This weekend is a blast from the past as we get a new Men in Black movie and, well, another found footage horror movie. I suspect Will Smith to prevail over the weekend because he’s Will Smith. He’s turned the box office into a science and he’s the Steven Hawking. It’s hard for him NOT to have a huge hit. He’s about to take down The Avengers. Anyway, moving on.Men in Black 3
Yet contrary to expectation, the movie represents at least a partial return to form–not as inventive as the first, but surely better than the recycled materials that made up the second. It’s hardly a must-see, or even a should-see. But it’s a might-see, a could-if-you’re-in-the-mood-see.
After the dismal “Men in Black 2,” I was not in the mood for “Men in Black 3,” also directed byBarry Sonnenfeld. It turns out to be reasonably entertaining, though not enough to make me crave “Men in Black 4.”
Brolin is terrific capturing the tight-lipped cowboy poetry of Jones’ Agent K as a quasi-cowpoke in a suit. But it’s not mere imitation. After all, something did indeed happen to K to make him the grim mentor J knows him as. What that was turns out to be one of the finer kernels offered in an airy popcorn flick.
Verdict: Wait for DVD Chernobyl Diaries
Finally, there’s the tone. In earlier incarnations, the “Men in Black” franchise struck a happy balance between sly humor and slimy alien action. This third outing climaxes with a dark and melodramatic twist that, while adding a layer of nuance and back story that the previous two films never had, also feels wildly out of sync with its audience’s expectations.
The original “Night of the Living Dead” left you with plenty to chew on, so to speak; “Chernobyl Diaries” just leaves you feeling empty.
Chernobyl activist groups have protested this movie’s flippant association of those affected by the real-life disaster with homicidal flesh-eating freaks. I don’t know whether to applaud these efforts—the movie is, without question, in atrociously poor taste—or to assure those offended that, however icky the existence of Chernobyl Diaries may be, it doesn’t matter. Unlike the grave consequences of the awful event they survived, this movie will disappear from the earth in no time at all.
Will our intrepid band of blandness encounter mutant animals or zombie people? Wild brown bears, weird fish or government conspiracy and cover-up? Will they begin to feel their skin burn and peel? Maybe, whatever, move it along.
Aside from some over-the-top and unrealistic gore, Chernobyl Diaries benefits from being beautifully shot by Danish cinematographer Morten Soborg (Oscar winner In a Better World and After the Wedding) who makes the most of the ghostly surroundings, with Belgrade and Budapest locations standing in for Ukraine.