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Osage's Home Theater Shack Review of...MEN IN BLACK 3 (2D Blu-ray; Columbia/Sony)

[img]https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQNWJKQWy8752YO3esKXslRDMeNmGfIg6vv-9n7qkUypaIse9zAEQ[/img]
Studio(s): Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures/Amblin Entertainment/Hemisphere Media Capital
Rating: PG-13
Disc/Transfer Information: Region “A” (U.S.) Disc Tested;1080p High Definition 1.85:1
Running Time: Approx. 106 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Barry Sonnefeld
Starring Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin









THERE ARE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE…
THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.


PLOT ANALYSIS:


Probably the most interesting aspect of the latest entry into the Men in Black franchise has to be Josh Brolin’s excellent rendition of a younger Tommy Lee Jones (“Agent K”) – boy, did Sonnefeld and crew make Brolin look and talk just like Jones would have in younger years. It was almost uncanny. When I first read rumors that Columbia Pictures was going to launch a third MiB installment, my first reaction was that the studio should have, instead, tried to get Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to reteam for a Bad Boys III rather than this – while Jones and Smith definitely gel and are funny together, there was absolutely no denying the chemistry and comic electricity between Smith and Lawrence…Michael Bay’s Bad Boys films were perfect definitions of the mindless action genre example, and to this day I am sorely disappointed that we were never treated to a third entry in that quasi-franchise. Still, the first Men in Black was a fun romp, combining the comic relief of Smith and his wisecracking banter with Jones’ character’s solemn attempts at accepting this element of Smith’s character and remaining the more serious of the two “agents.” In fact, I own the first film on SUPERBIT DVD, but didn’t see the need to purchase the sequel; something always rubbed me the wrong way about MiB 2, as it seemed unnecessary and simply forgettable in terms of acting and story – upon the news of a third film came rumors that promised a return to the roots of what made the original so charming and entertaining. While I prepared myself for such, and I must admit the trailers made it seem very promising in this regard, the final result after watching the Blu-ray last night was, as is so often true, wasn’t so compelling.

First, Barry Sonnefeld and his writing team knew that without Jones in the lead with Smith, the MiB franchise just wouldn’t succeed, or would go in wildly unwanted directions if others took these roles (ever see what happened to the Home Alone franchise after the second one when they pretty much went down the toilet?). And so while Jones’ “Agent K” character says goodbye to Smith’s “Agent J” at the end of the first film, ultimately going back to his previous life before joining the Men in Black, we knew he’d return. Moments of the sequel actually encroached on “funny and interesting” territory when the plot attempted to reunite a still-active Agent J with Jones’ character, now living a normal suburban life and working for the post office with no memory of his Men in Black career thanks to the “brain sweeping” device the boys carry around as standard issue equipment. Men in Black 3 attempts to expand on the relationship between K and J, and puts a specific focus on Jones’ K character who has been caught in a time travel plot by a vindictive alien fugitive. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the universe created by Sonnefeld, which was based on a campy comic run – according to the sometimes absurd but logical when you actually think about it storyline, there are, at any given time, millions of alien creatures pretending to be humans inhabiting the Earth. In a somewhat goofy and off-putting side storyline, this includes celebrities, sports figures and prominent people throughout the world we never would have suspected (or maybe would have if we thought about it) to be alien in nature such as Michael Jackson, your high school math teacher, et al. Also at any given time are constant threats to destroy Earth by hostile alien forces, all of which normal humans on an everyday basis never even know about – but a secret organization called the Men in Black do, and they, along with their technologically advanced weaponry and hardcore combat training, continuously protect us from these threats. The agency operates within the catacombs of a New York City Bridge and Tunnel Authority building, unsuspecting to the outside world, its agents wearing, of course, iconic black suits and sunglasses as they scour the globe monitoring alien threats and restricting their movements on Earth. Amongst the more seasoned, James Bond-like of the MiB agents is “K,” played by Tommy Lee Jones (the notion here is that every MIB agent is stripped of his or her previous identity, removing fingerprints, personal documents and birth information – even being issued new names with one-letter initials in place of them) who ends up recruiting Will Smith’s NYPD detective character in the first film after he witnesses Smith run down a fast-moving alien through the streets of New York. Men in Black 3 connects an interesting tie between Jones and Smith’s characters – something I will not divulge as many have not seen this yet – but before we get to that, suffice to say Jones’ Agent K character in the original film is so impressed with Smith’s character’s stamina and speed, he offers him a job with Men in Black.

