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 : Thor Ragnarok


“Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok, the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.”

First of all, I must say how continually impressed I am with Marvels ability to keep a lot of the reveals in their movies a secret, and just how much money they are clearly willing to spend to keep them secret. I won’t spoil any of them here, but let’s just say, they paid probably millions of dollars to allow things to be in the trailer, but not in their final forms. The second thing I want to address is the MCU debut of Taika Waititi, who comes in bringing his personal brand and style of movie making, that both fit and doesn’t fit in the MCU. Prior to Ragnarok, Thor had been, and had been used as the MCU’s Shakespearean elements. This iteration of the character however, is so much more comedic and light hearted, that even thought a lot of previous incidental humor is used here, the characters themselves take themselves so much less seriously. This movie is a blast though, and from its opening, which might be one of the best opening scenes in any comic book movie, to its rip roaring end, Ragnarok is an action adventure roller coaster of laughs. They’re so many new characters here, and there’s also a bit of character house cleaning, that would streamline the Thor household going forward. The biggest stand out of all of these though, is Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and her final outfit is honestly some of the most stunning costuming I’ve ever seen. Her character ads both depth to the Thor mythos, while also adding a strong female of colour that we don’t get too much off in these kinds of movies. She also allows for one of the best scenes in the entire movie, and I’d probably cosplay as her if I wouldn’t have to shave my beard off. The new look, new attitude Thor here is also really good, as Chris Hemsworth as an actor has great comedic timing, and being able to flex those muscles a bit was very entertaining. Like most all MCU movies, this one also has some villain problems, and while Cate Blanchett brings an amazing presence and gravitas to Hela, the conseit of making her character the way it was, meant there couldn’t truly be a satisfying conclusion for her storyline. The movie itself does sacrifice some of the substance of other MCU movies, but it definitely sacrificed it for entertainment, and a mass appeal this franchise never was able to attain. Scoring this movie by itself , and as a part of the MCU, are two different things, and that’s maybe the only plaice this movie truly falls down. All in all, Thor Ragnarok is the most fun you’re going to have in a cinema for a while, it just doesn’t reach as deep down as some of the movies we praise as the absolute best of the MCU.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Wrap Up : The Defenders

Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, all lead up this cross over small screen event. So how was it? Well its a bit of a mixed bag. Lets start with the pros, and I think there are maybe equal pros and cons here. To start, this show lives and dies on these four characters, and these characters are the reason we watch their individual series, and why now, we’ve watched this crossover. Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, is still clear and away the best of these characters, both in Cox’s portrayal of him and the material he his given to work with. He also is saddled with the best supporting cast, and their acting is always on display when they are on screen with other characters. These characters however do all allow for one of the other biggest pros of the series, and thats being able to see the way all the side and main characters overlap, which plots a real nice web across all of the shows. That overlap does give a feeling of accomplishment also for seeing all the series and knowing all the players.

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There are also some notable inclusions to cast here, with the likes of Sigourney Weaver who comes on to play the role of the main antagonist for the defenders series. She is definitely good here, and her character has and serves a very definite and distinctive arch, but it also feels very much like an extended cameo, than it does a fully fleshed out character that lived in that world. There is also some solid action set pieces here, and when they are done well, they are executed very well, and allow the characters to flex their muscles. It also has to be said, that an 8 episode run is a much better formula (only the Daredevils seasons in my opinion benefit from 13 episodes, all the others to some degree get hurt from the longer 13 episode run). 8 episodes allows for a much more focused storyline, and even though we have all these characters, and so much to connect, if this were 13 episodes I can’t help but think that in trying to add 5 more hours we would lose a lot of the momentum this show has.

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There are however, some negatives here. The first to put it plainly, is the Iron Fist character. Now I’m not talking about the actor here, because while he does add to the portrayal, he is also restricted by the way the character is written, and I think that writing is the real issue here. His character always seems like he’s not in the same world as these other characters, and his character always seems at odds with the others, but in from a character stand point. The main storyline of the series also leans on his character and his methodology heavily, and that means he has a big role here, and when he’s charged with leading the line its just not as good as with the others. There are some other characters also who, while not bad, just aren’t given enough to do to truly be memorable and make a lasting impression on this defenders universe. While like I said earlier there are some great action set pieces here, there are also some sloppy ones. Sloppy not just in their choreography and acting, but also in there setting, use of the characters, and a lack of imagination.

