PG-13 for some innuendo. It's really because aliens can get scary, especially when there's a big bad guy at the end of the film. There's a lot of sci-fi violence and death. But the film has more of an adventurous tone, which means very rarely does the death involve horrifying gore or anything that is meant to upset. There's also so mild language that tends to accompany PG-13 movies. If you've handled the other MiB movies, then this is more of the same. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
There was a time in my life that I was mildly obsessed with Men in Black. My buddies and I all all wore black suits. I bought the expensive Ray-Bans that Will Smith had in the film. (I wish I got the Tommy Lee Jones version because wraparounds do nothing for me.) When Men in Black: The Animated Series was out on Kids WB!, Burger King celebrated with Men in Black toys as part of the Kids' Club meal. I braved running across Woodward to buy as many neuralizers as they had in stock. I think I lost my last one five years ago. To say that I was a fan of this movie was part of my childhood. In reality, my good friend, Roy, was wildly obsessed and I kind of jumped on his fandom. When Men in Black II came out, I thought it was still pretty great, despite what everyone else said. Part of me still defends Men in Black III, if for no other reason than Josh Brolin's dead on Tommy Lee Jones impression. But I think I now see what other people were talking about with the Men in Black sequels.
Now, I have to give the same caveat that I gave to Emma. We were in the hospital with our newborn daughter and hospital television isn't exactly the ideal way to watch a movie. The movie didn't have subtitles and the sound comes out of that little remote that isn't even aimed at me. But my wife didn't want to watch this movie, but we were short on options. Even I wasn't really feeling watching this movie. We followed Men in Black: International with Little and I couldn't even stay awake for that one. So if you swear that this movie is actually way more genius than I give it credit for, I'll accept that argument because the situation wasn't ideal when I watched this.
My argument for watching this one, besides the fact that Men in Black movies tend to be kind of fun, is that it was starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson of Thor: Ragnarok fame. Yeah, the movie just didn't have the same charm to it. I get this move, Sony. I'm going to really dunk on Sony later, but I get the logic of reuniting these two people. Because Hemsworth and Thompson had such good chemistry in Thor, it makes sense that these two would be absolutely perfect in a movie where they are the foundation of the piece. As much as Thompson was an extremely welcome edition to Ragnarok, she doesn't really have the screentime that this movie offered her. However, I really don't think that the movie knew how to write for Thompson. Thompson's strong suit might not be cute and this movie definitely gave her a "cute" vibe. I like the confident Thompson as Valkyrie. She's flawed and violent and that was this awesome contrast for someone who represented the notion of dumb masculinity. With MiB, the movie wanted her to be quirky and weird while being annoyed with Hemsworth's H.
It's so odd that Sony just can get a franchise to work perfectly. I know that they crushed it with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but my theory is that they didn't trust the property enough, so they handed over creative control. From a corporate position, the summer blockbuster that was Men in Black should hypothetically have the legs to support a franchise. After all, we're in the same mental space as Doctor Who. A universe full of aliens should bring about a variety of threats and problems. But the more entries into the series we get, the more I am convinced that this should have been a solitary movie. I think the biggest problem is the tone established by original director Barry Sonnenfeld. The first movie worked wonders. But what Sony has always done and continues to do is to return to the same well over and over again. Really, what keeps happening is that we get a variation on the same movie again. I know that we have a new cast with technically new characters, but even these characters are stand-ins for J and K.
With the look and the tone being the exact same as the previous entries, we are left desperately hoping to explore new themes. It's a bit ironic that the first movie ends with the Earth being a marble in this massively conceptual universe, but the movies keep going back and doing the same thing over and over again. We have that odd parental relationship and feelings of distrust in this organization that prides itself on emotional distance. I'm sure that when this movie was being planned out, the major elements were laid out in script form. We needed someone to be Will Smith's cocky Agent J. That cockiness was then given to H. But we also needed an outsider to serve as an avatar for the audience. That's M. Liam Neeson is simply's K's casualness to seeing the most insane thing in the world. Throw the very thinly veiled twist from the first Mission: Impossible film with Jim Phelps and the movie is all laid out.
It's actually a bit mind-blowing how much filler the movie offers. The movie dances around the idea that there's a mole in MiB. Okay, that's fine. We're all aware who it is. But the movie intentionally distances the story so far away from the inner workings of MiB. Now that I've mentioned Mission: Impossible, I'm going to use that franchise as a comparative point. The Mission: Impossible movies often deal with moles within the organization. Those movies tie IMF with everything that Ethan Hunt does from that point on. But MiB isn't interesting because of the inner structure of this shadowy organization. The reason that the first movie works so well is because it shows us aliens living among us. The more bizarre creatures we see, the more interesting the movie gets. But the movie offered a story about the conspiracy within the system. But we don't care about that. It's this oil and water concept. We offer this story that just doesn't really work within the attitude of the story.
So I kind of left Men in Black: International disillusioned. As much as I want this to be a franchise, the movies haven't offered a revolutionary concept since the first film. I love everyone involved. I chuckled at a few of Kumail Nanjiani's lines, but there's not much here to keep Sony, the studioest studio that ever existed, afloat.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.