Friday, June 29, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (The Game)


  The Amazing Spider-Man: The Game, is a valiant effort by Beenox to return Spidey to his proper high-flying open world gameplay that made a couple of the previous movie tie-ins so much fun. Most especially Spider-Man 2. And while you may find yourself missing a few of the little things from the other games, there’s hardly a bad thing to be said about this go-round at all. With solid game mechanics, great graphics, and fantastic voice acting, the game lives up to its title and succeeds in being ‘amazing’.


  Like any reboot should do, the movie, from the looks of it, is shaking things up quite a bit. And the game does too. Right away, fans of the other movie tie-ins will miss the tutorials narrated by the sardonic yet hilarious Bruce Campbell. Though one can hardly complain, once you do get your hands on Spidey, and feel out those controls you’ll have a hard time not smiling. Not only does his character model look fantastic, he handles incredibly well, and slips into combat with style and ease.

  It’s a return to top form for Spider-Man. No longer is there a button needed to stick to walls, just walk up to them, press for a second and you’re wall crawling. Easy as pie. Next is web swinging. Sure it may look kinda odd now to not see his webs specifically anchoring to buildings as he swings through New York, cause I mean… that was really cool in the other games, but how many times did it simply impede things? Rather than add functionality, it would trap you in frustratingly awkward spots where buildings met, and leave you flopping like a fish on the side of a skyscraper. Instead, they’ve found a happy medium. You can’t clear web your way high across Central Park, you need to be relatively tree-level. So much for swinging from the clouds!

  Also gone is a distinct sprint button which forcibly encourages web locomotion as the only way to fly. Er… swing. And now , ‘rush’. In place of the personally missed sprint button, we have the nifty ‘web rush’ button. Which when pressed and held, slows time to a near halt, brings things into a first-person view through Spidey’s orange-y lenses and highlights points in your surrounds where you can zip to.  Once you target and select a spot, whether it’s a streetlight down the block, or a vantage point in an Oscorp lab to evade being spotted, you’ll find that it’s a lot more than simply zipping. The computer takes over and flings spidey to his destination with style. The sequence is always different granted that you’re in a more complicated looking web rush. He could run along side of a bus, and then flip off of a building to get to his destination, or you could be treated to a completely different acrobatic feat. You never know. Getting from point A to point B, is sometimes just as mundane as that sounds, but pick a neat destination and you’ll get a stylish treat along the way.

  Next is the combat, which is great. It’s brisk and intense, and it makes you look like a pro by simply button mashing. However, that isn’t as easy as you progress. Villains everywhere get a little tougher, and there are more of them too. Not so easy to whale on one guy, while someone’s behind you trying to shank you. No problem, there’s your trusty spidey sense! Right? Right. Only you usually have about half a second to break whatever combo you were building and dodge the dude trying to come at you from behind. This isn’t a flaw with the game, though a bit of slow motion before a surprise attack from behind couldn’t hurt either, but then again there’s already so much of that in the fighting mechanics anyways.

  You have a handy retreat button as well, that when pressed zips you away to a (usually) safe spot, so you can take a few seconds to regain a bit of health. Now, you can also web rush enemies, which leads to all kinds of devastating attacks you can unleashed. That trick combined with quick and frequent application of the retreat button is useful for picking off foes you don’t wanna get too close to. Or crowds as well!

