“Men in Black” returns for round three in the box office

Movies franchises that take a 10-year hiatus before making a comeback don’t always charm the audiences the way the original movie does, and the third installment in a franchise (no matter how small the gap between each movie) has even more initial baggage attached. But, somehow, “Men in Black III” manages to ignore those unspoken rules and actually be a fun movie.

Will Smith (“Hancock”) and Tommy Lee Jones (“The Fugitive”) reprise their roles as Agents J and K, members of the secret organization monitoring alien activity on Earth called the Men in Black. An alien prisoner escapes and travels back in time to the day he was captured, and kills a young Agent K, sending a rippling effect forward through time, where only Agent J remembers the proper timeline. He is forced to time jump (literally) into 1969 to try to prevent K from being killed, and then get back to the future before it’s to late.

If the plot sounds cliché because of the overused “time travel when we’re out of original ideas” aspect, that’s okay; it should. Don’t let it stop you from seeing the movie, though. Despite how overused it is, the cheesiness of time travel works well with the campy comedy characteristic of “MIB” movies. And seeing a young Agent K (Josh Brolin, “W.”) is hilarious.

It’s actually one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie; Brolin does an incredible job portraying a young K, to the point that it’s actually uncanny. His stone-faced expression, his iconic eyebrow lift, right down to K’s face and body structure, the physical likeness of the two actors is so great that you almost believe that you’re looking at a younger Tommy Lee Jones. Brolin’s line delivery and attitude are spot on as well; his is so similar to Jones’s portrayal of the character that it helps smooth over the absurdity of being in the past.

His chemistry with Smith is also phenomenal. The two look so in sync with one another that you forget that they’ve never played these two characters together before, as Smith and Jones have.

Smith is as hilarious and witty with J’s character as always, but he doesn’t push the boundaries in any new way; while he certainly doesn’t fall into the background, Agent J certainly doesn’t steal more than his fair share of the show.

The alien special effects were on par with standard “MIB” quality as well, if not slightly more impressive, and this adds to the overall nostalgic feel of the movie.

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That’s the best way to describe it: nostalgic. Other than Brolin’s brilliant performance as young Agent K, the movie is just a fun and mildly exciting nod to the past. Go check it out in theaters; it’s worth the ticket price, but probably not in 3D.