'Men in Black: International' Is Well-Intentioned, but Weakened by Uninteresting Characters and Poor Comedy

by Jonathan Sim 10 months ago in movie review

No Spoilers!

'Men in Black: International' Is Well-Intentioned, but Weakened by Uninteresting Characters and Poor Comedy
"I can't wait for this film. I know this movie looks like a big cash-grab, but it looks like an awesome action-packed film with some good comedy and badass moments."

HA HA HA! That's hilarious! Who would write something so ridiculous about a movie like this?! HA HA HA!

Wait, I wrote that? What do you mean, I wrote that in my trailer analysis that I published six months ago?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Here We Go!

Men In Black: International is a science fiction action comedy, written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway (writers of Iron Man) and directed by F. Gary Gray (director of Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious).

This film is a spin-off of the Men in Black film series, and it is about Agent M (portrayed by Tessa Thompson), a new recruit of the Men in Black, who teams up with Agent H (portrayed by Liam Hemsworth) to solve a problem in London.

Now, I'm a big fan of the original Men in Black, and I think it's one of the finest scifi action films I've ever seen. The two sequels weren't as good, but they had their moments, and I thought a reboot/spin-off would be a step in the right direction for this series.

And I was wrong. This movie does not suck. It isn't awful by any means. But it just isn't a good movie. It's passable, and I appreciate what they were trying to do with this film.

The Good

Let's begin with what's good about this movie. There are a few pretty good action sequences. My favorites are a scene where H and M are pulling some MIB weapons out of their car in a big fight scene, and a chase sequence that begins on foot and ends on a flying motorbike.

They were legitimately entertaining sequences, and I had a lot of fun with those scenes. Additionally, I thought the performances were generally pretty good. Thompson and Hemsworth have undeniable chemistry together, especially after Thor: Ragnarok.

The Characters

And that sums up most of the good qualities this film had. Let me give you my first problem, which is the characters. Despite their onscreen chemistry, they don't have the same chemistry that agents J and K had.

This is largely because they had very little personality. Agent M is just some girl who becomes an MIB agent, and Agent H has a bit more of a personality, as he's kind of reckless and humorous, but that's all he really is.

We don't really know much about H. He's just some guy who was once considered a hero and is now different. We eventually learn why, but I wish H just had a little bit more to him for why he acts the way he does.

Agent M has more backstory, but she isn't very interesting in terms of her personality, and it's not clear why she wants to join MIB so badly. We learn about her skills when they're referenced to by her potential employers, but we never actually see her train and actually LEARN to be good at everything.

That's generally my problem with the characters: H has too much personality and too little backstory and M has too much backstory and too little personality. And because of that, the characters aren't as memorable as J and K.

H and M don't share any witty banter. They rarely disagree or are ever at odds with each other the way J and K were. They just get along pretty well, and the dialogue they share is just very standard dialogue. It's not special and they don't show off any really interesting personality traits with what they say, unlike J and K.

The Villains

This movie also had some really disappointing villains. The bad guys in this movie are all over the place, with the main ones being The Twins, which are just two aliens who take the form of a janitor, so they look identical.

And I don't think they say a word in the whole movie. They just walk around and look evil. They do some evil things, and one of them dances pretty well. That's it. They had no personality and nothing particularly interesting about them.

We also had Riza Stavros, a three-armed alien that Agent H used to date, and she only appears in a 15-minute sequence that feels very inconsequential to the rest of the movie. Something important happens there, but it could have easily happened using the twins.

As a character, Riza is just kind of shoehorned into the movie. H's only real backstory is that he used to date Riza, but that tells us virtually nothing about H as a character, so there really isn't too much purpose for her existence in this film.

Now that we're talking about the bad guys and how weak they all were, I need to talk about another massive disappointment with the aliens in this movie.

Because, while this film does do a good job of expanding the universe and giving us new aliens, I take issue with the fact that there was no alien makeup in this movie. The twins? Just regular-looking humans. Rita Stavros? Just Rebecca Ferguson in a wig.

Remember this?

This is an example of some of the amazing makeup and special effects that were in the 1997 Men in Black. Edgar the bug was a great villain, portrayed fantastically by Vincent D'Onofrio, and he had a lot of really realistic makeup to make him look like a bug in a human suit.

But what did we get in this movie? Every single alien besides the two I mentioned before is a CGI creation, completely CGI. They don't add any makeup to humans to make them look like an alien. Hell, even Boris the Animal in Men in Black 3 had some makeup!

Damn, this was a scary dude.

The Comedy

Now, let's talk about the comedy in this movie. I think the first two Men n Black movies had some really funny comedy, and I laughed during those quite a bit. The third one was a bit iffy, but this one was just really bad in terms of comedy.

I'd say about 95 percent of the jokes in this movie completely miss. As in, a silent theater with crickets chirping. You can tell when the movie wants to be funny and is trying to be. But it just doesn't work.

And it's just genuinely disappointing when you have actors like Chris Hemsworth, who is a good comedic actor, fail to make you laugh whenever they want to.

