No one was really clamoring for a third Men In Black movie. But a semi-clever time-travel story hook, an abnormally entertaining alien who predicts possible futures, and a killer Tommy Lee Jones impersonation by the dry-as-a-bone Josh Brolin help make Barry Sonnenfeld’s third Black comedy worth the trip. Ten years. A full decade. That’s how much time passed between 2002’s Men In Black 2 and last summer’s twisted and too-confusing MIB 3, which got the proverbial team back together for a contemporary adventure that irreparably damages the franchise’s future by looking back on its imaginary past…specifically, 1969.
That’s where smart-alecky Agent J (Will Smith) must return to help his curmudgeon of a partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), or risk wiping the entire population off of Earth. We actually begin, however, on the moon, where a dangerous criminal named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from a lunar prison and enacts a vengeance plot against K, who wronged him at an earlier time. Faster than you can say “flux capacitor,” J has jumped back to the late 1960s, where he recruits a younger version of K (played by Brolin) to help him stop Boris and possibly prevent a tragedy that will happen in the present day.
If it sounds a little confusing, it is, but Sonnenfeld and screenwriter Etan Cohen take shortcuts to help streamline the twisty issues that usually stem from time-travel storylines. One wise decision is the inclusion of Michael Stuhlbarg as the introverted and talkative alien, Griffin, who can see endless possible futures. The science of it all, though, is skimmed (unfortunate for those who hope sci-fi movies like this will fill in the gaps) as MIB 3 coasts on the kinetic chemistry between polar opposites Smith and Jones and, later, Smith and Brolin.
The ending, however, is a problem. Though we get an exciting battle tied to a space-shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral (which makes excellent use of the film’s 3D visuals), there’s a surprise twist which -- when you think about it -- negates the actions of the original Men In Black. Did Sonnenfeld forget his own mythology? And doesn’t the end of MIB 3 put a too-net cap on the franchise, killing the chances for a fourth movie?
Maybe that’s OK. Maybe it was enough to complete the Men In Black trilogy with this light and entertaining but marginally flawed sequel. Because while MIB 3 isn’t perfect, it’s more fun than it had any right to be. The first thing you’ll notice about the Blu-ray conversion for Men In Black 3 is that it looks terrific! Sonnenfeld floods his image with natural light, adding to the cartoon-y nature of his panels (pulling from the graphic novel roots of the MIB source material) while never over-saturating his pictures. The Cape Canaveral fight sequence pops off of the screen (and I don’t mean the 3D, because I do not have a 3D television set up and could not review that aspect of the DVD’s presentation). Even the nighttime shots shimmer with life and vibrancy. Part of this has to do with the overwhelming amount of digital technology Sonnenfeld uses to bring the strange creations of the MIB universe to life. It looks like animation, with an animated Smith at the forefront. However, it also looks amazing, and translates very well to your home theater.
Plus, there are multiple special features included on the Blu-ray that allow you to investigate the making of the film. “Partners in Time” is a traditional behind-the-scenes featurette with the key players weighing in on why they thought it was important to bring the franchise out of the mothballs of Hollywood after 10 years on hiatus. The corny Smith hams it up for the movie’s “Gag Reel,” demonstrating his gift for comedic improvisation. And the standard DVD wraps up with a Pitbull music video for the catchy “Back In Time,” which plays over the movie’s end credits.
Those who spring for this Blu-ray version Sony sent us to review will enjoy exclusive features that take you deeper into the filmmaking process. “Scene Investigations” breaks down important sequences from the film, interviewing creative talents who built and decorated the sets, as well as the actors who appeared in the scenes. “Keeping it Surreal” focuses on the visual effects in the sequel, pointing out how much work goes into creating a bizarre sci fi world that’s integral to the MIB universe. Meanwhile, “The Evolution of Cool” explores all of the funny touches that were dreamed up once the MIB 3 crew found out they would be shooting scenes in 1969.
But that’s not all! If you are able to watch Men In Black 3 in 3D (as Sonnenfeld presented it in theaters), the Blu-ray 3D comes with exclusive features on the 3D models used on the film, as well as the process used to convert the movie to 3D technologies. It’s an extensive, immersive set that’s bound to delight fans of the third (and possibly final) Men In Black movie.
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