Review

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)

Director:

Ryan Coogler

Writers:

Ryan Coogler

Joe Robert Cole

Starring:

Chadwick Boseman

Michael B. Jordan

Lupita Nyong’o

Danai Gurira

Letitia Wright

Winston Duke

Plot:

T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.

Review:

T’Challa, Chadwick Boseman, has come home to be crowned the new King of Wakanda after the death of his father in the events of Civil War. His ex is a spy for Wakanda and he can’t face his coronation without her because there is clearly love still there. Everything goes swimmingly with the coronation, though, there is a challenger that makes T’Challa work for it.

Still, things seem to finally be calming down for T’Challa. He’s mourning the loss of his father, but death appears to be a positive thing for Wakandans. He’s thinking about the future of his kingdom and whether to reveal their true nature to the rest of the world, when suddenly a notorious criminal responsible for the deaths of many of his people, shows up. Naturally, he must go after him. It ends up snowballing when Killmonger, Michael B. Jordan, shows up and takes the crown.

Here’s the thing, what makes Black Panther so incredible is the cast and the development given to their characters. This is easily one of the most creative Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, if not the most creative. It wasn’t just Black Panther’s costume that was created and imagined it was an entire country. It was incredible the amount of detail that was included. I would watch a TV show or read a book that had nothing to do with Black Panther set in Wakanda.

Women appear to be treated equally, Okoye, Danai Gurira, is their best fighter. Shuri, Letitia Wright, is the smartest person in the country and possibly the world. She certainly puts Tony and Bruce in their places in Infinity War. Even Nakia, Lupita Nyong’o, pushes T’Challa to be better and he listens to her. Each of the women here have personality and character and history. They aren’t just there to support the lead, though there is that, they are their own people.

Okoye is a general and stands by her oath to the very end, even when it goes against her wishes. Shuri doesn’t appear to back down from anyone, facing everything head on with her brain leading the way. Nakia loves T’Challa but refuses to compromise her career for that love because she believes what she’s accomplishing with it is more important and T’Challa knows that. He is able to find a compromise for them at the end. They are all strong, capable women, but with their own strengths and weaknesses, and they aren’t just props to further along T’Challa’s story.

This movie means so much to me because of those women. We’ve had Black Widow, Scarlett Witch, to a lesser extent Valkyrie, and a few others, but these women are the first time that I feel like we’ve gotten some fleshed out female superheroes and it’s just been one movie. They make me so excited for what’s to come for the MCU future.

Original Review

5/5

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Director:

Taika Waititi

Writers:

Eric Pearson

Craig Kyle

Christopher L. Yost

Starring:

Chris Hemsworth

Tom Hiddleston

Cate Blanchett

Tessa Thompson

Mark Ruffalo

Anthony Hopkins

Jeff Goldblum

Plot:

Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, and must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela.

Review:

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, is having nightmares. Asgard ending nightmares. So he searches for the cause, ends up adding a new item to the Asgard collection, and then finally learns that his brother isn’t dead, but his father is missing, and oh yeah he’s got a sister that’s the goddess of death. Oh the life of a Norse god.

When confronted with impossible odds Loki, Tom Hiddleston, runs away calling a bridge, which allows their sister access to Asgard. Thor and Loki are both kicked off the bridge and wind up on Sakaar, where time is funky. Then the real fun begins.

Actually, the movie is fun from the minute it starts with Thor in a cage talking to some bones, it just gets better from there. The 80s feel, the humor, the story this movie takes all the previous Marvel movies and perfects them. It’s got the great music, excellent humor, shirtless SHORT HAIRED Thor, and two amazing female characters.

Some more female representation! Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson, is, well she deserves to have at least her own TV show where she bums through the galaxy trying to move on with her life after finally getting out of her drunken stupor. Her rapport with Thor and Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, are great. She’s much more serious than Thor, but doesn’t go too hard into it like Black Widow. She does have a tragic backstory, but that just means she deserves to find her own happily ever after.

Hela, Cate Blanchet, is terrifyingly beautiful as the Goddess of Death. She is pure evil but I don’t feel like they pushed her over the top into comic book villain (lol). She’s crazy, but not deranged, she is pissed the fuck off more than anything. She’s been locked up, erased from history by her father, and she’s back to finish the job he wouldn’t let her.

