Men In Black 3 – Review

Men In Black III (AKA: MIB3) (2012) 

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Will SmithTommy Lee JonesJosh BrolinJemaine ClementEmma Thompson.

10 years after the disappointing Man in Black 2, and 15 years after the first original one (which, needless to say,was the best by a very long stretch), raise your hands if you really felt the need for yet another sequel… Anyone? … Please, anyone? ANYONE?!

These days Hollywood’s willingness for getting new ideas out there, or at least ones which are not based on comics, or at least are not sequels or remakes, is becoming increasingly rare! But then again, this a whole other subject which I’ve tackled again and again (you can check my post about it here) and I bore even myself talking about it. So granted that nobody really wanted this film, I am happy to be on record saying that MIB3 is actually rather watchable (yet fairly forgettable).

The film starts off looking pretty tired as if trying to resuscitate from that previously dead sequel. It is permeated by a sense of Déjà vu and only relies on that already-proven chemistry between the two original leads and especially Will Smith whose charm and likeability doesn’t seem to have faded in the last 13 years (in fact he looks exactly the same: God, what’s his secret?!). Even his co-star Tommy Lee Jones once said in an interview “All I need to do to be funny is stand as close as possible to Will”. So true.

The film finally gets into the right gear and stops limping once we travel back in the 60s. The reason for the time travel is very reminiscent of the plot from the underrated Back to the Future – part 2: Will Smith has to travel back in time to prevent the baddie from the future to meet his own self from the past and thus change erm… the future. It all sounds very complicated but, unlike the mind-screwing BTTF2, this is all pretty straight forward (and it fact with plot holes all over the places) and at the end of the day it’s just a device so that we they can probably avoid paying Tommy Lee Jones a full-fee, but also it allows Josh Brolin to have the time of his life, acting as the young K (Tommy Lee Jones‘s character).And for once the sense of fun that the makers must have felt behind the scenes manages to transpire onto our screens too. The similarity between the two is indeed uncanny and amazingly the joke sustains itself for pretty much the entire length of the film. I’m sure in years to come, Josh Brolin aping Tommy Lee Jones will be the only thing people will remember from this otherwise forgettable MIB3.

Don’t take me wrong, there’s a lot to enjoy here: some of the action set-pieces, Emma Thompson‘s (sadly too) brief appearance, the deliciously nasty, and rather gross turn by Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal, the villain of the piece, and the usual special effects extravaganza, which is now almost taken for granted in this types of movies. There is nothing really as cringe-inducing as in the previous sequel, but sadly most of that spark of fresh humour from the original seems have been replaced by an unexpected sentimentality, which is sweet enough and I suppose it’s probably befitting a Steven Spielberg production, but it’s not really what we want from a Man in Black film.

They got away with it this time, but they should really put this trilogy to bed and start something new.

6.0/10

Captain America – Review

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) 

Directed by Joe Johnston. With Chris Evans, Hayley AtwellTommy Lee JonesHugo WeavingStanley TucciToby Jones

If you are an average viewer with at least half a brain,with close-to-no-interest-whatsoever in comic books, or simply just exhausted by the overload of comic heroes out there at the moment, you might be asking yourself “Do we really need yet another movie adapted  from a comic, and more importantly, can we possibly care less about a film that flashes out that all-American gun-ho/patriotic spirit  right from the word go and proudly shows it even in its title? A spirit which is so out-of-date these days, in a post-9/11-Bush-and-economic-crisis era, like the one we’re all living today. Probably the answer to both questions will be a resounding “No, please!”.

Surprisingly “Captain America” might just be one of the best of its kind and certainly the best comic adaptation of the year (yes, I’d say better than Thor, which actually wasn’t too bad either and 100% better than that shameful Green Lantern).

The film-makers are obviously very aware of the cynical eyes of today’s audience towards jingoism and that slight anti-American feeling that is slowly creeping in beyond their own country. A misstep too far in bringing this latest superhero to the screen might not only jeopardize their international box office takings, but also (and more important) their long-awaited spin-off “The Avengers” (due to be released next year) of which “Captain America” was the last crucial missing link.

So instead of falling into the traps of the obvious patriotic gush and just updating the story for the modern audience, into a modern setting, director Joe Johnston decided to stay true to the origins of his hero and kept the story rooted in 194os, during World War II, deciding to concentrate more on the old-fashion moral decency of the characters than their “let’s kick some ass” type of mentality:  in fact in a few scenes they even make fun of that as Captain America performs in front of live audiences around America, looking more like a clown than a superhero. Of course it’s still propaganda, but of a slightly different kind and certainly less insulting.

The period atmosphere is perfectly recreated (reminiscent of another superhero film the Rocketeer, which interestingly was made  by the same director in 1991) through the sepia tones of the photography, the muted colours of the costumes but also a type of film-making itself calling back to the way the best action films used to be made, before a certain Bruckheimer decided that it was all going to be about one liners, big explosion, idiotic plot-lines, fast editing (so fast that you can’t quite tell how bad it all is!) and sex exploitation (yes, I am not a fan of Transformers, you might have gathered that). This is as much about humanity and characters than it is about big action set-pieces and special effects, because in the end those are only important as long as we care about the people involved in them (I know, this is no news to anyone, but it’s good to remind people about it once in a while).

Yes, of course, it’s all preposterous and plainly silly, but so is a radioactive spider,  a man who can fly, a giant hammer, and a silly mask that only covers your eyes and yet when you wear it nobody seems to recognise you . We are talking about Superheroes after all!! But as long as you can suspend your disbelief, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

To help it all there’s a splendid array of  supporting characters from Stanley Tucci, to Toby Jones, to Tommy Lee-Jones and even an-over-the-top Hugo Weaver who’s clearly having a lot of fun in this film (putting on a close-to-parody German accent!). And of course Chris Evans in the lead who embodies the physical strength of the hero and yet at the same time he brings enough charisma, warmth and dignity to make you actually care about him and feel for his pain whenever somebody close to him dies. It obviously helps that in the first 40 minutes of the film we get to know him as a frail and skinny men and somehow all that makes him even more sympatetic (with the aid of some truly stunning and seamless Benjamin-Button-Style-Special-FX… If only they had put so much effort into the 3D conversion which was actually rather bland, a part from a few shields flying towards us).

Ironically for an action film, the actual action scenes are rather unimpressive: of course they’re not bad, as I said this is a very competent film (aside from some bad CGI around the train sequence), but in the end they’re not what this film might be remembered for. In fact Captain America runs slightly out of steam in the last part and it feels more and more a collection of set pieces which are not necessarily flowing into each other, and it slowly risks to become an almost by-the-number type of affair, until of course the final coda, which is brings us a step closer to the Avengers… (though at the same time rather sad that it will mean the end of the period setting, which I rather liked).

As popcorn movies go, this is a lot better than you might expect (especially considering the blandness of the original character from the comics) and more enjoyable than most of the stuff that Hollywood tends to rigurgitate over us during summer holidays.

7.0/10

OTHER REVIEWS: 

thor

Green Lantern 

Tron: Legacy

The Avengers

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