By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist December 12, 2011 at 7:10AM
Of all the big tentpole pictures of next year, none seems to have had a more troubled production than "Men in Black 3." The first film in the series, in 1997, was an enjoyable sci-fi comedy, but it took five years to get a sequel together, and when "Men In Black 2" hit theaters in 2002, virtually no-one was impressed with an unfunny reprise of the original. Ten years on, Will Smith's picked the franchise to be his return to the screen after an absence of four years, but the film had problems of its own; the project was greenlit with only one act of the sequel complete to take advantage of NYC tax breaks, Will Smith allegedly tinkered with the script, and two more writers, Jeff Nathanson and David Koepp, were brought on to fix things during an extended hiatus, while the budget soared to $215 million, while Alec Baldwin was forced to drop out of a role when shooting didn't restart on time.
Still, the film is finally in the can, and as of this morning, Digital Spy have the first trailer for the film. Is all that money up on the screen? Has the painful birth been worth it, and can Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Barry Sonnenfeld recapture the charm of the original film?
It's safe to say the verdict so far is... hmmm. The teaser sets up the basic conceit of the film, namely that Agent K (Jones) has been erased from history, killed in 1969, and Agent J (Smith) has to travel back in time and team with they younger K (Josh Brolin) to save him, and the universe. And Brolin's one-line is certainly the highlight, a spookily accurate impression of his older counterpart that suggests he was perfect casting.
But everything else is a little off. The production design is strangely off, and the alien-in-the-graffiti gag isn't a bad one, but Sonnenfeld seems to be shooting everything with lenses that distort Smith is close-up, the jokes mostly fall flat, and there's a certain shot-for-3D quality, including, like Sony's other big 2012 hopeful "The Amazing Spider-Man," a poorly rendered CGI drop through the Manhattan skyline.
It's early days, obviously, but seeing as how the stink of the first sequel hasn't dissipated in the decade since, and the film's troubled production, there's a long way to go before we'll rest easy on this one. Emma Thompson (glimpsed in the trailer), Alice Eve, Jermaine Clement and Michael Stuhlbarg co-star, and the film will hit theaters on May 25th, 2012.