After the half decade that separated the highly acclaimed and Oscar-winning original and the highly disappointing and Razzie-nominated sequel Men in Black II, it’s been nearly a full decade (Will Smith no longer owns the July 4th weekend) between MIIB and the next sequel, Men in Black 3, which doesn’t do much better than the first sequel as the new trip back in time doesn’t come close to the caliber of Men in Black from 15 years ago either.
Marketed as a nostalgic trip back in time (literally), Men in Black 3 does a decent job in recapturing the awkward chemistry between wisecracking Agent J (Will Smith) and his old-fashioned no-nonsense partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). This is buttressed marvelously by Josh Brolin’s pitch-perfect performance of a younger Agent K in 1969, and Will Smith manages to carry the sequel adequately when the film shifts timelines after a slow start. You’re reminded of what made the original Men in Black such a pleasure to watch and rewatch and why it’s a common entry in AFI’s Top 100 lists. But MIB 3 never completely breaks out of memory lane’s confines, Hulk-style, to pave its own worthy path or cement its standalone status.
If you’ve forgotten about the original movie or if MIIB made you want to be neuralyzed, then you might wanna consider skipping MIB 3 in theaters and save it for Redbox or Netflix instead. Yeah, do that, especially since what really feels “back in time” about Men in Black 3 is the dated CGI, which arguably is a regression from the first sequel’s. No need for the 3D here either; MIB 3‘s might have been the most underwhelming 3D I’ve seen this year so far, so save your extra $3 if you decide not to listen to me and go watch it in theaters anyway.
Speaking of “Back in Time,” you don’t even get one of Will Smith’s tie-in theme songs. You get Pitbull, as if he hasn’t infested the radio waves enough already. C’mon, Will. I’d much rather have another one of your wholesome MIB
rap pop songs tie-ins instead of another goddamn Pitbull track. What’ve you been doing for the past few years anyway besides whoring your kids out into the entertainment industry? Even old man Tommy’s been busy, and we’re gonna see Brolin again soon later this year. All right, you get a pass, but only because After Earth next year sounds cool.
Men in Black 3 was an honorable mention on our list of most anticipated movies of 2012, but maybe because we were still fiending for something more like the original Men in Black in 1997 after MIIB didn’t meet our fix five years after that. This franchise should’ve died then, but here it is back ten years later. Let it die now before Men in Black 4 returns in 2027. Men in Black 3 gets 2.5 out of 5 stars or C+ or Okay.