Men in Black III

Men in Black III

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Michael Stahlburg

Running time: 114 Minutes,2012

Men in Black III, was a welcome surprise and might even go down as my favourite film of Blockbuster season. I was not expecting much from this at all. I thought the first film was amusing but average and the second film was a soulless CGI fest that seemed more interested in a talking dog than the characters. Acknowledging the break in filming, an out of control budget and script rewrites, one could be forgiven for expecting another studio “Gotta keep the franchise rights” cash grab. Despite everything against this film, Barry Sonnenfeld and his crew have moved beyond the gimmick of Men in Black to make a great summer film that feels like real film with a brisk pace, great characters and one of Will Smith’s more mature performances in recent memory.

 Not only did they move away from the gimmickry of the first two films by having no fully CGI characters or pointless cameos, they actually gave us character development. Outside of full frontal nudity and gratuitous swearing, character development was pretty much the last thing I would expect from a Men in Black film, or any film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Barry Sonnenfeld is one of the finest Cinematographers working today. As a director he generally seemed more interested in the aesthetics than character. This is what makes him such a great cinematographer but a flawed director. In Men in Black 2 it was only about getting to the next sequence and seeing what funny stuff the dog can do. With Men in Black 3, he stepped up to the plate to deliver one of the better character driven blockbusters so far this year and has developed his craft as a director and storyteller considerably since the first film in the series.   Not only were the characters great but every character in this film was integral to the story.

 If this was not enough to actually get characters in a Men in Black film, we also get an amazing performance out of Will Smith where he finally gets to move beyond the wise cracking that defined the character in previous entries. A good example of the power of Will Smith’s craft is that his finest moments come in the smallest of moments. Such as the scene where he talks to Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) on the phone and just cannot connect to his emotionally distant partner. It may not sound much on paper but the emotional weight of Will Smith’s performance becomes a driving force of the film. There are several moments in the film such as this. It is these moments that hold the film together. Because of these moments it never feels like we are being assaulted by gratuitous CGI money shots. A good example would be the sensory raping delivered by Green Lantern last year. 

The one gripe I think some people may have is that Agent J’s (Will Smith) connection to the past is obvious pretty early in the film. Some may disagree but I don’t think they were going for a twist. This subplot provides an emotional investment in Agent J’s journey and once you see the film you will understand how these characters have come full circle and how strong the unspoken bond is between Agent’s J and K.

I would recommend this film to anyone who feels jaded by the last few years of emotionally vacuous blockbusters such as Transformers and Dark Shadows that are little more than very expensive pacifiers of your time.  This film is in my opinion a very welcome and entertaining surprise that not only never feels gimmicky but has genuine emotional moments without being too sentimental or overtly obvious.

About Soylent GreenScreen Podcast

Australian podcaster, writer, teacher and film reviewer.

Posted on May 28, 2012, in Film Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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