  There’s a decent story here too, and surprisingly great voice acting. I really mean these guys are awesome! Word to the spoiler sensitive, this game gives away A LOT from the movie. Stuff you probably don’t want spoiled. So, if you’re adamant about having a fresh experience with the movie, then, you should shelf the game and only play it after you’ve seen the film. I have a great feeling it’s going to be a fantastic companion piece. I’m sold on the feel of the movie, and now I’m more than satisfied with his new outfit, and even the orange lenses are growing on me. That being said, The Amazing Spider-Man game… pardon me for saying this, still kind of pales in comparison to Spider-Man 2. In which you could deliver pizza’s, find secret hideouts and all kinds of deeply interactive stuff that TASM is simply missing. It has lots of little comic book tokens hidden throughout the city… about 700 of them. And for every so many found, you unlock a full classic Spider-Man comic book from the main menu. This is super cool, but I still think some more in game secrets, a few nooks and crannies…. All that stuff would’ve made this even better. The upgrade menu is far more practical than in Spider-Man 2, but offers far less to unlock. Bummer. Kind of. Rather than unlocking hundreds of new acrobatic moves, you’ll be expanding on core fighting techniques and webbing tricks. Not much you can complain about since all of those tricks come in EXTREMELY handy, but no doubt there’s room for a little more expansion here. Sequels are always right around the corner! I better see you there Beenox!

  They’ve in no way dropped the ball here even despite a fair helping of shortcomings like, the game is on the brink of repetition more often than I’d like, but they smartly mix it up before it gets overbearing at all, if only slightly at times. Some of it is too easy, other parts take far too many do-overs. But it’s all very very fun and enjoyable to play. Most of these gripes come from indoor missions. Which aren’t GREAT but can provide some interesting puzzle solving and stealth techniques too. Even in mundane missions, the thrill of pulling off one successful stealth takedown after the next is addictively fun. Veterans of the Batman games from Rocksteady would appreciate this. Having said all that, the feeling you get from swinging through New York again is simply amazing. It’s a rush and a very intense and thrilling rush at that. The city and swinging through it alone is enough for me to say this game is a must buy. Despite all the nitpicks, this is truly a return to top form for Spidey and one that I’ll be hanging on to for a very long time to come. Unabashedly fun and filled with solid and engaging gameplay mechanics, easily this is the best AND best looking spidey game for the current generation of gaming consoles if you ask me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Battle Royale

  
With the new Hunger Games movie here, which I know little of, marketers decided it was time to release the other movie with the practically-identical killer concept: Battle Royale. And I can’t vouch for the Hunger Games, but Battle Royale doesn’t PG-13 their movie. Instead they dive into the content headfirst, providing quite the brutal experience; an experience… not to be missed.

  The premise is ludicrous; no modern civilized government would sanction a law that strands a bunch of teenagers on a deserted, military patrolled island, forcing them to brutally MURDER each other in mortal combat until only ONE survives. They could’ve padded this out by maybe showing us some mock news footage of how bad society has gotten and that this was their only solution to keeping the youth in line. But no, just a short debrief loaded with statistics in the beginning and then right to it. But since you most likely already know what the movie is about, you’re totally willing to overlook that massive implausibility and just get right to the game.

  We know very little about this group of teens at the outset beyond the fact they’re your typical group of cliquish school going brats. There are the quiet ones, the loud ones, the jocks, the sluts, the brainiacs, and the fat kid. A lot of these archetypal characters get a lot of exposition and expand into fully fleshed out characters. Others… are trapped by their own cliché. (I.e. Fat kid, Brainiac) This is sad, but also kind of unavoidable. You have around 44 kids in there, most of who are going to die within the first hour. You just know it. That’s not even a spoiler folks. This movie is a bloodbath. And it’s just unavoidable that some of these kids are simply going to just be cannon fodder

  Fortunately, the movie carves out clear-cut protagonists and antagonists. The real key players (with the glaring exception of one) all have rich back-story and well fleshed out motivation. They’re fully developed characters which are a joy to watch. The outstanding young actors bring a next level sense of believability to their roles and it makes the proceedings that much more visceral and frightening. Some of the kids who end up being antagonists are downright scary and unnerving to watch. There are plenty of amazing performances to be seen here. It’s a very scary concept, a very brutal and unflinching movie and it ends up being very cohesive, and dare I even say relentlessly entertaining? Its breakneck pacing and near-gratuitous bloody violence could land this movie in some unfair categories and stick it with undue stigma. But it’s a very thought provoking movie with a lot of emotional backbone.

