Four stars. Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action violence and some disgustingly unpleasant monsters
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 5.25.12
Ten years may have passed, but nothing has changed: same gonzo hardware; same outrageous — and dangerous — aliens; same giddy Danny Elfman score; same stoic, sourpuss expression on Tommy Lee Jones’ face.
Come to think of it, Jones hasn’t changed a jot in a decade. Perhaps he’s actually an alien in disguise?
Men in Black III is a hoot ’n’ a holler, and a welcome return to form after this series’ somewhat disappointing sophomore installment, back in 2002. And while it’s still not possible to recapture the 1997 original’s gleefully warped freshness, this third entry’s writers — Etan Cohen, David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson and Michael Soccio — have done a nifty job with an ingenious premise that stimulates plenty of snarky one-liners.
On top of which, Will Smith’s comic timing remains every bit as reliably droll as Jones’ slow, impassive takes.
The narrative kicks off with a slick jailbreak engineered by Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement), a truly nasty baddie with a morphology that gets ickier as the film proceeds. Boris — a Boglodite who gets enraged when people add “The Animal” to his name — has been incarcerated on the Moon for the past 40-plus years, where Agent K (Jones) put him after a particularly nasty skirmish at Cape Canaveral, back on July 16, 1969.
If you don’t immediately register the significance of that date, surrender your geek cred card at the door.
With Boris seeking vengeance, Agent J (Smith) tries to pull the file on that old MIB case. Unfortunately, he finds the information restricted: rather mysterious, given his usual security clearance. Attempts to gain access get him nowhere; the new head of MIB, Agent O (Emma Thompson), leaves him with an enigmatic warning: “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.”
Funny thing, J reflects; that’s precisely what K has said, on numerous occasions.
(Thompson’s Agent O has taken over for Rip Torn’s Agent Zed, from the previous two films. For some reason, Torn opted out of this installment.)