Title: Men in Black III
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld (‘Men in Black,’ ‘Men in Black II,’ ‘Get Shorty’)
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin
Creating a visually stunning alien film with a unique story has become increasingly difficult for filmmakers, as sci-fi movies have infiltrated the film market since the beginning of cinema. Creating an alien sequel, whose immediate predecessor was released 10 years earlier, can be even more taunting, as it not only has to please older fans, but attract new fans as well. But the new ‘Men in Black’ installment, the third film in the popular alien action sci-fi comedy series, immediately stands out for its creative effects and distinct character relationships.
‘Men in Black III’ follows Agent K (played by Tommy Lee Jones) as he realizes Boris the Animal, the intergalactic criminal he put in prison over 40 years ago, has escaped during a spaceship crash in New York City. As K regrets not killing Boris when he had the chance, his partner, Agent J (portrayed by Will Smith), is the only one who notices he has vanished. Agent O (played by Emma Thompson), the Chief in charge of the Men in Black, realizes there has been a fracture in the space-time continuum, and sends J back to 1969 to save K’s life.
J makes contact with the younger version of K (portrayed by Josh Brolin), and convinces him that they must work together in order to stop Boris from harming Earth. Working together, the two agents meet prescient alien Griffin (played by Michael Stuhlbarg), who tells them to set up the ArcNet shield, which will protect Earth from an invasion by Boris’ species and rendered them extinct.
While Smith and Jones have proved their compatibility in the first two installments of the ‘Men in Black’ series, the former also had an amusing working relationship with Brolin as well. Brolin infused the younger version of Agent K with unexpected but welcomed humor, and balanced J’s feelings of self-importance and righteousness with naivety and innocence. Sending J back in time to see K in his early years with the Men in Black helped him realize that there’s more to his life than just fighting aliens; understanding his partner’s emotions and motivations is also important in helping him survive.
Stuhlbarg was also another entertaining, witty addition to the cast of ‘Men in Black 3,’ as he often brought physical and unintended humor to the story as Griffin. While Griffin serves as a secondary protagonist to J and the younger K, he often brings much-needed comic relief to the more serious and sentimental interactions between the two agents. Despite being an alien, he also wasn’t afraid to remind the two of the most important aspects of humanity, including being honest and doing the morally correct thing in order to achieve their goals.
‘Men in Black III’ director Barry Sonnenfeld, who also helmed the previous two installments of the series, infused the action sci-fi comedy with just as many impressive visual effects as its two predecessors. One of the more stunning stunts in the film is when J jumps off the Chrysler Building in order to time travel back to 1969. Sonnenfeld mixes some of the most important moments in American history, such as the stock market crash of 1929 and the ending of War War II, with some of the aliens set to overtake Earth as Boris escapes from prison. With a budget of $215 million, the filmmaker effectively put his money to good use with his creative sets and stunts.
Sonnenfeld’s decision to delve into the history and relationship between Agents J and K in ‘Men in Black III’ provided a refreshing and much-needed new spin on the alien sci-fi genre. While the director featured visually stunning stunts and effects in the second sequel of the ‘Men in Black’ series, the complexity and diverse personalities of the characters and their genuine bond with each other proved how viable and popular the franchise still is, 15 years after the debut of the original film.
Written by: Karen Benardello