Of course, once exposed to the walking, talking and downright bizarre aliens that live and work at MiB headquarters, plus learning all the secrets about the background threat of alien invasions of Earth on a daily basis, Smith’s character is beyond freaked out; he’s even more bothered by the fact that K has told him if he joins the organization, his entire past existence will be gone. He will have a new name, a new life, no more ties to anyone from his past…what does he get in return? The peace of knowing his is contributing to saving the planet from constant annihilation. In the first MiB, Jones’ K character gives Smith’s character a night to think about the offer to join the organization, and once in, he is given the new identity of “Agent J.” The remainder of Sonnefeld’s first film is filled with hilarious banter between K and J, wildly advanced cars and technology, eye-popping alien encounters and the unraveling of a plot to find a giant cockroach-like alien attempting to start an interstellar war. Watching Smith’s Agent J character “get his feet wet” as he learns his responsibilities within Men in Black while attempting to control and master the advanced weapons he’s given was particularly funny and engaging, made all the more so by Smith’s always charming performances. From talking pug dogs to skinny alien beings pouring coffee and smoking, Men in Black stood on its own as pure fun entertainment.

Fast-forward to November of 2012 – the release of Men in Black 3 on Blu-ray is an opportunity to discuss where the franchise has gone since the first film, while also analyzing the re-introduction of the two iconic characters which make this series. A nasty, one-armed biker-looking alien named “Boris the Animal” is imprisoned within a facility on the moon. When his goegeous, black leather miniskirted girlfriend comes to break him out (but who meets an unfortunate fate at the claws of her menacing, unappreciative man), he finds an opportunity to return to Earth and change the timeline of history…a history having to do with his archenemy from the 1960s, Agent K (Jones). If this sounds an awful lot like the plot of Star Trek: First Contact to you, in which the Borg attempt to go back in time to assimilate Earth of the pre-first contact era so humans don’t actually exist, you’re not that far off your rocker. Here, Boris wants revenge on the Men in Black agent that cut off his arm and, supposedly, sent him to this space prison – how he does this is by going back to the 1960s in an attempt to kill K at the historic moon launch NASA mission from Cape Canaveral in Florida; meanwhile, in present day, Agent J learns of this plot after Boris attacks K and J atop a roof in New York (the whole “time jumping” thing got very confusing, with Boris actually being in both the 1960s and the present day at the same time, which I didn’t get) and it seems the only way for J to save his partner from a fate in the past is to use a radical time jumping device which requires him to jump off New York’s Chrysler Building and into a shifting vortex which will send him back to the 1960s and that fateful day at the moon launch.

When J arrives back in time, he doesn’t know it right off the bat – he arrives at MiB headquarters where everyone looks different and younger, acting strangely and not donning quite the advanced gadgetry he was used to seeing and using. He finally discovers what era he’s in, and eventually meets up with a younger version of his partner, K (played by the always-great James Brolin). While K thinks he’s a nutjob (who just happens to be wearing standard-issue black suit outfitting), J desperately tries to explain to the younger version of his partner of the future exactly what is going on and how Boris wants to kill him. The best part of this plot was watching Smith and Brolin banter back and forth as if it was Smith and Jones sitting there – Brolin plays the role of the younger Jones/Agent K to a tee, and we can imagine both him and J sitting there in the future (well, the present day as far as J is concerned) talking exactly the way they used to; this was executed brilliantly by Sonnefeld. Outside of that, I really didn’t follow what else was going on here – in comparison, the original Men in Black was so much more straightforward and easier to be entertained by that this got uninteresting after awhile. The guys chase Boris around, interrogating hidden aliens along the way as they always do, until finally there’s a confrontation sequence atop the rocket that’s supposed to be launched to the moon in which Boris tries to take K out before he can place a special shielding gizmo on the rocket that will, in the future, protect Earth from his kind. Believe me, I didn’t really get what was going on here, either, nor was I particularly entertained by it.

Before J returns to the present day, the young K meets the son of a military man who assisted with their infiltration of the launch site while J looks on from the distance on a beach; this boy has a vital connection to the plot, and to J and K’s relationship with one another, which, as I stated earlier, I will not divulge. For all its hype and promises of a “return to the charm of the first film!” before its release, Men in Black 3 wasn’t nearly as entertaining, on a whole, as the original, and quite honestly, its merits were restricted to Brolin’s performance here, Smith’s usual entertaining delivery and looking at the “old fashioned” version of the MiB agency when J returns to the 1960s, complete with slightly outdated variants of the weapons and vehicles he was used to dealing with in the present.

My opinion? They should just let this franchise rest, and instead try to get Michael Bay to do another Bad Boys if Smith and Lawrence were up to it.


