MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL – Review by Susan Granger

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Years ago, Will Smith used to brag that he (via his movies) “owned” the Fourth of July. No more! Without charismatic Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, this reboot is like a firecracker that barely fizzles.

The stand-alone story revolves around Molly (Tessa Thompson), a young Brooklyn woman whose love for Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and childhood memories of her parents being neuralyzed by MIB after seeing an alien has given her insight into what’s invisible to most Earthlings.

Which is why Molly was so determined to discover the truth about mankind’s place in the universe that she tracked down Executive Agent O (Emma Thompson) to become the highly secretive agency’s first volunteer.

As a probationary recruit, known as Agent M, Molly is partnered with glibly cocky Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) who relies all-to-often on his looks and charm. Apparently, many years ago he saved the world with London division boss High T (Liam Neeson) “with nothing but wits and series-70 atomizers.”

Among those menacing them are Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), a criminal overlord, and break-dancing, shape-shifting Alien Twins (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois), exuding an eerie cosmic countenance; they can manipulate whatever they touch in their search for a crystalline box…a.k.a. intergalactic super-weapon.

While the gung-ho rookie/seasoned veteran setup is familiar, it’s lost its luster. Traveling to London, Paris, and Marrakech, it goes nowhere.

Tracing its history back to a Malibu/Marvel comic book series, it’s sketchily scripted by Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (Iron Man, Transformers: The Last Knight), with direction F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Straight Outta Compton) who obviously cannot juggle live action with fanciful “aliens” with the same satiric skill as Barry Sonnenfeld.

In past versions, the imaginative creatures from outer-space were created by visual effects master Rick Baker; now they’re obviously computer-generated images. The only memorable one is diminutive Pawny, voiced by Kumail Nanjaini.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Men in Black: International misfires with a frantic 4 – floundering pop culture sci-fi.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.