Sunday, September 1, 2019
Video review: "Men in Black: International"
The first “Men in Black” movie in 1997 was a watershed, a brilliant science fiction action/comedy that mashed up the buddy cop genre with a creature catalogue of alien critters created through a combination of animatronics and computer imagery.
The second in 2002 may hold the record as the laziest sequel of all time, and 10 years later they finally got around to a third one, which wasn’t any great shakes, either.
So for 2019 they decided to reboot the franchise without Will Smith of Tommy Lee Jones, swapping in Chris Hemsworth as the veteran agent of the secret agency that handles alien intrusion and Tessa Thompson as the cocky younger whippersnapper.
I can see the reasoning. Hemsworth is an established star playing Thor in the MCU movies, and Thompson paired up agreeably with him in a couple of them as a fellow headstrong warrior. His signature screen persona is “charismatic cad” while she’s been a vibrant presence in a bunch of smaller movies like “Sorry to Bother You” and “Dear White People.”
Alas, such was the experience of “Men in Black: International” that it was savaged by critics and did so poorly at the box office it may have dashed Hemsworth’s reign as a bankable star and stunted Thompson’s ascent into the same stratosphere.
This is just a bad and dull movie, which is a terrible combo. Sometimes awful flicks can keep moving forward under the momentum of their own trashiness. But “MiBI” just spins around in circles.
As Agents H and M, respectively, they’re battling the Hive, yet another race of alien no-gooders come to infect the Earth. Their main nemesis is a pair of shape-shifting Twins, and they get some help – or at least encouragement – from a tiny shoulder-riding alien named Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani).
Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson play senior leaders of the Men in Black, and Rebecca Ferguson is Riza, a criminal arms dealer who has a sordid romantic past with H.
Twice now I had thought the MiB franchise dead after lackluster sequels. My guess is third time’s the charm.
Bonus features for the Blu-Ray/DVD edition include a gag reel and eight making-of documentary shorts. Among the more interesting is the MiB taking on real NBA stars and another where the actors playing the Twins show off their dance moves.
Upgrade to the 4K Ultra combo pack and you add deleted scenes, a fake ad for the memory-wiping Neuralyzer device and an “Alien-cestry.com” feature that allows one to track your off-world ancestors.