"Men in Black: International" carries on the decades-old science fiction franchise with more extraterrestrial action, funky aliens, memory-zapping neuralizers and goofy humor. But if you're a fan of the original films looking for nostalgia, you may be disappointed with this one.
The new film, the fourth installment of the "Men in Black" franchise, tells a stand-alone story of two agents looking for a mole inside the secretive MIB agency. One thing that makes this film stand out among its predecessors is that it stars the first-ever "woman in black."
Tessa Thompson stars as Agent M and Chris Hemsworth as Agent H. The two actors are best known for their roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly in the movie "Thor: Ragnarok," and their solid chemistry as a comedic duo may be this movie's lifeline.
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While the plot of "Men in Black: International" seems to drag on at times, the acting makes it a worthwhile film to see — as does the variety of cute and creepy extraterrestrials. The film may not embody the same style that fans of the original "Men in Black" movies might hope for, but if you walk into a theater without any expectations based on the earlier films, it's a decent stand-alone effort.
The fact that "Men in Black: International" (finally) features a woman in a starring role may feel like a breath of fresh air for feminists, even though the film at times overemphasizes the character's gender. Thompson's character proves to be a highly skilled agent — often more so than her male counterpart. She earns her position at the MIB after dedicating her life to finding the secret agency and convincing its officials to give her a job.
Agent M became motivated to find the MIB after encountering a (very adorable and fluffy) extraterrestrial at her home when she was a child. Back then, while reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" in her bed one night, two MIB agents arrive at her house to question her parents about an alien in the neighborhood — something that looks like a cross between a cat and a big frog, her parents explain. She then spots the little alien hiding on her windowsill and befriends the critter before sending it away.
That extraterrestrial leads her to become infatuated with aliens and the MIB, and she makes it her mission to find and join the agency. Somewhere along the way, she manages to hack into the Hubble Space Telescope to observe a galaxy named Andromeda Two — the galaxy where her little alien friend came from — without getting caught.
If you're into cute aliens and inspiring feminist stories, "Men in Black: International" is worth a watch. But if you were hoping for more of the same humor that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones brought to the original "Men in Black," you might want to wait until this one becomes available for streaming rather than head to the cinema to see it.
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Email Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.