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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Men in Black 3

Will Smith's 'Men in Black 3' censored in China

May 31, 2012 | 11:34 am

"Men in Black 3" is the latest film to face the wrath of Chinese censors.

At least three minutes of Sony's sci-fi comedy have been excised for its Chinese theatrical run, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The offending moments take place in New York's Chinatown. They include a Chinese-restaurant shootout between evil aliens and Will Smith's Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones' Agent K -- the aliens are disguised as restaurant workers -- as well as a moment when Smith’s J  “neuralyzes,” or memory-wipes, a group of Chinese bystanders.

A Chinese paper, the China Southern Daily, speculated that the latter scene may have been cut because it could be viewed as a comment on China's censorship of the Internet.

The news was first reported in the English-language press by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which pegged the total time of the cuts at 13 minutes.

"MIB 3" opened to more than $21 million in China last weekend, by far the largest total of any of the more than 50 foreign territories in which the movie bowed.

Chinese law limits the number of Hollywood movies that can be shown in its theaters, prompting studios to be unusually careful about any China-related content they include in their films. In this case, Sony learned of the Chinese government’s objections after the film had been completed.

This is hardly the first time a Hollywood movie has been altered for mainland release. A moment in "Mission: Impossible 3" featuring laundry hanging in Shanghai, for instance, was removed before the film was shown in China. Scenes of the Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat playing a villain in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” were also expunged.

Studios are sometimes proactive in removing scenes themselves. MGM changed in postproduction the nationality of villains in its upcoming "Red Dawn" reboot, digitally transforming them from Chinese to North Korean.

Sony is no stranger to working with the Chinese government. The company collaborated with the Asian nation on its 2010 reboot of "The Karate Kid," which was shot in Beijing and other parts of the country and offered a generally positive view of life on the mainland -- and starred Will Smith's son, Jaden.

You can see some of the Chinatown scenes in this trailer:



'Men in Black 3' was no easy sequel to make

Hollywood tries to stay on China's good side

'Men in Black 3' is Memorial Day's top weekend movie

 -- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Men in Black 3." Credit: Sony Pictures

Box Office: 'Men in Black 3' blasts away competition [Video]

May 29, 2012 |  2:02 pm

Men in Black 3 grossed 70 million dollars at the box office this weekend
After four weeks atop the box office, "The Avengers" finally had to settle for the runner-up position.

"Men in Black 3" dethroned the superhero flick, raking in $70 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. The movie ended up grossing around $203 million worldwide by weekend's end -- roughly $50 million less than industry projections had indicated the film would debut with.

Meanwhile, the low-budget horror flick "Chernobyl Diaries" had a dismal opening, collecting a weak $9.3 million. To make matters worse, the few moviegoers who saw the film hated it, assigning it an average grade of D+, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

There were some success stories in the independent film world, however. Both Wes Anderson's 1960s-set quirky dramedy "Moonrise Kingdom" and the French foreign-language film "The Intouchables" performed well in limited release.

For more on this week's hits and misses at the multiplex, check out our latest box office video report.


'Men' fights well but misses a prediction

'Men in Black 3' was no easy sequel to make

'Moonrise Kingdom' sets per-screen-average box office record

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Will Smith stars in "Men in Black 3." Credit: Sony Pictures

'Men in Black 3' a blast from the past, critics say

May 25, 2012 |  1:18 pm

Men in Black 3

After a 10-year absence from the big screen, agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively) are back to save the world from aliens (yes, again) in "Men in Black 3." After the widely panned "MIB2," this third installment is all about time travel — both in terms of plot and in trying to recapture the quirky fun of the original 1997 film. For many critics, the film has done just that, largely thanks to the addition of Josh Brolin.

The Times' own Betsy Sharkey writes, "'Men in Black 3' has got the MIB mojo back — well, most of it anyway." The film "has recovered some of the brashness and all of the unbridled affection for the weird, wonky otherworldly types that made the initial 1997 cosmic comedy such a kick," and Brolin's turn as K's younger self is "a casting coup." Brolin channels Jones "brilliantly" without sticking to a slavish impersonation, and the end result is "campy fun if not quite a classic."

The New York Times' A.O. Scott finds "MIB3" to be a movie "with no particular agenda. Which may be part of the reason it turns out to be so much fun." Though the film starts slowly, eventually "it swerves into some marvelously silly, unexpectedly witty and genuinely fresh territory," Scott says. Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords"), playing a time-hopping supervillain, brings "thunderous mock pomposity" to the proceedings, while Brolin is "uncanny and hilarious." Other game cast members include Alice Eve, Bill Hader and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Ty Burr, of the Boston Globe, calls Brolin "the film's most remarkable special effect." His performance, Burr says, "is funny, masterful, confident, and more than a little unsettling." The rest of the film "is about as good as one could hope for from an unnecessary sequel that’s a decade late to the party." Burr agrees with Scott that the first act drags and the story "feels pro forma," but once things get going there are moments of "deft, absurdist entertainment."

Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, deems "MIB3" "better than the first one" and echoes Burr in calling Brolin's young Agent K "the movie's most impressive achievement." The film also offers "an ingenious plot, bizarre monsters [and] audacious cliff-hanging," if that's your thing.

Hearst film critic Amy Biancolli ranks "Men in Black 3" as "not quite as fresh" as the original film but "a heck of a lot better" than the second. "Abundant humor, dabs of heartbreak and a suspenseful, vertiginous climax go a long way toward compensating for any logical lapses or cliches."

A few critics have proved somewhat immune to Brolin's charms, including the Village Voice's Nick Pinkerton, who writes that the actor does "a fair TLJ impersonation." It's not enough to save the film from "ubiquitous timidity" and "bland formula."

Whether J and K will return for future adventures remains to be seen. But in a world populated by aliens and time travelers, stranger things have happened.


'Men in Black 3' was no easy sequel to make

'Men in Black 3': Rick Baker’s ongoing search for alien life

Movie Projector: 'Men in Black 3' debut to take out 'Avengers'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in "Men in Black 3." Credit: Wilson Webb / Columbia Pictures


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