  It’s rare to find a movie that tries so hard to have a practically laughable concept (albeit scary) portrayed as dead serious, and succeeds. Well this movie succeeds. And it succeeds by focusing more and more on the characters and their struggle as the runtime ticks by, and less on the strange and unnerving social parable which it’s selling. In order to stick more to a social commentary, it would’ve had to lose its favoritism of characters, strip everyone down to un-relatable archetypes and not give us the satisfying ending that it did. That movie wouldn’t work. We’d be dragged through the trenches of a brutal bloodbath, with no emotional anchor, and the already implausible premise being uselessly reinforced and insisted upon, the movie would be an unbearable chore to sit through.

  Thankfully it’s not though. It may lose some of its higher messages by diverting to a slightly more Hollywood-esque third act, but it doesn’t lose our attention. And it already has us invested emotionally. I can’t imagine many people saying that the ending was unfair to the story itself. In fact I feared it would be something horribly nihilistic and grim. Which would make sense given the sheer dread and hopelessness present throughout the movie, but thankfully they rewarded our investment and gave us the ending we wanted. Maybe it undercuts a lot of what the movie was saying, but you’re able to sigh a breath of relief and satisfaction because by the end of the movie you’re way more concerned about the characters than you thought you would be. At least I was. As the movie’s focus shifts from horrific social parable to a character driven fight for survival, your expectations do too. And you don’t even notice. This is a very skillful switch off that could’ve ruined the movie. Instead, it saved it. I love this movie. And I absolutely recommend it.



Street Fighter


  I can't imagine taking any part of this movie seriously. But with a new video game adaption being popped out every couple years now, it was some sort of retrospective mandatory thing to go back and look at one of the ones deemed the worst.

  However bad this may be, I think they're getting worse. Perhaps all you have to do is dangle something noisy and shiny in front of me for a while and I'm entertained. Not to say there’s anything shiny about Street Fighter, more like... plastic. Glossy sugar-cereal plastic. It’s got the noisy part down, but... I pinch myself in disbelief while watching this mess of a movie wondering if they intentionally made it so bad. The humor is forced and there’s far too much of it. In the entire run time of a movie FILLED with unnecessary humor, there may be only two jokes that work. Two jokes that are actually funny. But they're funny in a painfully stupid Dumb and Dumber type way.

  So, you’ve got a movie full of humor that’s not funny, hopefully maybe the story or the action itself can save it from being a total wreck? This is something that I see far too often, people hoping that a movie will magically get better after sitting through a boatload of screen time, seeing nothing but crap. This movie sets the tone FAST. The action is uncoordinated, slow and cheap. The story is so overly complicated in its details; it can’t even be SIMPLE fun. No it complicates the shit out of everything. It’s so convoluted it’s sickening.

  The acting is as bad as the story and its one liners, which are as bad as the action, which is as bad as the humor. So generally, the movie is bad. But somehow, amidst all the crap and everything this movie has something it really shouldn’t. It has charm. It has that B-Movie, bad dialogue, horribly cheesy kind of charm that makes it almost irresistible. And maybe it’s just me, but the overblown sets and the corny action scenes make it seem like they were just trying too hard. But again, its impossible to take ANY of it seriously. The bad guy is the best actor in the movie and he’s in FULL scenery chewing mode and he’s a blast to watch. Everyone else has their moment of overacting which can invoke quite a laugh, but its real charm is in how everything inherently feels like a crappy stage play.

