It seems that the third Men in Black movie might not suck after all. Reviews so far have been good (not great), with reviewers praising Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin as Tommy Lee Jones for bringing life back to a promising franchise that went off the rails. Does anyone even remember MiB2, other than Rosario Dawson? Ah, Rosario Dawson. You should be in all of the movies ever made. Lest we forget, the Men in Black movies are based on an old comic book of the same name—the comics are, of course, much less Will Smith-y (that is a viable adjective, because when you read it, you instantly knew what I meant—lots of “AH HELL NAW!”s, mugging for the camera, closing theme songs, etc.). And we’ve seen enough comic book adaptations to say with confidence that the Comic Book Movie subgenre is probably the most successful subgenre in movie history, financially speaking. Which is why there’s talk of an Ant-Man movie. (My son is happy about this, as Ant-Man is one of his favorite Avengers. Ant-Man. I feel like a bad geek parent.)
On the other hand, movies based on toys don’t seem to do as well. Yes, the Transformers movies did OK, and it appears that a fourth trip to the Cybertron scrap metal yard is inevitable. But Hasbro’s two other attempts at building a franchise have been failures. Battleship is sinking fast (hey-oh!), underperforming at the box office and leading many to speculate that Universal is in for a John Carter-like bomb. This despite plenty of eye candy (Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker for the gentlemen and some of the ladies, Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skaarsgard for the ladies and some of the gentlemen), bitchin’ special effects, and Liam Neeson yelling “YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP!!!” at key points throughout the film. (I don’t know if that actually happens, but it should; also, Neeson should fight the aliens with a bunch of broken bottles taped to his fists.) And lest we forget, Hasbro also attempted to launch a franchise with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. That movie also kinda sucked, but it did well enough at the box office and on video to warrant a sequel.
Ok, now that looks pretty cool, no? Ninjas fighting while hanging from the side of a mountain! The Rock! Bruce Willis! Tyra from Friday Night Lights! I believe I would pay to see that movie. I didn’t hate the first G.I. Joe flick. Yes, it was stupid, but it had some cool scenes (the Power Suit chase through a busy city street), and the novelty of seeing the mind-bogglingly miscast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the evil Cobra Commander. And it was a fun movie to watch with my son—I got to explain the whole concept of the G.I. Joe With Kung Fu Grip action figure to him (those of you who are my age will nod in appreciation). G.I. Joe: Retaliation was supposed to be released this summer. Now it’s being shelved for a March 2013 release date. Not a good sign.
Paramount cites the decision to convert the film to 3D as the major reason behind this decision. Fair enough. But with The Avengers crushing everything in sight and The Dark Knight Rises looming on the horizon, it’s probably safe to say that the studio wanted to avoid another potential flop. Burying the movie in early spring might help with that. The movie’s already gone through some reshoots, and no doubt there’ll be some additional tinkering. What might also help: the movie not being sucktacular. In any case, the kid was looking forward to seeing it, and now Dad has to explain Hollywood economics to him.