The Magic & Whimsy Return

Men in Black 3 doesn’t do badly at all, in a season that’s already beginning to regale us with remakes and sequels.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones manage to recapture a goodly share of the magic and whimsy that graced the original some 15 years ago, and was missing from its successor in 2002.

The main premise of the MIB franchise is that mankind is no longer alone on earth as an intelligent species, and hasn’t been in decades.

A top-secret intelligence unit has been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining contact with innumerable alien species on the planet, and of regulating their movements.

The aliens are restricted to their own zones where, disguised as humans, they may operate more or less freely—as long as they don’t get up to mischief, such as planning invasions.

In one hilarious sequence in the film, a tentacled alien posing as a Chinese restaurateur is busted for serving the repulsive-looking delicacies of his home planet to humans.

When an actual invasion is threatened by alien criminal Boris the Animal after he breaks out of his maximum-security prison on the moon, the Men in Black must spring into action.

Boris has a particular hate on for Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who was responsible for shooting off his arm in 1969.

When K inexplicably disappears, his partner Agent J (Will Smith) somehow figures out that Boris has travelled back in time to kill K in revenge.

J must travel back himself by leaping off New York’s Chrysler building, in a sequence that’s very well captured and heightened with the aid of 3-D.

Not to make things too complicated, J encounters a more youthful K, played superbly by Josh Brolin, with an uncanny resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones. He, of course, is unaware of his future partner’s identity in 1969.

There are some excellent performances here, with Smith his usual engaging self as the ebullient sidekick to the chronically taciturn Jones.

New Zealand actor Jemaine Clement (2010’s Dinner for Schmucks), as Boris the Animal, comes across as a snarling and menacing Hell’s Angel type with a Brit accent.

Part of what makes Men in Black 3 work is that it has kept the same director, New Yorker Barry Sonnenfeld, through the whole series of films.

Sonnenfeld has worked with the Coen Brothers and got his start as a cameraman for hard-core porno.

The dazzling pantheon of aliens created by veteran special effects and makeup master Rick Baker also amply justifies the seven Oscars Baker has received over the years.

Men in Black 3 is good fun throughout, and amusing summer entertainment.

Our suspicions are confirmed by a tongue-in-cheek flashback to Andy Warhol’s Factory, where it’s revealed that the whole Warhol scene, and indeed most supermodels, were the creations of aliens.

With a budget of $215 million, exceeding even that of The Avengers, the investment has proven worthwhile.Men In Black 3 dislodged the Marvel comics extravaganza from its number one spot at the box office by the end of May, earning $202 million worldwide.

Men in Black 3 plays at the Qwanlin Cinema at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m., and is rated PG for violence.

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