Here comes the Men in Black…err Women in Black?

The MIB franchise was an out of this world larger than life spectacle. Most of its success was more the charisma of its leading man Will Smith than the stories or the special effects.  Trying to recapture the magic is a tough task.    MIB: international comes to us 22 years after the original smash film, ironically around the times Molly ( Tessa Thompson) started obsessing with The fabled MIB.

Warning Spoilers ahead

The plot starts with Molly as a child witnessing her parents getting neuralized (memory wiped) after an encounter with a cute fluffy alien. Then we get a time jump to present where Molly has been tracking obsessively every reported alien sighting all while trying to locate the MIB agency.  Once she located the agency, she was able to convince them that she was exactly the person they needed to recruit. Fast forward (with no montage) Molly now known as agent M is a probationary agent and is assigned her first task.  She’s assigned to MIB: London. Where she immediately finds herself teamed with the legendary agent H (Chris Hemsworth). Hemsworth embodies confident legend who saved the world once alongside London division boss High T (Liam Neeson) “with nothing but their wits and series-70 atomizers.” The phrase is said often in the movie. The cold open of the film begins with the aforementioned adventure, ending abruptly before the world saving occurs — In part leaving the details ambiguous to the audience.  H and M are entrusted with Vungus the Ugly, who holds the key to the most destructive weapon ever made: a blaster cannon powered by a super-compressed star, stored in a tiny purple crystal.. They fail to protect him from a shape-shifting, break dancing entity played by “the Twins,” Laurent and Larry Bourgeois.  H and M begin their investigation as to why Vungus was assassinated, only to believe that it might have been an inside job.

Director F Gary Gray does not bring Barry Sonnenfeld’s love for mixing live-action and visual effects, which at times leaves the actors looking out of place as they share scenes with their computer-generated costars. Scenes set abroad in UK do not fit well, with empty streets.  While the Middle Eastern scenes mesh well aesthetically, but are cluttered (too many extras).  MIB: International paces well but is missing the magic the franchise had before, Scenes appear to be missing while others seem to been added after the fact.  For example, they refer to fact that most MIB agents are men,, and ask why is it still called MEN IN BLACK.  They do this 1-2 times but it feels like it was a running joke through the movie that was left on the cutting room floor.

A bright spot in the movie is the Kumail Nanjiani who voices the comedic Pawny, the scene-stealing alien who has sworn his life to protect agent M.  Ultimately, the last MIB film falls into the same pitfalls MIB 3 did.  It relied on obvious plot twists and reversals that ended up in the final version of the film.  In an age where every film has cgi or green screen use, MIB international failed to provide substance or anything noteworthy outside of the insane charisma that Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth share.  This movie will make its money back and then some, I just hope it gets better in the future.

I give this movie 2.5 Stars out of 5.

Film Review: ‘Men in Black: International’

PRODUCTION: A Sony Pictures Releasing release of a Columbia Pictures presents, in association with Tencent Pictures, an Amblin Entertainment production, in association with Parkes + MacDonald, Image Nation. Producers: Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald. Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, E. Bennett Walsh, Riyoko Tanaka, David Beaubaire, Barry Sonnenfeld, Edward Cheng, Howard Chen.

CREW: Director: F. Gary Gray. Screenplay based on the Malibu comic by Lowell Cunningham. Camera (color): Stuart Dryburgh. Editors: Zene Baker, Christian Wagner, Matt Willard. Music: Danny Elfman, Chris Bacon.

WITH: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Les Twins (Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois).

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