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.
R&B star Sean Kingston will play slain rap heavyweight Notorious B.I.G. in an upcoming biopic.
The singer, who is dominating the charts with summer hit "Beautiful Girls," has landed the lead role in the movie, which is being produced by Sean 'Diddy' Combs.
Kingston says, "When I first heard about that movie, it was through management. My management told me about it and, you know, I had auditioned for it and I met with the director and I nailed it and he gave me a shot now at being in the movie."
Notorious B.I.G.'s mother, Voletta Wallace, and his two former managers, Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts, played a key role in casting and were keen to sign up an unknown star for the coveted role.
The rapper--real name Christopher Wallace--was shot to death in March 1997 outside a Los Angeles party.
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Ben Affleck ("Dogma") wasn't cruisin' in a Batmobile, but the rumored Caped Crusader contender got cozy anyway with the Massachusetts justice system.
On Christmas Eve, Affleck, with ex-girlfriend-turned-just-friend Gwyneth Paltrow ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") in tow, showed up at Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington, Mass., to pay a $135 fine for driving with a suspended license. Affleck was ticketed for speeding in Lee, Mass., on Aug. 11. The 27-year-old actor was reportedly on his way to visit Paltrow, who was acting in a play at the nearby Williamstown Theater Festival.
In their joint courthouse appearance, Affleck and Paltrow posed for pictures and signed autographs, according to the New York Daily News. Affleck's lawyer, David Hoose, said yesterday that the actor had a valid California license but was unaware his license was suspended in Massachusetts, apparently because of unpaid traffic violations.
GONE A' COURTING - Rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is free on $10,000 bail after being formally charged Monday with criminal possession of a weapon and possession of stolen property in the wake of a New York nightclub shooting that left three injured.
All potential charges, meanwhile, against Combs' girlfriend, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez ("Out of Sight"), also in hot water after the shooting, have been dropped.
A court hearing for Combs is set for Feb. 14.
Combs declared his innocence to reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court. "I do not own a gun," he said. "I do not carry a gun. The charges and allegations against me are 100 percent false, I feel confident that in the next couple of days, I will be vindicated and everything will be all right."
Prosecutors said Combs, 30, got into an argument with other patrons at Club New York in Manhattan shortly before 3 a.m. (EST) Monday. After one patron threw money at him, Combs and Jamal Barrow, a member of his entourage, reportedly pulled out weapons, with Barrow allegedly firing. A woman was shot in the face and two men were wounded in the shoulder; all three were listed in stable condition.
Authorities say Combs sped away from the club with Lopez ("Out of Sight") -- their Jeep chased by police until it was forced off the street. The celebrity couple, Barrow and one other person were taken in for questioning.
Barrow, 21, faces charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment.
GONE A' PLANTIN' - Sylvester Stallone has a new hobby while waiting for those "Rambo" sequels to take form: gardening.
Stallone has agreed to replant the hundreds of trees and bushes unlawfully cut down on his Miami property by staff members. (Apparently city officials there need to pre-approve trimming plans.)
The action-star's lawyer said Stallone "had no knowledge that the trees had been taken down," according to the Hollywood Reporter. The cost to replace the scrubbed shrubbery has been estimated at between $200,000-$500,000 by nursery owners.
JUST GONE - Singer Dave Matthews ("Crash") will have to wait a while longer to make his feature film debut. Production on a remake of the nature drama "Where the Red Fern Grows," featuring the rocker, has been halted until next month due to financial difficulties.
The $3-$3.5 million film, co-starring Ned Beatty, Dabney Coleman and Mac Davis, ran up debts of almost $700,000, according to the Hollywood Reporter, leaving producers unable to finish the project.
Matthews, who fronts the Dave Matthews Band, recently released "Listener Supported," a double-CD live album.