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VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS:

Wow. Now this is what 1080p high definition material should look like. From beginning to end, the letterbox-free 1.85:1 Blu-ray image Columbia/Sony delivers on Men in Black 3 was pure eye candy…rock-solid with not a hint of twitchy, unstable elements, grain, noise, nothing. Visuals were outstandingly rendered, detail was palpable and bordered on the surreal in some sequences and colors were ridiculously rich and saturated – a real jaw-dropping experience. When action switched to the sunny outdoors, the grass, foliage and architectural elements (such as shots of downtown New York City and the Chrysler Building) were rendered with eye-popping realism and detail; likewise, elements such as characters’ hair and facial beards, etc. almost jumped off the screen, especially close-ups depicting Smith’s scalp-short hairstyle and the facial hair on one of the guys infiltrated at an electronics store in which Smith’s character picks up the time travel device. You could almost make out every single blemish – such as Tommy Lee Jones’ wrinkles on his face – during close-ups and not-so-closeups, and skintone accuracy was dead-on perfect.

What amazed me the most about Columbia/Sony’s Blu-ray transfer of MiB 3 was the level of clarity and stability – the image didn’t exhibit one twitch or irregularity throughout the entire run time, appearing as a beyond-rock-solid presentation that truly defined a good, modern high definition film transfer.

Pure eye candy.


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AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS:

While not quite as impressive as the video, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track accompanying Men in Black 3 was aggressive and pushy when called upon – the majority of the mix is pretty quiet, surprisingly, but when J and K begin racing around the streets of 1960s New York in special “loop mobiles” or arrive at the moon launch in Florida in “jet packs,” the soundstage opens up and we’re treated to wooshing, zipping and all kinds of fun action in all the channels. Panning and placement was pretty spot-on throughout, and this Master Audio track had plenty of “wow” moments during heavy action sequences. Discharging of advanced weaponry (i.e. laser guns) by MiB personnel against disguised aliens was accompanied by forceful LFE and wildly aggressive surround activity – a particular scene to watch for is the one in which K and J, in present day New York, stop into a Chinatown restaurant to confront an alien there but who are ambushed by several alien species posing as human patrons. This scene boasts a wide soundstage, some pretty wild dynamic sweeps and startling surround channel activity.



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SUMMARY/RECOMMENDATIONS:

Good for a rental; I don’t see it as a buy, but that’s me personally. The original Men in Black I thought was more entertaining and downright charming, and is the only one in the franchise that has found a place on my collection shelf, albeit in SUPERBIT DVD form (which looks pretty good upconverted on my setup).

If you’ve seen Men in Black 3, please discuss the film, its plot and/or the Blu-ray release!
 

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So what did you really think about the image quality Osage ?? vv:rofl2:

I like the movie a good deal, even with the slow bits interspersed throughout although I truly had trouble buying into Boris, not sure why. He had some icky bits hanging around him and was kinda nasty looking but, just did not scare me so much.
Even Sonnefeld agrees the second of the trilogy was more or less not so good, so that still leaves number one as, for me, the best followed closely by this new release. I dug the humanity at the end. Good way to end the series.

Thanks for the review
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So what did you really think about the image quality Osage ?? vv:rofl2:
LOL...

The transfer of this Blu-ray just floored me, Jack; did you find the same?

I like the movie a good deal, even with the slow bits interspersed throughout although I truly had trouble buying into Boris, not sure why. He had some icky bits hanging around him and was kinda nasty looking but, just did not scare me so much.
Agreed regarding Boris...but not so sure I could agree on the "liking the film a good deal"...:gulp:

Even Sonnefeld agrees the second of the trilogy was more or less not so good, so that still leaves number one as, for me, the best followed closely by this new release. I dug the humanity at the end. Good way to end the series.
I agree about the series and the order of the better ones -- but where did you hear this was the end to the franchise?

Thanks for the review
Thank you for reading! :T
 

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Thanks for the review Osage. I went ahead and purchased this one so that I would have all three. This one was better than two but fell short of the original. I must say I wasn't all that impressed with the audio and felt it could have been a bit more aggressive if that makes any sense. Josh Brolin as the young Agent K was outstanding and the ending was done nicely. All in all it was enjoyable and if you own the first two it's worth a buy otherwise just rent it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your input, guys.
 

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i bought it and i really liked it. i watched in 3d and it was ok. depth wasnt crazy like Brave and Hugo but i didnt have any artifacts or ghosting while watching. havent had time to watch 2d but i plan on it next days off. overall i think it was a good addition to the franchise.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Oh, yeah...I should have specified that this was the 2D version I reviewed, not the 3D...

Sorry fellas...

Thanks for all your input so far!
 
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