Review: Men In Black, International

Who you actually gonna call? The Men (and women) In Black, that’s who. Because they will help you to forget all the terrible things those aliens did to you, your loved ones, and your stuff with a cool cover story…or at least, that’s how it used to work. Without Will Smith it seems like this saving-the-world organization is really slacking off with their mind wiping, alien control, and production of decent movies.
Men In Black: International (semicolons are back with a vengeance this year) is the fourth installment in the MIB franchise, and though I may have been in the minority who still leaned toward enjoying the third film which was widely regarded as the “worst yet,” I am for sure following the crowds with this one deemed the “franchise killer.” And most crowds aren’t even showing up for it as it grossed a measly $30 million, far below the opening weekend grosses of each of the previous three movies. Although I wouldn’t say this movie is a time-waster if you liked the latest two films, I would caution heightened expectations of a return to form with new pizzazz. This movie is like walking into someone’s home and smelling freshly baked bread and then discovering that it’s only a scented candle. <<long exhale>>
The movies began in 1997 with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, and that first one, although a bit dated and a tad racially offensive, is a bona fide classic. Since then, each movie has focused too much on replicating the first while adding absolutely nothing new aside from CGI aliens, vehicles, and explosions. The plot of the first became the plot of the second became the plot of the third. I was really hoping for some new life to be put into this movie with a different director (F. Gary Gray – Straight Outta Compton, The Fate of the Furious) and two actors who have already proven their on-screen chemistry (Chris Hemsworth & Tessa Thompson – Thor: Ragnarok), but it simply failed. And honestly, I don’t know why? They didn’t follow formula. The MacGuffin was handed to them early on rather than having to spend the entire movie searching for it, which after three movies doing the same thing, I for one very much appreciated. Although rather predictable, the twist of an MIB mole was added to the plot. They even traveled outside of the U.S. for the first time (via CGI vehicle…). Additionally, while comedy is not Hemsworth’s go-to, he is a notably funny Aussie and he oozes charisma. Seemingly a perfect step-in for Smith’s exit, it felt like he was asked to leave them both at the door. He and Thompson just felt dry and lifeless throughout the movie, and I have to think that falls on the writers and director this time. There are only two good things that come from this movie: Tencent Pictures and Kumail Nanjiani.
Kumail (The Big Sick) was the much appreciated comic relief of MIBI, voicing the tiny and resilient character Pawny (pretty much an alien chess pawn wearing armor). The better news is that he has another movie coming out next month, Stuber, that looks super funny. Co-starring with Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), it could be this summer’s sleeper comedy. The other thing is Tencent Pictures, a film production and distribution company based in China that more people should be aware of. Started in 2015, they focus on producing movies with intellectual property found in books, comic books, animated series, and video games. Still relatively new, their current resume also holds Warcraft, Kong: Skull Island, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, and Venom. The reason you should know their name is because each of those movies grossed between roughly $450 and $850 million worldwide with 30% or higher profits grossed in the Chinese box office (aside from Wonder Woman). They are quickly making a name for themselves and aside from this obvious MIB failure could start selling movies by simply being associated with the production/distribution, having already worked with Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, and Sony. Just for reference, a few other production companies that are currently making names for themselves in a similar way include:
1) Annapurna Pictures (Booksmart, Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk),
2) A24 (Mid90s, Eighth Grade, Hereditary),
3) Blumhouse Productions (Glass, Halloween, BlacKkKlansman).
Well that’s probably enough knowledge to drop for one post. I am pretty bummed that MIB4 didn’t pan out despite the re-vamp in formula, but the good thing about the summer box office is that there are and will be so many other good movies worth seeing and the noise around them will drown out movies like MAWIB fairly quickly 🙂 Go see some movies if you haven’t already, then let me know what you saw in the comments below and if you liked it or not! Other promising movies coming soon to theatres include Toy Story 4 (June 21), Yesterday (June 28), Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2), and MidSommar (July 3). Cheers!

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