If you’ve never seen any of the Men in Black films, this third one may actually be the best one to start with. There is a time travel element in this movie that reveals an important back story about our main characters, Will Smith as Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, which makes it more emotionally satisfying than the previous films; Men in Black (1997) and Men in Black II (2002).
Where the first two movies were more interested in revealing the insignificant existence of our world in the vast universe, this movie focuses more on the relationship between the main characters and how they came to be the people we know and love today.
Before the Coen brothers began their famous partnership with cinematographer Roger Deakins, they started out with Barry Sonnenfeld as DP on their earliest films; Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987) and Miller’s Crossing (1990). Barry was also the cinematographer on such memorable films as Big (1988), When Harry Met Sally… (1989) and Misery (1990), before he began his career as a director. Being a photographer by nature his films are visually inventive and playful, poking fun at macabre and western genre films such as The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993) and Wild Wild West (1999). So he was a natural choice to direct the Men in Black movies, which are sci-fi comedies that make fun of alien invasion films.
The first Men in Black film had a great concept because it dealt with big ideas using lots of humor. It played with well-known conspiracy theories as if they were all true and a secret government organization called MIB that protected people from discovering those truths while propagating other urban myths.
In the MIB world, aliens have always lived among us as refugees from distant planets, disguised in human bodies. But there are rules that the aliens must abide by while living on Earth and the MIB enforces those rules. Naturally there are occasional mishaps when aliens misbehave or run loose and try to take over the world. That’s when the MIB step in and take out their big guns, which come in all shapes and sizes. Having access to advanced alien technology, they are able to keep aliens in check and humans in the dark about the aliens living on Earth. The Neuralizer, for example, comes in handy when you want to help humans forget about that nasty two-headed super model with tentacles coming out of her fingertips that just destroyed your apartment building.
It’s all outrageous good fun and done with loads of visual flare. There are plenty of hilarious and wonderful B movie aliens created by the multiple award-winning make-up effects artist Rick Baker, who has won 7 Oscars including one for Men in Black. His legendary work can be seen in films such as Star Wars (1977), American Werewolf in London (1981), Planet of the Apes (2001), and The Wolfman (2010) to name just a few.
I saw MIB 3 in 3D and there were some visually spectacular sequences that looked great in 3D, including the time jump sequence where Agent J jumps off the Empire State building to travel back in time. He must gain a certain amount of speed for the time jump to work and the camera follows our hero rushing past the windows of the building as he plummets into the past.
It took ten years but this movie was worth the wait, bringing the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion and the story full circle. You can enjoy this film even if you haven’t seen the previous ones because it reveals an emotional connection between our heroes, allowing us to go back and see the previous films in a whole new context, which is exactly what a good sequel should do.