18 June 2019

One Of A Hundred Memories That I Don't Want

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In this latest instalment of the Men In Black series, we see that Liam Neeson is the head of the secret organisation's London division. After that interview which he gave a little while back though, I'm guessing that he calls his particular branch the “Men In Black Bastards”. Not that anybody seems to remember that any more. Either the internet really is a fucking fickle place when it comes to its outrage-and-cancel culture or those neuralizer's really do work! Meanwhile, Tessa Thompson joins the American branch as a new recruit after having been obsessed with the idea of alien life visiting the planet since she was a child. Because aliens are to most children what Morrissey is to lonely twenty-somethings; they're a phase we all go through before realising that they're ridiculous and we have to move on with our lives. Her boss, Emma Thompson, however, sends her over to Neeson's division in England because she thinks that, “something is up with London”. I mean.. that's a fucking understatement isn't it? Boris fucking Johnson is about to become Prime Minister and so I imagine that within the year most Londoner's will be living on a diet of cockroaches and wanking into their fallout shelter to stay sane. Right now though there's some extra-terrestrial shit that needs sorting out and so rookie agent Thompson is partnered up with fellow agent Chris Hemsworth as the two set about trying to solve it.

You might remember from the previous instalments of this franchise that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were the main characters. However in this new film there is almost no mention of them at all. I don't know where Jones has gone but I reckon that we can probably look to Neeson and his “cosh” for an explanation of where Smith's character might be. Essentially Men In Black: International is a soft-reboot for the franchise in that it features almost entirely new characters but is still supposedly set in the same world. In fact I think that Emma Thompson's character is the only person to survive the cull after appearing in Men In Black 3 as the replacement to Rip Torn's Agent Z. I know it's nothing to do with this film but it's always fun to remember that the ageing actor Torn was fired from the franchise having been arrested for breaking into a bank whilst so drunk that he supposedly thought it was his own home. If only he'd had Liam Neeson's neuralizer handy to erase the bad press I guess. Although.. if you can keep Emma Thompson in your franchise then why wouldn't you? And I have to say that keeping her on board is one of the few things that this movie does right. She's only in it for a few minutes but whenever she does show up it's like a breath of fresh air after you've been forced to inhale exclusively from a box of farts.

As of now the only good Men In Black film is the brilliant first one with even the original sequels struggling to recreate what made it so great. It was simple, it was full of heart, it was funny, it was poignant, it had cool creature effects, and the central duo worked brilliantly together. Men In Black: International doesn't understand this at all however and seems to think that the appeal of the first film was simply the action and the effects. Except that instead of the cool, practical effects of Rick Baker that gave the first instalment its charm, this new film simply throws CG at the screen like shit at a wall. There might be more of it and it might be more realistic, but it lacks any sense of character or uniqueness that made the series so special. In fact there's even a cameo from Piers Morgan in this movie which I feel should come with a fucking warning from the beginning. I know aliens can be grotesque creatures but Morgan looks like a puss filled genital wart on the cock of an inflated pig as its corpse rots in the sun. In a Men In Black film, I want the aliens to be memorable and interesting to look at but watching Piers Morgan speak is like watching the spitting piss-flaps of an anal grub as it explodes with bile and it made me want to vomit up the fucking walls. I know that in Men In Black 2 there was a similar cameo from Michael Jackson but at least he has a huge, deluded, fan base that might get a kick out of seeing him. But who the fuck wants to see Piers Morgan in a movie? Unless of course that movie was a documentary about whether or not it's possible to die from being kicked in the bollocks over and over again.

Perhaps you might think that none of that really matters though as this film only really serves to be a vehicle for Hemsworth and Thompson to show off their comedic chops and chemistry together? I mean they were great in Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarök right? But sadly even they fail to lift this film out of its generic blockbuster funk with the script and direction feeling about as corporate as an advert for a fucking credit card. It was like turning up to a James Brown or Marvin Gaye concert and finding out that they'd been replaced by The Spice Girls, because when you were hoping for something with a bit of soul what you got was some generic manufactured bullshit with a brand name that was popular in the 90's. The first film worked with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith perfecting the straight man and comedy sidekick schtick and that's clearly what they're attempting here. Except that without Thor's pathos, Hemsworth simply comes across as unlikeably cocky, and without Valkyrie's inner pain, Thompson just seems fucking dull. By the half way point I actually started to wonder if Taika Waititi had paid for this movie to be made himself to simply show off how good a director he is by comparison. There is another character in it that gets the odd laugh with Kumail Nanjiani providing the voice of a tiny little alien called Pawny. Except because he's so small his comments may as well be coming from off-screen as though a live audience has been hired to provide a laughter track and even they've gotten so bored that they've started to fucking heckle.

Original director Barry Sonnenfeld was in the same school of people as The Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi and so his Men In Black trilogy was at least always weird and distinct. But new director F. Gary Gray's back catalogue is littered with generic actioners such as A Man Apart and Law Abiding Citizen. Not to insult the man but can you think of any directorial tick that you could identify as being distinctly his own? Because if he has one then clearly it's that his films conclude with a quick flash of the neuralizer to prevent me from fucking remembering them. Of course it's worth praising the film for having a co-lead that's female. The brilliant Men In Black hinted that Smith would have a female partner before Men In Black 2 changed its mind and replaced her with a dog in a fucking suit. But despite having the look and name of a Men In Black film, this new entry has jettisoned all but the very basic and superficial elements of what made the franchise what it was. Beyond anything, its plot is so convoluted that I couldn't follow it and yet I still managed to figure out the twist before I even knew there was likely to be one. But I suppose its worst crime is that it tries too hard to be cool. As a result this movie ends up feeling like a Men In Black film that's been generated by a fucking spreadsheet. What's popular? Marvel films! Can we get the cast of Thor? Yes! Can we get the director too? No! But can we make it feel like a blooper real for that film crossed with a billboard for Top Shop? Yes we can! And that's exactly what we got. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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