Men In Black III (DVD review).

After an absence of several years, it’s a welcome return for the ‘Men In Black’, our old friends who keep the planet Earth safe from alien marauders. Their nonchalant style and witty repartee coupled with ingenious special effects made the first two movies a delight to watch and number three is no exception. Will Smith is as good as ever but don’t expect too much from Tommy Lee Jones because he has been replaced by a younger model, basically himself from 40 years ago. Yes, the K we see is the guy from 1969 played by James Brolin. How does this come about? Well, it’s as easy as falling off a tall building!

It all begins with Boris the Animal. The viewer must remember that this is an American movie and it’s got nothing to do with the mayor of a major city in England. Boris has been incarcerated on the Moon for 40 years, imprisoned by none other than Agent K. As you would guess, Boris is not very happy about this, especially as his left arm is missing, courtesy of K during the arrest, but even in the darkest circumstances, he summons forth an attractive young lady with a birthday cake concealing not a file but a nasty crab scorpion creature which has a predilection for shooting poison darts. Incidentally, the little beastie has a symbiotic relationship with Boris, living inside his right hand to appear at will in order to kill, making him not shakeable in any way. After getting out of prison and killing virtually everybody (it must be explained that he is a psychopathic maniac), Boris decides to get revenge on K and the only way forthcoming to this Hell’s angel on a bad day lookalike is to go back in time and dispose of K before he vaporises his arm and locks him up!

J is having a relaxing time but it wouldn’t last, because reality has changed, K has disappeared into oblivion. Going to headquarters, he discovers that his partner is just a distant memory and without the protective shield around the Earth which K had installed 40 years ago, the planet was being harassed by aliens. The logical conclusion was to go back in time and stop Boris before he killed K but this involved jumping off the Empire State Building. We then have an adventure in 1969, shortly before Apollo 11 was due to take off for the Moon and when J meets K, the latter is replaced by the actor James Brolin. So there we have it, paradoxical time travel adventure with a fight through the ages for the future of mankind.

Lots of great action in this movie and with plenty of interesting characters, amusing dialogue and racy sequences, it couldn’t be better family entertainment. Okay, so there are more holes in the plot than a piece of Swiss cheese but so what, it’s Science Fiction comedy and it doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. It doesn’t matter if there are impossible time paradox problems. Also, if Earth had plenty of aliens even back in 1969, why not get one of them to insert the shield into orbit rather than piggyback it on Apollo 11 and what about the astronauts? Wouldn’t they have seen a multitude of alien creatures on the trip to the moon?

One complaint would be that it didn’t exploit 1969 to its full potential. Although they were back in that period for a considerable part of the movie, very little was made of the difference in style and attitude between the two cultures. America has certainly changed since the Moon landings and more could have been made out of this. Apart from that, however, it’s a very successful movie with plenty to recommend it and maybe it was never meant to be an exercise in sociology.

The DVD contains some extra material, notably a sequence about making the movie, almost a prerequisite with any DVD release these days, plus the usual stuff about amusing retakes. ‘Men In Black III’ is a fantasy movie which shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s accomplished and reassuring in that the good guys always beat the bad guys and nobody could be more bad than Boris! Despite the fact that there were great performances from the major actors, Will Smith, especially, I think the character of Griffin played by Michael Stuhlbarg stole the show. An alien with a multi-dimensional brain, he was able to look into all possibilities and he definitely had the last word!

Rod MacDonald

November 2012


(Region 2 DVD: pub: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment B003P9WHZO. 1 DVD 105 minute film with extras. Price: £10.00 (UK))

cast: Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement and Rip Torn

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