I honestly thought long and hard about how I wanted to start this article out. Did I want to go my usual route of nostalgia? Or did I want to talk about the deeper themes of this movie and franchise? Frankly, Men in Black, as a franchise to me has always felt like the poor man’s version of The X-Files. In some ways the original trilogy almost felt like a spoof of the iconic Mulder-Scully series. The movies are entertaining but that’s about it. So, when news broke that the MCU’s Valkyrie and Thor were gonna be the latest duo to don the famous suits and glasses – I was at best intrigued. Perhaps the reason that I had mild distain for this franchise was merely the actors in it or the execution or the writing. Perhaps, fresh blood is exactly what this franchise needs to reinvent itself.
This trip to the unknown expands the universe and mythology. Men in Black International tells the story of Agent H, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Agent M, played Tessa Thompson. H is the seasoned veteran and London branch superstar. While M is the freshman agent on probation. Speaking of fresh, perhaps blood isn’t what the franchise needed. As International falls into the same traps as its’ predecessors. It’s entertaining but flawed in the same breath.
As previously stated, Hemsworth and Thompson played opposite one another in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame. Within those settings, the chemistry between the actors worked tremendously. International is not so much the case. The dynamic is almost the same for both actors – just the roles are switched. It just feels too familiar and bland. Perhaps, if either character had any form of development it may be forgivable. Hemsworth’s H is the cliché womanizer who is sadly underdeveloped and as two-dimensional as characters come. Thompson has a bit more development to her. Though it is her chemistry between Pawny voice actor, Kumail Nanjiani that really steals the show. Nanjiani, as a whole, ends up stealing the show with signature humor. Though, the chemistry between him and Thompson adds another layer to his character dynamic.
Though as much as the film as going for it in terms of weaknesses, it makes up a bit with its’ visual aesthetic. The marriage of visual and practical effects for this film create a unique viewing experiences. There are several scenes where I found myself actually looking around the background to see the visual nature of the film over the story. This is truly a beautiful looking film. The story, as much as it has issues, delivers a entertaining story that never feels choked.
Overall, Men in Black International is white noise to the mythology of its predecessors. In what could have reinvented the sci-fi franchise for a new generation, we are presented a lackluster movie void of character development and chemistry of its main characters. Chris Hemsworth falls flat with his portrayal of a clichéd stereotype. Though, it’s Tessa Thompson and Kumail Nanjiani who definitely steal the show. Their chemistry and humor alone is worth the watch. International makes up for its storytelling issues through its visual medium. This fourth entry into the MIB is fun and depressing within the same breath.
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