  Comparing this to the newer Street Fighter movie about Chun Li, and I can safely say, this has selling points that one just doesn’t. Despite being a really retarded movie, there’s always something keeping your attention to the bright and colorful hilarity on screen. Which is the best compliment I can level at this movie. The newer one may have better fights, but its drab and boring and I fell asleep during it. I can’t really recommend Street Fighter, even to fans, as it butchers the story as well as the characters, but its one of those movies with dialog so bad you can’t help but burst out laughing. Two hours of that might not always be a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


  I thought the first Ghost Rider was okay. Fun for the effects and such, but deeply flawed.  Along comes a sequel that nobody wanted or really even expected. Since the first's reception was so lukewarm, why would anyone invest more money in a pretty direct sequel to it? Well the directorial team behind the Crank films must've convinced them they could do something epic with it. Did they succeed? Not with flying colors, but I think they did.

  Nicholas Cage cuts loose as Johnny Blaze in this one. Equal parts afraid of his own power, and also batshit power drunk on it. The result is a manic madman who's in a fight, hardly his own, just to get this 'curse' lifted off of him.  There's a moment when a character asks him something like "Am I going to regret bringing you along?" and he has a few spastic seconds to ponder his answer before saying... "Yes."
These little bits are where the dialog AND Nic Cage gets to shine hand in hand. He can be quite fun to watch here.  Also worth pointing out is Idris Elba as a french... biker... priest. Yeah. His level of badassery is off the charts. He's played with an irresistible charm by Elba, that is... when you can understand him.
The dynamic between him and and Blaze is also really fun to watch.

  In fact, the whole cast has serviceable chemistry. Where their acting falls flat, the script picks up the slack, where the script fails, their acting pulls the weight. When both are faulty, the special effects and the action scenes are so undeniably fun, you couldn't possibly care about what's not working at the moment. However, it is a juggling act. Its rare anything in this movie clicks one hundred percent. Its kind of erratic. Every length of something wrong has a equally good counterpoint though.  This keeps the movie from being boring or flat, but not always from being kinda sucky.  I find it far less sucky than the first one, but its still wrought with issues.  But despite a painfully standard story and a totally non-frightening Devil, Spirit of Vengeance manages to be pretty fun. Its scary badass looking protagonist blazes a trail through the sludge of shortcomings and delivers round after round of high octane, large scale, explosive action. Lots of fancy good looking special effects here. This movie is prime eye candy that's a hell of a supernatural action flick.

  However don't be fooled, this lacks the charm, emotional heft, and overall quality of more recent superhero movies. VERY recent ones even. But the argument could be made... none of those movies have a guy with a flaming skull. And that's why I like this movie. Its quirky and fun. Nothing overly special or even good. But its a fast paced little thrill ride with plenty of flaming destruction to keep your attention for a while. The story is trimmed to the bare essentials, and this isn't really a bad thing. Its to the point. We're here for the action. The motorcycle chases and flaming skulls. We get it too. Lots of it.  Its really fun to watch.  Stylish, kinetic, frenetic, and off the wall. A pretty decent Ghost Rider flick to be had here. Not bad guys. He definitely looks way more badass this time around.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus


  I guess I felt a little funky about the movie because given it was Ridley Scott's return to the Alien franchise, I expected something bone-chilling and haunting like the original.  Instead I got something profound. Profound in a scary way as only a Scott Alien movie could be like.

  First of all, its not a horror movie like Alien or a fast paced actioner like Aliens, its far more focused on a much larger picture. Which is too broad to be confined to either genre. So instead its purely sci-fi.  Whereas the first movie's bigger picture was the questions behind it. The horror of the unknown. And the second movie's scares were much more in the craft of the way it was paced, structured, and unleashed on us;  Prometheus gets under your skin in a much different manner.  Its the reflection on the questions it raises about mankind's origins.

  Theres a scene in the movie where the android, David, played brilliantly in an amazingly nuanced performance by Michael Fassbender asks one of the scientists on the ship why he wanted to ask his creators why they made them (humans in general). And their exchange is brilliant. David retorts by asking "Why did you make me?"
And the scientist said "Because we could." and even if David hadn't further illustrated the rather obvious point of his retort, it still would've been haunting. Its these moments in which Prometheus excels greatly.
 
