Men in Black 3 (2012)
"Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.'s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history."
The third installment of the Men in Black series, this one adds in the complex theory of time travel. The aliens, the agents, the adventure and world-saving all return, but the humor feels less frequent than the first two movies - even if most of the second movie's jokes where crude puns if anything (ballchinian?). Does the tag team duo of Agent K and J suit up for another thrilling film, or is this one more ho-hum than the last?
As the blurb says, Agent J (Will Smith) finds himself traveling back in time to 1969 in order to try and save his partner and friend Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones in modern times, Josh Brolin in '69) from the vengeful and spine-happy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement). It all starts in a typical MiB fashion: an introduction to who's going to be our bad guy for the movie when we watch Boris escape from Lunar Max (moon prison) and initiate his plans for revenge on K, who shot his arm off a long time ago. A few scenes of typical K and J interaction later, Boris goes back in time and kills K, causing time to change but J (for whatever reason) still remembers him like nothing happened.
All of this (and the fact that apparently chocolate milk causes a cessation of time-ripple headaches.) leads to J being thrust back in time through a fancy new device (a time ear) with the goal of killing Boris before he can cause any of this trouble. The number of jokes that happens throughout the movie seems to be less than the others, which lends to a bit more serious tone as we explore all of this plot, which thickens substantially when we are introduced to the character Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg) who can see all the possibilities of time and space all at once (leading to some rather confusing "is this the one where this happens? No? Good, I didn't like that one). The elaboration on how time works given at that point is much more in depth than what you might expect from a series of movies that have usually been silly entertainment flicks.
Now, Griffin happens to have a device called the arknet, to which is given to K to prevent all of Boris's racial alien friends from invading and snacking on earth. This has already happened in the timeline that J is from, however with the explanation of time we get from Griffin we realize that that actual path of time requires essentially a miracle to happen. We get more Boris troublemaking and action tension scenes, and there's even a nice serious twist at the end that causes the characters to be fleshed out a bit more because of it. At the very least, I didn't expect it.
The costumes here are wonderful, and the fact that we get the two separate time zones just helps to add a bit of diversity needed to movies with a modern setting. Aliens (at least some of which are CG) come off looking incredibly out of this world, and even the details of the settings change with the time jump to give it a more authentic feel. The '69 K does a nice job of contrasting the older 'modern' K, and the interactions inject a bit of that old light-hearted mood from the other films. The props are also still as elaborate and shiny as they ever were, particularly the incredibly large 1969 Neuralizer, which is incredibly complex and large (emphasize that again to show just how big it is) to the extent of almost being hysterical. The difference between the technology levels from then to the more modern times is also interesting to view - a portable Neuralizer that has a belt-mounted battery pack to charge it up (all the while making the old Dial up modem noise) for instance.
The audio here sounds very similar to the other movies, with a few period songs intermixed (which works great from the set standpoint). Outside of those, I wouldn't go to the extent of calling anything an earworm, although some of them might follow you for an hour or two after the film ends. Actors do a great job of delivering their lines as we know the characters, and everyone feels lively while on screen. As mentioned before, the number of jokes feels as though it may be toned down from the other films, but they aren't entirely gone (although some you might wish were). The facial expressions of the actors do a wondrous job of adding to their lines as well, helping to make some of the situations a bit more comical or intense than they might have otherwise been. Weapons sound as they usually do in MiB flicks - lasers "pew pew", explosions boom, and the baddies have a tendency of roaring at least once. There shouldn't be any disappointment in this department.
I don't want to spoil any of the ending for anyone reading this, so I'm not going to go super in-depth with this character part, so forgive me for that alright? The characters actually have a layer of depth to them this time around, or at least J and K have depth. Getting to see K back in 1969 helps to flesh out his character, and make you wonder more what caused him to change so much from then to the modern times. J is his usual goofy self, but by the end even he has an epiphany that allows us to see some change in him - dare I even say a bit of maturity develop. It's nice to see a bit of development, especially in a comedic movie as the MiB flicks are generally done, and it's a nice payoff to the long-term fans who always wondered why so and so acted like this or that.
All in all, it's not a bad movie, worth the watch if you are a fan of the trilogy. If you like the theoreticals of time travel, you might wanna watch this one as well, if for nothing but the character Griffin and how he elaborates time works (some deep stuff). Outside of that, it's no worse than any other action comedy flick, with ample bits of action and comedy, as well as a bunch of character-generated plot. You could almost go as far as to call it a quirky time travel buddy cop movie, but in general if you liked the other MiB movies, you should enjoy this one.