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.
No matter how many times Hollywood screenwriters trot out this tired hackneyed plot in failed horror movies there’s always another just like it around the corner. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: An attractive young couple Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) return to his family’s deserted secluded vacation home after attending a friend’s wedding reception. With roses petals strewn everywhere and a ring box in sight this was to be a night of elation for the couple--but something goes wrong. At 4:00 am just as things begin to pick up for them again romantically there is a loud knock at the door. Of course being mind-numbingly stupid movie characters they open it to discover a strange young woman asking if someone named “Tamara” was home. After that James has to conveniently leave for a while which leaves Kristen alone. What ensues is about 40 minutes of near encounters with three masked weirdos who clearly are not there to borrow a cup of sugar. When James returns Kristen must convince him there are people trying to terrorize her. It doesn’t take long before he gets the message and the two must use all their wiles to fight for their lives. Let’s face it this is not the type of script that’s going to attract Meryl Streep. Liv Tyler is the nominal lead and altough her rather expressionless weepy doll school of acting is an acquired taste she does prove she can scream with the best of ’em when the knives finally come out. Unfortunately much of The Strangers is ultimately reliant on the proposition that we care about this couple and their romantic woes. We don’t. Chemistry is nil between Tyler and co-star Scott Speedman whose bland performance doesn’t help matters. There’s really not much to say about the masked “strangers” (Gemma Ward Kip Weeks and Laura Margolis) who all act like zombies and speak in monotones. Glenn Howerton as James’ friend has some brief moments that threaten to liven up the proceedings but he’s in and out too quickly to make much of an impression. First time screenwriter/director Bryan Bertino pulls out all the clichés associated with this type of film. You’ve seen it all done many times before in any number of pictures from Straw Dogs to the recent Funny Games and Vacancy. Bertino’s gimmick seems to be letting the audience not the characters in on what’s about to happen. So often we see the killers lurking in the shadows unnoticed by our clueless leads. Then they vanish. This pattern is repeated over and over milking the “suspense ” but not making much story sense. There are a couple of standard movie jolts here and there to mix things up but mostly Bertino proves himself to be a better tease than director. No Hitchcock this dude! SPOILER ALERT: We have a policy about not giving away the ending but it sucks. Just like the movie.
Monsoon Wedding, a film about an Indian bride who has second thoughts about an arranged marriage, won the coveted Golden Lion award for Best Picture at the 58th Venice Film Festival on Saturday. Directed by Mira Nair (Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay! and Mississippi Masala), it represents the first time a woman has won the top prize at the world's oldest film festival.
Other winners included Iranian director Babak Payami win for best director for his film, Raye Makhfi (The Secret Ballot), a story about a voting box which suddenly falls out of the sky on election day. Best actress and actor went to the Italian actors Luigi lo Cascio and Sandra Ceccarelli for their work in the Italian film Luce dei miei Occhi (Light of my Eyes).
Even though his records are selling, rapper Juvenile will most likely lose his house in Mandeville, Louisiana. The Bank of New York foreclosed on its loan on the house when Juvenile, whose real name is Terius Grey, failed to make any of the monthly $2,329 mortgage payments due since April. The $315,000 property will be seized and put up for auction.
Three former bodyguards of talk show host Rosie O'Donnell have filed suit against her, saying she recorded their conversation in her Miami home without their knowledge. Steven Rubino, Chris Delia and Ted Van Rijn claim they were fired when they confronted O'Donnell about her monitoring their office in her home. O'Donnell insists she did not know about the monitoring device and claims no wrongdoing.
Just as the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson is staging a massive comeback, two former financial advisors are filing a $25 million lawsuit against the singer. Derek Rundell and Gary "Court" Coursey are demanding payment for services rendered as well as are asking for an "accounting of the Defendant's books and records relating to any and all new ventures, financings and investments," according to a report by the Associated Press. Jackson denies owing them any money and his reps believe the two are just trying to make money off the singer's fame.
Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson will once again don the tight-fitting red bathing suit, this time to host a Baywatch marathon on TNN, Monday, Sept. 24. The show will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. TNN will show repeats of the show starting Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 6-7 p.m.
Independent film producer Laura Ziskin will produce the 74th Academy Awards telecast next March, it was announced. Ziskin, whose producing credits include As Good As It Gets and Pretty Woman, will take over from Gil Cates, who has produced the show for the last decade.
The Wall Street Journal reported that actor Keanu Reeves has signed away a sizable back-end deal and valuable profit-sharing points for his two Matrix sequels to the franchise's special-effects and costume-design team. "He felt that they were the ones who made the movie and that they should participate," an unnamed movie executive told the Journal. Reeves has deferred payment before, sharing his salary to work with Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate and Gene Hackman in The Replacements.