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.
S4E6: It’s time for the case of the missing coke. It’s time to get in your Mystery Machine for Sons of Anarchy. Scoobie Snacks not included.
“Killing each other ain’t gonna solve anything!”–Clay
Our show begins right where last week’s left off, the Sons and Mayans wondering where the missing key of coke is and the two MCs arguing about it. Mayan president, Alvarez says matter of factly, “it doesn’t matter if it’s a Mayan or a Son; they’re dead.” Clay and Jax rule out Juice (who actually is the coke thief) with a quick discussion and Jax heads off to grab Happy for some of his interrogation tactics. First up for questioning is the Sons’ newest member, Eric Miles. While Happy’s having his fun, the Prospects proclaim their innocence to Clay. Happy’s fun, unbeknownst to the Prospects is just him bashing a hammer onto a table while Miles pretends to squeal in agony. Obviously Juice’s guilt is rising over the missing brick he stole and he thinks his club mates are being tortured for it. Jax forces the Prospects, Phil and Ratboy, into a game of Russian Roulette, and you guessed it: there are no bullets in the gun, it’s all in good fun and it’s all in the name of routing out the yak thief.
“She’s half of Satan’s spawn.”–Gemma
Tig’s daughter, Dawn – “the crazy one” – shows up at Teller–Morrow with some bad news about her sister, Margeaux, who she claims is anorexic. Meanwhile Gemma, Tara, and little Thomas Teller find Ima, the porn star, still at the shop from a night with Opie. Gemma and Tara threaten her and tell her to leave. While Tara briefly thinks Jax cheated on her again, Lyla shows up to ask where Opie is and she realizes that Opie was the one who cheated. Lyla spots the gash’s car, but before Lyla can put the boots to her, Ima pulls a gun and tells Lyla to ask Opie why he cheated instead on her. Tara and Gemma again threaten her, she better keep that gun close. While this is nothing more than a B story, a lot of B stories on the show intersect with the main plots and this one’s no different, forcing Clay, Jax, and Opie to leave the drug warehouse to deal with it. Upon returning, Piney tosses a fist into his son’s face, “Your d**k almost got people killed. I don’t even know who you are anymore.” All this over Lyla taking birth control (which Opie found out about last week); damn right the old man should have punched him. Pulling a gun in a room with a baby is not cool at all. As for Dawn, Bobby gets a hold of Margeaux, who is living happily and healthily in Chicago. Even though Tig learns that she’s drifting him, the thought of seeing his daughter is more important and he gives her the money.
“Knocked up and kidnapped kind of wipes the slate clean. I wouldn’t recommend it as a fix.”–Jax to Opie
Jax and Opie have one of their heart-to-hearts about Opie’s infidelity. Opie isn’t sure about his relationship with Lyla anymore. More importantly, afterwards Tara pours her own heart out to Jax “I’m the mother of your sons, you don’t just hurt me, you hurt all of us.” Gemma in not so many words suggests to her son to shut Ima up, “that wound isn’t going to heal fully. I’d make sure it doesn’t come back.” Sometime later, Opie and Lyla have their tete–a–tete and Lyla tells Opie about her abortion. Opie says he’s going to crash at the clubhouse until Lyla figures out what she wants to do. This is a story that has been ever-present but rarely spoken about: Opie’s continuing decent into the MC and away from any real family. We first met him as family man who was just part of the MC. Then the MC murdered his wife in a hit that was meant for him. He’s been headed down the road to motorcycle madness ever since. The show’s done a good job of portraying these changes ever so slightly and actor Ryan Hurst has done an outstanding job of deftly portraying them. Even though it’s a side story, I’m always pulling for Opie, hoping one day we’ll see him happy again. As for Jax’s part, smashing Ima’s head into a mirror and spitting on her is enough to keep her away.