  Theres also enough gore and blood and creepy creatures to go around but if you go in expecting to be scared or get an action rush, you'll be dissapointed. And this amazing movie deserves more than that.

First off, on a technical and visual level, its jaw dropping. The planet, the space scenes, the way the camera takes it all in, is brilliant. And beautiful. Its eye popping. The designs of everything from the creatures to the "space jockeys" to the ship itself and the uniforms the crew wear, its all amazingly detailed, carefully constructed, vibrantly and fully realized; its a real treat to see it all.

  Theres also absolutely no doubt about the fact that this IS an Alien prequel. But instead of one that tells the story of characters we already know, or how they got there, this one in a rather vague way, is about how the monster we all know and love to hate, came to be. Its distant origins. Lots of things about the alien in general are answered. And at the same time... we have a whole new set of creepy and haunting questions that will no doubt keep the franchise afloat until someone has another idea on how to continue from here.

  I do have minor gripes about the movie. But this is because I went into it, wanting, and expecting something truly scary. And while it does have great horror scenes and action scenes, you have to appreciate its base sci-fi aspect first and foremost. Because it doesn't explode and take off like all the other Alien films do in their climax. This one is most different. And for fans expecting just that, it may be offputting.  The film is also oddly paced and structured, and this was expounded in my head, again, because I was expecting horror.

The pacing and structure would be insufficient in a horror movie. It couldn't keep the tension building to a stomach wrenching degree. But... this isn't horror. Remember that, and you'll be okay.

  I love how it doesn't answer the big broad questions.

Instead spends its time refining and reflecting on them, and merely teasing an answer.
Like a brilliant villain who always escapse at the end you might actually feel cheated if he was caught.
I hate movies that try to explain ALL of human existence because it always feels underwhelming cheap and contrived.  This one instead pointed out, we may not want to know the answer at all.
It could be scary. Dangerous even.


I love that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back In Black: MIB Triple Review


  With the new MIB 3 here, I decided to revisit the first two movies, in Blu Ray no less, and share my thoughts on the brand new sequel.

Starting with the 1997 blockbuster hit, Men In Black. It had been several years since I sat down and really paid attention to it. Does it hold up well? Has it aged rather badly out of the 90's ala Mortal Kombat? I always had fond memories of this special effects extravaganza, but was prepared for the worst. Hopefully I wouldn't need to be 'deneuralyzed' afterwards too.  Does Men In Black 2 suck as horribly as I remember? Are the effects and subpar stabs at total comedy worth it? And finally does Men In Black 3 bring back the magic?
Read on to find out.

--


  Surprisingly, it holds up just fine and manages to be a completely serviceable, clever, and exciting sci-fi romp. However, when you think of what it could've been, you scratch your head at all the squandered potential. Its a simple enough premise. An NYPD cop, James Edwards (Will Smith), discovers the truth about extraterrestrial life on Earth and subsequently is inducted into the Men In Black, a top secret agency that monitors and polices all alien life on Earth. Immediately, him and his mentor, Agent K (Tommy lee Jones) are drawn into an epic struggle to stop a alien creature on a murderous rampage, and save an entire galaxy.

  Its a straight-forward little story that gives plenty of room for great humor, a few scares, and plenty of decent action set pieces. Its big, its flashy, its slick and stylish. It parades around with wit and charm and gets to be endlessly clever about every little thing. This is good and also kind of bad. The bad I will get to towards the end of the review, since its a relatively minor gripe. But, the good is the stellar dynamic between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Every second of their screentime is pure gold. They are totally fun to watch interact with one another.  They race from one crime scene to the next catching up with 'Edgar' the bug, as he terrorizes around New York and their left to piece together the clues, and keep the public oblivious to the proceedings.

