"Third Time’s the Charm?"
What You Need To Know:
MEN IN BLACK 3 is still rated PG-13 for plenty of foul language and action violence, but gone are the smarmy sexual references from the second movie. Also, gone are most of the over-the-top gross elements from the original movie. In their place are a few more uplifting, touching elements. Compared to its previous incarnations, MEN IN BLACK 3 has a much more uplifting, more moral worldview.
(BB, PP, C, LLL, VV, A, M) Strong moral, patriotic, even sweet worldview as one of the two heroes in the movie must go back in time to 1969 to save his partner and prevent an alien invasion in 2012, with a brief Christian element where tiny aliens sing “Amazing Grace” at a dead agent’s memorial service; 33 obscenities (a mix of “h,” “d,” “s,” and a** words), three strong profanities, and two light exclamatory profanities; strong violence with some gooey alien remains and some scary aliens includes raygun fight with aliens where alien bodies disintegrate after being shot, large scary fish alien attacks man, motorcycle chase, alien shoots barbs at people and barbs hit some people in head and others in torsos and shoulders, hand-to-hand combat, humanoid alien takes out crustacean alien from cake and puts it inside his own hand which opens into a crustacean hole, a couple of funny and scary high falls from skyscrapers, and a battle on a high series of platforms at a rocket launch pad puts the two heroes in life-threatening peril; no sex scenes but one scene shows a humanoid alien who “French kisses” woman visiting him in jail and one character wonders whether two agents had made love in the past, but the comment is not romantic rather than crudely said; no nudity but one woman appears in tight leather dress with cleavage and models at Andy Warhol’s studio have skimpy modern dresses; some brief alcohol use; no smoking or drugs but one character who looks like a stoner tells Will Smith’s character “we’ve got to get high” in order to time travel but Will rejects the idea until he learns that the character really meant they have to go to the top of the Empire State building; and, removing people’s memories, some ugly looking aliens, and one alien’s lower body looks like a caterpiller’s body on the lower half.
The MEN IN BLACK franchise has been cleaned up a bit for the family audience in MEN IN BLACK 3. Though it is still rated PG-13 for plenty of foul language and action violence, gone are the smarmy sexual references from the second movie, and gone are most of the over-the-top gross elements from the original movie. In their place, are a few more uplifting, touching elements that also replace the first movie’s New Age cynicism.
The new movie unleashes a villain called Boris the Animal into New York City. Boris has escaped from a maximum-security prison on the moon. His goal is to track down Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones as the older K, Josh Brolin as the younger) and get revenge by killing him for shooting his arm off in a gun battle in 1969.
Boris leaps back in time to change the course of history by killing the younger K before K can set up the Arcnet protecting Earth from an invasion of Boris the Animal’s evil alien compatriots in 2012. The aliens had died out when they couldn’t invade Earth. To save his partner, and the whole world, Agent J (Will Smith) also has to jump back in time. Otherwise, his partner will have to fight two Borises rather than just the one.
The first few minutes of MEN IN BLACK 3 get off to a rough start, as Boris is too scary and leering. Also, an initial gun battle in a Chinese restaurant feels too much like the bloated action movies of the 1980s, complete with slow motion. The early jokes also fall flat in the first few minutes, before Emma Thompson as the new MIB boss arrives on screen with a hilarious impression of an alien’s speech patterns.
The movie becomes much more enjoyable when Will Smith’s Agent J has to leap back into 1969 to save Agent K and the world from Boris and the future alien invasion. The effects as Smith leaps into the past are spectacular. Also, his interactions as a 2012 African-American dealing with 1969’s less friendly racial climate are frequently funny, but could have been made a larger element of the script.
By the end, however, there’s so much exciting action and enough funny lines to make the movie a fun ride. While not up to the standards of THE AVENGERS, MEN IN BLACK 3 is a much more entertaining movie than the summer dud “Dark Shadows” and slightly surpasses the slapdash but patriotic charms of BATTLESHIP.
Although there’s still too much foul language, the obscenity count is more similar here to the first sequel. Also, the gore and sexual innuendo is much less frequent than the previous movies. Secular, hedonistic fanboys may find these things upsetting but the general audience will appreciate them.
Best of all, MEN IN BLACK 3 has some surprisingly heartwarming and redemptive, but slightly bittersweet, plot twists. These twists lend more gravitas to this sci-fi action comedy. They also give the new movie a more positive worldview that’s relatively moral and uplifting. For example, Will Smith’s character, Agent J, clearly cares about his partner, Agent K. And, the movie’s ending shows that Agent K cares more for Agent J than he really knows. Thus, despite the time traveling, time changing plot, the ending serves as a really nice coda to a franchise that has, up to now, less than it should have been. MEN IN BLACK 3 also adds a new endearing, funny alien character who seems to have a really big heart. This character plays an important role in the movie’s second half and its final resolution. The creators behind MEN IN BLACK finally seem to be on the right track.