Reviews: Men In Black
Men in Black 3: Entertaining But Flawed
Overall, I enjoyed Men In Black 3, but it was still a disappointment on some levels, and aspects of it left a bad taste in my mouth. SPOILER WARNING: I'll be discussing the entire plot, including the ending. The Good:
- So Agent K is "getting too old for this", and so is the 65-year old Tommy Lee Jones. The solution? Create a Time Travel plot that requires K's younger self (Josh Brolin) to take center stage. Simple, clever and elegant. If the franchise continues, I'm sure the writers will eventually bring Brolin back.
- Jones, Will Smith and Josh Brolin all played their parts well. In particular, Brolin's impersonation of Jones was astonishing.
- Griffin is a very likable addition to the series, thanks to Michael Stuhlbarg's charming performance.
- Even though I guessed "The Colonel"'s true identity early on, his storyline was still heartwarming.
- When J is the only one who remembers Agent K, the You Have To Believe Me cliche is largely avoided, as Agent O figures out what's going on quickly.
- The revelation about Andy Warhol was kind of cute.
- Boris doesn't get the necessary Character Development to make him a truly memorable villain (I speculate why below), and his Catch Phrase quickly becomes annoying. However, I liked the confrontation between his past and present selves.
- The Smurfette Principle strikes again. Is O MIB's only female agent?
- I like works where the heroes believe Thou Shalt Not Kill, or at least use deadly force only as a last resort. However, in MIB 3 the plot is crafted to make killing Boris the heroes' only realistic choice, and no one has a problem with it. (This may be why Boris isn't fully developed—the story depends on him being little more than a rabid dog who needs to be put down.)
- Even worse, no one has a problem with entire Boglodite species dying off (for reasons that are never adequately explained). The film's morality is that they're Always Chaotic Evil, so good riddance. (I thought the secret K was hiding was his guilt over helping to destroy the Boglodites, which J's intervention would have allowed him to make up for. I wish the film had done more with this.)
Men In Black 2: Ever After
This isn't a bad film, it's not as good as the first by any means but it's not without charm and there is a lot of the same goofy fun there to be had. There are worse ways to kill a few hours. It is a little strange though (and yes I'm saying this about a film with a Ballchinian). Questions are asked at the start. Will Smith is lonely at the top, he can't trust anyone and won't find himself a partner, he's doing it but no-one knows who he is and it's getting to him. He meets a girl whose mind he doesn't wipe and we know it's going to be love. Then his former mentor is brought back and the situation gets worse, Smith has gotten used to being the best and being in charge and is finding it hard to get along with his old partner. They're all the standard sort of flaws that any screenwriter would be introduced to and his first day at class and there's nothing wrong with them. But then they don't go anywhere. Smith just sinks back into his role as the inexperienced youngling with his superior mentor. He still hasn't learnt how to trust people, or found a new partner or gotten used to being lonely. Spoiler here * . At the end of the film the beginning has been forgotten and so has the end of the last film too, it ends right back at the start. It doesn't actually make the film worse. None of it was surprising and the resolutions were expected as much as the two people who hate each other getting together at the end of the rom-com. If they'd followed through we'd have just nodded at a plain job done to the standards we expect. So the film wasn't ruined by not answering those questions. But they didn't do it deliberately either to subvert our expectations. It just felt like they were the remnants of an earlier draft and as the film got to the end they were just left to one side. It didn't end Happily Ever After or Miserably Ever After. It was merely Ever After