If it's crap ... We'll tell you
For some, the summer blockbuster season didn't technically begin with The Avengers, it began with this film. There was certainly a lot of expectation for it, and a little hope that it would blot out the memory of the second instalment. However, there were many points being brought up too that threatened to derail it before it even released. Those I will delve into later, but for now, let's take a look at the film itself.
Will Smith returns as Agent J alongside Tommy-Lee Jones who plays his now ageing mentor, Agent K. They are tracking down an escaped alien criminal by the name of Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement), who now seeks revenge on K after he shot off Boris's arm before his arrest in 1969, and in the process saving the Earth from a massive alien attack. They escape, but Boris uses a time travelling device to return to the 60's and murder K, and thus erasing him from the present time.
Only J remembers the true timeline, but fails to convince anyone at MIB headquarters of this. However, after explaining the situation to the new head Agent O (Emma Thompson) she provides him a means to travel back in time as well, to save K from his assassination and stop Boris's plans. He enters 1969, where he finds a very different MID headquarters, and a very suspicious Agent K now in his younger and more laid back self. J must convince K to take him in, and together they have mere hours to put right all the wrongs caused by Boris the Animal. But J quickly finds out that the timeline can splinter into any manner of different forms, and his interaction could lead to total disaster.
Breaking this movie down, it has four major parts - the intro of Boris the Animal's escape, the present time, J's initial time in the past, and the lead to the final set-piece. And it is strange to see that everything that happens in the present didn't really work for me. The opening is terrible, just a compressed, flashy, and at times embarrassing piece where he is broken free by a woman we are never told about. The score is a sad representation of the original and pretty much all the jokes fall completely flat. None of the essence of a MIB film is captured, but thank Christ that this only lasts a few minutes.
To which we move on to the present time with K and J, with which the relationship between them feels very out of place. J still acts as the charismatic, young junior, but Will Smith is old enough to take the role of K now, so it's hard to perceive him as the character he is acting as. K remains pretty much the same as always, but there's not much meat to their conversations. The action sequence set in a Chinese restaurant does bring things back a little; the alien designs are as fun as before, ranging from the bizarre to the totally ludicrous. It's a fun little scene that has a little of the feel of the first movie, so points will be given there.
Once J enters the era of 1969 the tone shifts a little in the positive direction. The manner of the time travel itself is pretty damm cool, and something that feels original, it's a method we haven't seen before and is much more interesting than the usual blast of blue light. The young K (played by Josh Brolin) is a much more relaxed and "emotional" person, since the event surrounding Boris's capture changed his personality to the stern version we saw in the previous films. Sadly however, the movie doesn't make much use of the opportunities here, we never see them delving into their characters, or just having a scene to talk. There is one point where it almost happens, but it's a real disappointment when it just eddies out to nothing.
The movie does make far better use of the 60's setting than Dark Shadows. The cue-points are more fun and interesting, even though the two times it plays the racial card feel a little.... unnecessary. But sections such as in an Andy Warhol exhibition were really cool, as was seeing a few of the old devices MIB was using in that time period. We also see an alien called Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), who can see all the possible threads that the future timeline can, or may take. I liked this character, and he had a good set-piece in a baseball stadium, but sadly he is used only as a means to push the story forward. He just comes off as being under-used, and more like a solution that the script writers decided upon to get them out of a dead end.
And now, to bring up those "questions" I mentioned at the beginning, and they are what hurt this film quite a lot. The most prominent being that this sequel was never really asked for, and even if it was, it has arrived at least seven years too late. Will Smith can't be the relatable young Agent J anymore, so the interactions with the present-day K are very out of place. And you would think in all the years, the team would have plenty of cool ideas to pull off, but they are scattered throughout the two hours. There are jokes that do make you laugh, and some cool scenes as I mentioned before, but you have to wait a long time to get to them. Tommy Lee Jones kind of struggles through his parts, and once again, the villain has a very small motive for his actions, we learn next to nothing about his character and personality beyond "He's a bad guy". The ending itself is unfortunately, a sell-out for a sequel. It was an interesting twist, but not the right idea to go with, nor was it implemented particularly well either.
Personally, I found a lot of issues with MIB3, from the lack of development and character arcs, to some terrible acting by the likes of Agent O and the woman who breaks Boris free from Jail. And then there's the flat jokes and rather ragged story to consider. But, there were enough parts for me to enjoy to keep me in my seat, a smattering of fun jokes, and some reasonably good action sequences. It's a little frustrating, you would think that a simple little movie like the first one wouldn't be difficult to make in this day and age, but this can't hold a candle to the original.
However, it wasn't all bad, and still showed the faded images of its inspiration behind it. I'll give this a High Rental (6/10; I think you will find enough fun in here to enjoy it, but maybe not enough to invest the €10 to see it at the cinema. However, maybe the fans of the series will see more in it, so I will leave it up to you to decide.
Thanks for reading! ^__^