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Men in Black 3
Genre Sci-Fi
 
Review:

A byproduct of '90s pop culture is the Men in Black, a fun, tongue-in-cheek science fiction comedy about aliens starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. After earning his action man badge for Bad Boys and Independence Day, Will Smith further distinguished himself from his persona as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with the character of Jay. Five years later, a forgettable Men in Black II retread emerged, which seemed to bring the series to a grinding halt. However, the stars lined up as a lack of fresh Hollywood ideas, a burst of '90s nostalgia and renewed alien infatuation courtesy of Steven Spielberg set Men in Black 3 in motion for 2012.

A decade seems to have been enough time for Men in Black and Men in Black II to have blended into a distant yet somewhat positive bubble of aliens, memory erasing agents and cartoon style action-comedy with Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. Well... it may not have been heralded, but like it or not Men in Black 3 is back with director Barry Sonnenfeld and co-leads Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

What's the easiest way to progress when you come to a dead-end? Go back in time. The franchise has managed to generate enough intrigue by taking present day agents J and K back to the future. After Boris the Animal escapes a maximum security prison, J is forced to go back in time to stop Boris from settling a score with a young K and prevent the psychotic alien from rewriting history.

Will Smith's last movie appearance was Seven Pounds in 2008. However, his return to acting in Men in Black 3 seems premature or rusty even. Smith reprises his character, but The Fresh Prince doesn't seem all that fresh. For professional or possibly personal reasons, the actor doesn't have the same wink-wink charisma, confidence or sparkle that has become something of a trademark and this distances his performance and diminishes the fun tone associated with the Men in Black.

Jemaine Clement steals the show once again. The Flight of the Conchords actor is quickly becoming a secret weapon for film-makers with his array of wacky, over-the-top and funny characters. A bizarre and intimidating one-armed villain, Boris the Animal is one of Men in Black 3's most redeeming features. The CGI and make up add an extra layer of appeal, but Jemaine Clement's larger-than-life attitude injects a serious dose of hilarity into a villain who could very well have his own spin-off film.

Josh Brolin has been brought in to alleviate a tired-looking Tommy Lee Jones, whose role has been reduced to a minor supporting actor. Brolin's performance is commendable, taking the guise of Tommy Lee Jones in terms of deadpan expressions, mannerisms and even accent. He's done a superb job remodeling the Hollywood veteran, although doesn't command the same presence or chemistry with Smith.

Emma Thompson is thrown into the mix as Agent O to replace the late Rip Torn in a sort of "let's get Dame Judi Dench to play M in James Bond" type of role. Her name brings serious credibility, but her glorified cameo performance and involvement are reduced to a couple of jokes with Alice Eve filling in as a younger O and vague romantic interest for K.

The visual effects are in keeping with the franchise, which has become known for its special effects wizardry from its 1997 origins. The big difference is the scale of the effects, taking the production values to another level with a multi-dimensional and epic backdrop. Men in Black 3 isn't short on eye candy or staggered in the pacing department and ensures its status as a popcorn blockbuster.

The only detractors are in the chemistry of the ensemble and the movie's overall tone. Will Smith's numb lead performance deadens the production's vitality as a whole and the script is fun, but seems to be taking itself a little too seriously compared with previous installments. As such, Men in Black 3 leans a little too heavily on its special effects to create spark, something that seems to be missing from several key performances. So all in all, Men in Black 3 slots in-between its predecessors - not as fun as the original and not as haphazard as the sequel with 3D technology as a further justification for its existence.

The bottom line: Entertaining

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