Thursday, 20 June 2019

Little Woods: Film Review

Little Woods: Film Review


Cast: Tessa Thompson, Lily James
Director: Nia DaCosta

The "one last job before I retire" trope is as old as the hills themselves, but what director Nia DaCosta and actress Tessa Thompson bring to the hoary cliche is a degree of humanity and empathy in Little Woods.

Thompson is Ollie, a one time opioid dealer to the North Dakota fracking workers. Caught after a border run went wrong and under probation with just 10 days to go, Ollie finds herself facing desperate measures and multiple financial hardships.

But when her struggling adopted sister and solo mother Deb (Lily James) finds she's about to give birth again and needs a place to live, the clock's ticking to get together $3,000 cash to ensure their house isn't foreclosed on.

Little Woods: NZIFF Review

So, despite wanting a clean break, Ollie is forced back into the one thing she knows well, but doesn't want to do.

As mentioned, the plot isn't exactly original, but what DaCosta and Thompson - and to a large degree, James - bring to the table is a female perspective on middle America, the struggles of those under pressure, and the face of the Opioid crisis.

This is no Breaking Bad though, with Thompson providing subtle contrasts in her Ollie as she debates the morals of the right thing to do. It's very much a story of the times, and told in an unfussy manner, with tension being ratcheted up in a smaller, more intimate setting on the screen.

There's a great deal of empathy radiating from these characters, and while some of the dialogue doesn't feel natural, there's no denying Thompson's natural charm and appeal that she imbues Ollie with. 

Refusing to give in, Ollie finds every path possible to explore, and the desperate scrabble to stay afloat has you in her camp from the get go.

The film's ambiguous end is a smart touch too - unsure of who gets a happy end, it's very much a crime tale told under a different lens - and all the better for it. Little Woods may hit a few of the cliche branches as it unspools, but with two extremely solid and plausible leads, it remains watchable from beginning to end. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Captain Marvel: Blu Ray Review

Captain Marvel: Blu Ray Review


It's hard to pinpoint exactly why Marvel's latest solid outing Captain Marvel doesn't quite fly in the way that perhaps you'd be expecting.

Captain Marvel: Film Review

Is the fact that in a decade and twenty films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is the first with a female lead, giving the film a kind of timely resonance that's culturally mirrored in the Time's Up movement?

Or is the fact that a deeply feminist film of a woman hero who's been told to suppress her emotions as they don't make her strong suffers from an abundance of mansplaining and on-the-nose music cues?

Whatever it is, Captain Marvel's Brie Larson deserves the accolades, even if the material isn't quite up to her stellar standards.

Larson plays amnesiac Carol Danvers, who we join in space as she's briefed on a mission to infiltrate Skrull (who look like 80s comic Eagle's Doomlord) territory and retrieve a Kree spy. But when Vers, as she's initially known, is captured by Mendelsohn's Talos, she glimpses a prior life, setting her on a collision course with both 1990s Earth and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Nick Fury (a digitally de-aged Jackson).

Captain Marvel is an intriguing non-linear film and uses a softer methodology to impart yet another origin story.

Ahead of Avengers: Endgame, it's more of a necessity than a creative gamble, and because of that there are parts of Captain Marvel which feel uneven and even, whisper it, uncertain.

Larson's ferocity works best when she has something to work with. And while the trope of the amnesiac superhero trying to remember who they are is an all-too familiar one, there are moments when Danvers feels more hollow than she should be, and beholden only to what others make her.

Certainly, it's a problem for any film introducing a character with literal deus-ex-machina powers and how to make them realistic and relatable.

Captain Marvel: Film Review

Larson gives her all, and the film's spunk comes from uniting her with Fury in 90s US (even if the film's heavy-handed inclusion of 90s throwbacks groans from excessive over-use), setting up the usual fish-out-of-water shenanigans and then immediately smartly side-lining them. Jackson clearly has fun here, and Larson helps him come to life in some scenes that crackle along.

Rising above the script's duller edges, Larson gives the film an emotional core that's a hollow cypher at the start. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in scenes with her former fellow pilot, played by Lashana Lynch. Their understated interplay feels warm, human and rife with a history that's hinted at rather than explicitly explored.

Equally successful is Mendelsohn's Talos, a Skree baddie who has depth and nuance (and an Aussie accent through the prosthetics).

While the final act has Doctor Strange level of trippiness and spectacle, sillier edges start to filter through as the "Without us, you're only human" message threatens to overwhelm what is, at times, underwhelming.