  The movie feels fresh and unique. All the little high tech gadgets and weapons, there's an overblown sci-fi melodrama to it, yet also a very ironic mundane feel to it all.  This is a day-in day-out office job for most of the workers of the Men in Black. The field agents are just like cops. Just another day on the job. A murder to solve, a witness to protect. The usual. Which is exactly the attitude that rookie Jay's mentor, Agent Kay brings to the table. Everything is a-matter-a-fact to him. Nothing shocks him, nothing much even moves him emotionally. But underneath that cold hard exterior that Jay is always trying to crack, you can tell theres someone who cares.  But that all kind of fades out once they start pulling out plasma cannons and de-atomizers and such. All the little nifty toys are so cool to look at and you feel like you get to play with them for a couple hours on this roller coaster ride you're on with Jay and Kay. Its really clever.

  Its full of cleverness. In fact, its bursting with cleverness. So much in love with its own cleverness, it fails to really dive into its own concept and fully explore it. Instead, its content to be merely a snappy popcorn movie. A Will Smith summer vehicle. Thats not to say its a bad popcorn movie! Its a damn good one! A very damn good one. But its not much more and it SO could've been. Still... its a fun ride and a Will Smith classic. For what it set out to be, it was the best we could have gotten. And seeing as how thats still 'pretty damn good', semi-dated effects and all (which still look pretty good for the most part) this movie is still very cool and totally awesome.

--


  Moving on a few long years from 1997 to 2002 we have a fundamentally unnecessary sequel. As those who are familiar with the first one, Tommy Lee's character arc was peacefully and quietly put to rest at the end. He got his happy ending. Smith's character however was just beginning his adventure. And obviously people wanted more. But OH NO!... not without Agent Kay! The fans simply wouldn't have that. So, the writers had to scramble to find a way to shoehorn Kay back into this world in which he no longer needed to be. So, the whole plot had to revolve around Kay NEEDING to be back in the picture. So, on the actual basic premise alone... it feels like an excuse of a movie.  Not a good sign.

  Then... it just got worse. It had a plethora of good, intriguing ideas and concepts behind it, it also manages to be sleeker and even more stylish then before. So where DID it go wrong? The humor, my friends. The humor.  Whatever clever balancing act they had gotten down pat with the first is entirely absent here. Everything is overpowered by comedy, even the action scenes. Not even funny comedy. Just brash obnoxious and wholly immature comedy. And while in some cases this may be funny, not in MIB 2.  For example! The talking pug from number one is back. And he gets a CHUNK of screen time too.  Okay... a talking dog was funny for about a minute in MIB... but talk about beating a dead horse. They made him an agent and put him in a tiny black suit. That was precisely when I couldn't take it anymore. It went sheer off the deep end, caught some silliness on the way down, and landed in a huge pile of stupid. They take every single joke used in number one, replicate it and stretch it waaaaaay too thin.

  Then, they sidestepped every stab at character development that actually managed to crop up and smashed its face in with another flat and unfunny joke. I suppose those who liked MIB as a flat out funny movie might find this one even more appealing. But I liked MIB for its sci-fi/thriller element as well. It was well made dammit! And I found myself, amidst all the updated cgi and flashy action scenes, dying for the wit and intelligent charm of the first one. Last and horribly least is Lara Flynn Boyle... as the villain. Sarleena. Okay, sidestepping the fact that an alien plant that morphs into (of all things...) a Victoria Secret model is supposed to somehow be threatening... she fails to do anything clever with the role. She's not menacing, or scary, or evil... she's just really bitchy. And THAT is not a good villain. The first movie had Edgar, played by Vincent D'Onofrio which was an excellent villain. This lady had BIG shoes to fill... and she didn't. I blame that solely on the writers and director's though. This was one of the movie's horrible concepts. I cannot in good conscience recommend MIB 2. Its JUST not good enough. Smith and Jones' chemistry is still gold, but you have to wade through so much shit just to get to it. And theres always the first one for that.

