2 Stars – Entertaining
It has been ten years since the last Men in Black film came out in 2002. Following up on the first film in 1997, the second film was a disappointment as its sarcasm left us unimpressed. So it is understandable that the franchise waited for a decade before attempting another film based on the creation of Lowell Cunningham. Directed once again by Barry Sonnenfeld, this third film leaves behind the screenwriting of Ed Solomon from the first film, Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro from the second film, and instead uses the talents of Etan Cohen on this third film.
Based on the same premise that there is a secret government organization monitoring the extraterrestrial aliens living among us while protecting us from the dangers they represent, this third film continues to star Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin) and Agent J (Will Smith). In this chapter of the tale, we discover that time travel is not only possible but also greatly complicates the ability of these galactic agents to protect the earth.
Once again there is a villain attempting to conquer earth, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement). Boris is a brutal warrior from a species that has already destroyed other worlds. Decades earlier, Agent K had captured him and his arrest caused him to be imprisoned in chains in a lunar prison. However, he has escaped and has a well-developed plan to take revenge.
This struggle between good and evil is obvious and the battle is global. However, the basic thesis is familiar, as is the interaction between the agents. With less humor and more tension, this third film does not bode well for a fourth. Playing off the curiosity and fear we often share for the vastness of space and those who may dwell there, the Men in Black series is symbolic of deeper longings and fears. That it focuses primarily on fear and the personification of aliens as evil causes the films to lack depth and therefore does little to enrich us in understanding either ourselves or the universe.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. If there is life in the universe beyond the earth, what do you believe it would be like? If alien beings have the intelligence to travel across space, do you believe they would have the morality of killers? Why or why not?
2. The relationship that Agent K and Agent O (Emma Thompson/Alice Eve) had when they were young was not allowed to develop because of the agency’s rules against fraternizing. Do you believe this caused them to be better people or better agents or not? Why do you answer as you do?
3. When Boris used the gullibility of a woman who wrote to him in prison, he exposes the danger of such relationships. Do you think prisoners should be allowed to solicit “penpals”?