What cripples portions of Captain Marvel is that the makers are so determined to proudly fly the banner for "the message" that they occasionally take a sledgehammer to crush open a nut.

A fight scene to Just A Girl negates some of Danvers' power and feels like a back-handed compliment, whereas a sequence of Danvers' repeated rising up against various knockbacks could be dismissed as manipulative and over-stated when taken out of context.

But placed within an audience of young boys and girls, this moment, coupled with the fact that Captain Marvel is retrofitted into continuity and is shown to be more powerful than any of the Avengers brings an important and timely message home with some subtlety - for girls robbed of cinematic figureheads and for boys who need to see the woman can be more powerful. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Fresh Selections For NZIFF’s Incredibly Strange Programme

Fresh Selections For NZIFF’s Incredibly Strange Programme


Nine films feature in the 2019 NZIFF Incredibly Strange programme hailing from France, Sweden/Denmark, USA, Ireland, Japan and Belgium. Two films – Deerskin and Vivarium – come to New Zealand from the Cannes Film Festival.

This year marks 25 years since the inception of the Incredibly Strange film festival; 15 years as part of NZIFF. Incredibly Strange programmer Ant Timpson says he’s proud of a quarter of a century of hi-jinks.  

He reflects that they have been able to push buttons and boundaries without ever losing their sense of humour while having a profound effect on film culture in New Zealand. 

“Since being absorbed into NZIFF the selection has been focused on the best in global genre fare so hit films that made waves at Sundance, Fantastic Fest, Fantasia and Cannes now pepper the line-up alongside lesser known picks,” says Ant. 

Timpson said this year’s programme seems to have an overall theme of obsession, with a focus on sex and horror. 

There are a few classy outliers in the mix: two documentaries from filmmakers beset on finding out the truth – You Don’t Nomi and The Amazing Jonathan Documentary are alongside provocative French film Knife + Heart and American film Mope, which tackle sex and murder in the adult film world with wildly different obsessive takes. In Deerskin, Jean Dujardin (The Artist) becomes murderously obsessed with his deerskin jacket, while in Vivarium, Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are captivated with finding the perfect home, only to end up in a suburban nightmare. 

Then there's Swedish/Danish dark thriller Koko-di-Koko-da about a husband preoccupied with fixing his failing marriage only to enter a fable-like rabbit hole of horror. 

Films in the Incredibly Strange programme for 2019 are:

Deerskin
Cannes 2019 Director’s Fortnight
France
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay/Photography/Editor: Quentin Dupieux
Georges, 44 years old, and his jacket, 100% deerskin, have grand plans in director Quentin Dupieux’s latest cinematic oddity, destined for cult status.
“Dupieux’s pitch-black sartorial satire [is]… wickedly funny… both hyperreal and resolutely deadpan… [and] nothing short of delicious.” — Ella Kemp, Little White Lies


Knife + Heart
2018 | France/Switzerland/Mexico 
R18 violence, sexual violence, sex scenes & content that may disturb
Director: Yann Gonzalez
A third-rate porn producer’s most ambitious film yet may also be her most costly in this murderously kitschy homage to giallo, Grand Guignol and old school slasher movies.
“A giallo take on Phantom of the Paradise… This magical, erotic, disco-tinged horror-thriller is like cinematic candy. Vanessa Paradis has never been better.” — Katie Walsh, LA Times


Koko-di Koko-da 
2019 | Sweden/Denmark 
R13 violence & content that may disturb
Director/Producer/Screenplay/Editor: Johannes Nyholm
Visually arresting and very adult, Swedish director Johannes Nyholm’s devilishly devised folktale focuses on a grieving couple’s infinite camping trip from hell.
“[Koko-di Koko-da] plays like the bastard offspring of Groundhog Day and The Babadook.” — Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter


Mope 
2019 | USA
R18 violence, sexual violence, sex scenes, suicide & content that may disturb
Director: Lucas Heyne
Boogie Nights meets Pain & Gain in this tragic, oddly compelling story of two low-end porn actors who sought fame but gained infamy, all based on real events.
“A melancholy portrait of two misguided souls seeking love and acceptance. This a true f***ing story – you can’t make this shit up.” — Sundance Film Festival


The Amazing Johnathan Documentary
2019 | USA
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay: Ben Berman
In the world of magic, nothing is what it seems as a terminally ill magician prepares for his swansong – and the ultimate trick on the maker of this bizarre documentary.
 “Laugh-out-loud funny in a way that’s unexpected for a documentary about a deceitful, dying meth-addict magician on his final fumbling tour.” — Fionnuala Halligan, Screendaily


