I hate sequels that require you to have seen the previous chapters in a franchise to understand the third (or even second) installment. Each film, sequel or not, should stand on its own as a piece of film. Now I'm not talking about a series like the HARRY POTTER films where the movies are an ongoing story that was established before the films were put into production. But in the case of MEN IN BLACK III, this is a story that is basically made up as it goes along, so the potential for creating new and interesting plots using a couple of the same characters from movie to move is there.
But the committee that came up with the script (or sections of the script) for MIB3 leans so heavily on previously established relationships and circumstances that it doesn't leave room for much in the way of creativity. This film is so spent for new ideas that it actually relies on the age-old going back in time scenario to move itself forward. What the hell am I talking about?
It's clear from the get-go that Tommy Lee Jones wants as little to do with director Barry Sonnenfeld's second sequel featuring Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Jones). The contrived story has J going back in time to make sure certain events happen that do two things—make sure the '60s-era K (played by Josh Brolin, doing a dead-on Jones impression) isn't kept from completing a very important mission, and do so without allowing himself to change the past too significantly. To make things just a little more awkward, these events have to happen when Agent O (Emma Thompson in the present; Alice Eve in the past) is present and having a little fling with K.
That particular story might not have felt so pointless if I had any indication that Jones wanted to be near this movie. What makes it worse is that the few scenes between Smith and Jones show absolutely no proof that these two men have been partners for 15 years. J is still complaining about K's lack of opening up his world so they can become better friends; the pair treat this story like they just met a week ago.
And what about Rick Baker's magical parade of alien life forms? One of the sole highlights of this placeholder movie are the countless opportunities to see the results of make-up genius Baker and his team cobbling together about a hundred alien creatures of various origins. Unfortunately, Sonnenfeld and his army of writers have placed these magnificent creatures in a story that is painful to experience.
A notorious alien villains named Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords") has escaped his maximum security prison and is hellbent on going back to the future to stop an event from transpiring in which he was stopped from committing a horrible crime against humanity by a young Agent K. The event in question happens on the same day at the same location as Apollo 11 launches, which leads to all sorts of shenanigans literally in the face of history, where Boris from the present helps Boris from the past, while J from the present assists K from the past in stopping the Boris. Someone unbury me from all of this excessive plot!
The worst element of MEN IN BLACK III (which apparently some people find to be the heart and soul/saving grace of the movie) is Michael Stuhlbarg as Griffin, a sort of seer who can visualize the many variations that could occur if certain events take place. Stuhlbarg is a tremendous actor in such movies as A SERIOUS MAN, HUGO, and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," and the issues I have with Griffin certainly are not a reflection of his performance. The characters is so horribly written as a person who conveniently can predict the future and can tell our heroes exactly what they must do, when they must do it, and what the outcome will be.
Smart writing disappears the minute Griffin enters the picture, and the minute any shift in the plot needs to happen, Griffin tells the characters to do something whether it makes sense of not. He's also a wise sage of a creature that dishes out wisdom and instruction like a smart-ass fortune cookie. I think it goes without saying that I loathed this character despite the greatness of the man playing him.
You know what? I'm done talking about this miserable movie. I'm truly baffled by any positive reaction to MEN IN BLACK III because the whole exercise seems like it was completed against the will of the primary participants. It might be slightly better than the miserable second chapter in this franchise, but only because of Rick Baker's work. Beyond that, I loathed just about every minute I spent watching it. Have fun mustering any enthusiasm for this lazy, boring exercise.