Film Review: MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL (MIB: INTERNATIONAL) (USA 2019) ***

Men in Black: International Poster
Trailer

The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.

Director:

F. Gary Gray

The fourth of the franchise and a spinoff rather than a sequel, loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comics of the same name by Lowell Cunningham, the series sees the cool black guy persona replaced by a cool black young female (Will Smith replaced by Tessa Thompson), teaming up with a handsome white guy played by Chris Hemsworth.  The tactic works.  Thompson and Hemsworth pair very well together.

The film begins with a family scene as if to ensure that all sci-fi films now have a more personal and family touch.  The recent two super hero action films followed suit as in DARK PHONIX with the super hero first scene in a car as a little girl with her family and in the family picnic scene in AVENGERS ENDGAME.  Molly is a little girl who witnesses men in black in action from her bedroom window while helping an alien at the same time escape.  It takes Molly a lifetime before she finds the MIB organization.  Infiltrating into the headquarters, she convinces the head, Agent O (Emma Thompson reprising her role) into recruiting her.  She teams up with Agent H (Hemsworth) to save the world from the scum of the universe, MIB-style.

The film clearly aims at style.  When asked the reasons to wanting to join the MIB organization, Molly responds among other reasons that she looks good in black, the comment also echoed by Agent O.  The fights are also stylized, the most impressive of all being the one where Molly battles Riza (Rebecca Ferguson), an intergalactic arms dealer who also has three arms. Gray’s (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS) film trudges along  too slowly for an action flick, which also seems derive too much off the KINGSMAN and other sci-fi movies.

The plot adds in a thinking element.  The MIB organization has a mole.  Though it is not difficult to guess who the mole is, the plot (this one) often runs too complicated and is too fast to follow.  

The film is shot in exotic locations like London, Marrakesh, New York City and Italy, as the titles proudly announce.  The coolness of the locations is reflected in several very cool scenes the best of which is the dance floor scene with the alien Twins (performed by Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, well renowned dancers from France aka Les Twins) a shape-shifting alien un-killable duo who appear a number of times in the story doing their moves.  All the MIB agents can do is look and stare.

Has the MEN IN BLACK franchise run out of steam?  Quite a few people think so from the well below 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the current wiring of this review.  But not for want of trying.  Despite the film containing the new MIB U.K. branch, more hilarious and imaginative alien creatures, politically correct updates and exotic location settings, MIB: INTERNATIONAL has regrettably only achieved minimal results.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOdWVqhDOj8

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Film Review: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (USA 2017)

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fast_and_furious_8.jpgDirector: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
With so many in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise with the false promise that the last FAST AND FURIOUS would be the last one, this 8th edition, nicknamed F8 provides much, much more of the same, louder and noisier as most sequels promise. (I had lost count and thought this was the 9th.)
This latest edition assumes that the audience is familiar with most of the characters and does not bother with any flashbacks or explanations.

With so many characters, it is probably a good idea not to do so. The film allows the audience to guess what has occurred in the past and for a film like this, it is only the action and fast cars that count – not the characters.

The plot of THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS, not that it really matters, follows the events of Furious 7. Dominic Toretto aka Dom (Vin Diesel) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have gone on their honeymoon, and the rest of the crew have begun to settle down to a more normal life. But when a mysterious woman, later to be revealed as Cipher, a super villain (Charlize Theron) convinces Dom to work against the people that he is closest to, the rest of the crew must face trials they have never seen before – including some former enemies – in order to bring back the man who brought them together in the first place.

In case one has forgotten. the other crew members include Like DSS agent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Deckard Shaw, a rogue specialist (Jason Statham), mechanic Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), former criminal Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) among others.

As far as the film goes, this is male chauvinist pig material all the way – all the more for decent women and men to hate this kind of film. The beginning race for example is started by a scantily dressed female in extreme shorts waving down a flag. Vin Diesel exploits his male macho body to no end. Apparently Diesel is an a**hole in real life as mentioned to be by a fellow critic who had interviewed him. His co-star Johnson also called him horse s***. Johnson is a pleasure to watch on screen but I can hardly say the same for Diesel.

It is odd to see that the script by Chris Morgan which clearly lacks any hint of character development whatsoever take on the issue of the importance of family. Helen Mirren has a cameo as he mother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) stressing the importance of family values and the inclusion of his brother (Luke Evans) into his activities. Deckard spends a chunk of screen time saving Dom’s baby. Dom says his baby is the most important person in his life.

Oscar Winner Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) shows that even a dame of the British Empire is willing to take an easy pay check for a cameo role in big budget Hollywood rubbish like this one. The term is called slumming and many famous stars have slummed before.

THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS (budget of $250 million) is slotted to make more than $100 million this weekend. The film is nothing more than silly special effects that though looks stunning in iMAX (the film contains a record number of cars trashed) does nothing for the movie industry or the human race.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMKRevYa_M

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