Men in Black III is following the current trend of reviving everything under the sun, picking up the franchise ten years after we last saw the agents in suits and sunglasses. The good news: it’s better than the second film, even though it’s nowhere near as good as the first. The bad news: Pitbull does the soundtrack.
Agent J (Will Smith) must travel back in time to the swinging 60s to save his partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) from being killed by a vengeful alien who K imprisoned 40 years ago.
“I’m getting too old for this,” says Smith after being part-swallowed by a gigantic alien fish. You’re not wrong there, Big Willie. The plot, actors and special effects seem tired and out-dated, spiced up with a smattering of strong swear words to terrify the parents who’ve brought their children to see a PG film.
Boris the Animal (played by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement) is the heavily relied upon ‘baddie’, whose trademark is a spider which lives inside the palm of his hand. He’s not menacing enough to give little ones nightmares, but he’s no walk in the park either – imagine a creepy spider pirate with doll-like glass eyes and Nicole Scherzinger as a girlfriend, and you’ve pretty much got the picture.
The film’s saving grace, and the main difference from the lack-lustre Men in Black II, is the adult humour. The producers are aware that we as an audience have grown up with these films, and so reward us with several genuinely funny references: Andy Warhol is actually a Man in Black charged with keeping an eye on the supermodels of the time, who are mostly aliens (Smith: “I found that one out the hard way, let me tell you…”), Mick Jagger is an extra-terrestrial sent here to impregnate Earthlings, and the producers’ play on racial stereotyping (including Agent J getting pulled over for driving a nice car: “Just because a dude is black and wearing a suit does not mean he’s stolen the car he’s driving. Except I did steal this one.”)
Tommy Lee Jones essentially holds a cameo role in this film, as the majority of Agent K’s scenes are played by Josh Brolin as the 1969 version of the Man in Black. Brolin plays the role incredibly well: part impersonation, part improvisation, we get to see the K we recognise, but with considerably more spark and personality: a moving twist at the end of the film explains the emotional void for which the character has become so well known.
Men in Black III is a surprisingly entertaining film, even if the concept is becoming rapidly outdated – but we’ll no doubt be rushing back to the cinemas when the next instalment inevitably gets released.