By Chloe Wong (19S07C) and Ina Song (19S07C)
Photographs courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes and Google Images
Are you bored? Holidays got you feeling cooped up? No worries, we’ve got you covered. We watched two movies of different genres that you could catch this June, and reviewed them as well! Here is our take on MIB: International and UglyDolls, now showing in cinemas.
As someone who has never watched a single film of the Men in Black (MIB) trilogy, I will confess that I watched MIB: International solely because of its casting choices. Upon doing research, however, it seems MIB: International is a separate story from the MIB trilogy, although it does include a few cameo characters and easter eggs which reference the original trilogy.
MIB: International features the dynamic duo Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (who coincidentally also star in Thor: Ragnarok as another iconic pair), portraying two secret agents, Agent H and Agent M respectively, from the MIB organisation.
Thompson’s character, Molly Wright, has an encounter with MIB and an alien as a child, and spends her life trying to join the organisation. Molly is depicted to be a resourceful, determined and capable character as she successfully hacks into the NASA system and tails a group of MIB agents back to their headquarters. She convinces the head of the MIB New York branch to recruit her as an agent, and is nicknamed Agent M.
Meanwhile, Hemsworth’s character, Agent H, seems to be the exact opposite of Molly’s clever, driven self. Agent H is portrayed as a cocky, lazy, unintelligent agent, which makes the audience wonder: how did he get into the organisation with such undesirable traits? That question is answered as the movie progresses—throughout the movie, we are repeatedly told that Agent H has “changed”. It seems that ever since Agent H and his senior, High T, defeated the greatest threat to the earth in 2016, Agent H has become arrogant and apathetic, seemingly very unlike his previous self.
Together, Agent M and Agent H form a bizarre pair of secret agents who are tasked with finding a mole who has apparently infiltrated the MIB organisation, threatening the safety of the institution. Aliens, action and a whole lot of banter is involved. We also get to see character development from Agent H, a very flawed main character who eventually develops into a self-sacrificing, humble person. And for anyone who likes to #supportlocal, Youtuber Jian Hao Tan also makes a small cameo in the movie.
Overall, MIB: International is a fun, family-friendly movie, enjoyable for people of all ages, even if the story is slightly forgettable. While the movie does have a predictable storyline, with your typical action movie tropes and plot conveniences, it is also filled with gags and quips that mostly successfully keeps its audience entertained. Moreover, the friction between the two main characters with opposing personalities is interesting to watch. Our two main leads flourish in their individual roles, and do a superb job channeling the distinct personalities and emotions of their respective characters. Needless to say, the chemistry between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth shines from beginning to end, as their characters eventually work through their differences and even become an intimidating force against the true antagonist of the movie. Guessing the identity of the antagonist, or the mole in MIB, also added to the fun and sense of suspense of the movie. Bonus points if you guess the plot twist!
If you’re looking to channel your inner child, UglyDolls is the movie you might want to catch this June holidays. Despite its seemingly overused message on how imperfection is perfectly beautiful, this movie musical puts a different spin on the cliché through an interesting storyline coming from a doll’s perspective.
UglyDolls boasts many prominent characters—possibly a few too many, but they nonetheless manage to showcase a myriad of distinct personalities. The animation follows Moxy, a pink ‘ugly’ doll who is filled with determination and curiosity, and who dreams of finding the love of a child in what she calls the Big World. Her enthusiasm shines through as she spends every day marking her calendar with “Today’s the Day!”, and can be seen spreading her radiance through the town, Uglyville, with a whole day’s worth of singing.
Together with Uglydog, Babo, Lucky Bat, and a highly skeptical and reluctant Wage, the five of them head out on a journey to fulfil Moxy’s dream, only to stumble upon the Institute of Perfection where the main antagonist, Lou, resides. In their time spent there, classic cases of vocal bullying coming from the ‘perfect’ dolls are a common sight, directed not only at the ‘ugly’ dolls, but even amongst themselves. Every little detail of imperfection is called out—even the use of spectacles, for it indicates imperfect doll eyesight.
Though the movie starts off fraught with clichés, it grows more unpredictable in its second half. Uglyville turns dull upon the revelation of a character’s backstory, the Institute of Perfection sends the dolls for the test to get to the Big World, and Moxy’s dream finally comes true. These scenes are action-packed, with the dolls having to get past tough obstacles of a giant vacuum cleaner, mechanical dog and robotic baby during the heart-racing test, and also slightly emotional, when Moxy meets and shares her first ever moment with a child.
What stands out the most in this movie is the soundtrack. Featuring vocals by famous artists like Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull, Nick Jonas and many more, the soundtrack is well suited to each bit of the story. If you’re too lazy to take a trip to the cinema, the soundtrack will be a worthy and promising alternative. Moreover, pop hits like “Girl in the Mirror” by Bebe Rexha and “Don’t Change” by Why Don’t We come along with it, enough to give a little boost to your confidence any day.
Admittedly, some scenes were rather unexciting and could have been done away with, but for the UglyDoll brand which stemmed from a plush toy line, the movie was notably more than just an advertisement for the plush dolls. Instead, it pushed forth the message of ‘self love’—that it is in our differences that we shine, and that it’s what’s inside of us that truly matters. Overall, UglyDolls is a musical comedy that was made for the young, but is ultimately fit for all those young at heart.
Whether you enjoy watching animations or action films, the cinema has something for you. Regardless of your preference in movies, both MIB: International and UglyDolls are light and entertaining movies worthy of your 1.5–2 hours spent in the cinema. Do take note that UglyDolls may not be in cinemas for long due to its earlier release date on 6 June, so do catch it fast if you wish to!