Times change; that sentiment holds true in every industry, but is particularly applicable in cinema. One season is different from another, years can be miles apart, and different decades might as well be different eons.
I would imagine then that it is very difficult to pick up the threads of series whose latest entry was in 2002; and that’s exactly what Men in Black 3 tries to accomplish. This franchise has always built itself upon the shoulders of characters that happen to be experiencing fantastically odd things. Therefore, the only needed continuity between chapters is the relationship between Agents J and K played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones respectively. Both actors pick up their roles admirably, and bring the audience back into the fold.
It’s very satisfying to see Will Smith return to one of his cornerstone franchises, and it’s oddly appropriate given the time travelling nature of the Men in Black 3 plotline. Will Smith is definitely one of the most well-known and well-liked actors of our time. It’s interesting to see an actor that has been so prevalent and has continually grown in ability return to an earlier character. Smith’s portrayal of Agent J is well acted and fits with his earlier interpretations, but it’s odd in that it feels like watching a 1990s Will Smith act. It makes sense in the context of the character, but it did take a while to get used to.
After the mysterious disappearance of his friend Agent K and a slow opening of the film, Agent J is forced to travel back to 1969 to recruit the younger Agent K, played wonderfully by Josh Brolin, to save his older self. When we get to the 1960s there are some fun jokes involving the cultural and technological limitations of the era; however, I felt the time travel mechanics were underused and, as is typical in time travel films, left some plot holes.
Then again, Men in Black has never been about airtight plots. Men in Black is about fun and little tiny guns called the Noisy Cricket that have severely disproportionate kick. By about halfway through the film I was very firmly back in Having Fun Mode and didn’t really need the film to make a world of sense. The key here is that it doesn’t really try. Something like Battleship took itself so seriously that all of its flaws stood out like a sore thumb. Men in Black, believe it or not, is much more down to earth with its invading aliens.
While Men in Black is a franchise that has always been buried by the oddity of the world - the first chapter specifically found an underlying humanity. The difference is - what was very odd in 1997 for the first Men in Black is strikingly different from what is very odd today. Men in Black 3 can’t hold a candle to its grandsire, but it’s a fun ride, and has a very satisfying ending, particularly for a time travel film. If you’re a fan of the series or want a trip down memory lane with a very 1990s Will Smith performance then Men in Black 3 is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Did anyone go see Men in Black 3 over Memorial Day weekend? Anyone out there actually like MIB2? I didn't.