Film Review – Men in Black International

What made the previous three Men in Black films work as well as they did – even the uninspired third one – was the unique alchemy of not only Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but also of director Barry Sonnenfeld’s off-kilter, loony-toons aesthetic as well as Rick Baker’s inspired practical makeup work on many of the alien characters.  And there is something transgressive and a little rude in how a lot of Baker’s designs communicate to us the idea that people we think look ugly or weird may actually be extraterrestrials.  None of that rudeness is present in the new MIB – most if not all of the aliens on display are pure CGI and may as well have stepped out of one of the Star Wars prequels – and the overall aesthetic is bland and generic as a result.  More importantly, though, the film is just flat and uninspired. It’s a standard-issue “there’s a traitor among us” tale with all the familiar feints and turns, all of which can be seen coming a mile away.  Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth employ all of their considerable charm and starpower, but it’s not enough to save this limp narrative.  The movie acts as its own MIB Neuralizer, as you will forget what you’ve seen before you even leave the theater.


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