It was probably not the greatest idea to watch Men in Black 3 in the same week after watching Looper first. I wasn't kidding when I said Looper is the best time travel film I've seen. Contrast that with Men in Black 3, the latest in the franchise that first launched way back in 1997. The film is high on nostalgia but sadly, low on ingenuity.
Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back as on screen partners after a ten year hiatus a less than satisfactory second feature, Men in Black II. The action still takes place in New York city which occasionally has other planetary travelers that need to be looked after by the Men in Black. However, as is the case in any time travel film, the past will come back to haunt you.
In this film, the past has a name, Boris. Boris the Animal. But he hates being called that. He's played by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords (Side note: I love that show!). He's hardly recognizable here in a really freaky alien avatar. Boris is out erase his past and Agent K and get back his missing arm. To do this, he first escapes from his lunar prison and gains a time travel gadget from Earth.
Once he has it, he wastes no time (pun intended) to make sure that his encounter with Agent K in 1969 ends in K's death and his escape. Back on Earth in present day, Agent J feels something is amiss when only he can recall the memories of K. But Agent O (Emma Thompson), who has taken over from Agent Zed (Rip Torn who's not in this film), informs him that Agent K died in that eventual clash back in '69. Eventually they do make the assumption that the past has been altered with and J has no choice to travel back to 1969 to get his partner back and rewrite history again.
Back in the late '60s, he finds himself up against even more strange aliens, a vengeful Boris and youngish Agent K (Josh Brolin). He even comes up against some racism in a hasty subplot. Brolin does a good enough Tommy Lee Jones impression but one of the main reasons the first film worked was the chemistry between Jones and Smith. We see hints of it and what made the original so great but the magic seems off here.
The movie was made primarily to show off the amazing production values with the MIB headquarters (in the '60s and the present), the imaginatively creative aliens by master makeup artiste Rick Baker and the improved CGI effects. There's even a forced romance between the young Agents K and O (Alice Eve). The story seemed to be made up during shooting and it probably was.
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld; Written by Etan Cohen; Based on the comics by Lowell Cunningham; Cinematography by Bill Pope; Edited by Don Zimmerman; Music by Danny Elfman.
Additional cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Mike Colter, Bill Hader, Nicole Scherzinger