Monday, May 28, 2012

This Week In Tickets: 21 May 2012 - 27 May 2012

Fastest I've done one of these in months, if not longer. You can do that when you're only really carving time for Sunrise out of watching baseball:

This Week In Tickets!

As I write this, I am learning a valuable lesson along the lines of "when a friend offers you sunblock at a Red Sox game while you're in direct, bright sunlight, say yes." It makes a lot more sense than what Valentine is doing with Lin Che-Hsuan. Sure, he's mostly up as a defensive replacement, but is he so hopeless with the bat that Scott Podsednik and Little Nicky Punto are better options?

Nearly a great game - Buchholz pitched well (evidence in my head that his ability improves as Matsuzaka's return becomes more likely - Daisuke pitched a fine game at Pawtucket on Saturday), Adrian Gonzalez hit a clutch go-ahead home run... and then Aceves blew the save.

After that, it was a pleasant enough walk to Boston Common for Men in Black 3. That movie, by the way, had one of the longest trailer packages I've seen in a while (likely a result of seeing more movies in Arlington/Somerville, where they do tend to just get on with it). A big part of that was the 6-minute Amazing Spider-Man preview, which maybe hasn't made me a total believer in the reboot - it still looks a little Batman Begins-y for my taste, and I really would have liked to see what Sam Raimi, Dylan Baker, Bryce Dallas Howard, and James Cromwell would have done with much of the same material that was set up in Spider-Man 3. But there's little doubt that it's going to look amazing.

And, yeah, I'm joining the "Prometheus Now!" crowd. I've only seen a couple teasers for that before but the trailer made me quite enthused.

Men in Black 3

* * * (out of four)
Seen 27 May 2012 in AMC Boston Common #1 (first-run, Imax-branded DLP 3D)

One of the things that's surprisingly pleasant about Men in Black 3 is that it doesn't succumb to the temptation to wheel out Tony Shaloub or everyone else from the first two movies in order to try and recapture every detail of what people liked about them. Certainly, this may be less a matter of intent than practicality - it's been ten years since #2, and some folks just might not have been interested - but [credited writer] Etan Cohen's script does a nice job in reflecting time passing, so that Will Smith's Agent J is more seasoned and this second sequel isn't quite rehashing the same jokes the way Men in Black 2 did.

(Although, is it me, or does the chronology not quite add up? When talking to the young Agent K in 1969, J says they meet again in "24 years", or 1993, when the first movie came out in 1997. And given what we see at the end of the movie, J would have to be about 48 now, or five years older than Will Smith actually is. I suppose that the whole series could have happened "four years ago", but it's not the vibe I get from it.

That said, the script has some logical problems but holds together remarkably well for a movie that had to shut down for a few weeks so that the writers could figure out what the heck is going on midway through.)

By and large, the movie works because Cohen, director Barry Sonnenfeld, Smith, and the cast are pretty good at combining low-key humor with big, snazzy special effects. Rick Baker and company come up with cool, imaginative aliens, and everyone else hits a good spot between taking the weirdness for granted and reacting to it. My personal comedy rule of "nobody in the movie who is not at some point funny" is followed pretty well, including (effective) villain Jemaine Clement and Emma Thompson as the newly-promoted head of the operation.

And it's hard not to like Josh Brolin as the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones's Agent K. On the one hand, sure, it's in large part an impersonation, but it's such a good one (while also being slightly different in important areas) that the audience actually feels itself in J's position - that when K is off-screen and we're just hearing him, it's easy to be fooled into thinking it's entirely the same guy, but then the differences pop up and it's kind of a weird experience. It looks simple, but it seems like something that could have gone wrong.

Men in Black 3 isn't a great movie, but it resides comfortably in the "pretty good" range - the jokes are funny more often than not, the action's decent, the whole thing looks spiffy (including the post-converted-but-planned-for 3D), and it's comfortably familiar without feeling repetitive. A $17.50 Imax-branded ticket was probably a bit much, but it's likely well worth the $11.50 you'll pay at the Arlington Capitol.

One last thing (though it was one of the first things that struck me in the movie): Danny Elfman's Men in Black theme has to be one of his best, most catchy compositions. Not complicated, but it really covers both the humorous and thrilling halves of the property perfectly, from the very first frame of this movie.

SunriseAlmost a great gameMen in Black 3

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Good review Jason. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see Will Smith back in action after all of these years away from the screen.