MEN IN BLACK 3
Author: JoAnne Hyde
May 25, 2012

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SYNOPSIS: Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back...in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him -- secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind.

Those pesky aliens are at it again!

It’s been a while since Men in Black (1997) and Men in Black II (2002), but director Barry Sonnenfeld brings back alien fighters extraordinaire Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) and proves that he – and they – are up to the task of saving the world yet again. Men in Black 3 doesn’t have a serious bone in its body, and that’s all right with me! Along with a few familiar aliens, Sonnenfeld adds some new ones and some new and interesting characters. No need to worry much about the plot – it’s the special effects and humor you’ve come to see. You won’t be disappointed.

Jermaine Clement makes an amazing villain as the Bogladite, Boris the Animal. Boris carries a grudge against Agent K for shooting off his arm in 1969, capturing him, and sending him to a grim prison on the Moon for 40 years. Of course, he escapes and sets out to travel back in time to kill Agent K before these events, leaving him and his fellow Bogladites free to ravage and destroy Earth. Agent J learns of this plot when he arrives at work to find that he has a different partner. When he asks about Agent K, he is informed by the “boss”, Agent O (Emma Thompson), that Agent K was killed in 1969. Meanwhile, since there is no Agent K to provide the device that protected Earth from the Bogladites and caused their extinction (with the exception of Boris), Earth is about to be attacked by them. Agent O informs J of the existence of a top-secret time-travelling device, and he determines to go back in time, too, and prevent the young Agent K from being killed.

Now, the fun begins!

The real reason to see this film is James Brolin’s inspired performance as the young Agent K. Brolin does a dead-on Tommy Lee Jones so seriously that I sometimes forgot whom I was watching. In fact, I enjoyed his segments of the film much more than those with the real Tommy Lee Jones. He and Will Smith play well off one another, so the 40 – year time transition seems seamless. Agent J’s trip to 1969 provides a nostalgic look at that lost time and gives Bill Hader a chance to channel his SNL character Stephan when he plays Andy Warhol, who just happens to be an undercover MIB agent. Another big plus is Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, an alien who can view several alternate dimensions simultaneously and predict possible futures.

Men in Black 3 is so much better than the 2002 sequel. It restores some of the original light-heartedness, and the addition of Emma Thompson and Jermaine Clement cements the narrative. Emma Thompson makes an appropriately acerbic boss even when her soft side peeks through – soft on Agent K actually. Their little flirtation provides some endearing moments. Jermaine Clement provides the perfect heinous bad guy to oppose the heroes - after all, an action film is only as good as its villain. Men in Black 3 provides audiences with some excellent, escapist summer fun.

GRADE: A-

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