Men in Black 3 (2012)

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Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.’s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history. (IMDb)
The key to this film’s success is that Brolin as a young Agent K is marvelous and has the same entertaining chemistry with Smith’s J as TLJ did. The future-past mash-up, meanwhile, adds both extra fun to the dynamic as well as hints of intriguing character work (“What happened to you man?”; see also the final reveal). Stuhlbarg’s manic Griffin and Clement’s delightfully over-the-top villain (see his hilarious interaction with his past self) are great secondary characters that fill things out.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
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Men in Black II (2002)

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Agent J needs help so he is sent to find Agent K and restore his memory. (IMDb)
Just didn’t click this time around. The combination of Jay’s naivety and bravado in the first made for lots of laughs; here, the former is gone and a cocky vet just isn’t as funny as a brash rookie. Kay’s also gone for half the flick, so that doesn’t help. It’s not bad, per se, and there are some good moments (see the locker colony, and the cheeky reveal at the end) but annoying villains, an empty “romance” (I can’t even call it that seriously) and a lame plot linger more than anything else.
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Men in Black (1997)

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A police officer joins a secret organization that polices and monitors extraterrestrial interactions on Earth. (IMDb)
The sci-fi concept is uniquely nuanced (aliens aren’t all good or all bad) and well established (“Why the big secret? People are smart.” “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals”) but as a whole, smartly stays just goofy, gross fun throughout, complimented by the classic central odd-couple and comedy that goes beyond one-liners (see Jay and fellow testers trying to make themselves comfortable), though it has plenty of those too: “No, Elvis is not dead. He just went home.”
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Vice (2018)

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The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today. (IMDb)
Loved the creativity on display here: the quasi-documentary style with its narration, freeze frames, and media footage (both real and created), the mischievous artistic flourishes including hilarious faux-end credits and a Shakespearean dialogue. That said, it hinders the biopic angle from achieving significant character depth, and conversely, the biopic scope (30+ years) and focus (one man) prevents the political docu-drama angle from having as significant an impact as the content warrants.
7/10 (Good)

 

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

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While travelling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train. (IMDb)
The lazily paced opening act kept me waiting for the thriller part to come, but then I realized it was actually super funny (see C+C at dinner with Miss Froy) and it ended up setting up the ensemble cast of characters perfectly for the uniquely comedic thriller to follow (see Caldicott during the gun fight: “We’ll never get to the match now”), with the witty banter of Gilbert and Iris carrying us breezily through the engaging mystery right to its ending that hits all the right (piano) notes.
8/10 (Great)

 

The Net (1995)

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A computer programmer stumbles upon a conspiracy, putting her life and the lives of those around her in great danger. (IMDb)
The computer/internet motif throughout is obviously pretty dated and corny but it provides decent enough stolen identity thrills (see Angela’s return home). The pacing’s still pretty slow though, and both the dramatic and comedic dialogue are unremarkable, letting down otherwise smart characterization (Angela’s isolation worsened her later plight) and solid direction (the soundtrack is effective, as are the news reports subtly coming in and out of the narrative, adding notes of intrigue).
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

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Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. (IMDb)
The plotting is either incomprehensible or downright cheesy (or both–see the climax at Stonehenge with the staff of Merlin), character movements are difficult to make sense of (see Duhamel’s Colonel and co. chase, then join forces with their target; the Earl suddenly ditching), and besides that, it just goes on too long. The action’s good though, and some surprising and genuinely funny moments of levity (see Merlin’s opening plea; Cogman’s organ playing; Agent Simmons in Cuba) help break it up.
6/10 (Mediocre)