabling the destruction of humanity, the film relies on cheap race jokes, period gags (because apparently, the mere sight of hippies is enough for a laugh) and the idea that graphically beating and dismembering other species is hilarious. They look different, bleed green goo and often bounce back from a good bludgeoning, so Saving Private Ryan level gore is totally PG-13 as long as it's not happening to a human.
Agent J follows Boris into the past to prevent him from stopping K, using a time travel mechanism that frustratingly ignores its own logic, presumably because Sonnenfeld had a yen to include a dinosaur shot. As young Agent K, Josh Brolin does a great job of adopting Tommy Lee Jones's mirthless mannerisms, but it's hardly enough to hang an entire picture on. Minor appearances by Will Arnett and Bill Hader are mostly squandered, though the assertion that Andy Warhol was a creatively bankrupt undercover MIB agent is as funny as the film gets.
There's nothing remarkable about the movie, good or bad, other than a troubling lack of consistency with little things like physics and whether a creature is alive or dead from one scene to the next. Danny Elfman's score doesn't stand out this time, and Will Smith didn't even trouble himself with an obligatory theme song.
Add 3D conversion as bland and unnecessary as it comes and what you're left with is a cash grab so blatant it would be kinder to just neuralize audiences, roll them for their wallets and tell them they saw something worthwhile, like a second viewing of The Avengers instead. (Sony)