--


  Landing now, in 2012, we have the entirely unnecessary and pretty much unwanted MIB 3. People remembered how their greedy clamoring brought about such a travesty a whole decade ago. Well let me just say, it was a decade that they spent learning from their mistakes. Most of them. Nearly all of them. I sat through this movie, physically unable to wipe the smile from my face. "They're back!" I kept thinking to myself. All these years later, and we finally have a GOOD sequel. Not only is MIB 3 good, its really good. And while the first is still the absolute best, MIB 3 wastes no time going above and beyond the call of duty to be a really fun time that no one will regret having.

  Its very noticeable they had to construct a story around certain factors involving the cast. Firstly, Jones is a legitimate old man now. His character retired back in 1997. And he's still around in 2012. Old, tired, jaded, worn out and edgy.  Theres no way Tommy could carry half this dynamic anymore. So Jay is carrying the heft of it thematically. That is until the story takes him back to 1969 to stop an escaped alien convict from killing a younger Kay played impeccably by Josh Brolin. Brolin plays Kay so well, physically and tonally, that you'll forget you're watching a different actor and simply accept that its the same character.
He's so good in the role, and he has the unique opportunity to expand on Kay's past and show us a side of Kay we have never seen, subsequently making it entirely his own. Great performance.

  A few celebrities have cameos in here. Eh. Unlike the cleverness of the video ball in the first one that pointed out Sylvester Stallone and Danny Devito are in fact aliens... we get a few nods to stuff like that in this one. And its clever, but its like... you're expecting it. So it doesn't feel fresh and funny anymore. Not that its not well executed, just... very expected. Otherwise the only drawbacks are a few jokes that fall flat, an underused character here, and the fact that MIB 3 feels like it ends far too soon. Yes sir/ma'am. You read that right. This one is so good that you do not want it to end so soon. You want more screentime with these characters. The movie established the basics and the essentials so very very well that by the end of the film, you've fallen in love with Jay and Kay all over again.  Not to mention this one adds a layer to their dynamic that makes it so very... to quote every other review ever: "Profound."

  The supporting cast in this movie is very good too, although Emma Thompson and Alice Eve are totally underused as the same character, Jemaine Clement takes a standard ish villain and makes him disgustingly vile and totally fun to watch. He's no Edgar, but we're on the right track.  But the best supporting character is a quirky little guy named Griffin, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, who can see infinite future possibilities simultaneously which causes him equal measure of panic and glee. He's a joy to watch and a very fun character overall.  Back to the main man here, Will Smith.  Agent Jay picks up most of the slack all over this film.  The humor has been cut back seriously from number 2. No Frank the pug, no Jack Jeebs, and while you may say these are MIB mainstays, and wonder why they aren't here, I think any real fan would understand how the second one butchered those characters through overexposure, and also that there are so many other new unique characters that can be explored.  Beating a dead horse is what killed the second one. This one doesn't do that at all.  So, in the absence of such mainstays, Jay is really spotlighted in this movie, and he's still the wisecracking 'rookie' we know and love from 1997. Even though now he's a senior agent... it seems theres a whole galaxy of information STILL above his paygrade. Which is prime material for some proper laughs. Decent stuff really. Will Smith pulls it off.

  I can fully recommend MIB 3, despite a few tiny slip ups, its an all around solid film that is a damn decent, and surprisingly emotional, companion piece to the first one. Its also every bit the popcorn summer film that number one was. This movie is really fun. Its action packed, witty, stylish, and funny in all the ways a proper MIB movie should be. No longer am I sitting in boredom longing for the intellectual stylings of the first, ala MIB 2, instead I'm wondering what they have in store for the future. If nothing? I'm fine with that too. This was a completely serviceable end to the trilogy and it really washed out the bad taste that was lingering from number 2. MIB 3 succeeds in every way it should've and could've.

--

Overall its a solid trilogy. None of them take themselves so serious as to say you can't own all three. But make no mistake, number 2, despite a handful of okay and clever moments, is undoubtedly the weakest link.
But they all have some measure of mindless fun. Fun times from 1997 to 2012.