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One of the biggest issues however, and seemingly one of the easier problems to fix, is the budget. So I can’t really find a budget for the defenders, I know the individual series come in around the 40 million per season budget, but whatever the budget is for this series, its either not enough, or its going in all the wrong places. There were so many times during episodes, where I would have to wonder to myself if certain plot points and plot devices were done solely out of a lack of funds and a need to make things as cheap as possible. Wether it would be a lack of fire power from certain villains, to a lack of set diversity, there were so many points where I felt like money had to be an issue. Now I don’t know if something like the lack of certain things from Iron Fist are from a budget point of view, or a writing point of view (de-powering his character to make him fit this universe better), but it definitely comes off as more of an issue than really making his character fit better. Even something as simple as the ending, when the door is unlocked, I was expecting and hoping for something to visually illustrate the difference more than just a dragon skeleton. All of those things just wreak of a small budget to me, and thats something that I in this day and age, with whats meant to be event television like this, just think shouldn’t be such an issue. And like I said before, I don’t know if the issue was a lack of funds, of a misuse of them, but either way I think that was one of the biggest issues this show had to overcome.

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All in all, I think while The Defenders is a mixed bag, I definitely think its worth watching for a few reasons. If you’ve already invested in the other series that lead up to this, you kind of have to watch it, even if for closure, but mostly because one of the things it does best, is line up the future storylines of those individual shows when they each return in future seasons. Its also an easier investment being only 8 episodes, and its a good binge if you need one. (And no their not going to re-cast Iron Fist or anything like that so just either don’t watch his show or don’t watch this if you really can’t stand him, but who knows, maybe one day instead of Iron Fist and Luke Cage series we will get a Heroes for Hire series featuring a bionic arm Misty Knight?!)

Trailer of the Week! Comic Con Edition!

So I know gave you guys a trailer(s) of the week already, but with all the extra stuff this week, I also decided to give you my pick, for what was the best of all the trailers out of Comic con. The Comic con best trailer goes to…

Thor Ragnarok (Comic con Trailer)

Talk about money shots, this trailer has everything. This trailer does so many things, and it does them all amazingly. To start, we get the full brunt of the new tone for this franchise (Thor movies that is), and in that new tone, we get a perfect blend of the quirky and witty humor of Taika Waititi, blended perfectly and seamlessly with the over the top astral combat that a movie like Thor allows for.

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We also get a much better look at all the main characters here, and a slightly better look at their individual roles. This movie sees the addition of a host of new characters, new both to Thor, and the MCU on a whole. This new team of Thor, Hulk, Loki, and Valkyrie, has to team up against the likes of Hela, Skurge, The Grandmaster, and even the fire lord Surtur. This trailer really give us an idea of just how epic of adventure this movie is set to take us on.

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The visuals look stunning. The costuming and effects are out of this world. The acting on show here is also incredible, especially from the new additions to the Thor cast, and all of these things together give this trailer an amazing base, that when it hits us with those amazing shots and reveals, each one bigger than the last, that theres no way to watch this trailer and not get hyped up. So what do you think? Agree with my choice for the pick of the litter of the comic con trailers, and did you have another one in mind?

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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“Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.”

Guardians 2 takes us back to the most unique corner of the Marvel cinematic universe, and it does so with some style. This movie is very much like the movie before it, but its also somewhat of the complete opposite to the previous film. What I mean by that, is that Guardians 2 takes the team and the story line to a place where the first movie never went as far as character development, and the relationships between them. The movie here while it tells also a smaller story, it still tells one that has universal consequences. All the main characters are back here, plus some new team members that add a surprising amount of heart and life to the team, and movie, that could have felt a little flat in parts if we only had the original cast here. This is also most certainly the most isolated of all the Marvel movies, especially with the story told in this second movie, which is good and bad. On the one hand, it does help keep the story trim and tight, but it also makes the movie devoid of that extra spark that playing off of all the previous movies in the universe brings. All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, brings us another great soundtrack, some truly special and spectacular visual effects, and a real sense of family, but something about just seems to lack that little bit extra that the first movie had. Also, there are like 5 after/post/mid/during credit scenes here, so sit back relax and enjoy that.

