"Men in Black: International" Review

The first Men in Black film was released twenty-two years ago, all the way back in 1997. It's important to remember that these films were built on a foundation of serving both action and comedy to the audience. Given the combined premise of spies and sci-fi, there was always an emphasis on a mysterious case to solve a la Sherlock Holmes, action and cool tech a la James Bond, and of course an abundance of alien creatures as another pillar of the world-building.

Comedy is often a misunderstood genre and art form. It can be intermingled with more serious dramatic content or any number of genres, and the extent to which it's used can vary. The presence of jokes or levity doesn't have to undermine the deeper content for characters and the larger story, if done right. "Men in Black: International" shapes much of its comedy around Chris Hemsworth and Kumail Nanjiani. Chris has been making more and more of a shift towards comedic material as he's gained prominence and the freedom to choose more of his roles.

Kumail's career has been deeply rooted in comedy, as he's even done stand-up in addition to acting, so director F. Gary Grey made the wise choice of giving Kumail room to improvise. Kumail's character Lawny is also created with the help of motion capture technology. What "Men in Black: International" displays is the spirit of enthusiasm from the crew responsible for designing and rendering creatures as well as designing the new tech pieces used by the agents. IT's entirely evident ow much fun these people had imagining and creating these parts of the film, as the premise offers a far less filtered landscape of creativity.

"Men in Black: International" is not a reboot, but a continuation of the original film series that expands the scope of the previously established world. The original trilogy introduced a fascinating new concept to viewers but the focus stayed predominantly confined to two lead characters in one city. Who wouldn't be curious about the broader scope of the organisation? How far does it reach? How many alien races does it interact with? What would series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars have been if they hadn't taken thetime to build the world outside of one location or one core group of characters. Why should Men in Black be punished for veering off a bit more in that direction?

As is often the case with comedy, any subtle nuances or opportunities to read deeper into the material of "Men in Black: International" appear to have been largely overlooked. There's a commonality between these two leads, of loneliness and being lost. Should there be any further sequels in this franchise, this is something that the writers should explore further. Aliens have always existed as a storytelling tool to embody Fear of the Other and since spies have to live and work in a state that's isolated from the larger society, delving into that commonality between the agents and aliens seems like another interesting area to incorporate.

Like many, I first got into the Men in Black series as a child. Any time you introduce sci-fi to a young audience it can spark imagination, open minds, and inspire them to ask questions about the universe. When you see these amazing creatures and set pieces, these are the things that have been conceived of by adults who likely feel in love with imaginative art while young. "Men in Black: International" is a fun expansion to the franchise, while leaving a lot of room to expand even more in the future. There's a lot more that can be done with these new characters, and they should be utilized even further, especially when in regards to an actress as prolific as Emma Thompson. Overall, it's a fun film to watch, and works well for those thinking of bringing young kids and sparking their imagination.

"Men in Black: International" is playing in cinemas worldwide.

Full review here:


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