Posts tagged Josh Brolin
Welcome to the second Weekend Movie Preview of the New Year. As you might suspect based on last week’s reviews of “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Promised Land,” I’m still catching up on screeners from 2012 and probably will be for the rest of this month, so make sure that you keep following along with my mini reviews here on Reel Recon. Today’s column on Starpulse features the first new film that I’ve seen in 2013: Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad.”
If you think “Men in Black III” should have a new rap song by Will Smith or more scenes with Frank the Pug, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The closest you get to either, is a tune by Pitbull during the end credits and a couple of minor nods to the famous talking canine. But you have to look on the bright side: Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Men in Black III” is a campy sci-fi adventure complete with time travel, gimmicky 3D, inane dialogue, and an outlandish villain.
Just like the other movies in the series, “MIB III” has our heroes fighting a renegade alien with plans of world domination. A goggle-eyed baddie named Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes captivity to exact revenge upon the man who put him away: Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Boris jumps back in time to kill Agent K, which alters the course of history and allows his species to invade Earth.
Since Agent J (Will Smith) is the only one with memory of the previous timeline, he travels back to the 1960s so he can foil Boris and save his partner. On his journey, Agent J bumps into the younger Agent K (Josh Brolin), who he joins forces with to defend the planet. Before they can make any progress though, they must learn to work together all over again.
While most situations in “MIB III” are business as usual for this franchise, there are a couple of humorous and inventive sequences which stand out. The prison escape involving Boris is hilarious its amusing twist on the “special” birthday cake trick. Likewise, time travel in the movie, also known as time jumping, quite literally requires plunging from tall structures. As he uses the time machine, Agent J falls through some entertaining time periods, passing pterodactyls and upset investors after the stock market crash of 1929.
Like most 3D films, the extra dimension in “MIB III” functions more as a trick than a means to enhance the storytelling. Sonnenfeld foolishly uses it to throw things in the audience’s face like a lame amusement park ride.
The stupidity of this movie extends beyond 3D, into the dialogue between its characters. Screenwriter Etan Cohen gives Will Smith very little to work with, so don’t expect many laughs from him. Cohen’s lowest point comes when Boris meets himself in the past, and his younger self actually asks “Who are you?” We’re not talking about an old Biff and young Biff scenario from “Back to the Future II” here. These two look enough alike that he should be able to recognize himself immediately.
Josh Brolin is fantastic as a young Tommy Lee Jones, impeccably mimicking the actor’s mannerisms. Since Brolin’s Agent K hasn’t become jaded yet, he’s a more sentimental fellow who can talk openly about his thoughts and feelings. Jemaine Clement’s Boris the Animal is also enjoyable because his snarling character is a vile villain. Occasionally Clement goes a bit over-the-top into cheese territory though, which can be annoying. Perhaps the most surprising performance comes from Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrays a quirky alien with the ability to see the future. Stuhlbarg’s childlike sense of wonder and tendency to break the fourth wall are especially fun.
“Men in Black III” possesses much of the same camp which made the first film so much fun to watch. Where it differs, is that takes an obnoxious sappy direction at the end by showing a direct connection between Agent K and Agent J’s destinies. At least this flick is more memorable than 2002’s “Men in Black II.”
My Grade: C+
“Jonah Hex” is reminiscent of 1999′s “Wild Wild West,” which frankly is a better blend of the sci-fi and western genres. While “Wild Wild West” incorporates more adventure style action and inventions, “Jonah Hex” lends more of its energy towards the gritty dress and grungy attitude. The costuming and tone however do not create a more entertaining movie, they just help establish the setting. “Hex” teases you with a couple of very cool futuristic guns, but it never really delivers the extensive action that a good genre bender should have.
It is based on the comic book series titled after its protagonist, although the core plot for “Jonah Hex” is a very simple revenge story. The Confederate army officer Jonah Hex betrays his comrades who perpetrated crimes against innocent people, and as a result his friend Jeb Turnbull is put to death by Union soldiers. Jeb’s father Quentin (John Malkovich) another Confederate officer, turns against Hex, destroying Hex’s home and family before permanently scarring the man with a brand on his face. Jonah dies from his injuries, though luckily for him the magic of Indian medicine men resurrects him from the afterlife. Hex’s brief time on the other side grants him powers to speak to the dead and allow him to survive extensive injuries.
Thus Jonah Hex roams the west as a bounty hunter, attempting to track down Turnbull so that he can kill the man. Jonah’s only attachment is Lilah (Megan Fox), a tough-as-nails hooker with a soft side for him. After Quentin Turnbull acquires a prototype weapon capable of massive destruction, President Ulysses Grant sends his army to find Jonah Hex. The President believes that if anyone has the hope of stopping Turnbull and saving the United States from certain disaster it’s Hex.
At 81 minutes, this film is incredibly tight, with almost no excess scenes. The attempt by writers Neveldine and Taylor to keep it simple is certainly respectable, because it does not waste the viewer’s time with frivolous content. Unfortunately though it does not allow the audience room to get to know or to sympathize with Jonah Hex or his lady friend Lilah.
Feeling unfulfilled by the depth, carries over into other aspects “Jonah Hex” is lacking. Josh Brolin is amusing as the cold-hearted gunslinger Jonah Hex and John Malkovich plays a dastardly villain, though the film as a whole leaves you wanting more action, cool weapons, and supernatural events. All of these things could be found in a more developed picture with additional running time. This adaptation seems like it was hastily assembled just to make money quick money off of comic book fans.
My Grade: B-