Romy Shiller

Men in Black III: Or, Now you see me, Now you don’t

In Film, review on June 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

Have you ever wondered how nostalgia isn’t what it used to be?


 Jasper Fforde

Background: Agent J travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Writers: Lowell Cunningham, Etan Cohen

Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin

I saw Men in Black III. It was entertaining, well paced and fun. It is not a classic but an okay way to spend movie fare. There was a problem with certain shots – I’ll get into it later but on the whole the editing was good and so was the acting. I am pre-disposed to liking time-travel themes and this one came with good historical detail. The sixties segment allows for some mildly clever jokes – about race relations and pop culture, among other things – and includes an impressive recreation of the launch of the Apollo 11 moonshot.

Fifteen years after “Men in Black” and 10 years after ‘Men in Black II,’ Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as alien-managing Agents J and K, respectively, in ‘Men in Black III’. Agent J discovers that both his partner’s life and the fate of Earth are at stake when Boris the Animal escapes imprisonment and messes with history, so J travels back in time to 1969 to help a young K (Josh Brolin) stop Boris before they are trapped in the past forever.

Agent J goes back in time to when his partner, Agent K arrested Boris ‘the animal’ at Cape Canaveral in 1969. Boris is evil and has it in for ‘K’ who had shot off his arm. Boris goes back in time and a new sequence of events leads to an Alien invasion. So J has multiple agendas. J wants to rescue K and prevent the new Alien invasion. A sub-plot is discovering the past relationship between Agents ‘O’ and ‘K. ‘O’ is the new boss (contemporary) played by Emma Thompson.

The director was concerned about the story-line. Barry Sonnenfeld said, All these movies are hard. This one was harder than a lot of them because there was a lot of pressure; just pressure because we’re reinventing a franchise. We’re doing time travel. What if we screw up and Josh Brolin is no good and the audience hates us for breaking up a fantastic iconic duo, which is Tommy and Will. That was like Will Smith and my single biggest concern.

I enjoyed seeing younger versions of ‘O’ and ‘K.’

Like in X-Men: First Class, there is something satisfying about peeking into the origins of characters. Also, observing the fashion and some ideologies of a different era is so interesting because so much has changed. Unlike a history book, time becomes animated.

It is very cool to see the pop culture of another era  [Warhol], the fashion [long hair], aesthetic [furniture, cars, ambiance…] and problematic race-relations [profiling]. Amidst a sci-fi story there’s a history lesson, and while it’s too violent for kids, I think that many adults will get something out of it. The film goes beyond a sci-fi story in fun historical accuracy.

The story evoked other films, the relationship between J and K and why K has a hard demeanour. The idea of ‘possible realities’ is truly based on a Quantum Physics concept.  So even though the story is fiction, much is based in truth

Smith says, What I love about science fiction, like I Am Legend, is that you can sit a serious idea at the center and have this blockbuster wrapping. That’s my flavor. With ‘Men in Black III,’ we connected to the destructive nature of secrets and how a relationship can get repaired and go to another level by exposing that secret.

The problem with certain films that are available in 3D is that certain shots are manipulated to create an effect and, for me, it is obvious and detracts from the film. In this film, which I saw in 2D, I knew which shots would be used in 3D and instead of focusing on the story; my attention was centred on the shot. So, an unintentional problem occurred because of a 3D agenda.

CJ Johnson of ABC Radio (Australia) says, Director Barry Sonnenfeld was the cinematographer on Misery, Raising Arizona and Blood Simple – and there is no doubt he has a signature, comedic camera style that works for his material.  It really wasn’t bad. Huh.

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