Men in Black 3 (2012) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Men in Black 3 (2012) Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. With Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson and Alice Eve.


After the frankly abysmal Men in Black II, you might be forgiven for having reservations about another dip into the comic-book inspired world of underground alien surveillance that is, the MIB franchise. The good news is, normal(ish) service is resumed. It’s hard to believe, but fifteen years have passed since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones first donned the suit and tie combo to “protect the Earth from the scum of the universe”. In that time, comic-book inspired films have taken over our multiplexes and amid the rush, MIB has become a trifle passé. Even Will Smith’s star doesn’t shine as brightly as it used to.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the film aims to have fun by embracing the daftness. Colourful and lively, it is further lifted by Smith’s willingness to play along with the materiel, however ridiculous it might be. The central thrust of the plot involves time-travel – Smith’s character travelling back to meet a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ character, played by Josh Brolin. Try to keep up.

Amid the madcap fun, Josh Brolin does a remarkable job of playing a younger Tommy Lee Jones. With small mannerisms and deft touches, Brolin’s turn is more impressive than any and all of the film’s countless special effects. On the subject of the effects, director Sonnenfeld ensures a tighter lid is kept on overusing gimmicks (i.e cute talking animals/aliens) this time around. The effects are fun and entertaining, but he understands that they are best employed as set-dressing and background detail. This is where there is fun between the gaps in Men in Black 3 – sometimes, it’s enjoyable to sit back and admire the weird collection of alien beings dotted around each scene.

While it feels like step-up from ‘II‘, it does little to make itself stand alone as particularly good film. A small appearance from pop-star Nicole Scherzinger leaves us wanting more, and the actors are mostly likeable; Jemaine Clement plays a suitably over-the-top baddie, while Emma Thompson is a welcome addition to any cast. In the end, though, too much from the previous films is recycled to make it feel like a fresh adventure. Indeed, with so much time between sequels, you might be surprised how disinterested it is from veering away from the same old formula. Passable, harmless fun at best.  3/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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17 Responses to Men in Black 3 (2012) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. lukasfilm says:

    Had almost forgotten this existed. Now I know why. Good write up. Decent but forgettable.

  2. dreager1 says:

    The series has definitely fallen far since the first one. (Which is still one of the best Sci-Fi films out there. Easily top 5 if we just count modern ones) I didn’t enjoy this film all that much and left the theater feeling pretty disappointed.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I couldn’t put Men in Black anywhere near a “top 5” sci-fi list, but it was a certain amount of fun for a period of time. I saw this in TV on a lazy weekend morning, so it was kind of OK. I can imagine feeling disappointed if I’d paid to sit in a theatre and watch it, though. Good to hear from you, thanks for commenting.

  3. princessennui says:

    I think it’s worth at least a 3. 🙂 I think it’s a miracle it was decent at all considering it started shooting without a script. But yeah, it’s not on par with the first.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I was close to stretching to a 3, but I couldn’t quite get there. It sagged a bit towards the end, although admittedly, the carefree fun is hard to maintain. I was also surprisingly bummed that Nicole Scherzinger got only a few minutes screen-time. I liked the way they introduced her. Good point about the shooting script, I did not know that. Thank you for stopping by with some insight.

  4. Marta says:

    I agree with you that Josh Brolin is better than any special effect. I quite enjoyed this film when it came out, the Cohen’s humour seeps through every now and then, but it’s nothing really new.

  5. Dan O. says:

    Good review Gareth. It was okay, I guess. However, after this, I don’t think there needs to be another one.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, Dan. Absolutely! They should definitely stop right here. No need to churn out another one, unless they have a really innovate idea. Sonnenfeld just keeps repeating the same gags.

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Nice review Gareth, I haven’t seen MIB III…come to think of it I don’t think I ever watched II so think I’ll just leave safely with my memories of the first one!

  7. Jay says:

    Not a particularly good movie, but it did evoke some nostalgia for me and I had fun with it on that level.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, nostalgia can go a long way. I watched this on a lazy weekend morning on TV and it was fine. If I had paid good money to sit in a theatre, I would have expected more. OK at best.

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