Review : Black Panther

“T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.”

At this point, Black Panther has done something not many movies can claim, and it’s not all the money it’s making, it’s that it has become more than just a movie, it’s become a movement. So much has been put on this movie because of its almost entirely black cast, and its African centric content. It’s gotten to the point where wether or not this movie is good as a movie is more or less irrelevant, and just like the movie itself, that’s good and bad. There are many areas where Black Panther really stands up as a movie and makes a statement, and there are things that let it down a bit. To start with this is definitely the most political comic book movie ever made, and it’s very bold in its subject matter. It tackles black issues from basically the beginning of Africa to current day, and it does so by mostly raising discussion, but it does also offer some words or wisdom if not answers about them. But this movie is still also a movie, and as a movie it has an entirely separate section of obligations to attend to. The cast here is really excellent, everyone does s great job at the personal and interpersonal relationships between characters, and the subtle things that make them all different. One of the biggest complaints lodged about MCU movies are the villains, and Michael B Jordan’s “Killmonger” is at the same time a break from their typical villain typecast, and yet even he shares some of the issues of those very characters. In many ways Killmonger is the antithesis of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa. They come from opposite side of the same tracks (a metaphor terned visual by the end) in their view of the world, but they still want similar ends, just by vastly different means. Killmonger also has very strong and very well motivated moral convictions, that force us and T’Challa to change how they look at the world, and in this manner he is successful, where that character breaks down, is in the inevitability of him become a Black Panther to fight Black Panther. In so many of these movies we get villains that are reduced to being a different colour or style of our hero, whereas all the really great villains of the MCU become more than that. That’s all not to say I didn’t like his character or Jordan’s portrayal of him, Killmonger was always truly poignant and decisive in his actions, but I can’t not see that he still added to that trend of MCU villains. I see any criticism of this film has been treated as a strike against all the great things this movie can mean and create, and I wish it only success, but this is s movie review, and when I see issues I have to raise them. Outside of what this movie brings politically and culturally, the thing that this movie is missing to be at the level of say the top 5 movies of it kind is that it’s missing that real stand out moment that will have the average viewer wanting to rewatch this movie. Black Panther is a great movie, and it’s a mold breaker in many ways, but it’s not a mold breaker just as a movie. I feel very much about this movie as I did about the first Guardians of the Galaxy, that it’s something we haven’t seen before in many ways, but it’s still has some of the pitfalls that can plague movies like this. Black Panther has the pressure on it of having to be great movie, a great political piece, and a great comic book movie. And honestly, it should be commended for what’s its done in all of those arenas, but some that pressure and those expectations are a blessing and a curse. Everyone should see this movie for its messages. Anyone who’s a fan of these movies should see it also. Wether this movie should be judged just on its merits as a film, or on something more isn’t for me to say, but I have tried my best to explain how it made me feel, and the enjoyment I certainly had with it.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

There are also two end credit scenes just a FYI.

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Review : The Shape of Water

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“At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.”

Guillermo del Toro as a film maker, has a very specific and unique way of seeing things, and its evident in the way he portrays things. He must see so many stories and fairytales in the world around him, because he always has this sense of child like wonder in the movies he makes, and The Shape of Water is no different. This movie really is above all other things, a fairytale. Everything from the art direction, the colour palette, the score, the set design, all of it brings this story to life, and no detail is left untouched. Detail is a great way to describe this film also. You can tell that it must have been a real meticulous task to design and create all of these sets and wardrobes, and yet once you’re in there, they just fade away into this fantastic world. Every Guillermo movie isn’t a winner though, and thats because there are other factors to making a great movie, and even with the constant that is his style, the acting, the story, they need to all come together as one cohesive unit, and this movie has all those things. Sally Hawkins has to play a mute person, and she still really brings it, bringing so much emotion and depth without saying a word. Surround that with a cast that are generally much more subtle, then matched in opposition by the every great Michael Shannon, and you get a perfect balance of acting talent, and balance in performances. I think when Guillermo makes certain movies, his goal is to make a pastiche or a love letter to a particular genre or type of movie, and this movie has all the makings of that type of movie. All in all, The Shape of Water is a love story and a fairytale (for adults) that shows thats theres so much more to being human and to living and loving than we might think.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

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“A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.”

