A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
S4E4: This week on Sons of Anarchy boys have voted to run drugs for the Gallindo cartel, Clay and Jax want out, and they each want to put in their own choice as a successor. Gemma’s pissed that the club’s running drugs. Tara is still debating on whether or not to show Jax the letters that Maureen gave to him. There’s a lot of road to cover as the Sons get read ready for their first drug run, so as the song says “get your motor running…”
"How's the grip?"- SAMTAZ Member to Clay
A Spanish cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are–A Changin’” plays over the opening montage, which is a reminder of the show’s fantastic use of music as a mood setter (check out the Stigers’ cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” from the season two finale or the Irish–themed version of the show’s theme song from last season for some great musical cues). As the crew makes its first drug run, Clay needs a pit stop to have Jax help him with cortisone shot to help with the growing arthritis in his hands. Can’t ride, can’t run the club. Most shows might make this a big huge story arc, but on Sons, there’s way too much going on to waste time on a story about shaky hands, so instead it’s a character point and an ever looming one at that; it came to the forefront several times this episode.
The club meets up with their Arizona charter, who is revealed to be dealing their own crank. Knowing this won’t sit well at all with Romero Parada, Clay demands that the Tucson Sons shut down their operation. Unfortunately for SAMCRO, their Arizona brothers are a tad overzealous. “You mule, we sell,” said SAMTAZ president, Armando. Jax learns that SAMTAZ have been dealing for four months, which is right around the time one of their own is killed and another leaves the club. Side note: If there’s anyone out there who knows the real laws of outlaw biker gangs, please explain this to me: if Clay is the president for the entire club, why isn’t his word law? I guess it makes the show a little more dramatic if each charter does what it wants, but after last season’s betrayal by SAMBEL, I hope we’re not going to have another charter turn their backs on SAMCRO.
The club meet former SAMTAZ member Reggie, who was allowed to leave SAMTAZ in good standing, as evidenced by his ink being merely blacked out instead of burned or scraped off. After some coercion, Reggie explains why he was allowed to leave: he was sleeping with another member’s old lady. Of course, SAMTAZ V.P. Huff had used for leverage when he found out. That leverage was leaving the club scot-free with no retaliation, so long as Reggie didn’t tell the rest of SAMTAZ that he knew Huff had set up a cook house, in order to get SAMTAZ started in the drug selling racket.
"I want to know why best friend was afraid when he died."- Piney
Piney meets with Tara to discuss John Teller. He believes the club is heading down the wrong path with drugs and wants to read the letters that Maureen sent. His oxygen levels drop and Piney drops to the floor. Now kept under observation, Tara asks the elder biker about his departed friend and co–founder of the Sons, John Teller. Piney wants to know why his best friend was afraid when he died. Tara broke the news to Piney that John wanted the club out of the gun business and was supposed to meet with the club’s IRA allies, but was killed before that meeting ever took place. Gemma tries to subtlety threaten Piney that digging deeper will kill him, but the old, and possibly ready to die, Piney says “that’s half the reason I’m doing this.”
One great thing about having a fantastic ensemble cast is that there are so many characters to get to know and love, and there might be a core group of players on the show that probably won’t be dying anytime soon, it’s guys like Piney who seem to be “redshirts with a cause,” they might not be long for this world, but they’re going to take something or someone out with them on the way to meet their maker.
"I'll be up later this week to see how things are going." -Romero Parada
The big moment is here and the Sons are given their marching orders and supplies from Parada–over 700,000 dollars for their troubles and 30 kilos of uncut Colombian cocaine. The menacing cartel captain bids the club “Bueno Suerte.”
This season seems to be about the club’s moral struggle. While he does go along for the run, Bobby is one of club members who voted “no” on running drugs, and he does not sit idly by as the events of the episode ramp up. First, he reiterates his opinions when Armando tries to convince Clay that running and selling drugs are the same thing, then he tries it again but Clay angrily demands that he shut up. Our parting shot for the week is the MC’s resident Elvis-impersonator staring down his president and vice president as they load up the coke.
Considering the club teams up with their Arizona SAMTAZ brothers this week and are treated to a stark reminder of what happens to a club when it starts dealing drugs, it will be interesting to see how the resolve of SAMCRO will change in the coming weeks. Will Jax’s strong sense of morality creep back up to the surface or will he let his ego and desire to leave peacefully continue to guide his choices?
Sons, like so many great dramas, is well aware of how to ramp up crisis. As the season progresses, viewers might feel like they’re prepping for a test, because the dribs and drabs of details that were dropped these past few weeks will continue to fester. Consider, for example, Agent Potter casually introducing himself to Gemma under the guise of being a mere city worker as part of a larger attempt to wriggle his way closer to the club and their dealings.
The drugs are in SAMCRO’s possession and with that this season has jumped into second gear as the fracture within the ranks of the club continues. This is turning into a dark, introspective season. Will our anti–heroes be able to survive it?