'Men in Black 3': What the Critics Are Saying

Men in Black 3 Josh Brolin Will Smith - H 2012
Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

Men in Black 3 Josh Brolin Will Smith - H 2012

THR’s John DeFore writes the film "easily erases the second installment's vague but unpleasant memory."

Sony’s Men in Black 3 is poised to bring in a Memorial Day weekend haul of $75-80 million, and to  wrest The Avengers from the top box office spot. But did it defeat the doubts of critics soured by the series’ poorly received second installment?

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The Sony threequel reteams stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones with director Barry Sonnenfeld, and sees Smith’s Agent J travel back to 1969 to prevent the murder of a younger version of Jones’ Agent K (Josh Brolin).

The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore wrote the picture moves briskly once in the 1960s, and has funenvisioning a lower-tech version of Men in Black gear."

DeFore concluded Men in Black 3  "easily erases the second installment's vague but unpleasant memory." He also praised Brolin ability to conjure Jones’ Texas deadpan.

In his three-star review, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert also singled out Brolin’s performance, calling the casting “spot-on.”

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“He looks like a young Tommy Lee Jones, and he sounds so uncannily like him that director Barry Sonnenfeld, hearing him, allegedly shed tears of relief,” Ebert wrote. “While watching the movie, I was convinced Jones dubbed his own voice. But remember Brolin was also a good sound-alike for George W. Bush in ‘W.’”

New York Times critic A. O. Scott wrote the film plods along for the first 20 minutes, and then redeems itself by taking unexpected turns: “But even as the movie carefully fulfills its blockbuster imperatives — with chases and explosions and elaborately contrived plot twists — it swerves into some marvelously silly, unexpectedly witty and genuinely fresh territory. Go figure.”

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The Washington Post’s Michael O'Sullivan criticized some of the film’s special effects as “way too obviously like a green-screen” and bemoaned the use of series newcomer Emma Thompson, who replaced Rip Torn’s character as the head of M.I.B.

“Seemingly intended to add spice as Agent K’s is-she-or-isn’t-she love interest, the actress is hopelessly wasted,” O’Sullivan wrote. “One wonders whether the character wasn’t introduced simply to justify a 'Men in Black IV.' Agent O goes nowhere.”

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In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey, praised screenwriter Etan Cohen (Beavis and Butthead, Tropic Thunder), who she wrote “does a nifty job letting a vintage vibe overtake most of the movie.”

Though Sharkey called Smith “the glue” holding the Men in Black films together, she deliberated that the “ship has sailed,” when it comes to the “exhilaration of experiencing the original's inventiveness for the very first time.”