The buddy comedy feel of Hulk and Thor is something I desperately hope we get more of. Hulk and Iron Man has nothing on a Hulk and Thor team up. We also seem to be back at Bruce Banner changing into the Hulk when he’s stressed, not just angry. There’s also the added element of Hulk sticking around for two years instead of receding and letting Banner take over. The two personalities seem to be becoming more separate.

I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of anything negative to say about Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a nice balance between serious and funny, it has representation from women and POC though it could use more, the story is interesting, and it ties into the overarching plot but is still complete on its own. It is easily one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, if not my favorite.

Original Review

5/5

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

spider-man-homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Director:

Jon Watts

Writers:

Jonathan Goldstein

John Francis Daley

Jon Watts

Christopher Ford

Chris McKenna

Erik Sommers

Starring:

Tom Holland

Michael Keaton

Jon Favreau

Marisa Tomei

Zendaya

Jacob Batalon

Laura Harrier

Plot:

Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City.

Review:

Peter Parker, Tom Holland, is not technically an Avenger, but maybe. If Tony Stark would just give him a chance he knows he could succeed. It’s not like he hasn’t already proven himself in battle against Earth’s mightiest superheroes. Of course, Tony couldn’t even give him that telling him that Cap would have beat him if he wanted too. I’m really glad that Peter has Aunt May, Marisa Tomei, she is a much better parental figure than Tony.

Using his new suit Peter fights crime, discovers weapons being made with alien tech, and tracks down the people responsible. When he botches a sting operation put in place to take the bad guys down Tony takes his suit away. Probably the best and most hypocritical move that Tony could have done since it’s easy to forget that Peter is only 15.

Without his suit, but desperate to do good with his abilities, Peter finds himself in a dangerous position, he calls all the people he can, is ignored, and so does what heroes do. He pushes himself, learns his limits, and pushes himself past them to save people. He is a hero, but by not taking Tony up on his offer he proves that he’s also very self-aware. Honestly, having never enjoyed Spider-Man, this movie made me excited for the character. It is easily the second best Spider-Man movie (Into the Spiderverse is first).

As much as I enjoyed the Spider-Man character, the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as good without his villain The Vulture, Michael Keaton. Awarded a huge clean up job by the city of NY Keaton takes out loans, hires people, and is looking at a bright professional future, when Tony Stark swoops in and takes it all away. Honestly, it’s kind of disheartening that in a universe with superheroes the politicians still manage to fuck shit up. Who in their right mind awards a clean-up project to the very person that made the mess? Did he give them an amazing deal? Should it have mattered? He better be doing it for free, but I doubt it.

I would be right on board with The Vulture if he’d just not had to go and kill people. That one little step is my step too far. I could have probably forgiven killing his flunky, but trying to kill a teenager? A teenager that you know saved your daughter from death? Nope, can’t root for you. I was happy that he didn’t give Peter up at the end though, it showed that he wasn’t completely evil, maybe.

As to the impact on the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peter gets a new fancy suit, but I think that’s pretty much it. It’s a nice suit…

Spider-Man: Homecoming was a great superhero movie, but it was lacking in a couple areas. First, and the one that impacts my rating the least, it’s ties to the overarching plot. It builds the character and relationships, but, so far, it doesn’t seem to mean much in the grand scheme of things.

Second, and actually impacting my rating, the lack of female characters and representation, both in front of and behind the screen. Aunt May was awesome, what little Zendaya was in the movie she was great, the only other significant female character was Liz, Laura Harrier, and she was really just there as a romantic interest for Peter and didn’t even speak in a lot of her time on screen. Everyone was a dude and I’ve just watched, how many movies, where it’s the same way, and it’s really starting to weigh me down. It’s one thing when it’s spread out a couple times a year, it’s another thing when it’s every day. I’m just a bit…tired.

Side note: sorry for the little break in reviews, I moved and that is time consuming.

Original Review

4/5

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Director:

James Gunn

Writer:

James Gunn

Dan Abnett

Starring:

Chris Pratt

Zoe Saldana

Dave Bautista

Vin Diesel

Bradley Cooper

Michael Rooker

Karen Gillan

Pom Klementieff

Kurt Russell

Plot:

The Guardians struggle to keep together as a team while dealing with their personal family issues, notably Star-Lord’s encounter with his father the ambitious celestial being Ego.