The Hole in the Ground
2019 | Ireland
M violence, offensive language & horror
Director: Lee Cronin
Paranoia takes hold of a single mother after her son, feared missing in the woods near an ominous sinkhole, returns unharmed yet with a disturbingly changed demeanour.  
“A chilling domestic horror film… with strong performances, [a] quietly disturbing atmosphere… and good, old-fashioned scares.” — Kim Newman, Empire


Violence Voyager
2018 | Japan
Censors rating tbc
Director/Screenplay/Photography: Ujicha
Twisted visions of childhood don’t come more unhinged than Ujicha’s delightfully macabre animated misadventure. Inventive genre thrills and spills abound: who knew cardboard viscera could be so disturbing?
“Blindsiding doesn’t even begin to cover the tonal jump that Violence Voyager… pulls over on the audience, and if you can stomach its gore and its aesthetically grating animation, there is some bloody good fun to be had.” — Chris Luciantonio, Film Pulse 


Vivarium
Cannes 2019 Critics’ Week
Ireland/Belgium
Censors rating tbc
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots’ goal of becoming homeowners veers into strange and sinister territory in this smart and unexpected sci-fi horror. 
“A malevolent horror satire that suggests those struggling with millennial anxieties should be careful what they wish for.” — Tom Bond, One Room With A View


You Don’t Nomi
2019 | USA
R16 violence, nudity, sex scenes & offensive language
Director/Screenplay/Editor: Jeffrey McHale
This shameless reappraisal of Paul Verhoeven’s much-maligned Showgirls explores the film’s complicated afterlife, from disastrous release to cult adoration and extraordinary redemption.
“You Don’t Nomi reminds us that it’s okay to like things with rough edges, that streamlined perfection is overrated and, more than anything, it’s okay to deeply love something that most other people loathe.” — Chuck Foster, Film Threat

Stan & Ollie: DVD Review

Stan & Ollie: DVD Review


Less a film about an actual break-up, more a piece about the aftermath, Stan & Ollie's tale of a degenerating work partnership and the effects of long-term friendship.

Stan & Ollie: Film Review

Beginning in 1937 with Coogan's Stan Laurel refusing to sign a new contract with studio head Hal Roach at the peak of their fame, the cracks show when Oliver Hardy (Reilly in a spot-on turn as the infamous gambler and womaniser Babe) doesn't demonstrate solidarity with his on-screen chum.

Fast forward 16 years and the motion pictures have dried up, the crowds have largely deserted and the audiences have moved on, Baird's film follows the duo in the twilight of their career as they pursue live shows in the UK.

Whilst Stan & Ollie doesn't exactly push the envelope in terms of on-screen presentation, but it's pleasantly evocative of an era long since forgotten in a world that revolves around CGI.

Simply and affectionately presented, Stan & Ollie benefits greatly from everything being laid bare on the table - the performances pickle in their own bittersweet moments, and the finale is designed - and succeeds in - to deliver a lump to the throat.

Coogan and Reilly encapsulate the duo perfectly; from Coogan's slight stumbles as he delivers Laurel's trademark speech patterns, to Reilly's capturing of Hardy's performance tics, this is a deeply affectionate tribute to the duo.

But more than that the bittersweet touches and hints of a friend not wanting to let down another friend are subtly painted in and liberally applied throughout. More goes unsaid during the film, but when the moments need to be delivered in the final 10 minutes, it's perfectly dispatched for superb effect.

At its core, Stan & Ollie is a film about friendship, of the peaks and troughs, of the resentments both spoken and kept internalised - and Coogan and Reilly make wondrous fists of both the sub-text and the physical demands of Laurel and Hardy's routines, which are recreated throughout.

Stan & Ollie: Film Review

There's wonderful support from Henderson and Adrianda as their wives, with their spiky relationship echoing that of Laurel and Hardy themselves, and showcasing a different paradigm of much the same relationship mechanic - it's fair to say their arrival enlivens things a little, but the groundwork's already been done by Reilly and Coogan with ease.

