The script does offer up a couple of provocative lines, voiced by the weary, crusty Agent K: “Don’t ask something you don’t want to know the answer to,” and, “Do you know what the most destructive force in the universe is? Regret.” But the movie is too cluttered with characters to explore any thematic issues in sufficient depth. For instance, there’s Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg, Hugo), a bizarre character who has the ability to see all future possibilities (except for the possibility that viewers might find him more annoying than amusing). Also, a small role for Nicole Sherzinger early in the film leads nowhere fast, as her character abruptly disappears.

It’s unfortunate that Men in Black 3 doesn’t take the time to wrestle with any philosophical questions. It concentrates most of its energy on some surprisingly good special effects that, while gross in spots, are often more entertaining than the dialogue. A poignant ending is one of the film’s only surprises, but it’s hard to care much about the characters’ personal losses and relationships when the film is most interested in standard summer-movie action.

Better is what the film shows of Sonnenfeld’s filmmaking chops. Sonnenfeld, who started his film career as the cinematographer on the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing, unleashes some of the visual flair he showed in those films and earlier directorial efforts like The Addams Family and Get Shorty. The string of duds that followed—Wild Wild West, Big Trouble and the aforementioned Men in Black 2—was long enough to make one despair that Sonnenfeld would ever recover the joie de vivre he had shown behind the camera.

Then came ABC’s Pushing Daisies, for which Sonnenfeld served as executive producer and sometime director. A macabre, humorous story about a pie-maker who investigates murders, the program was never a big hit. But in the brief time it aired, Pushing Daisies showed signs that Sonnenfeld’s flair for memorable visual touches was alive and well. The TV series seemed to rejuvenate Sonnenfeld, who brings his trademark visual flourishes back to the big screen in Men in Black 3. (He even “borrows” the fall-from-a-tall-building effect from the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy—the first Coen film to be shot by someone other than Sonnenfeld [Roger Deakins, in the case of Hudsucker]).

With Men in Black 3, the franchise reverses its own fall from great heights that occurred with Men in Black 2. But it’s not a sharp enough reversal to justify further chapters (or the higher ticket prices for 3D, which is, as is often the case with today’s movies, superfluous). It’s time for everyone involved—in front of, and behind the camera—to find more stimulating outlets for their talents.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Oh, God”; “da-n”; “hell”; “bull-it”; “balls”; “nasty a-s piece of s-it”; “pissed off”; “Christ’s sakes”; “big a-s”; “pimp slapping the shizznet”; “screw off”; “sick bas-ard.”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: None.
  • Sex/Nudity: A French kiss with a long tongue; verbal reference to “the Viagrans.”
  • Violence/Crime: Alien kills guards; open flesh wounds; guards and others sucked through a hole in a wall; eyeballs in soup; futuristic guns fired, and aliens explode; alien beaten in the head with a pan, another impaled; alien innards removed; characters fall from great heights; character consumed by fire.
  • Marriage/Religion: Aliens sing “Amazing Grace” at a funeral.


Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.