Franchise fatigue is a real thing, but Hollywood seems to not fully understand this. Sure, there are certain properties that seem to be immune (albeit temporarily) to this fatigue, but those are the exceptions not to the norm. For every successful rebirth of Batman or James Bond, there are ten examples of franchises that didn’t need to be brought back such as Terminator, Predator, and now, yes, Men In Black. All too often the returning properties try to capitalize on nostalgia by simply repeating the beats of its predecessors in a thinly veiled attempt to make a few bucks off the brand — errrr, I mean — return a fan favorite franchise to glory. But more and more, audiences are expecting something new even from old properties. And judging by box office numbers, this expectation is becoming a demand for something other than formulaic franchise installments.
Men In Black: International sold tickets off its stars. The trailers were far from exciting and the stiff commercials did nothing to generate a pulse for a movie that was feeling entirely lifeless. But ask most people and you’d hear a common refrain: “I really like Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson though. And they were great together in Thor: Ragnarok!” But unfortunately, disappointment is all those people will find here. There are only fleeting moments when you can see the chemistry between the two actors break through the general fog of mundanity created by the film’s overall lack of energy. The little banter that does work is often witty and snarky, yet never crosses into being fun or funny.
And that’s just it, this Men In Black movie is not fun. At all. Sure, there are aliens, and suits, and neuralyzers. But there is no fun to be found on the screen and thus no fund to be had in the theater. The plot is basic and entirely predictable. The characters are only as deep as what you learn about them in the first few minutes of screen time. And there are absolutely no memorable moments or set pieces that will have you leaving the theater saying “well, at least THAT part was cool.” It’s not so much that Men In Black: International is a bad movie. It’s just that it is the plainest movie I’ve seen in a long time. Stereotypical summer blockbusters are often referred to as popcorn movies, but this felt like eating a bowl full of plain oatmeal with a side of bread and washing it down with lukewarm water.