Back in ‘Black’

Will Smith returns to movies in ‘MiB3,’ 
plus ‘Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ ‘Battleship’

By Lori Hoffman

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 30, 2012

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A decade after the disappointing sequel Men in Black II, Will Smith — with a big assist from Josh Brolin and writer-director Barry Sonnenfeld — has delivered an enjoyable third film in the series.

MiB3 isn’t as good as the original, but it has a sufficient number of enjoyable moments and a delightful homage to Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K by Brolin (as the younger version of the gruff MiB agent), to qualify as a successful sequel.

In this time travel spin on the basic MiB premise, the latest badass extraterrestrial bad guy is Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement), who is still miffed at Agent K for slicing off his arm when he was captured in 1969. When Boris escapes from a maximum security prison on the moon, revenge is the only thing on his mind.

Boris uses time travel to throw the future of the planet in chaos in general, and Agent J’s life (Will Smith) in particular. Boris has killed Agent K in 1969 and the consequences are dire unless Agent J can go back in time and stop him.

The time travel premise is pretty standard sci-fi programming, but Brolin makes it work by channeling the spirit of Tommy Lee Jones as the younger Agent K. He is hilarious by being dead-on believable as the younger K, so all the banter between J and K we’ve loved in the past works in the era of free love and our nation’s first trip to the moon.

There is also a twist that adds a surprisingly emotional element to the J-K relationship, and enough new aliens to keep fans happy. And of course it should come as no surprise that Lady Gaga joins the parade of previous real-life figures (Elvis, Dennis Rodman) “outed” as extraterrestrials.

Smith has proven himself in the previous films, so it is Brolin who steals the show by giving us a new perspective on Agent K. There are also nice performances by Bill Hader as Andy Warhol (an MiB undercover agent who hates that people can’t see that his “art” is stupid) and Boardwalk Empire regular Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, an alien who can see all the possible roads the future can take.

Chalk up MiB3 as a solid sequel.

‘Exotic’ Counter Programming

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