Amongst the summer blockbusters, sequels and prequels we’re getting this year. Men In Black 3 rises a notch above the rest. There’s a lot of mediocrity in the movie houses, and Will Smith delivers a suited up, suitable performance.
Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Smith) are back to another intergalactic go round. This time with a sharp toothed baddie named Boris The Animal (Jemaine Clement.) Imprisoned on a secret moon prison for aliens by K, Boris breaks out to seek his revenge by traveling back in time to kill K in 1969. How very Terminator of him.
J must also head back to the 60’s to stop the retroactive killing. There he meets a younger Agent K (Josh Brolin) and start on a whimsical path of straight guy vs. wacky guy character development. Along the way, we are treated to the host of gooey, scary and hidden aliens that walk unnoticed amongst us.
Director Barry Sonnefeld, who also called shots on the previous MIB films doesn’t spend much time playing up the time change. While in the past Agent J notices that things are a little off and is subject to some tame racism but the points are not dwelled upon. The biggest kicker about time frames, actually comes in the present setting of the film. While Agent J knocks on the door of a stranger and takes a drink from a child’s sippy cup, the little one asks her mother why the president is drinking her chocolate milk?
While at times it seemed like Smith bounced back and forth from an energetic 20-something and the more dignified 43 year old he is today, he still was entertaining. Brolin must have been studying Tommy Lee Jones films, because he seamlessly pulls off the grumpy deadpan persona. That may be the film’s crowning achievement.
What’s nice about the MIB franchise is they do a nice balance job of sci-fi wizardry and human capacity. It’s rare, but three films into the franchise and the fun is still there.
In a world of board games turned into poor alien invasion movies, mixed with less than perfect off-color satire about dictatorships, there is a movie well worth seeing this weekend; Bernie.
In a story based on true events, Bernie stars Jack Black as Bernie Tiede. Set in the 90’s, he’s a Texas small town funeral director who seems to have a perfect halo over his head. Bernie is friends with everyone, always willing to help and an all around good guy. So good, he befriends Marjorie (Shirley McClaine,) the one old lady in town that everyone hates. He treats her with the utmost respect and honor until her negative persuasions influence him to do something bad.
Bernie is a real life dark comedy that plays out beautifully because its characters are fascinating to watch. Nailing the Texas persona on the head, the entire cast make this a treat as they recall the events leading up to Bernie turning a gun on his new best friend. Matthew McConaughey plays District Attorney Danny Buck, the man trying to convince everyone that Bernie has a dark side.
As the story plays out, it was refreshing to see unknowns driving the plot forward. Black, McClaine and McConaughey all have enough quirky senses that their performances each shine brightly, but I think the real treat is the characters they are surrounded with. If you can find comedy in the Texas drawl, you won’t stop smiling.
Also, you’re not hit over the head, but rather ease into the low-key story, which again, is a nice change from battleship invading aliens. Deservingly mellowed credit goes to Director Richard Linklater, who also delivered on Dazed and Confused and the similarly paced Before Sunrise/After Sunset combo.
Though fans of Jack Black will see hints of him about to break into his sillier modes, he plays the straight man to a perfect T. Black Gold. Texas Tea.
I guarantee this film would have been received to roaring applause if it were shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Indie lovers will adore it.
For goofy superhero fun, The Avengers is not a bad ride at all, but I still prefer Director Joss Whedon’s other work from this year “Cabin In The Woods.”
The Avengers is the summation (but by no means the end of the franchise) of several movies based on Marvel comic book superheroes. Faced with the certain destruction of earth, by the outcast Viking god Loki (Tom Hiddleston,) Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) brashly assembles a motley crew of fighters to battle the oncoming threat.
While at first their egos and talents don’t mix, they learn through strife their combined unit is much stronger than the evil facing them.
Robert Downey Jr; Mark Ruffalo; Chris Evans; Scarlett Johansson; Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner are respectively Ironman; The Hulk; Captain America; Black Widow; Thor and Hawkeye. We’ve seen all the characters separately in films to varying degrees of success except for master archer Hawkeye and super spy Black Widow.
The first act drags. Vocal yawns could be heard while Nick Fury spends much time setting up the conflict and garnering his superteam. The all out battle to follow is a respectable reward for the exposition and rising action.
It’s easy to fall victim to superhero cliché, and while The Avengers does in order to appeal to the masses, there is still pleasure to be taken from the stellar eye candy special effects.
If not for the comic relief of The Hulk, this would have been a much lesser film. Captain America handing Hulk the simple command to “smash” makes up for just about all the missteps.
Here’s another quick way of looking at The Avengers franchise. If I were to rank the films in this series so far, it would go like this:
Ironman 2 (2010)
The Avengers (2012)
Captain America (2011)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Hulk (2003)
Stick around through the end credits for the culinary payoff. Avengers need to eat too.