Some general themes:
I recall the first one addressing themes of master-apprentice a’plenty, of passing the torch, and finding someone worthy of upholding the responsibility to serve the public good.
I forget the 2nd one. Maybe I didn’t see it!
The 3rd one goes for the emotional jugular: emotional matters of the past that shape who people are in the present; and in particular: romantic love, and father-son relationships.
I really liked the various ways in which they addressed these themes. The action was a nice icing, as a lot of them were fun but not very memorable or all that well choreographed (just a lot of explosions and projectiles and IMPACT, but not very memorable in terms of exchanging skillful toe-to-toe action-drama).
That’s about it.
Might as well go for favorite scenes/arcs.
One moment I “enjoyed” was watching the villain’s past and present collide, and the first thing that comes out of the villain’s mouth is self-loathing, destructive criticism, shaming, blaming. And the past and future selves have no harmony, and are not “one,” and in many ways, are just seeking after their own gain, and viewing the “other” as merely a tool to use to better themselves for. It’s not a “my life is in fact your life,” but it is “if you help me, you will gain in this way, while I gain in that way, so it is win-win for us ‘both,’” as if the two selves from different time periods are separate and unrelated. There’s a clear lack of unity within the self. Was very “true” to the “villain” archetype, and it was comically done without being too spiteful or bitter about the bad-guy-being-bad. As in: the writers and storytellers didn’t seem to hammer it home that the bad guy needs to be seen as really really hateful, and that it could be observed in a funny and true way without casting too much judgment. Maybe I’m projecting.
I think I like this in films that pull off time-travel in a skillful way, which ultimately comes down to: who is information-superior and who is information-inferior, and watching the information-superior try to be as gentle and understanding towards the information-inferior’s situation, and to try not to “blow their cover” or try to game the outcome. If the information-superior knows too much, then the film just becomes a “follow everything I say” type game, and MiB 3 did a good job of making Agent J not know too much, so that the partnership could still be organic and have the characters just be, rather than following steps to ensure the restoration/improvement of their future.
The all-seeing demi-god type character was also really lovable. Really quirky, seemingly harmless, seemed really good natured, and vulnerable, in that despite being able to know all possible outcomes, this figure never really used it for self-gain, and in a lot of ways, was just an observer of the human condition, in all iterations. If we want to go off in a tangent, I feel like this is the type of religious deity figure that is actually appealing to many science-as-religion-folks. As in: the filmmakers did a great job of making this character non-offensive to modern audiences, while at the same time, not being able to exercise too much of a deux-ex, and speaking in clues that lead, rather than orders that the protags must follow like automatons.
Really well done!
It’s a nice way to tie the knot in the MiB franchise, as well, and to be honest, I have no idea how they took that storyline, and opened it up and rejiggered with the elements so that a story of master-apprentice and passing-on-the-torch became one of in-fact-this-isn’t-a-partnership-and-was-actually-a-father-son-relationship-all-along, to end on that emotional-core-level that is so very universal to the human experience.
And they used “sci-fi cartoon space adventure secret agent protectors of the earth tropes super skillfully,” at that.
Might not be the cinematic experience that transforms modern society as we know it, but it does an excellent job at using modern filmmaking tropes, archetypal themes, and sci-fi action adventure elements to tell a really tight, focused story that anyone can relate to, if you’re so inclined to embrace such themes.