Men in Black 3 is in many ways a sequel that nobody, including myself, really wanted.
Let me explain: I absolutely loved the original Men in Black which was a unique and funny mashup of sci-fi and comedy that featured very inspired performances from Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and, most importantly, Vincent D’onofrio. Unfortunately, the eventual sequel Men in Black 2 was an overproduced, unfunny retread of the first film that left a black-eye on the original. When MIB 3 was announced, it was very hard not to believe that it wasn’t just a lame attempt at a money-grab on an existing series that had run it’s course several years ago.
Fortunately MIB 3, although uneven in it’s first 30 minutes, redeems itself once Josh Brolin shows up for the final two-thirds of running time. Smith and Brolin have good chemistry as Brolin turns in an Oscar worthy performance portraying a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Agent Kay. The story is serviceable and has a bit of fun with the central premise of Agent Jay time traveling back to 1969 in order to save Agent Kay from a ruthless assassin known as ‘Boris the Animal’ (played by a completely unrecognizable Jemaine Clement). MIB 3 also has a few moments of impressive visual sequences involving what I’ll call the “progressions through time” as Agent Jay travels through the time vortex.
Not as funny as MIB. Much, much better than the horrible MIB 2 in every way. MIB 3 has its moments of fun, but it’s Josh Brolin’s stand out performance that makes it worth a look.
When I learned a while back that the story of Snow White was going to be remade with a “darker and grittier” look and tone harkening back to the original Grimm fairytale, I yawned. I thought, “Seriously, how many times are we going to be sold the same, old, tired stories?” At that point, I had zero desire to see Snow White and the Huntsman… then I saw the trailer.
I’m a visual person, and there were just some great visuals thrown into that trailer that made me rethink the film as a whole. Those visuals included an oversized bull-like creature that looked like it was covered in earth (turns out it was a bad-ass troll), the transformation of the Evil Queen from human form into a murder of crows and the ‘Mirror on the Wall’ pouring out of the wall and turning into a humanoid figure (a’la T-1000 liquid metal). Those unique visuals and what was obviously a high quality production convinced me that a trip the theater was actually warranted.
I have to admit Snow White and the Huntsman completely surprised me; it rises above being just a visual spectacle for spectacle’s sake and delivers a satisfying re-telling of a well known story. At times it gave me the feeling of watching a Lord of the Rings film, which was a good thing. I mostly expected it to just rush from set piece to set piece in order to thrill visually. It’s much more patient with the pacing then I expected so the story isn’t rushed and has some time to breathe, which I found quite pleasing. That’s not to say it’s a perfect film, the title characters are fine, if not a bit plain, and it isn’t until the Dwarves show up that the film really finds its footing. Also, the final ending comes off a bit anti-climatic.
Let me get back to the Dwarves though; they’re really the heart of this film [see what I did there?]. They’re very believable, likable, funny and recognizable in each role without being told who is who. The Dwarves add a lot of energy and lift up the spirit of the film, giving the audience its true emotional connection.
Visually, Snow White and the Huntsman is, without a doubt, a huge success and continues to deliver spectacle during its full running time. The effects work here is seamless and quite stunning at times, but feels like it’s supporting the story telling and not just trying to show off.
A rousing, visually stunning and enjoyable retelling of a story that, while probably familiar to most, is worth seeing/hearing again.