In a world that can make people hard, sometimes the only thing to do is become harder, to become stronger, and in that way I think this isn’t just an amazing movie, but an important one. A few reviews ago, I wrote that sometimes a movie can have no errors, no flaws, but not be a 10/10, and then there are movies like this, that do have flaws, but are still worthy of a flawless scoring. First of all, the screenplay, this screenplay, is incredible, like wow. Not to be outdone though, this movie is absolutely filled with nothing less than amazing acting performances all around. Frances McDormand, outstanding, Woody Harrelson, stupendous, Sam Rockwell, sublime, I mean even the much more minor roles here are just played and acted to an absolute T. Each character has their own motivations and quirks and ways in which they are tied to the narrative here, but no one ever feels out of place or shoe horned in, they all just work as this living, breathing, fascinating collection of characters. Each of their roles builds, and adds, and informs each other characters’ in a way that is so succinct and tight, that you can see how each of these characters is needed, in the way they are needed, to make this all work the way it does. These are the kinds of movies that the world needs. I know I said it isn’t perfect, and I mean it isn’t, Frances McDormand’s character has no real character arch. The role given to her son is solid but it isn’t always used to its full potential, and there’s a really and I mean super weird looking CGI deer smack in the middle of all of this, but honestly, fuck it. I gladly gloss over all of those things because this movie is simply that good, that powerful, and that necessary, that it deserves nothing less than my highest honour.

Review Score : 10 out of 10

Review : The Post

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“A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between the press and the government.”

The first thought I had at the end of this movie, was that it won’t inspire anyone, but this is the kind of movie you get when all parties involved are true professionals of the highest caliber. The Post is the perfect example, of a movie that has excellence in all the check mark areas of film making, it has great directing, great acting, great sound, great everything….the only issue, it doesn’t have a soul. Don’t get me wrong, from all sides, this is a movie thats as solid in its construction as a movie can be really, what else would we expect from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, but when I say this movie doesn’t have a soul, what I mean is that its all business, its all professional, but there isn’t anything BOLD here. There is no need for any bold or different directing, no one scene that required a true stand out acting performance (at least nothing we’ve never seen from these acting heavy weights), and the story itself is a great one, but their still isn’t any truly stand out factor, as this story is so many years old. I know it may seem like a harsh criticism, but when a film like this exist, one that is so tightly and deftly made, no individual thing stands out, and you need stand out factors to truly elevate a movie like this into a higher category. The Post in reality, is one of the best made movies you will see likely for a while to come, but it doesn’t have that soul to make it a real stand out movie, and stand out moments that you won’t forget.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Maze Runner – The Death Cure

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“Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.”

So The Death Cure is the third and final movie in the Maze Runner trilogy, and you know what, I think this movie deserves a lot of credit, a lot more than I think its likely to get. For a while there, there was a real glut of YA, dystopian future movies on the market, and one of those franchises was The Maze Runner. If you pardon my pun, on paper, the maze runner might have been the franchise with the lowest ceiling, in that I think it had the smallest fanbase, and least hype, but from that situation, I think we’ve gotten the most consistent, even if not the best, of these franchises. Over the past three movies, these movies have managed to keep on track I think the most, and they were able to stay on target better than those other franchises, and most of all, it let this series finish strongly. The Death Cure sees the return of the entire cast here, and it picks up a little while after the second movie ended, and from the start it really does get to it. Another thing this movie really deserves a lot of credit for, is its world building, and its visual effects. Lets not forget, this movie has a $62 million dollar budget, which is half of the budget of some of the movies it was made to compete against, and from visual effects, to practical effects, to just simply make-up effects, this movie really does look amazing. There is also a lot of really good acting in here. This cast does have some very good dramatic actors, and they are given their moments to really act, and it comes across really well. Even the typical love triangle stuff we’ve grown to get used to, is done I think here, as good as it could have been done I think. They give those emotional moments just the right amount of time, and the right amount of dramatic purpose that allow them enough time to work, but not enough to get over done. This movie is maybe 2 years later than it should have been, because of the really unfortunate accident involving Dylan O’Brien on set, and I’m sure that might drop its box office total a bit, but I think this movie is worth being the finale of this series. All in all, I think The Death Cure is a really solid stand alone movie, and is even a bit better when you consider how strongly it ends this trilogy, especially compared to some others. It gives the main cast here I think also a really nice send off onto their next projects. Just had to let it be said also, I am 100% team Brenda. I do have a huge crush on Rosa Salazar, but that aside, just her character alone would be enough to make me team Brenda, but I must say, I do get why Teresa made the decisions she made, so for once it isn’t one of those ridiculous kinds of love triangles, and another thing I really just needed to shout out about this movie.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10

Review : Lady Bird

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“In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.”

