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Section Header
Men in Black 3
Composed and Co-Produced by:
Danny Elfman

Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Co-Orchestrated by:
Edgardo Simone
David Sloanaker

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Produced by:
Steve Bartek

Sony Classical

Release Date:
May 29th, 2012

Also See:
Men in Black
Men in Black II

Audio Clips:
1. Men in Black 3 - Main Titles (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

19. The Mission Begins (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

20. Mission Accomplished (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

21. A Close One (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.


Men in Black 3
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Buy it... if you still have a soft spot for Danny Elfman's full range of identities for this franchise, each of them extended with commendable skill in this surprisingly orchestra-heavy sequel score.

Avoid it... if you demand that new thematic territory be explored or that the composer rely upon his prior retro-styling for this somewhat conventional journey to the past.

Men in Black 3: (Danny Elfman) It's remarkable to ponder the fact that despite the financial success of the Men in Black franchise, it took fifteen years for it to reach trilogy status. Generally considered superior to the first sequel in 2002 is Men in Black 3 (or MIB3 for short) ten years later. Gone are many of the auxiliary characters from the prior two films (including the obnoxious, talking pug, thankfully) but back are the leading duo of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, the latter with something of a cameo role due to his limited screen time. It took ten years to develop Smith's original time-travelling idea for this film, his character forced to follow an escape alien criminal back to 1969 and save the life of partner's younger self. While in the past, the two rejoined agents of the secretive alien-related organization have to restore history as best they can, including the planting of a device on an Apollo spacecraft that is destined to protect the Earth in the future. Sappy encounters with younger versions of themselves extend the previous movie's flimsy but tender personal narratives, though the creativity of the alien creatures living amidst human society continues to sustain the franchise's key element of humor. Returning to the series is composer Danny Elfman, whose original Men in Black efforts yielded him (amazingly, in retrospect) one of his first Academy Award nominations. As director Barry Sonnenfeld reminds us, Elfman's job with the concept was to provide the agents on screen with masculinity, their coolness under pressure exuded through Elfman's own sense of humor in the process of whipping up a snazzy but ballsy main theme for the concept. There has always been a somewhat retro feeling to Elfman's music for the franchise, and one of the most interesting aspects of Men in Black 3 is the composer's choice to minimize that former identity for the sleaze of the alien characters and instead focus on more straight forward orchestral activity for the human-centered story this time around. The major detriment of the second score in the series was its tendency to simply regurgitate ideas from the first score without attempting to really add any new dimensions to them. There is a certain amount of that repetition in Men in Black 3, though perhaps due to the fact that ten years passed since the second film, the revisiting of these ideas doesn't seem as irritating in the third entry. Elfman once again attempts no really new thematic or stylistic direction here, though he does faithfully wrap most of his previous ideas for the concept into a functional and occasionally quite entertaining new package.

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While some listeners might expect Elfman to really emphasize the 1960's and 1970's-inspired instrumentation for the portions of Men in Black 3 taking place in 1969, he doesn't oblige that temptation. The electric bass, retro drums, and electric guitars all return, though outside of some playful guitar insanity in the "Main Titles" (and reprise at the end), the score doesn't highlight them. The acoustic guitar and various choral shades are utilized in familiar roles, and the orchestra seems more aggressively expressed in this work's later action sequences. Thematically, all your favorite identities return. The title theme's initial performance may be a bit abstract given its wailing guitar translation, but the remainder of the score presents the idea in several satisfying variants of its more recognizable form, including complete bursts in "Spiky Bulba," "Headquarters," and "The Prize - Monocycles." The actual melody and its underlying, chopping string rhythm are, as expected, separated for their own applications at times. There are few cues (if any, really) that don't feature at least the melody or rhythm. The adaptation of this theme into the militaristic action realm in "The Mission Begins" is the highlight of the score, hints of nobility for the space program mixed with the theme's fragments. The reminiscing acoustic guitar theme for the agents plays an understandably greater role in this score because of the time travel, the idea developed well in "Regret," "Mission Accomplished," and "A Close One." The hip secondary motif that extends out of the main theme's rhythm for the electric bass parades through several cues, including "Into the Past" and "True Story." Elfman's pretty wonderment motif for choir returns in "Griffin Steps Up" and "Under the Bridge" before being applied in the standard crescendo of grand fantasy at the conclusion of "A Close One" to close out the score (with even a false ending). This final cue may seem a bit cobbled together in its construction, but in 94 seconds Elfman manages to express nearly the full spectrum of motifs from the franchise. There is rarely a moment in Men in Black 3 when the composer isn't extending one of the existing identities, and it would be preferable to hear the him conjure at least one major new theme for each sequel. But if you can get past the somewhat irritating electric guitar "interpretations" of the main theme that open and close the score-only album presentation, you'll encounter a rather fluid and easy-going listening experience. The element of humor is restrained (the theremin is perhaps underused and a lack of a tongue-in-cheek Spider-Man reference for Smith's jump off the Chrysler building is lamentable), but the better developed orchestral bravado of the franchise themes and the loyalty to them add up to a pleasantly satisfying whole. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Danny Elfman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.2 (in 65 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.24 (in 119,006 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.14 Stars
Smart Average: 3.13 Stars*
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   Re: There's a new theme for Boris
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 53:39

• 1. Men in Black 3 - Main Titles (5:54)
• 2. Spiky Bulba (2:18)
• 3. The Set-Up (3:36)
• 4. Headquarters (2:00)
• 5. Regret (3:03)
• 6. Wrong (1:03)
• 7. Not Funny (1:48)
• 8. Big Trouble (1:15)
• 9. Out on a Limb (2:00)
• 10. Time Jump (1:14)
• 11. Bad Fortune (1:14)
• 12. Forget Me Not (1:27)
• 13. Into the Past (1:37)
• 14. Griffin Steps Up (1:41)
• 15. True Story (0:41)
• 16. The Prize - Monocycles (3:56)
• 17. Boris Meets Boris (1:27)
• 18. Under the Bridge (5:51)
• 19. The Mission Begins (5:28)
• 20. Mission Accomplished (3:08)
• 21. A Close One (1:34)
• 22. Men in Black 3 - Main Titles Revisited (1:33)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers and a short note from the director about working with Elfman.

  All artwork and sound clips from Men in Black 3 are Copyright © 2012, Sony Classical. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/2/12 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2012-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.