REBOURNE: Men in Black International (2019)

“The world’s not going to save itself.

Directed by F. Gary Gray
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson

The Original

Men in Black was a science-fiction action comedy, made on a modest budget, which became a huge sleeper hit in 1997. Pairing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agents J and K, the newest and oldest field agents for the Men in Black, a secret organisation which polices alien activity on Earth, which is run as a neutral port for galactic refugees and travellers. The combination of Jones’ assured presence and the meteoric rising star of Smith – this was the role, coupled with 1996’s Independence Day, that catapulted him from surprisingly solid rapper and TV actor turned support player to bona fide superstar – with a sharp script and pacy, gonzo plot about a giant cockroach trying to steal the ultimate energy source produced a real standout of nineties SF cinema, and spawned two sequels of… less outstanding quality.

In 2002, Men in Black II spent a chunk of its runtime undoing the ending of the first movie for the sake of the magic pairing of Smith and Jones, and replaces the pathetically terrifying prospect of an impossibly tough and powerful insect in a rotting Vincent d’Onofrio suit with an alien disguised as an underwear model and trows in some unnecessary backstory and a bunch of poop and boob gags for good measure. It… wasn’t good.

Do not believe that quote.

It was to be another ten years before 2012’s Men in Black 3 added time travel and fourth-wall breaking to the mix, and threw in some more unnecessary back story as an alien supercriminal tried to pre-murder K. By this point the shine was definitely off, and as good as Smith and Jones are, they really didn’t seem to give a shit anymore.

Calls for another sequel were virtually non-existent, but the franchise had just enough juice left for another run to be considered worthwhile. With Smith and Jones unwilling, unavailable, or just because the response to MIB 3 was so disappointing, the studio opted for a soft reboot that would expand the franchise to an international stage and be called… Men in Black International.

The Soft Reboot

In 1996, Molly Wright meets an alien, and sees her parents neuralised by the MIB. Twenty years later, Agents H (Hemsworth) and High T (Neeson) face an attempted invasion by an alien force called the Hive at the gateway to (Tomorrowland) at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Three years after that, Molly (Thompson), having failed to get the FBI or the CIA to recruit her to ‘the department that deals with up there,’ finally manages to track down the MIB in New York, where Agent O (other Thompson) recruits her as a probationary agent with the designation ‘M’.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 (2019)

“They Still Have Their Secrets”

Directed by Chris Renauld
Starring Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford

Max (Oswalt) and Duke (Stonestreet) find their lives changed forever when their owner Katie (Kemper) marries and has a baby, Liam. Duke takes the changes in his stride, but Max becomes consumed by the fear of Liam getting hurt, so the family take a ride to visit relatives on a farm. Max leaves his beloved toy, Busy Bee, with Gidget (Slate), who manages to lose it in a cat lady’s apartment. Meanwhile, Daisy (Haddish) comes to Snowball (Hart) for help rescuing a white tiger from brutal circus owner Sergei (Kroll) and his pack of wolves.

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

“Every Hero Has a Dark Side”

Directed by Simon Kinberg
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain, Kodio Smit-McPhee and Evan Peters

Since preventing the whole ‘destruction of human civilisation‘ thing, the X-Men have blazed a trail for mutant acceptance. Now Charles Xavier (McAvoy) has a direct line to the White House, and the X-Men – Cyclops (Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), Storm (Shipp), Jean ‘Codenames are for losers’ Gray (Turner) and Quicksilver (Peters), led by Beast (Hoult) and Mystique (Lawrence) – are national heroes. This status leads to them being called in to rescue a shuttle crew from an unknown cosmic force, which ends up absorbed into Jean.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

“Long Live the King”

Directed by Michael Dougherty
Starring Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe and Zhang Ziyi

As Monarch struggles to maintain autonomy and funding against governments keen to shut them down and, as it were, Destroy all Monsters, a research base led by Dr Emma Russel (Farmiga) is attacked by ecoterrorists led by Alan Jonah (Dance). She and her daughter Madison(Brown) are kidnapped, while their subject, Mothra, escapes and goes into a cocoon.

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Jean Simmons, Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, Josh Hutcherson and Blythe Danner

Sophie Hatter (Mortimer) is a simple girl, working in the family shop in a country on the brink of war. After a chance meeting with the infamous Wizard Howl (Bale), she is cursed by the Witch of the Wastes (Bacall) to become an old woman (Simmons). Leaving her home, she falls in with Howl, his apprentice Markl (Hutcherson), the fire demon Calcifer (Crystal) and a mysterious scarecrow, assigning herself as Howl’s cleaning woman in the hope that Calcifer can free her of the curse in return for her breaking his contract with the wizard.

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Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

“Protect the bloodline” or “Every bloodline must end” which feels like they aren’t sure what the film is about

Directed by Anna Foerster
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Lara Pulver, Tobias Menzies, Bradley James, Clementine Nicholson and Charles Dance

With the vampire covens on the verge of annihilation in the face of the Lycan onslaught, the remaining vampires suddenly really care about the fact that Selene (Beckinsale) killed the elder Viktor (Bill Nighy) back in the first movie, while the Lycans want the blood of her daughter, Eve, in order to become super-hybrids. Erstwhile ally David (Theo James), brings an offer of amnesty from the Eastern Coven, who want her to train their Death Dealers to be less shit. She accepts, but is betrayed by the elder Semira (Pulver) and her goon Varga (Bradley James) who want to drain her superblood, before being saved by David and his father Thomas (Dance), who sacrifices himself to get the other two away from the coven.

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Aladdin (2019)

The magic comes to life

Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen

Come on. Do you guys really need a synopsis of this plot? It’s Aladdin! Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the classics of the Disney Renaissance (now remade in live action as part of their current binge on their back catalogue) it’s also a staple of British pantomime since about…well…forever. You know the story.

You don’t?

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

“Every Action Has Consequences”

Directed by Chad Stahelski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston and Ian McShane

Following the events of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick a) is locked out of the sanctuary of the Continental hotels, b) hunted by every assassin in the world and c) a pair of words that have been used to the point that they have no meaning anymore. With time running out, he goes to the Director (Huston), a Belarusan Romani matriarch, to arrange passage to find Sofia (Berry) in Casablanca, so that she can take him to her boss (Jerome Flynn) and arrange a meeting with the Elder, ‘the man who sits above the table’ (Saïd Taghmaoui), to plead for his life.

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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

“Evil Comes Home”

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, William Levy and Iain Glen

Dr James Marcus, a scientist seeking a cure for his daughter’s progeria, creates the T-virus, Umbrella Corporation, and programs his daughter’s personality into the AI known as the Red Queen, before losing control of all he has created to A-list swine Dr Alexander Isaacs (Glen) and his hired goon Albert Wesker (Roberts).

That’s right: It’s backstory time!

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Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Directed by Rob Letterman
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy and Ken Watanabe

Sinister AF Pokemon Mewtwo escapes from a lab, and a car is knocked off the road. Tim Goodman (Smith), a small town insurance assessor, learns that his father, Detective Harry Goodman, died in the crash, and comes to Ryme City to collect Harry’s effects from his boss, Lieutenant Yoshida (Watanabe). Here he meets his father’s partner Pikachu (Reynolds), a pokemon who is somehow able to hold complete conversations with Tim, and who ropes him into the search for Harry, convinced that he is still alive.

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