Lady Bird is one of those few movies, where after watching it, I need to sit and think about it for a bit, and thats because there is genuinely nothing wrong with this movie, as in, it doesn’t make any mistakes, which is a strange thing. I bring that up because its always a really different kind of review when you don’t have something to point at and say ah yes they lost a point there. Its almost like this movie is in a boxing match and we’re using a 10 point must system. No problems isn’t the stand out this movie though, the stand out is the acting. The only way to accurately describe it is real or honest. Everyone in this movie feels so real and genuine, its like you’re really just seeing the life of this girl go by over time. The movie is even directed like that. It constantly starts and ends scenes in the middle of whatever it wants to show you, and it truly brings you in and makes you feel like you’ve just walked into the room while something was going on. The writing here is also totally spot on. No one ever feels like they were delivering some line they had to, it all comes across as genuinely, intimate interactions, and that takes great writing, directing and acting. So if they are all these things to praise, and like I said, no mistakes or errors to reprimand, this should be a guaranteed 10 out of 10, and yet it isn’t. I hope I can articulate this well enough, but there isn’t anything wrong with Lady Bird, but I do feel like there is something missing. I also don’t know what that is, but I do know that there is something this movie needed, to really make it unforgettable to me, and while the quality of and with which this movie is made is unforgettable, there is still some intangible missing for me. There are movies in the past that I’ve given max scores too, that definitely have things wrong with them, but I think maybe those movies have a certain kind of boldness either in their execution, or in the very story they are telling that make them feel transcendent to me, that make me feel like they will ad something to the history of cinema, and this movie for me is just missing that little it factor to joining those kinds of movies. That being said, this movie still has some of the best acting, writing and directing of the year, and even if there are movies I could like more, there will be few deserving of more plaudits, so I hope that those responsible for the quality on display here get their rewards. All in all, Lady Bird is real honest and unique kind of coming of age story. Its not your typical girl meets boy and so on kind of coming of age movie, its for those of us who want something a little more real, a little more honest, and I’m nothing if not impressed more and more with Saoirse Ronan every time I see her on screen now. You get that Oscar baby girl!

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Devilman Crybaby, a deeper look.

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So to be fully clear from the start, Devilman Crybaby is 100% an R or I guess NC-17 rated anime series, that is 100% made for people 18 years and over, and as we will discuss, there is more to it than just violence and nudity, but there is a lot of that so if you can’t get past that don’t even waste your time. With all that out of the way, what exactly is Devilman Crybaby? Its a new anime series on Netflix based on the original manga “DevilMan”. It tells the story of a world invaded by ancient demons who start regaining power in the world by possessing people in an attempt to take over control of the world It follows Akira and Ryo, who devise a plot to fight back against the demons by becoming half devil and half man (a devilment) to try and fight on equal footing.

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So that all sounds standard enough about a fantasy, action type anime, where’s all the controversy? Well, like I referenced before, this is DEFINITELY made for adults. The first half of the series especially, is filled with copious amounts of nudity, sexually content, drug use, murder, violence, gore and all that stuff, and on the surface, I can see why people would have a problem with it. And if that was the only purpose of those things then maybe it would be an issue, but like a lot of anime, the purpose of many things is kept hidden till its needs to reveal itself. That in a nutshell, is probably one of the best ways to describe this series.

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It starts by hitting you over the head with loud and out there imagery and actions, but it does so to prove a point, a point though, that it proves later on in the series. And this time delay, is where the series works the best, but is also what could put people off of this show. The shock and owe of the first few episodes, only becomes apparent when you get into the real meat of the story, and then you realise you’re hooked, and when you realise you’re hooked, everything comes into to focus. What this show does, is actually trick you, and by tricking you, it can have a more profound affect on you later on, and that makes what does happen later on, so much more impactful. There is a brilliance to that, that I don’t think should go unnoticed.

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Best of all though, the true brilliance of Devilman Crybaby, is that it manages to take you on a roller coaster ride from such a seemingly vulgar beginning, to a very surprisingly beautiful and poignant ending. And to be able to take the viewer on a ride like that, makes this show really worth seeing. If you’re a fan of anime ( and you really probably have to be for this one) Devilman Crybaby is a rare combination of things. It has an interesting and unique animation style, it uses a non traditional arch of story telling, it goes from seemingly one type of show to the polar opposite, and it manages to do all of this in 10, 20 some odd minute episodes that are as compelling and fun to watch as anything recently.