The main source of comic relief in this movie is Pawny, a little talking alien, who M carries around. You can really tell that they wanted Pawny to be funny, but most of the time, his jokes simply fall flat. This movie is a far cry from the brilliantly hilarious testing scene from the first Men in Black.

The Feminism/Gender Roles

When I was watching this movie, I couldn't really decide if this movie was sexist or actively trying to not be sexist.

I won't talk about this too much because it's a bit controversial, but from what I watched, it felt like out of the two writers who watched this movie, one was sexist and one wasn't, and they were fighting over how women should be portrayed in this movie.

Because there are some pro-women parts in this movie. There are two scenes where they question why it's called the 'MEN in Black' when they have both men and women agents.

And there's a scene where Pawny asks M if she's a queen, and she responds with something along the lines of, "Well, under the idea that all women are queens, yes."

But there are other scenes that contradict that, such as a scene where an alien is flirting with M and she is uncomfortable with the situation, but H keeps it going in order to keep things friendly.

And there is a TRULY AWFUL scene in this movie where H shows up, and he starts walking in slow motion, and the audio is all quiet, as M and the other women look at Chris Hemsworth and drool.

I mean, did this movie become a 1990s romantic comedy or something? But anyways, I do think it's kind of wrong to have this strong female character and the very first thing she does when she enters the office is flirt with the hot guy.

There's even a scene in this movie where M goes and unbuttons H's shirt a bit so that he can look casual in a club. And there's a scene where H is pleading with a female alien for his life, and this female alien saves his life by making H agree to having a one-night stand with her.

YES, YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.

Maybe I'm reading too far into this, but I just think it's really strange how this movie kind of objectifies Hemsworth and just makes him into this figure that all women want to sleep with, and how it does the same with Thompson in one scene. It felt incredibly odd to me.

The Individual Scenes

I already mentioned the really stupid "slow-motion Hemsworth" scene that made my eyes roll to the back of my head and cringe in my seat, but there are other scenes that are pretty bad as well.

For example, there's a scene in the movie where M is getting suited up to be an agent, and it's supposed to mirror the scene in the original MIB where J is getting suited up to become an agent.

This movie's version of this scene... sucks. It's got a hip hop song over it, and it seems as if they're parodying this scene from what it looks like.

We have moments in this scene where it actually seems like M is breaking the fourth wall, looking directly at the camera and holding out the noisy cricket for us all to see.

But since I didn't hate this movie, I do want to acknowledge some good scenes. There is a scene near the end that parallels the beginning, which I thought was handled very well.

We have a nice little action one-liner in this movie, which I'm almost always glad to see. The movie has its moments of fun, but everything in this movie is pretty much what the first one did—just inferior.

There's a Thor reference in this movie, which I won't spoil in case you haven't seen it, and there are a few nice little callbacks to the originals.

And there's an action scene that just feels out of place in the MIB universe because it involves H in a gunfight. He's not using special MIB guns; he used a regular-ass handgun that police officers use, and that just isn't the kind of action that I wanted to see from an MIB movie.

And they didn't do anything too creative in this movie with the aliens. One of my (very few) favorite parts of Men in Black 2 was when K is fighting the aliens and they all have special weaknesses to them that they can exploit.

But for the most part in this movie, the fight scenes are "point-and-shoot." And in fact, this movie doesn't even have the funny dialogue that this scene had.

Did I just imply that Men In Black 2 is better than this movie?! Oh god...

The Story

Without a doubt, this movie is up there with Men In Black 2 in terms of its forgettability. The story simply involves a big powerful weapon that M needs to protect.

It fails to take any risks, like what Men in Black 3 did with introducing time travel. This movie fails to pull the gadgets and aliens of MIB into new directions, and it instead rehashes what we've already seen, just in a worse way. This movie simply plays it very safe.

Overall

I'm having trouble rating this movie. Because at the end of the day, I didn't hate this movie. It has some good entertainment value in it, and it's just a passable, harmless summer scifi action movie.

And yet, I spent most of this article criticizing it. I've been criticizing a movie that I don't hate, and honestly, this movie might have some guilty pleasure qualities to it.

This movie has good intentions. It wanted to reinvigorate the MIB franchise, and I don't think they did a horrible job with it. I just think this is a flawed movie that remains enjoyable.

Okay, so here is my final grade.

I'm gonna give 'Men In Black: International' a 6/10 (C-).

Will you like this movie? That depends on your expectations. I'd recommend skipping this movie in the theaters and renting it in a few months, because you can expect some entertainment from this movie, but you shouldn't expect it to recapture the magic of the original MIB.

And are you even reading this now? This article was over 2000 words. I have no clue how I was able to write this much about this movie. So if you haven't clicked away from this article yet to play Fortnite, then congratulations. You have the longest attention span ever.

Thank you so much for reading. And if you're curious about anything I wrote about, then I believe the answer to all your questions is right here:

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Jonathan Sim
Jonathan Sim
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Jonathan Sim

I'm a film critic and an all-around movie lover! Check out my reviews on the newest movies!

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