Men in Black International
A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Men in Black International. Overall, I felt the movie to be worth seeing, but it didn’t exceed my expectations. A few days later, I came across a YouTube video that examined the core issues.
Wow, I had no idea a single move could contain so many large flaws. Over the years I read/watched many movie teardowns and this one should have been no different. However, this particular disassembly took a deep dive into plot/character logic and motivation.
The video revealed many plot errors, missing narrative driving goals, incomplete objectives and the lack of emotional investment. It explained the problems were the result of script rewrites and production issues. For example, the main character’s motivation came from an incomprehensible flashback. She spends her entire existence perusing the career goal of becoming a Men in Black agent and the audience is never informed why she has this deep desire. Her goal lacked any urgency or timeline.
A review quote, “This is want versus need conundrum without any reward for success.” “The main character is a passive reactive passenger who is swept along the movie.” The review pointed out that the characters said many times, “The universe has a way of leading you where you are supposed to be at the moment you are supposed to be there.” Wait a minute. The universe wanted her to be a Men in Black agent and not the incomprehensible flashback? Wow, what a complete mess.
The host of flaws gave me a lot to think about and this resulted in a revelation about a book I am writing. The lead character undertakes an epic journey to locate a woman. What is the timeline, goals, and motivation? Is he a “passive reactive character who is swept along the book?” Dang!!! That hit close to home.
After giving the matter lots of thought, it became clear that this negative description fit. Now what? If you are one of the four followers of my blog, you will know that I am (now) a believer in using a book outline. I read over my outline and identified the big motivation gap. Darn, I should have found that earlier.
After brooding about this issue for a few days, I looked over the section where the character decides to undertake his journey. It’s clear that readers wouldn’t understand his motivation. Later, my story reveals his true motivation (his love for the women.)
Clearly, I needed to update this section in order to better explain my character’s thought process. Unfortunately, the plot centers around the main character and he is a passenger to the plot. My counterargument is that we can undertake epic journeys while being the passenger. For example, my family took a trip to Paris. I didn’t fly the plane, and we had a great time. In my opinion, not all stories require a dominate take-charge character. However, stories that have this type of character do read better.
I would like to thank the creator of this video. I gained some knowledge about basic story and I think the result will be a better book after some editing to that section. A negative review resulted in a positive outcome. Well. What have I learned? It’s clear that I need to think more about character motivation while creating an outline. My characters need to step up their game and lead the story. Hmm. That sounds like a lot of work. Perhaps I should watch Men in Black International when it comes out on DVD and blissfully ignore the flaws.


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December 03, 2019
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