At the Movies: Men In Black 3

Maybe it’s time to take the “Men in Black” franchise out back and have it neuralized. Or better yet, do it to the audience. That way they wouldn’t notice that the series is getting old and tired.

It’s not that “Men in Black 3” is a bad film. It’s better than the second one, not as good as the first. If you enjoyed the earlier installments, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s just a little stale.

The action begins with Boris The Animal — he hates being called “the animal,” by the way — escaping from prison. Boris (Jemaine Clement) is determined to get revenge on the man who put him behind bars and thwarted his plans for world conquest — Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) of the government’s top secret Men in Black division.

Boris doesn’t just want to kill K, he goes back in time so he can kill K and still go ahead with his invasion. When K disappears from the space-time continuum, the only person who realizes something is wrong is his partner, Agent J (Will Smith).

J goes back in time to fix things, and winds up working with the 1969 version of K (Josh Brolin). Along the way we learn how K became such a dour old man. You should be able to figure out what it is the minute a certain character shows up.

Time travel stories usually make my head hurt, and “MiB3” is no exception. It’s not that hard to follow but there are certain aspects to the story that I didn’t understand. Otherwise, the film follows the familiar pattern of earlier installments. The aliens are freaky, the special effects are impressive, Will Smith is charming, Tommy Lee Jones is abrupt. It’s funny and clever, it just feels too familiar.

But the real selling point of the film isn’t the humor or special effects, it’s Josh Brolin’s spot-on impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones. Brolin is excellent as young K — the downside is that playing up his role means relegating Jones to basically a supporting part.

Man, I feel like this review is all over the place. I liked the movie, didn’t love it. The 3D is OK but you could get by fine without it. If this is the last one in the series then it’s a decent send-off.

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