No, that’s not a mistake. We’ve been given a peek into two new movies this week, and I’m giving one of them a major side eye.
First we got a peek at Will Smith as the Genie, and honestly, I don’t hate it. It’s getting a fair bit of criticism, but I do really think this can be a good move. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Guy Ritchie explained how much of a challenge he faced when deciding who would play the Genie, because of Robin Williams’ iconic performance in the 1992 animated Disney film. He considered how Williams made the Genie so memorable by just injecting his own flair.
“The great thing about the role of the Genie is that it’s essentially a hyperbole for who that individual actor is, so it’s a wonderful platform and tapestry for an actor to fill his boots on,” Said Ritchie.
So when thinking of an actor who could overplay a version of himself, Will Smith seemed a natural choice. Smith himself said “I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete.”
I like this. I like Will Smith (even when he’s in some real clunkers like Bright). I like that it’s a well thought out choice and if done well, Smith can really deliver something iconic in his own way. If he can stick with hyperbole and avoid caricature, I think it can really work.
Honestly, as long as it’s not Wild Wild West, I’ll probably be pleased.
Now in comes Men in Black International. This I am significantly less optimistic about. Watch the trailer here if you haven’t seen it already.
It’s definitely got some positive elements – Emma Thompson for one, looks incredible. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have good chemistry, as we saw in Thor: Ragnarok. Liam Neeson is always a treat. Some of the aliens are returning from the original series, and the new aliens look absolutely charming.
My biggest concern is that for a movie spin off of a franchise made successful by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, those two are conspicuously absent from the roster. I’m not saying it can’t work, I’m just saying I have my doubts.
Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of faith in Chris Hemsworth’s ability to improve on a reboot either, as made painfully obvious in the 2016 re-imagining of the Ghostbusters franchise.
I’m also wary of the CGI elements, because I’m seeing roughly 200% more flying vehicles than I’m comfortable with. Of course a movie about aliens will require some CGI, but the original film franchise leaned heavily on practical effects as well, which I’m just not seeing in this trailer. Overly fake looking movies typically have a short trip into the reject pile and for good reason.
It’s obvious that this is hoped to be the first of several new Men in Black Movies, so let’s hope that this spin off franchise stacks up to the original.
All in all, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about movies with Will Smith in them than those without. This may not only be a direct testament to Smith himself, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.