Bathed in melancholy, with a wonderful opening tracking shot that mixes both the truth of the Laurel and Hardy dynamic as well as the need to constantly perform for the public no matter how fleetingly, Stan & Ollie is a fitting celebration and a biopic that's haunting and anything but another fine mess. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Vox Lux: DVD Review

Vox Lux: DVD Review


Brady Corbet's Vox Lux aims to shock, albeit unintentionally.
Vox Lux: Film Review

Its opening is as powerful as it is mundane, beginning as we do with Raffey Cassidy's Celeste going back to school after the holidays. To say more is to deprive you of the jolt, but needless to say Corbet's opening salvo puts our heroine on a path she'd not expected as tragedy comes calling.

As Celeste begins to find her singing voice, she's aided by her agent (Jude Law) as Vox Lux's pre-2001 episode begins to chart her career ascent as a singer. Book-ended by both a personally major event and a US event of the time, Celeste's life is tarnished with tragedy.

The messy scrappy second half of the film picks up 16 years later with Portman portraying Celeste as she mounts the comeback trail, before something else threatens to overwhelm her and her plans.

Vox Lux is a pompous, self-obsessed, pretentious mite of a movie - and some will run lovingly into its arms because of that very fact, while others will head in the opposite direction screaming.

Vox Lux: Film Review

But its two halves division causes an issue, and the first's stronger loss-of-innocence tale towers over the second, with a subtlety of direction and script helping propel it along (as well as Dafoe's booming voiceover pomposity).

However, its second half is blessed by a ferocious Portman, who revels in the Gaga-esque edges of the character, but who makes the self-loathing feel all too real, after years of insecurities eat away at her from the first years of her life and career as she teeters on the cusp of her journey.

There's a bravura edge on Corbet's filmmaking, even if the script and its ultimately disappointing end make parts of the film feel uneven. As an artistic endeavour, it's second to none, revelling in its luxuries in the second half, but dawdling in its emotional waters early on.

Vox Lux is polarising to be sure - is it a commentary on the music industry, on society and its violence, is it a piece about how we've always been anchored in violence and its effects?

No one is telling for sure as it ends, but what is certain about Vox Lux is that it's a piece of film-making which will shock you out of the dullness that pervades cinemas these days. And while that power is never quite as stringent as in its first half, its effects linger long after it's ended.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

A Dog's Way Home: DVD Review

A Dog's Way Home: DVD Review


It's not exactly rocket science - a film about a dog's bond with their master that transcends the obstacles put in their place.

Throw into that mix a 400 mile journey, and you've got some idea of what A Dog's Way Home is about - it's like a Nicholas Sparks version of an animal love tale - dog meets boy, dog and boy separated and will they be reunited?

Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) is a young pup, living under a house with a group of stray cats. When Bella meets Lucas (Hauer-King), it's puppy love on both sides, and the pair forms a bond that can't be broken.

A Dog's Way Home: Film Review

But when a nasty animal control officer condemns Bella under city law, Bella's forced to leave the city for her own safety - and leave behind her new family. However, she decides that it's important that she gets home to Lucas, and so she sets out on an incredible journey to get home.

A Dog's Way Home is aimed young, and it hits every level that the book from W Bruce Cameron would want to.

From simplistic voiceover to narrative simplicity, this is a film that knows what it wants to do and how to avoid a majority of mawkishness to get there. But it's also not above throwing in montages with middle-of-the-road soppy songs and cover versions along with some ropey CGI animal work to pad it out. Its short episodic feel does hurt it in places, and while there are elements of The Littlest Hobo for when Bella comes into people's lives, it's harmless family fluff.

Interestingly, there's also a few threads of tolerance seeded for an audience that are younger - from the inter-racial relationships to the message of tolerance towards army veterans and acceptance of their plight, A Dog's Way Home has its heart in the right place, even if its execution is questionable at times.

It's a very familiar journey for the tried-but-true animal friendship film, and while the cougar and dog relationship is unusual at best, A Dog's Way Home is really about the bond between man and dog - and is what is likely to resonate with the audience. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Escape Room: DVD Review

Escape Room: DVD Review


Less torturous than the Saw franchise, but still none the less suspenseful, Escape Room's premise is a nicely executed mystery box, awaiting to be opened.
Escape Room: Film Review

Zoe (Russell) is a college kid, who finds herself at a loose end at the Thanksgiving break, and not going home. Upon receiving a mystery box, she cracks it open, eventually, to discover an invite to an Escape Room meeting, where the prize is $10,000 for escape.

Upon arrival, she finds a clutch of others in the waiting room as well, destined to be her colleagues in the escape. But each has a secret, and as the reality begins to settle in, everyone has everything to lose.

