CATEGORIES Movie NewsThis weekend, "Men in Black 3" finds Will Smith donning the Ray Bans once again for another intergalactic adventure as Agent J. In the threequel, J must travel back to the year 1969 to prevent the assassination of his partner, Agent K. With the Apollo 11 mission looming in the background, J works alongside a much younger -- but still surly -- K (Josh Brolin) to ensure that the timeline remains unchanged.
It's been ten years since we last saw the MIB, and that cinematic outing was poorly received. Despite the new installment's well-documented script problems can the new flick follow suit? Let's find out in this week's Pro-Con. (MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW)
PRO: It's better than "Men in Black II" The second movie was one of the most unnecessary, forgettable and humorless viewing experiences ever. This is a much more harmless attempt at a sequel.
CON: That's not saying much Number three isn't awful, but it isn't very good either. It would be a perfectly acceptable way to waste an afternoon on TV, but you expect something more momentous from a Memorial Day blockbuster.
PRO: If you love Will Smith, you'll be in heaven This isn't a buddy team-up so much as it is a chance for the Fresh Prince to spend 90 minutes cracking wise at aliens, '60s culture and his partner (to be fair, he does have a few good jokes).
CON: Will Smith's acting It appears as if Big Willie Style either had no direction or "didn't need it," because he's in two modes for the entire movie: For comedic scenes he riffs on everything to the point of distraction, and for dramatic scenes he's locked in that teary-eyed moment right before he said "How come he don't want me man?"
PRO: Josh Brolin His Tommy Lee Jones impression is spot-on and he gives the movie's best performance, delivering a lively and charismatic depiction of a young Agent K.
CON: Tommy Lee Jones He's in the movie for about ten minutes and has never looked more glower.
PRO: The villain's first scene The movie opens with a hokey -- in a fun way -- prison breakout involving the movie's time-traveling, one-armed bandit Boris the Animal. "Flight of the Conchords" star Jemaine Clement brings a Tim Curry-like energy to his villainy, and the make-up effects from Rick Baker give Boris a uniquely disgusting presence.
CON: Every other scene with the villain While Clement is worlds better than "2's" Lara Flynn Boyle/Johnny Knoxville combo, he still pales in comparison to the first movie's Edgar (played by Vincent D'Onofrio). It's not Clement's fault, but the story fails to make the villain anything more than a background character that pops up occasionally.
PRO: Cameos If you're a fan of "Arrested Development" or "SNL," you'll be happy to see some familiar faces.
CON: Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin The "Boardwalk Empire" star is not a bad actor by any means, but his character -- the last of an alien species whose time-warping abilities are pivotal to J and K's mission -- is an anchor that weighs everything down. Griffin conveniently delivers all the important plot info but doesn't actually do anything to move the story forward; plus his character's hook is too annoyingly similar to Robin Williams in family-film mode.
PRO: The movie's alien design One thing the "MIB" series has never gotten wrong is creature design: Rick Baker's imagination is on full display with memorable-looking extraterrestrials that can't help but catch your eye (even if they're just walking in the background).
CON: The movie's use of time-travel When K is killed in the past and history is altered, J is the only one who remembers how it was supposed to be. Why does he still remember? Because he's caught in a "temporal warp." How did he get caught in a temporal warp? Because... (Crickets chirp) The script does a half-hearted job at explaining how the time shenanigans work -- which only raises more questions -- and then they break their own rules in the final action scene.
PRO: The idea of Emma Thompson in this movie Thompson takes over for the departed Rip Torn as the new leader of the MIBs, and she's as entertaining as always.
CON: The use of Emma Thompson in this movie As the movie's main female character(?), she's pointless in the grand scheme.
PRO: The idea of added backstory We learn a lot about who J and K were, before they became a bickering earth-saving duo.
CON: The use of added backstory It contradicts things that happened in the first movie, and like the time-travel rules, the moment you think about the implications, it just creates more questions.
PRO: The 3D doesn't look bad Remarkably, it didn't hurt our eyes. And this is one of the first movies in the new 3D wave to actually use brightly-lit scenes that don't get muted by the gimmicky effect.
CON: You do not need to see this in 3D It doesn't add to the experience at all. It's just lucky it wasn't headache-inducing.
CON: Pitbull's song for the soundtrack, "Back in Time" It's no "Men in Black" theme.
PRO: That gives us an excuse to listen to the "Men in Black" theme right now.
"Men in Black 3" opens nationwide on Friday.