Previously Published on Yell!
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Well, it’s been 14 years since Men in Black hit made its way to theaters and wowed audiences with snappy writing, fantastic effects, and a buddy-cop pairing that was actually a pretty damn good idea. The experience left us with a vague feeling of whimsy, wonder, and the absurdity of an intergalactic peace-keeping group, that’s gotta deal with talking pugs and giant beetles in “Edgar Suits.”
Now, MIB III’s finally rolled around, and at best, highlights the fact that we’re all a decade and a half older. It feels dated, perfunctory, and is pretty much the definition of a movie that exists solely to be rented.
Or observed upon over Netflix. Whichever.
Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) has finally been freed from space prison, and proceeds to kill as many extras and unnamed secondary characters as possible to prove just how eeevil he is. His next move? Travel backward through time and kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) for shooting off of his arm and incarcerating him on the moon. Once Agent J (Will Smith) gets wind of this (after getting caught in a temporal rift or something like that) he decides that he doesn’t like that kind of thing, and sets off to the faraway land of 1969 to do battle once again, and save the universe – for rizzy.
As you can tell by the light and fluffy synopsis just delivered, MIB III grounds itself from the start as a flick that’s simply meant to be an exercise in distraction and explosion-induced entertainment. It boasts a fair amount of comedy, mostly stemming from a certain alternate universe-perceiving side character, as well as the very aspect of the convolution of time travel itself, but still, somehow, something about MIB III feels like it’s too little, too late.
What we’re working with here, is something of a recycled version of the last film – which itself was something of a recycled version of the film before it. Agent J moves from place to place on the trail of Evil Alien Number X, interrogates other aliens with hilariously dysfunctional physiologies (like that guy with balls on his chin) and then has a showdown wherein he faces off against said antagonist, who’ll probably transform into something bigger before exploding into a mass of translucent goo.
The exception here being that this freak doesn’t even get to transform.
And by God, it worked very well, the first time around. The dialogue was sharp, witty, and laid emphasis on the obscure mundanity of the men in black themselves. Will Smith’s hip-hop flava (flav) was contrasted against the straight-edge, tie-sporting organization he fights for, and in the end, it was something new.
The third time around, most of the wit and charm is completely gone, and anything that fueled that feeling of novelty is missing entirely. MIB III feels routine. It feels forced. It feels like it was written by a 16 year-old who read a pamphlet on black-American culture.
That seems to be the main problem with trying to do in 2012 what worked very well in the ’90s. The main source of humor – 90% of the jokes – come from Will Smith doing (for lack of a better word) black guy stuff to inhabitants of the late ’60s. Thing is, American culture has kind of cross-pollinated with itself so much, that this kind of depiction of the “Average Hip Black American Gentleman” doesn’t really fly anymore.
Find out what NoFaceNorm really thinks of MIB III after the jump…
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