When the original Men in Black film came out, it was to a lot of hype. The film was a huge success, as it more than lived up to the expectations it had built up for itself.
When the second MiB film was released, it was to an equal amount of hype. It was ok, provided you didn't mind seeing the plot of the first film with the roles reversed. Not a huge success, but it had some good moments.
And now we have the third film. I had not seen as much hype about it, and the trailer looked promising. So I decided to go and watch it to see how they faired this time around.
First of all, the plot was thankfully different: as you are probably aware, time travel is involved. Agend K (Smith) has to go back in time to save Agent J's (Jones) younger self (Brolin) from being killed. This leads to the inevitable "Black man in racist-era New York" confrontation. Which is played for laughs, and bizarrely, works! That only plays a minor part in the plot, and your opinions probably vary as to whether or not that is a good thing.
The plot is pretty straight-forward, with lots of hinting about the events in past early on. Sure enough, by the end of the film, all the major questions are answered, and very few plot holes are created (and the one or two that do stand out are not enough to spoil your enjoyment).
Casting is crucial, and when you have to select an actor to play a younger version of a well established character, it becomes even more critical. There has been varying success in other films: Ewan McGregor is almost believable as a younger Alec Guiness in the Star Wars franchise. Rob Lowe as a young Robert Wagner in Austin Powers is not so spot-on, but we forgive as he is plays the part so well. But what of Josh Brolin as Tommy Lee Jones?
Characterisation - excellent. Accent - well, I still don't know if it was Brolin speaking or Jones dubbing him! Either way, it was not a distraction, other than to marvel at how good a job they did.
As for the Big Bad... Jemaine Clement as Boris is very good. Wonderfully hammy, not too cheesy, and instantly dislikable. In short, everything you want in a comedy drama such as this. As an aside, I did not realise until after the film was over that he was one half of the comedy musical duo Flight of the Conchords. And yes, I have seen it the mockumentary... he really was that unrecognisable, which is all to Clement's credit.
The story itself was nothing special - in essence it is a standard plot that crops up every now and then in Doctor Who, and was the staple for every Quantum Leap episode ever made. Nevertheless, they made it work here, and they made it fun. It was clichéd, but that's not always a bad thing. After all, a cliché is only a plot device that gets re-used because it works well.
If you want a sci-fi film that will make you think, then this is not for you. If you want a bit of well acted silly and funny nonsense then this is likely to be right up your street.