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.
Shrek stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy have agreed to voice the sequel to last year's animation mega-blockbuster, according to Reuters. And while we'll most likely have to wait until 2004 to see the ogre, Princess Fiona and Donkey in Shrek 2, we've learned one thing from its $900 million predecessor: green ogres rake in the green stuff.
Walt Disney Pictures announced Thursday that its major holiday animation film Treasure Planet will be released simultaneously in 35mm and IMAX Theaters on Nov. 27. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, this futuristic space adventure follows a boy pirate in search of the "loot of a thousand worlds." Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce and Martin Short will voice the characters.
Robert Redford's not the "Sundance Kid" for nothing. According to the Associated Press, Academy President Frank Pierson announced Friday that Redford, the actor/director/producer/creator of Sundance, will receive an honorary Oscar in March for having an "enormously positive impact on the motion picture industry" through his "dedication to independent filmmaking."
Speaking of "indie flicks," William Shatner and Harry Hamlin were in the Twin Cities Friday promoting their new low-budget flick, "Shoot or Be Shot," AP reports. Although this one probably won't get wide distribution, Hamlin said they took on the project because "we love the story, and we love the characters." (At least he's busy again; Hamlin's last notable role was on TV drama L.A. Law which ended in 1994).
Marisa Tomei and Ted Danson will announce the nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Tuesday, according to Ananova.com. The awards are given to both film and TV actors, and the winners will be announced March 10.
Mariah Carey may be back in the recording studio sooner than later. After a disappointing broken contract with EMI, the singer is rumored to be in negotiations with hip-hop label Def Jam, according to Sky News. Nothing has been finalized to date.
Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are all set take part in Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, a live concert honoring the queen's 50-year U.K. reign, Reuters reports. The BBC is scheduled to air the concert live June 3.
The Michael Jackson Internet Fan Club will be closing its doors Thursday, according to a message the MJIFC Team left on its site that read, "We are now ready to move on to other tasks in our lives." ABC News.com reports the site had been online for seven years.
PBS is celebrating 40 years of R&B classics in "Rhythm and Blues 40: A Soul Spectacular,'' Reuters reports. While no date is set, the artists highlighted will include the Isley Brothers, Percy Sledge, Eddie Holman, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and others. Dionne Warwick will co-host the program with Jerry Butler and Sam Moore.
What's your favorite flavor? The Dave Matthews Band has a new one. It's called One Sweet Whirled, and it's named after their song "One Sweet World," according to MTV. Here's the scoop: it's one of several new Ben & Jerry's ice creams, combing coffee ice cream with caramel and marshmallow swirls.
Now for an '80s flashback. Pop band Bananarama will reunite at London's Astoria for a special 20th anniversary concert next month, Ananova.com reports. All three of the band's original members--Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey--will perform.
Playboy magazine is giving reality TV a shot, according to Sky News. Twelve contestants, who will be featured in the June issue of Playboy, will live with one another for two weeks while competing to become the July Playmate. Hugh Hefner will pick the winner for the show that's expected to be titled Who Wants To Be a Playboy Playmate?