To be entirely honest, I was not planning on watching it but circumstance conspired such that I did. I, like most people I believe, did enjoy Men in Black when it first rolled around. As this latest installment was coming down the pike I was hearing chatter about it compared to Part II, and count me in the camp of those who have no recollection of Part II whatsoever, and based on what I’ve heard that’s all for the best. This is all a very long way of saying that this film wasn’t playing with house money with my being a fan. Conversely, it was also coming sixteen years after the last Men in Black that I do have some recollection of, so I was pretty much an open book.
The only news items I heard that made up my pre-life with this film were the ridiculously overblown reports of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber being aliens, which constitutes their likenesses appearing on background monitors in the beginning.
Ah, the beginning, what an ungodly mess it is. Apparently one of the old screenwriting axioms doesn’t really apply here; there’s nothing easy about getting through this first act. It is slow, stilted and uncertain of itself until the mission is embarked upon. What’s perhaps even more perplexing is that the film does get better but the beginning is slow and bad such that it makes recovery difficult. Needless to say that when I discovered, after having seeing it, that principal photography began and the script had not been finalized, I was not surprised in the slightest.
It’s also a bit like that half-baked ethos carried through post-production in regards to the edit. There are two neuralyzer scenes that make little to no sense, add no humor and do not really advance the plot in anyway. In fact, they’re so dubious that even Will Smith seems as if he’s just going through the motions in these sections. Whereas that doesn’t necessarily really ring true for the rest of the film. In a film that has such issues getting off the ground any other extraneous material’s impact is multiplied. Not even to mention the fact that there is a severe shortage of humor in this particular installment, there are chuckles to be had but there’s nowhere near the level of fun that these films are supposed to engender.
The more enjoyable moments in the film are provided by Josh Brolin’s hilariously deadpan take on Tommy Lee Jones and Michael Stuhlbarg’s wonderfully quirky Griffin. Jemaine Clement, who is usually hilarious here is more intent on being creepy as Boris the Animal, and while that succeeds the film could’ve benefitted from a bit more levity, especially given the ending.
When your film already has its issues and is only minimally interesting things like the nearly unavoidable time traveling paradoxes that arise are allowed to occupy more of your attention than they really ought to.
Given the fact that portions of the second and third did work on an intermittent basis, it’s really unfortunate that this film proceeded full speed ahead instead of righting the ship before they got rolling. As it stands, the film is an unfortunate mess that’s a waste of time and talent.