Once you go bad…
Ever heard of ‘the law of diminishing returns‘?
“The law of diminishing returns states that in all productive processes, adding more of one factor of production, while holding all others constant, will at some point yield lower per-unit returns.”
Basically when you try to recreate a product, an event, or a feeling one more time – it will automatically not be as good as the time before simply by virtue of the fact that it is happening one more time. This is the reason why sequels are always worse than the film before, and by the time you get to the fifth film in a series – slitting your wrists starts to becomes a preferred form of pastime.
This is not always the case, however. Think of Terminator 2, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, Mad Max 2, Silence of the Lambs, and many would add The Dark Knight. So, the law exists as well as the exceptions to it. But now I want to propose a new law, it’s called ‘the law of positive anomalies‘. It goes like this:
“The law of positive anomalies states that sometimes, as production quality begins to slip, the creators panic and miraculously forge a unit that slightly or entirely supersedes its predecessor(s).”
Examples of this would include Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Alien 3, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Freddy Vs. Jason, Bride of Chucky – the list goes on and on.
This brings me to Men in Black 3. In fact it brings me to the whole Men in Black franchise.
The first Men in Black was an alien concept itself, an outrageous mixture of dark comedy and gruesome imagination. Notice the word I used there; dark. I use it a lot, but that’s because I feel it’s something movies shouldn’t be afraid of. I want to remind everyone that the first Men in Black featured a giant cockroach that consumed the innards of an american farmer and wore his skin as a suit. If that’s not dark for a comedy sci-fi film, I don’t know what is. And yet, with all this it still managed to blend itself seamlessly with witticism and serious drama. There was a flair of humour, but it didn’t lose its sense of danger. In fact it almost had the same funny-macabre feel that The Addams Family did, which makes sense as they were both directed by Barry Sonnenfeld.
Men in Black (1997) trailer
Men in Black 2 was utter shit. It was an excuse for Will Smith to be funny, Lara Flynn Boyle to be hot, and Johnny Knoxville to be puerile.
Men in Black 2 (2002) trailer
Entirely focused on the comedy, it lost the sense of what the original was all about. At no point did I feel that there was a sense of peril involved. The visual effects were all ludicrous and cartoony, not to mention poorly designed, and as strange as it might sound; it just wasn’t believable!
So now we have Men in Black 3. Is it as good as the original Men in Black? Hell no! Is it better than Men in Black 2? I suppose, yeah, but not by much. Technically it’s a positive anomaly but as with MIB 2 there’s a lot missing. Will Smith isn’t funny anymore, the aliens aren’t bizarre enough, and the story certainly isn’t tight enough. In this “threequel” the character of J actually has to go back in time to save K from being killed. Usually when a franchise decides to introduce time-travel or amnesia, you know they’re desperate. Still, it isn’t as annoying as the second one. In fact, as many people have pointed out, Josh Brolin’s impression of Tommy Lee Jones is pretty spot-on. It’s a great piece of casting and makes the film much more bearable. By the end the movie tries to introduce a sentimental moment which doesn’t really work. Then, there’s this annoying little final plot-spasm just before the credits where one of the characters actually talks to the camera. It’s a facepalm moment for sure, and leaves you with an incredibly bad taste in your mouth. Still, I’m sticking with my theme, it’s not as bad as the second one.
Yet I wouldn’t recommend it. If you need your Men in Black fix, go rent the original on BluRay or DVD. It’s a 90’s classic.
Men in Black 3 (2012) trailer