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'Men In Black III' Reviews: Better Than The Second, But Still Irrelevant

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood May 22, 2012 at 1:46PM

The arrival of "Men in Black III" on May 25 is exciting mostly because Will Smith hasn't been on the big screen since 2008's "Seven Pounds." Bill Desowitz also finds it's 3-D a revelation for the comedy genre...
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MiB III

The arrival of "Men in Black III" on May 25 is exciting mostly because one of our last true movie stars, Will Smith, hasn't been on the big screen since 2008's "Seven Pounds." Bill Desowitz also finds it's 3-D a revelation for the comedy genre; he talks to director Barry Sonnenfeld in Immersed in Movies. And, though not a fan of the franchise, Carrie Rickey sings the praises of art director Bo Welch, arguing that the franchise helped to make mid-20th century High Modernism mainstream.

So far, the critical consensus is that the third installment of "Men in Black" is superior to the second and Josh Brolin and time travel are welcome additions. However, some critics feel it's an unecessary continuation of the aliens-and-explosions comedy ten years after #2 turned fans off. "Men in Black III" is currently 60% Fresh. Check out reviews and the trailer below:

NY Post: "This only mildly bloated and convoluted action comedy has enough inspired moments to wipe out memories of the abysmal 2002 first sequel as surely as one of the black-suited heroes' nebulizers."

THR: "A decade after Part Two, the MiB franchise recovers the original's magic,..3D is as irrelevant as ever here,..It's hard to imagine it won't be a hit, and hard to begrudge that success, no matter how saturated we are with comic-book properties and sequels."

Variety: "Perhaps the best that can be said for the years-in-the-works "Men in Black 3" is that its prolonged, difficult development rarely leaves visible scars on the finished product. This is no small compliment, as subjecting the franchise's zippy cornball energy to committee rethink and patchwork solutions could have been toxic,..Josh Brolin's quietly hilarious performance should give it a decent shot,..In this age of blockbuster bloat, Sonnenfeld's willingness to wrap things up well before the two-hour mark, as well as his eschewal of sledgehammer product placement, count as gestures of considerable mercy."

Hitfix: "Consider it good news that what sounded like a complete disaster during production winds up nothing worse than a run-of-the-mill summer event movie on screen. It's an improvement over "Men in Black II," but not as fresh or inspired as the original. There's no real justification for its existence, but it's reasonably fun to watch most of the time. By the standards of summer 2012 so far, that's a win...But don't get too excited."

TotalFilm: "In a summer hardly starved of comic-book properties, this redundant extension of a series that ran out of gas a decade ago doesn’t need a neuralyzer to be forgettable."

Empire: "At first glance, when the film’s plot was made public, it seemed an act of madness to scrunch up the golden ticket and separate the Men In Black, but it’s actually a boon for the film. Jones, whose screen time amounts to around 15 minutes, looks tired, and while the film plays nicely on that, there’s no excuse for Smith looking sleepy too, or their banter feeling so forced and drained of life,..(spare a thought for Alice Eve as the young Emma Thompson, who winds up as nothing more than an impressive hairdo that occasionally speaks)."

This article is related to: Reviews, Box Office, Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Franchises


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.