Men In Black International Review Round-Up: A Formulaic Attempt To Inject A Tired Franchise With New Life

Well, we all had our fears. I love the original Men in Black film as much as the next guy, but as great as it was, it was very much a product of its time: a solid ’90s blockbuster that captures the era. Since then, we’ve had two other films that helped to really milk the concept clean. Yes, Men in Black has brand recognition, but I’m not sure anyone’s been pining for one, as we can’t really see any way to give it a whole different life.

And that was what I expected. A film that checked all the boxes, did a serviceable job, but ultimately did nothing to warrant its existence. Apparently, if the reviews are any indication, that’s exactly what we got: an inoffensive, but uninspired film.

Our own Fox Troilo’s review skewed pretty darn negative, with him saying:

“The stakes are unclear, the motivations are muddled, and the villains are obvious. Thematically, director F. Gary Gray seems consistently on squishy ground, unsure if he’s making a screwball comedy or an intense science fiction action adventure. And every time Men In Black: International dabbles a bit in the latter category, the proceedings come to a dull halt because of a poor attempt at humor through a bad pun, as if the movie has a joke quota. Worst of all—nothing in the entire film is memorable.”

But Fox isn’t the only critic to have his review hit. Reviews have hit Rotten Tomatoes, and here is what some of the more positive reviews have to say…at least to start:

“[Tessa Thompson is] one of my favorite movie stars right now,” The Chicago Tribune writes. “Partly because she has such natural authority and ease on screen, and yet refuses to behave like a movie star. She’s simply interesting and funny and real, while also floating slightly above each new outsized absurdity. Thompson does here what Tommy Lee Jones did so well in the first “Men in Black” and never quite managed again. By not overtly giving a rip about the demands or dictates of the franchise machinery clanking all around her, she lightens the load and keeps everything moving efficiently.”

THR seemed to back up this assessment that Thompson was far and away the best part, by saying:

“Thompson carries with her a poise and center of gravity that prevents her from being caught in the frenzy that has, unfortunately, snared Hemsworth, encouraged to overdo his posturing as a dashing agent who, until now, has never met a dilemma he’s not been able to charm, wriggle or talk his way out of.”

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While these two reviews were some of the more positive ones (and they were middling, at best), the vast majority skewed negative.

Den of Geek didn’t pull any punches, with apathy seeming to be the most damning comment.

“A diverting and harmless multiplex-filler, Men in Black 4 is designed to not little else than take up space in a movie theater, on a billboard, and in a studio’s quarterly report. Even so it is still probably the best MIB movie since the 1997 original, but then that doesn’t say too much for a franchise that is primarily comprised of big screen neuralizers at this point.”

Though if you thought painful apathy was bad enough, what about just flat-out badness, as EW claims?

International is better than Men in Black II and worse than Men in Black III, and they’re all bad, so erase this sentence from your memory. This fourquel’s a special bummer, because Thompson and Hemsworth shined together in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Hemsworth reimagined his epic hero as a cheerful doofball with a busted hammer, letting Thompson dominate as a charisma firebomb on a millennia-deep bender. A good idea to reunite them, and that’s it for International‘s good ideas.”

And Indiewire doesn’t pepper it with much praise either.

“Yet “Men in Black: International,” which launches Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth into a bland variation on the same “MiB” routine, lacks the energy or ambition to make its intergalactic stakes into anything more than baffling cash grab. This misconceived attempt to inject a tired franchise with new life ends up as little more than an empty vessel.”

So, yeah. if you were hoping this would be a grand return, you may have to wait another decade or so. Unfortunately, in spite of the charisma of the leads and the potential of the premise, this one falls short.

As of right now, only 31% of critics would recommend the film (out of 29 reviews), so it’s not looking good.

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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, THR, Den of Geek, EW, IndieWire

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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