We all have that list of films that we could watch over and over again and not get bored. For me, those films include Independence Day, Men In Black, and Jurassic Park – you could say I have an appreciation for ‘90s action/horror/adventure movies. I love all three of those films and have seen every movie that has belonged in their continuing franchise. Though Jurassic Park is my absolute favorite, Men In Black holds a very special place in my heart, which is why I was excited to see how the franchise would continue in the newest film, MIB: INTERNATIONAL.
MIB: INTERNATIONAL, directed by F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton), finds the Men in Black fighting against some of their biggest foes to date. The film stars Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Chris Hemsworth (Thor: Ragnarok), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible Fallout), Rafe Spall (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit), and Emma Thompson (Missing Link). The film opens in Paris in 2016 with Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and High T (Liam Neeson) at the top of the Eiffel Tower about to fight an alien attack from a group known only as The Hive. Just as The Hive attacks the agents, the movie backtracks 20 years to introduce us to Molly (Tessa Thompson) and the series of events that have led her to believe that aliens exist. Fast forward to the present day and we find Molly frantically trying to locate any information on alien encounters and the secret organization responsible for dealing with them. Ultimately locating the Men In Black offices in New York, she convinces Agent O (Emma Thompson) to bring her on the team as an agent. Her first mission brings her to London where she links up with Agent H to help protect an alien diplomate named Vungus (Kayvan Novak). However, after an attack by alien twins (played by Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) leaves a trail of devastation in their wake, it’s up to Agent H and Agent M (Molly’s new identity) to not only track down the alien twins but also keep safe the most dangerous weapon in the universe all while dealing with a possible mole in the MIB organization.
Going into this film I tried my hardest to set aside my love for the original Men In Black film as I wanted to be as neutral as possible. With that said, there are quite a few things that I enjoyed about MIB: INTERNATIONAL, but in the end, I felt that the film didn’t reach its full potential. Granted, I do believe this iteration is for a new generation of movie-goers, but the things that make Men In Black so special were missing from this movie. One of my biggest gripes with this film has to do with the CGI, especially considering the original movie used so many practical effects and the immense talent of Rick Baker. That film came out in 1997, it’s now 2019 and honestly, we deserve better CGI than we are getting. I will give a pass to the alien twins and Rebecca Ferguson’s character Riza who has a rather cool reveal, but outside of that, I felt like I was watching an animated kid’s movie which took away from the original tone set by the previous Men In Black films. I guess what I’m saying is that I would have appreciated this film more had it taken the time to focus on practical and animatronic work instead of unforgettable CGI. Furthermore, I was able to figure out the true villain very early on, which took away the surprise element that it could have had.
In terms of areas within the film that I did like, I really enjoyed seeing the Alien Twins wreck havoc. Also, their scenes included some pretty impressive special effects and their actions are such that I think horror fans will have no problem enjoying their moments on screen. I’m still a little lost on their overall storyline as I’m not sure if they were completely bad or were actually trying to help in a convoluted sort of way, but whatever the case may be, those characters were easily my favorite and helped with my overall enjoyment of the film. I also really loved the character of Riza, who plays an illegal arms dealer who once had a romantic relationship with Agent H. She’s no-nonsense and strong-willed and her fight scenes were some of the most memorable of the film. Furthermore, there were a lot of nods to the earlier films, most notably the appearance of Frank the Pug and the Worms (Annelids).
Overall, I was rather let down with MIB: INTERNATIONAL. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did the best they could with what they were given but it felt like I was just watching MIB with a less funny Thor and a nervous Valkyrie who forgot how badass she is. That’s not to say it’s their fault, but more the writers trying to capitalize on their success from Thor. Also, I could have done without the forced feminist comments referencing “Men” in Black. All that said, I will admit that the final battle at the end featured a creature that had a lot of Lovecraftian elements to it which I was definitely a fan of but unfortunately, it didn’t make up for the multitude of other issues I had with the film. I won’t go so far as to say that MIB: INTERNATIONAL is a bad movie, as it did elicit some laughter while providing creatures that would fit perfectly within the horror genre, but the overall execution left a lot to be desired. MIB: INTERNATIONAL arrives in theaters June 14, 2019.
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