Men in Black 3 (12A) **
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson
The first Men in Black, a fresh, smart pulping of alien-invasion clichés, opened at the height of summer 1997. Fifteen years (and one underwhelming sequel) later, it may be telling that MIB3 shuffles out altogether timidly at May’s end, into a marketplace blitzed by The Avengers. With original ideas apparently at a premium, this quasi-prequel takes the Marty McFly route, invoking a “temporal fracture” that sends Will Smith’s Agent J back to 1969 to help his partner K (Tommy Lee Jones now, a livelier Josh Brolin then) close the one case that continues to bug him.
The monster-mash business – Smith wrestling with an outsized fish-creature, an alien’s head deployed as a bowling ball – retains its charms, but the counterculture schtick is too rarely funny, and for all the whizzy 3D thrown at us, it still ends up clanking round on the same gantry flooring as a dozen other recent superhero movies. Taken with the similarly fitful Dark Shadows and American Pie: Reunion, it’s enough to make you wonder whether mainstream Hollywood’s nostalgia has become a sickness. Haven’t we moved on from this? And if we have, why can’t they?
Men in Black 3 opens nationwide today.