Monday, October 01, 2012

Men In Black 3

hi there

well, what better way to return from a bit of an accidental break in updates than to give you a review of a film from 4 or so months ago? in fairness the DVD has only been released. in further fairness i only watched it on Sunday, too, after James insisted that i do.

i suspect this film might have slipped under the radar for a few, however. in respect of the target market for a film like Men In Black 3 there's been nothing but massive, massive films this year -  Spiderman, Avengers and of course The Dark Knight Rises off the top of my head, not forgetting the somewhat forgettable Prometheus too. it's worth giving a shout out to it, then, for it is not that bad at all, at least in respect of its limited aims.

to say that a film with a budget somewhere north of US$200 million has "small" aims and intends to just be 90 minutes of fun feels quite strange, but that's the basics of this. i'm not sure that speaks so much of a lack of ambition as it does the wish of all involved to simply be entertaining, which to a large extent they are.

whereas there will not be much in the way of a lavish plot description as such, you should note that slight, minor *** SPOILERS *** could well feature after the movie poster. for those wishing for a short and sharp verdict, this short and sharp film is a lot of fun with many flaws and is essential viewing for those who remember the first two films fondly.

i am not sure how much effort to put into the plot description, for very little was given to it by those who made the film. seriously - the script was being written as they filmed. the jist would be some alien that does not like to be called an animal busts out of prison and finds a way to travel back in time to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) before he arrests him. Agent J (Will 'getting jiggy with it' Smith) promptly heads back in time to try and stop him. there he has to partner up with the younger version of Agent K, played by Josh Brolin.

to quasi-quote the great Steve Coogan in the guise of Paul Calf, the rest, like watching Sharon Stone bend over to pick up a 50p coin you have glued to the floor, is predicatble but enjoyable. let us then, like that description tacitly suggets, move on to the good and the bad of the film. starting with, for no good reason, the bad. 

director Barry Sonnefeld is admired and notorious for not wishing to make a film that exceeds 90 minutes. he believes all you need to say in a film should be within an hour and a half. that kind of worked really, really well for the first two films, but fails a touch here. 

it doesn't fail, oddly, due to the lacking plot, for one accepts that the half decent story is just an excuse for some fun with a film. where it fails is with regards to the casting, with various actors, actresses and their respective characters not being called Will Smith getting a poor deal. 

at the top of that list, by some distance, is the sadly seldom seen these days Emma Thompson.

when the original boss of the Men In Black, the excellent and impressive Rip Torn, was arrested in most excellent and impressive circumstances, it was obvious that Agent Z was not to be in the next film. a lot of fuss and fanfare was made over the ex-Mrs Kenneth Brannagh being cast as the new boss, Agent O. considering that she has little screen time and does less with it, i am scratching my head as to why there was such a fuss.

in fact, i suspect that her "younger version", played by an actress whose name escapes me, gets more screen time in the end. here is the younger version, stood next to another wasted piece of casting and character.

yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is David Rasche. the David Rasche. it is Sledge Hammer! given back to us fans. for a few seconds, sadly. they are not even intelligent enough to cast him as the young Agent Z here, instead calling him "Agent X". would it have been too much to ask for them to call him "Agent Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing"?

neither of the above, however, represent the biggest waste of casting. that honour falls to, alarmingly enough, Tommy Lee Jones.

Will Smith is cool and fun and all that, but come on - Tommy Lee Jones' deadpan humour and delivery are the magic that makes the Men In Black and many other films work. one gets the sense that Tommy Lee said "OK, i will do the film, but i will work on it for precisely 3 days" or something.

Josh Brolin does an OK job attempting to impersonate Tommy Lee Jones, but it's not quite Tommy Lee Jones. this is the same problem that befell that Brandon lad on Superman Returns - he was clearly instructed to simply mimic Christopher Reeve as much as possible and the film suffered as a consequence.

what Superman Returns lacked, though, was a second strong lead to carry the film (Kevin Spacey was awful in it). Men In Black 3 has this in some abundance, however, in the form of Will Smith. he in effect has to carry the film towards some kind of credibility, and this he does with ease.

if Will Smith is one of the better elements of the film, then there are others too. a great and confusing thing, though, is the constant referencing of Frank The Talking Plug from one of the other two films.

for a start, Agent J has a massive portrait of him above his bed.....

....and back in 1969, there he is on a billboard!

whereas those two "easter eggs" are nice moments for the fans, i cannot but help wonder if it would not have been easier just to shove Frank The Plug in the film somewhere, instead of the references?

a very nice touch indeed for me was the outright tribute to the excellent, sadly canned series FlashForward that large chunks of the film became. it's like the writer said "FlashForward was class and should never have been cancelled, i am going to load the film with references to it". this is done via a character called Griffin, who if you touch will show you a possible future.

the single best referencing of FlashForward is the scene at an empty baseball ground, where J and Young K get to watch a possible match if they touch Griffin. during this scene, Griffin hands them something vital to the security of the Earth via a box of popcorn.......

.......rather like how in FlashForward that nutter Simon goes to a baseball game and gets given a vital device in a box of popcorn. all the film needed was Joseph Fiennes to run around, shout and shoot wildly and then a most awesome tribute would have been complete!

despite any negative whines / comments above, the film oddly really, really works and proves to be simply ridiculous fun. i would, as was the case with the other two, very happily watch this film a few more times, and certainly get my coin value out of the DVD i bought.

the last time we had such a lengthy gap between the second and third installments of a film series / trilogy it led to The Godfather Part III, a film so bad and insulting to the originals that everyone involved, in my modest opinion, should have been put up in a fabulous public show trial, found guilty as war criminals and been convicted as such. thankfully no such image or reputation is tarnished or insulted here. it slots in very nicely with the other two indeed and, since this one seems to have tripled their investment on it whilst having clearly huge fun making it, a fourth film would be most welcome.

if you've been avoiding Men In Black III due to a fear of disappointment or simply via forgetting that it got released this year, well then i hope that these comments have removed the fear or otherwise has reminded you that the film exists and is worth picking up.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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