Movie Reviews

Will Smith is back as Agent J in Men In Black 3

Who knew Andy Warhol was an undercover secret service agent in the ongoing battle against war-mongering aliens? So claims Men In Black 3 (PG), which sends Agent J (Will Smith) back in time to save the life of Agent J (played first by Tommy Lee Jones, and then by Josh Brolin in his younger incarnation), whose death in 1969 left earth wide open to alien invasion in 2012.Confused? You won’t be, largely because director Barry Sonnenfeld resolutely ignores all the complex narrative conundrums (aka gaping plot-holes) raised by J’s time travelling, and rushes the movie ever onwards toward a climax that involves the Cape Canaveral launch of the first Apollo moon landing.


Of course, Men In Black 3 isn’t intended to be a brow-furrowing treatise on the consequences of meddling with the space-time continuum; it’s supposed to be fun, a message emphasised when J batters an alien’s head flat, as if they were in a cartoon, during a fight-out at a Chinese restaurant. Brolin, who artfully mimics Tommy Lee Jones’ Texan drawl, provides an enjoyably deadpan foil to Smith’s manic antics, although the bad guy, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), is so camp as to resemble a particularly hairy Graham Norton with a bad case of laryngitis. Meanwhile, the beatific, Zen-like Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg), a being who lives in five dimensions, quietly steals the whole show. All told, it’s a slick, pointless and largely superficial addition to the MIB franchise, but it’s enjoyably slick, pointless and superficial.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (12A) was inspired by Heidi Murkoff’s ‘pregnancy bible’, a non-fiction title detailing the various joys, pains and crises of pregnancy, which are here divided up between a number of women, chief among them Jules (Cameron Diaz), Holly (Jennifer Lopez), Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Rosie (Anna Kendrick) — and, for PC’s sake, the men in their lives. The women’s stories dovetail just enough to make the story look like a cohesive narrative, although the ride gets bumpy in more ways than one: Holly finds herself unable to conceive, and thus turns to the prospect of adoption, while another character suffers the personal tragedy of a miscarriage. Irreverent motor-mouth Chris Rock and a plainly bonkers Dennis Quaid inject a little much-needed testosterone into proceedings. Parents will very probably enjoy this one more than those who have yet to take the plunge.

Courtesy of films such as Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007), director Wes Anderson has become the darling of those who like their movies geeky, quirky and chock-a-block with non sequiturs. Moonrise Kingdom (12A) may well be his most eccentric offering yet. Set in 1965, on a small island off the coast of New England, it follows the fortunes of 12-year-old khaki scout Sam (Jared Gilman), who runs away from his scout’s camp to ‘elope’ with young Suzy (Kara Hayward). They are pursued by Suzy’s parents Walt and Laura (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) — the latter of whom is having an affair with local police chief, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) — and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) — along with a horde of weapon-wielding scouts, none of whom are especially fond of Sam. In another director’s hands, the story could well have become a Romeo and Juliet take on the Lord of the Flies, but Anderson is only interested in creating perfect, offbeat little cameos designed to reveal just how clever and quirky is Wes Anderson. The result is a jamboree of stiffly self-conscious acting and irritating character tics.

Directed by Paul Duane, Barbaric Genius (12A) is a documentary on the subject of John Healy, the author of the memoir The Grass Arena and formerly a violent alcoholic on the streets of London. The film is uneven in its construction, although Duane is admirably honest about his own shortcomings as a documentary maker. Healy is a fascinating subject even as he rejects the camera’s intrusion and the very idea of it transforming him into a character.


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