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Project 52: 'Men in Black 3'

Posted Friday, January 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM Central
Last updated Friday, January 18, 2013 at 4:05 PM Central

by John Couture

Remember last year when I highlighted a dozen films worth seeing in theaters? You don't? Well, you can click above and reacquaint yourself if you like.

Basically, I figured that as a new father, I would only be able to make it to the theater to see 12 films in 2012 and I tried to pick one a month that I deemed to be "theater worthy" more than the others.

I find it sad to report that I only saw four of those films in theaters last year. Part of that was due to drastically overestimating how much free time I would get as a Father. Here's a hint, free time doesn't exist any longer.

I shouldn't really be too hard on myself because I did get to see some great films last year at the theater including The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises that made my list. In addition to those, I also got to see Lincoln, Argo, Skyfall and my favorite film of 2012 Safety Not Guaranteed on the big screen.

So, eight films seen theatrically in a year is probably pretty good by normal standards, especially as a new father, but I aim to be better than that. Unfortunately, I can't commit to seeing more films in theaters because, well, kids are expensive and seeing a movie at the theater is likewise expensive.

And since Tim and I don't live on either coast, we don't get the luxury of attending too many press screenings. Don't get me wrong, I did see many other films at home (along with way too much Sesame Street), but I need to challenge myself to see more.

So, I came up with this little challenge that I've tentatively called "Project 52" (the name may change, let me know what you think) in which I will watch and review (in some form or fashion) films here on the site. I'm sure that the process will evolve over time as I get a method down, but I wanted to force myself to watch more movies, and not just huge theatrical offerings.

No, as I mentioned above, Safety Not Guaranteed was hands down my favorite film from 2012 and I was very fortunate to see it on the big screen. There are a ton of great indie flicks coming out this year and I want to review a nice mixture of big and small films.

The one rule that I'm sticking to is that the film reviewed can't be more than a year old. This will insure that the films stay fresh and relevant and will challenge me not to resort to reviewing a film I actually watched a couple of years ago.

So, with all of that out of the way, I present my first Project 52 review of Men in Black 3. And yes, I realize that I started a week late, don't worry there will be a double feature review at some point to get us back on track. Of course, who am I kidding, there might be a few of them if I happen to "forget" a week here or there.

I will try and post the Project 52 stories on Friday so that there's some continuity to them. Oh, one last thing. There are going to be spoilers. I just don't know how you can properly review anything without talking about what happens in the film.

Talking about The Sixth Sense without mentioning that Bruce Willis is dead the whole time seems like a waste of time. Thankfully, since I rarely make it out to see movies on their opening weekends, most of you will probably have already seen the film that I'm reviewing any given week.

So, spoilers lay ahead, you've been warned.

Men in Black 3

I chose this film to lead off the series because my wife and I just watched it this week and we were both quite impressed with it. As fans of the series, we had rather lofty expectations, but even they were surpassed by the film.

Normally, the third film in a series is the worst one of the bunch, but this wasn't the case with Men in Black 3. The story contained all of the usual elements of a Men in Black film, but it also had a heart as it were.

While we both enjoyed the first two films, the first one really just set up the concept and we had fun as Tommy Lee Jones put Will Smith through the paces, but we knew that they were only scratching the surface. Men in Black II was alright, but there was just something lacking.

It all comes together in a big way in this film. I don't know if it's the addition of Josh Brolin, but he plays a better Agent K than K himself Jones.

You see, they introduce time travel to the Men in Black world and that usually doesn't bode well for a film series, but it actually works here. They send Will Smith back to 1969 and he meets a younger version of K.

While yes, there are plenty of the requisite fish out of water jokes and poking fun at K's curmudgeonly demeanor, the film really kicks it into hyper drive in the third act. When events shift to Cape Canaveral, the film pulls the rug right out from under you.

Now, I consider myself pretty adept at predicting twists and right turns in films, but I never saw this one coming. Just when the film appeared to be on the cusp of tying the bow on itself, there's one final gasp when the villain (played expertly by Jemaine Clement) guns down what we assume is just another redshirt.

As it turns out the redshirt is anything but a meaningless, throw away character. He turns out to be Agent J's dad and Agent J is there to witness it and to see his toddler self amble out of his Dad's truck unaware of the events that just transpired.

In that moment, as Agent K comforts a young James long before he becomes Agent J, everything that we thought we knew about Agent K is turned upside down. We are left with a series that successfully rebooted itself without even trying and I, for one, am looking forward to see where it goes from here.

The fourth installment will have big shoes to fill, but I think it will be up to the challenge. Personally, I would love to see K and J leave New York and see how they handle a crisis in which they are away from the comforts of their home city.

It's important to keep these films fresh and I have every confidence that they will do just that.