To prep for Men In Black: International, I did a little series rewatch, and discovered a few things: the original movie is still fresh and funny, the second film still hurts to watch, and I totally forgot everything that happened in the third MIB outing. But that’s actually a good thing. It was like getting a brand-new bonus movie. 🙂
Here’s my ranking of all four Men in Black flicks, because ranking things is fun:
- The original Men In Black is far and away the best one. The quality of this movie is so high when compared to every other film in the series — you can pretty much stop watching these movies right here. (It’s not like any of the other films are required viewing.) This one had everything: cool characters, amusing aliens, a coherent storyline (this is crucial), and enough world-building to make the imagination soar. It’s legit funny. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have outstanding chemistry, bickering like an old married couple. Vincent D’Onofrio is a pleasure as a sadistic cockroach (never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that one). The effects still look good and it’s fun to think about what public figures might really be aliens hiding in plain sight. Movie Grade: ASmith and Jones, rocking their suits.
- Men In Black 3 was a pleasant surprise after the awful sequel. If felt more nimble and recalled the playfulness of the first film. But instead of dredging the lake to recall old gags (Frank the Pug and the Worm Gang make an appearance and no more), there are new characters, and even a new (old?) version of Agent K, who did such a great job being Tommy Lee Jones that I forgot it was another actor (Josh Brolin) playing him. Also in spite of basing the plot around time travel — which can go badly wrong very fast — it somehow made narrative sense. MIB 3 doesn’t really expand on the world-building, but it didn’t need to. Lightweight fare. Movie Grade: B-
- Men In Black: International was the return to the MIB universe that no one asked for. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved they had great chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, so transplanting that here should have been a slam dunk. Hemsworth showed he could be very funny. So it was a huge disappointment that MIB 4 was so…lame. It was sub-average. I’m not sure what to even say about it, because the plot made no sense, the characters had understandable motivation, and honestly, this was such a miss-step. When the best movie chemistry is between one half of a buddy duo (Thompson) and a CGI character (that would be Pawny), you know something’s wrong. I’ll let the official movie review say the rest. What a wasted opportunity. Movie Grade: C-
- Somehow MIB 2 sunk all the goodwill from the original with a messy, unfunny sequel. The villain is so bad that she drags the rest of the movie into a black hole around her. There isn’t one scene with her that isn’t cringe-worthy. Frank the Pug was a great gag in the first film, but they overused him here. I can’t even think about what does work in MIB 2 because I keep getting distracted by what didn’t, but I’ll try: Smith and Jones still have a good knockabout dynamic, although it’s starting to fray at the edges, and Jones in particular seemed like he didn’t want to be there. I liked the repeat of the worm gag, but their extended cameo, like the Pug’s, verged on too much. Even though I just rewatched this, I’ve already totally forgotten the plot. Was there a MacGuffin? Did someone neuralize me? Oh, wait: this is the one with a universe hiding inside a locker, with little beings who worship Agent K. That got an actual laugh out of me. Movie Grade: D
The MIBs, Overall:
I could say the series is played out, but I actually don’t believe that. The premise is so interesting, so ripe for exploration. If someone made a good script with fresh ideas that MADE SENSE, Men in Black could continue having epic adventures all over the galaxy. Come on, guys!
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