“Burdens on you to find out the truth, otherwise you’re both dead.”–Chibs
Chibs, Happy, and the two prospects are still in the warehouse and the boys are still being forced to play the Russian roulette bluff. Chibs tells the prospects they had better find out the truth. Back at the club, Miles tells Clay that he checked the tapes and no one entered the warehouse except for their guys. Clay gets the word from Alvarez that he’s questioned his guys and none of the Mayans took the coke. Juice takes one last stab at the Sons’ prospects, telling them that there are guys coming to the warehouse and if the missing kilo isn’t here, it spells trouble for the club. Juice tells the prospects that he, Chibs, and Happy are going to have a smoke and if the missing kilo is around somewhere, “just put it back.” Juice dips away from Chibs and Happy to retrieve the missing key, unfortunately for him, Miles finds him. Instead of trying to talk it out, there’s an all too brief, but violent skirmish that ends with Juice shooting Miles; one of the show’s more gruesome murders of late. It’s bad enough Juice has been living in fear of Sheriff Roosevelt ratting him out to the Sons about his African-American heritage, but now he’s got the guilt of murdering an innocent man and covering his own ass. At least he’s found his scapegoat to blame the missing kilo on. Luckily for him, Chibs and Happy believe his story. Although, the look Chibs gives Juice while he’s getting stitched up would lead you to believe that the ex–IRA member does suspect Juice after all.
“She’s our doc, she’s got a level of access that I’m afraid is going to expose us.”–Clay
When Parada comes to pick up his drugs, Clay meets with him secret, asking him to set up a hit on his soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Hopefully, with Unser still in his back pocket, Clay had him on Tara, but after he meets with Sheriff Roosevelt and explains that Tara is in danger and anonymously puts a threatening letter on his car, it could be that he’s trying warn Tara without giving himself up.
Whew, I’m surprised this wasn’t one of the show’s 90-minute episodes, since there was a lot ground to cover. “With an X,” demonstrated why Sons of Anarchy is so captivating. With very little action, the plot’s drama was at the forefront and was all-engrossing. Even little B stories that seemingly mean nothing feel significant, because on this show the B stories wind up being more important by season’s end. We’ll probably see Dawn again. As for Ima, Jax’s threats will surely rise up again to hurt the club. After all, one of last year’s B-plots resulted in Tara’s kidnapping.
We saw a week of no action, and I’m still pumped up for the next episode. Kudos to creator Kurt Sutter, episode director Guy Ferland, and writers, Chris Collins and Regina Corrado for putting together a fine hour of drama.
The strapping, titular hero of Disney’s upcoming John Carter, a big-budget science-fiction epic due in March 2012, has braved the battlefield of the Civil War, but in the best of the four extended scenes from the film shown to fans at the studio’s D23 Expo in Anaheim this past weekend, he faces an even greater threat: a group of green, 12-foot-tall, four-armed aliens ready to shoot down a perceived invader like Carter. In the clip, Carter (Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch), a military veteran suddenly transported to Mars, tries to engage with Tars Tarkas, a member of a Martian warrior race called the Tharps (Tars is played in a motion-capture performance by Willem Dafoe, who had to walk around the film’s scorching desert set on stilts with motion-capture cameras surrounding his face). Carter, keeping a close eye on Tars’ more trigger-happy Tharp companions, tries to explain to the non-English-speaking stranger that his name is “Captain John Carter, of Virginia,” which leads to Tars mistakenly calling him Virginia.
In this and another scene in which Carter tries to evade Mars’ version of a dog only to have the slobbering, loyal creature catch up with him at every massive leap (the human soldier benefits from Mars’ lack of gravity), director and co-writer Andrew Stanton brings the same funny stranger-in-a-strange-land sense of dislocation he brought to Pixar’s animated masterpiece Wall-E. Stanton appeared in person at the Expo, as did stars Kitsch, Dafoe, and Lynn Collins, who plays Mars royalty and eventual Carter love interest Dejah. (Funnily enough, though Dafoe’s famously creepy mug couldn’t be more different from Kitsch’s handsome movie-star looks, both actors sported the exact same buzzed-in-the-back haircut at the Expo, a fact they merrily joked about.)
Stanton enthusiastically explained his passion for Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of John Carter of Mars novels, which the film is based on, saying that when he was a teenager, “my girlfriends would call them my romance novels.” In an even more endearing moment, Stanton compared the drawings of Carter he would doodle as a young man with those co-writers Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon drew in their youth.
Stanton’s evident love of the material indicates John Carter is in the right hands, though one of the four D23 clips fell totally flat—a romantic scene between Carter and Collins’ Dejah marked by stiff expository dialogue one would never expect from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Chabon (The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). It may end up playing better in the context of the finished film, but the lack of chemistry between Kitsch and Collins recalled an unflattering Disney adventure that the studio probably wishes its D23 followers has already forgotten: last year’s flop Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
John Carter opens March 9, 2012.
Check out two new pieces of concept art from the film that Disney debuted at D23:
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.