Review Score: 7.5 out of 10

Iron Fist and the Netflix Defenders Universe

So with the recent release of Iron Fist, we have now officially had all the proposed entries that lead up to the much anticipated Defenders cross over series. I though it then only right that now was perfect time to put my two cents into the ring. In an overall sense I must say I’m more pleased than anything about the 4 series we have received, but I think there are clear highs, clear lows, and some restructuring that should be done to make most all of these shows better in their future iterations. I’ll start with Iron Fist as its freshest in our memories. If i had to review the series the way i review movies i probably score it somewhere around 6 or 7 (because I try very much to rate things not just on there worth but on their potential) and I think that would be a fair score. I have a few beefs with the season and I’ll go over them all. First off with the exception of Daredevil, I think all three other series have shown that without the same depth of narrative that are available to Daredevil, they don’t have the content to support 13 hour long episodes and they would all have been better in a series order of 8-10 episodes. I applaud the effort in what Iron Fist tried to do with its combat, but I think it suffered from not having the time to truly get some of these actors to level they needed to be to be 100% effective and compelling in their fighting style and ability (we can even see the difference in Danny’s body over the course of the series, showing he didn’t start where at the level he should have). In another show that might be less of a problem, but when the show is Iron Fist, the fighting is really important. I think Iron Fist also suffered from the lack of a truly major villain over the course of its story as it constantly swaps them in and out and that causes a constant loss of momentum. My biggest beef though, is the lack of a scene like this:

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and to make matters worse, we were constantly teased a full Danny lose control rage out scene, that just never happened. Its not all gloom and doom however, I do think Iron Fist has one of the most organic romances to date in these series. I truly felt that there was a connection between Danny and Colleen, even when he was preoccupied with revenge. The series also had the task of introducing a lot of the mystic elements into this world, and it more or less does its job.

Like I mentioned earlier, I do think Luke Cage and Jessica Jones would have benefitted from a shorter run of episodes. Luke Cage I think was the most egregious of these two as I think the series took a drastic turn for the worst after the removal of one of the main characters, and replacing him with what was more caricature than character. Jessica Jones I think is the second best of the series thus far, because even though I think it could have been shorter, I don’t think it ever strayed too far from what it was or tried to be. Also, its decision to take on the issues it did I think was a welcome change to what we might have expected from a series like that. And then there’s Daredevil, the gift that keeps on giving. After giving us season one, it came back with an arguably as strong second season, but with the addition of great characters in The Punisher and Elektra, one of which was so strong he got his own series to come.

Now that the all the pieces have been set, I’m very interested in what the Defenders will bring. Say what you want, we have a pretty interesting and eclectic group of heroes here, all anchored by fan favorite Rosario Dawson and her night nurse character. It will only have an 8 episode run which I think should keep a lot of the problems of these other series from being too much of a problem, so I have nothing but high hopes for it. Have you all seen Iron Fist as yet? Are you excited for the Defenders cross over, or could you take it or leave it?

Cheers

 

Review : Logan

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“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.”

LOOOOOGGAANN! What a movie. So the aptly titled Logan is the final chapter in both the trilogy of Wolverine movies, and the supposed end to the characters portrayal by Hugh Jackman. After the first X-Men Origins Wolverine movie (which is trash) I didn’t have much hopes for the rest of the series, but The Wolverine actually got this franchise back on track, and now, we truly have a movie worthy of this beloved character. Logan is a real visceral, blood filled but yet surprisingly thoughtful movie that does a good job at touching on some complex issues in a very real world way. They also do well to setup a real beaten and broken down Logan, running from the exploits and legends of his past. They set him on a collision course for one last dive into the world of heroes for the former X-Man. This movie takes a lot of inspiration from classic westerns in more ways than one, and it does so subtly when they should be, and more overtly when it asks for it. Hugh Jackman has played this character for like 16 years or so, and honestly, he’s never been better, and that performance combined with Patrick Stewarts past his prime professor X, we get a real honest and unflattering representation of these characters like we’ve never seen before. I can’t personally go so far as to say this is the outright best X-Men movie ever made, but it damn well is up there. A real must see for anyone who’s a fan or even remotely interested in these characters.

Review Score : 9 out of 10