Review:

We find the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting a giant alien as hired mercenaries for a race of snooty gold people. Rocket, Bradley Cooper, steals something he shouldn’t because he’s seemingly testing the boundaries and strength of his new relationships. Things don’t go well for the Guardians, but it’s okay Star Lord’s, Chris Pratt, father shows up and saves the day.

Yeah, so apparently Star Lord’s father, Kurt Russell, is an immortal planet, or something. He has spread his seed far and wide in the hopes of creating a prodigy that can help him destroy the universe, well create it in his own image.

Each of his children have failed, but when he learns Star Lord has held an infinity stone and lived he has hope. Unfortunately for him, being a being alive for millennia, he doesn’t understand that killing your child’s loving mother is like the worst thing you can do.

This movie was about Star Lord and Rocket’s stories. There were some dashes of Gamora, Zoe Saldana, and Nebula, Karen Gillan, they started to work out their issues, but probably not. We also got little doses of the odd relationship between Drax, Dave Bautista, and Mantis, Pom Klementieff. For the most part, though, it was Star Lord. We saw more of his backstory, more of his family, and the ending was mostly about him as well. The movie is called Guardians of the Galaxy, it would have been nice if it had more of an ensemble feel, like Avengers. Star Lord had 11 more minutes of screen time than the next person, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but even when he was not on the screen a fair amount of the story revolved around him.

Part of why I enjoyed the first movie was the other characters and by far my favorite parts of this movie had almost nothing to do with Star Lord. Basically, anything with Groot and Rocket was awesome. I really liked Gamora and Nebula working on their shit too. The weakest part of the story, in my opinion, was Star Lord’s.

Overall, I’m not sure what impact this movie had on the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. We now have Mantis, who plays her part with trying to distract Thanos in Infinity War. There are some allusions to a future Guardians plot, but no idea if that will impact anyone else.

The movie was a step down from the original. Oddly enough, I loved it on my first viewing. So what’s changed? Is it because I watched it so closely to the first? Is it because this is the first time I’ve watched it since Black Panther, Thor Ragnarok, and Captain Marvel? I don’t know. I still enjoyed the humor at least.

Original Review

3/5

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (2016)

Director:

Scott Derrickson

Starring:

Benedict Cumberbatch

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Rachel McAdams

Benedict Wong

Mads Mikkelsen

Tilda Swinton

Plot:

While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Review:

Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch, is a world renowned neurosurgeon. He is the best at what he does, he makes a ton of money, and has a massive ego to go with it. One night, on his way to a benefit, he’s driving his expensive car at unsafe speeds on windy wet roads and takes his eyes off the road. For possibly the first time in the man’s life, the worst case scenario happens to him and he’s not able to fix it. He careens off the side of the mountain and his hands are damaged beyond full repair. His entire life is now over.

Dr. Christine Palmer, Rachel McAdams, is a good doctor in her own right, and considers herself his friend, and tries to help him. He lashes out at her, after months of her helping, and he says some truly heinous things. She walks away and then he’s free to wallow in his miserableness. Except, he does continue to try and find a way to fix his hands. Using his last dime he travels to Nepal and searches for the Ancient One.

Doctor Strange continues the white male egomaniac tropes with the superheroes, but unlike Tony Strange actually grows by the end of the movie. We don’t know yet if that growth will stay or if he’ll backslide into thinking he’s the most amazing thing ever created, but I have high hopes. He actually gives Dr. Palmer a legitimate and good apology.

Dr. Palmer is one of only two women with significant speaking parts in the movie, that I remember. She at one point dated Strange, but apart from trying to help him get better and being a doctor is given no kind of backstory.

The other woman in the movie is The Ancient One, Tilda Swinton, she is ancient and powerful, and steals her long life from the dark one, Dormammu. She trains Strange and puts him in his place in several instances, which is very fun to watch. She pushes him. She recognizes that there is more than just a light and dark side, which ultimately is what creates what I guess will be the next Strange villain, Mordo, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

I liked Doctor Strange more than I remember, but clearly there are some troubling issues with it, though, that probably has a lot to do with the source material too. My hope is that there will be more female characters in the next one, because at this point it’s a glaringly obvious problem with the franchise.

Original Review

4/5