While Escape Room is a case of some fairly weak character work (everyone's a stereoptype in some form or other), thanks to the lead's empathy, there's a bit to latch on to in terms of emotional stakes.

And what Escape Room may lack in depth for leads, it more than makes up for in terms of execution.

Essentially a series of five chamber pieces, the claustrophobia and suspense of an escape machination is given a taut and well-executed edge. Certainly, the aesthetics of the third room is brilliantly conceived and nonchalantly realised. To say more is to spoil that reveal, but needless to say this one central set piece more than makes for the price of admission.

Escape Room: Film Review

What's not as great about Escape Room (aside from some of the aforementioned characterisation) is the fact its ending feels deliberately conceived as a cash-grab, scene setting for anything future. It's massively disappointing that this cynical approach is deployed, robbing the audience of a feeling of completion and a film that deserves another on its own merits, rather than lazy writing by studio fat-cats.

Ultimately, Escape Room provides some knotty moments, gives the torture-porn series a welcome non torturous approach, but fails the finale intensely. 

Friday, 14 June 2019

NZIFF announces film retrospective Vive la Varda!

NZIFF announces film retrospective Vive la Varda!


The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) presents a retrospective celebrating the life and work of French New Wave filmmaking pioneer Agnès Varda.
Varda’s experimental features are seminal works of feminist cinema, French New Wave and neorealist filmmaking.


Her contributions to cinema have been widely applauded, especially since her last autobiographical documentary premiered at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival, shortly followed by her passing away in March 2019 at the age of 90.

NZIFF programmer Sandra Reid says “We are thrilled to be able to celebrate the late Agnès Varda by presenting her final film, Varda by Agnès, accompanied by a mini retrospective spanning several decades of her career. Each title is a vibrant testament to the great filmmaker's radical and unique approach to cinema and it's terrific to have them in the programme.”

The five films featured in Vive la Varda! Retrospective are:
Varda by Agnès
2019 | 115 minutes | DCP
The late, great French filmmaking icon’s swansong is a magical self-reflection on art, movies, invention and Varda’s own lust for life inside and outside of the cinematic frame.
“[Agnès Varda’s] curious spirit and merging of radical politics with personal life made her one of contemporary filmmaking’s most inspiring figures.” — Artforum
View on website here

Daguerréotypes
1976 | 80 minutes | DCP
Bakers, grocers, butchers and other local characters pose for this lovely portrait documentary of the residents of a humble street in Paris whichAgnès Varda called home for over 25 years.
“Varda’s affable, curious portrait of her neighbors and acquaintances on Rue Daguerre… is at once one of her warmest, most quietly affecting movies.” — Film Society of Lincoln Center
View on website here

Jacquot de Nantes
1991 | 114 minutes | DCP
An affecting, gorgeously rendered cinematic love letter from Agnès Varda to her husband, the great The Umbrellas of Cherbourg director, Jacques Demy.
“Extremely evocative… an engrossing, moving tribute.” — Time Out
View on website here

Le Bonheur
1965 | 76 minutes | DCP
Agnès Vardas beautiful, quietly unsettling depiction of a young marriage strained by an affair examines the complexities of love and happiness.
“[Le Bonheur] emerges as a harsh critique of free love, as well as an empathetic exploration of its allure.” — Andrew Chan, Slant
View on website here

Vagabond
1985 | 105 minutes | DCP
An unforgettable Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César, and Agnès Varda received Venice Film Festival’s top prize for this defiantly feminist masterpiece.
“[This] story of a young womans short, troubled life is cool, enigmatic and as gripping as any thriller… An unmissable film.” — Peter Bradshaw,The Guardian
View on website here


NZIFF is run by a charitable trust and encourages lively interactions between films, filmmakers and New Zealand audiences in 13 towns and cities around the country. The full NZIFF programme will be available online from Monday 24 June 7:00pm for Auckland, and Friday 28 June for Wellington. NZIFF starts in Auckland on 18 July and in Wellington from 26 July in 2019.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Win a double pass to see ANNA

Win a double pass to see ANNA


ANNA To celebrate the release of Luc Besson's Anna, in cinemas June 20, you can win a double pass to see the movie at the cinema!

About ANNA

Beneath Anna Poliatova’s striking beauty lies a secret.

Her indelible strength and skill leads her to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins.

An electrifying thrill ride unfolding with propulsive energy, startling twists and breathtaking action, ANNA introduces Sasha Luss in the title role with a star-studded cast.


ANNA is in cinemas June 20
Cast: Sasha Luss, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Helen Mirren



All you have to do is email your details and the word ANNA!

Email now to  darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com 
Or CLICK HERE NOW  

Competition closes 27th June.

Win Captain Marvel on Blu Ray

Win Captain Marvel on Blu Ray


THE BARRIER-BLASTING, INTERGALACTIC ORIGIN STORY THAT GOES 
HIGHER, FURTHER, FASTER

MARVEL STUDIOS’
“CAPTAIN MARVEL”
LANDS IN BLU-RAY™ COLLECTIONS JUNE 19

Captain Marvel on Blu RayExtensive extras explore the universe’s most powerful hero and future Avenger, Nick Fury’s influence on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fan-favorite Goose the Cat, deleted scenes, gag reel, commentary and much more!

The spectacular, 1990s-era Super Hero adventure, which electrified and inspired audiences worldwide and surpassed $1 billion in ticket sales, lands on DVD, Blu-ray™ and Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD™ June 19.

Arriving home with extensive line-up of extras detailing the development of this highly anticipated addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “Captain Marvel” includes Featurettes that highlight the transformative journey of Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and her character’s impact on audiences around the globe; the influence of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) on significant events within the MCU; the perfect pairing of directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck; the ongoing conflict between the Skrulls and the Kree; and the raw talent behind the fetching feline named Goose. Viewers also gain access to six deleted scenes, director commentary, a gag reel loaded with funnies, flubs and Flerkens, and never-before-seen concept art and production photography. 

Starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury, you can win a copy of Marvel's Captain Marvel!

All you have to do is email your details and the word MARVEL!

Email now to  darrensworldofentertainment@gmail.com 
Or CLICK HERE NOW  

Competition closes 28th June.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Men in Black: International: Film Review

Men in Black: International: Film Review


Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani
Director: F Gary Gray

It's easy to forget the Men In Black series was a franchise of goofy aliens versus straight laced G-men, dour faced, suited and booted.
Men in Black: International: Film Review

Yet the original film with Will Smith fast talking his way into stone-faced Tommy Lee Jones' world was a blast of family entertainment, propped up with a peppy rap song that lived on for years.

The latest, Men in Black International, is the final nail in the franchise coffin, a film that should neuralise its entire audience after its car-sponsored credits have ended. It would be the only decent thing to do.

Hemsworth and Neeson are the original Men in Black, H and T, who back in 2016, saved the world by ridding it of the threat of the Hive atop the Eiffel Tower. Two decades earlier Tessa Thompson's science-smart and ferociously intelligent Molly had a run-in with the MIBs and has been determined to join their ranks, but has been rebuffed repeatedly.

When Molly and H cross paths, they're put on a mission to investigate whether MIB's been infiltrated, and once again, save the world.

The depressing thing about Men in Black International is that the potential's so inherently there.

Both Thompson and Hemsworth have a good rapport, as Thor and Valkyrie can attest. Yet, a weak script, with twists that can be seen coming from literally the opening minutes do nothing to exploit their chemistry, and in fact, choke it in a cloud of lame weak gags that fall flat.
Men in Black: International: Film Review

Once again, the script lazily points to Hemsworth's necessity to derobe, and while an Avengers-inspired gag is amusing, its weak execution sees it fall flat. Hemsworth's done comedy well, as Ghostbusters can prove, but essentially, it's a boorish himbo in parts that outstays its welcome long before 15 minutes is up.

Tessa Thompson is more successful, giving her Agent M a more rounded feel, even if she spends most of the film seeking validation from a male. (Seriously, this film with its female needing approval and two middle Eastern villains feels like a queasy throwback at times.) And Emma Thompson's snarky boss is wasted in a book-ending turn that feels like it could have had the spark and spunk the script so desperately needed.

While Men in Black International is a family film, its commitment to the kids comes in the form of Kumail Nanjiani's Pawny, a CGI character that irritates initially, but is soon saddled with the lion's share of the and best lines. To be honest though, he's no Frank, and pales weakly in comparison.

Ultimately, at a sagging two hours, the film doesn't proffer nearly enough - it may be positioned as a comedy action movie, but it offers up little enough of either, and is a depressing end to the franchise that began with such bluster 22 years ago.

When it goes goofy (as it does towards the end) and cuts loose with its script, Men in Black International offers up a good reason to exist. Sadly, it's too late in the piece, and as the depressing Lexus car product placement shots pile up, the feeling is one of utter despair, and wasted opportunity.