Posts Tagged ‘black panther’

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

May 2, 2018


Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: Winter Soldier)
Starring: Half of Hollywood

I’m going to attempt to do something difficult and review a movie that a) I feel like I need to see again before I have a firm grasp on how I feel about it and b) I’m not sure I can say much about without spoiling things. Here goes…

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re still with Marvel at this point, then Avengers: Infinity War is as big as it gets. My friend I saw this movie with is a comic book fanatic and I’m pretty sure seeing this movie ranked somewhere in the top five most anticipated moments of his entire life. This is where we’ve been headed since Robert Downey Jr. first became Iron Man all the way back in 2008 – when Marvel completely changed the movie-going experience by creating a massive shared universe that has stretched over a decade now. And if you’re still eagerly awaiting Thanos’ arrival on Earth then chances are it’s going to be very hard for Avengers: Infinity War to disappoint you.

But that didn’t stop Age of Ultron from disappointing, did it? Admit it, that was arguably the worst and most forgettable film in the ten years of Marvel’s nearly flawless run of box office dominance. It was also at that point that Joss Whedon passed the directing baton to the Russo brothers, whom have proven to be the most adept filmmakers in the MCU, with both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War ranking in the top five Marvel movies to date.

I’ve actually read some criticism of Infinity War saying that it lacks character development. Something along the lines of the characters just show up and get involved in the story. What. Yeah, I forgot about the last ten years and previous 18 movies that have led up to this point too. Outside of Thanos, basically everyone else involved has had multiple movies worth of character development. We don’t really need it here. Hush.

So the basic premise here is that Thanos is the biggest and baddest dude from space and he has obtained what I believe is called the Infinity Gauntlet and he is after the six Infinity Stones that can be placed in the Infinity Gauntlet and when that happens, he can unlock unrivaled universe-erasing power. Not that he needs it: in the first sequence of the film, Thanos puts a severe beating on a few heroes and proves that The Avengers are already no match for him, Infinity Gauntlet or not.

It’s pretty easy to see how earth’s mightiest heroes get pulled into the fracas. If you’ve seen all the movies that have led up to this point (and you should have) then the following are not spoilers: Vision has an Infinity Stone in his forehead; Loki likely has an Infinity Stone and he’s currently traveling through space with Thor and the few surviving Asgardians; Doctor Strange has the Time Stone; and two other Stones are in space with people we’ve seen the Guardians of the Galaxy interact with. Needless to say, Thanos will have to go through some Avengers and possibly some Guardians to get all the Stones.

So that’s the gist of the plot and I have to say the execution mostly doesn’t disappoint. Infinity War is wonderful cinematic spectacle. At over 150 minutes and with a massive amount of characters to include, the film manages to be engaging and juggle screen time quite effectively. Sure, some of our heroes get less screen time than others, but when it comes down to it, this is Thanos’ movie anyways. I think I actually may have stepped out of the theater to use the bathroom at an inopportune time – particularly, when Thanos explained his reasoning for wanting to obtain the Stones and erase half of the universe’s population. So I really can’t comment on his motives, but if anyone wants to destroy half the universe, there’s probably a good reason for it, right?

I definitely enjoyed my first viewing of Infinity War. Like most Marvel movies, it blends action and humor to perfection and all the key players have an opportunity for a WOAH moment.

While Infinity War packs all the necessary punches, it also had a number of eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling moments. There are quite a few moments in the movie where a character has to make a tough (yet incredibly easy, all things considered) decision and makes an idiotic choice. What kind of hero would jeopardize the fate of the entire universe for one life? A shitty one. One that will be hard to root for in the future. Also, there’s a point where Doctor Strange looks into the future and says something along the lines of in 14 million possible outcomes, The Avengers only win in one of them. Is that really necessary? 1 in 14 million? When everyone in the theater knows the actual chance of an eventual Avengers victory is 100%? Do we need to be insulted like that? And if Doctor Strange can see into the future, and knows the one path to victory, then what is really at stake here? Nothing.

And that brings me to something I can’t really talk about. What I will say is that the film had no emotional impact on me. There are supposed to be huge moments of shock and sadness and I felt nothing. Because none of it seems real. None of it seems final. Because of the Soul Stone and the Time Stone and the nature of comic books, I just have a hard time believing that anything of massive consequence that happens in this movie can’t just be overturned at the snap of a finger. And because of that, my only emotional response was PFFFFFFT.

Still, I definitely enjoyed the movie. Fans of the genre should love it – and they do: it’s currently sitting in the top ten all time on IMDB’s Top 250 list (and that’s just absurd). If you haven’t been a fan of the MCU, this movie won’t change your mind. I’m looking forward to seeing it again and wonder if my opinion of it will change at all.

Replay Value: I’m ready for my second viewing already!

Sequel Potential: Avengers 4 has already been shot, I believe.

Oscar Potential: None?

Dina Meter: My wife enjoyed it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Black Panther (2018)

March 1, 2018

Directed by: Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman

Thoughts: What a huge movie. An absolute colossal success and a groundbreaking film in terms of showing that an almost entirely black cast can produce monster box office numbers. Ugh. I hate typing that sentence. I shouldn’t have to. But one can’t ignore the fact that this sort of opportunity has been sorely lacking in the past and Black Panther will surely open doors and possibly knock them completely off the hinges.

Ryan Coogler and his team really did a wonderful job creating this film. The fictional nation of Wakanda is stunning and fully realized and does as much for empowering women as it does for black people. In Wakanda, women are the fiercest warriors and protectors of the realm, and T’Challa’s sister is the head engineer in advanced weaponry and gadgetry. There’s been some buzz in the industry the last few years about casting a black James Bond, and Black Panther has a lot of 007 in it.

The main conflict in the film is that Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger believes that he has a claim to the throne in Wakanda and challenges T’Challa. Killmonger’s motives and backstory provide some conflict in the viewers as he’s a rare villain that you can possibly sympathize with.

The cast in this movie does a brilliant job, with Jordan being the highlight and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright also giving strong and fun performances.

Black Panther is a film that fires on all cylinders and provides a thoroughly entertaining film experience. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. I had a blast watching it and I hope it’s just as much fun over multiple viewings. I can confidently say Black Panther ranks in the upper echelon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – possibly as high as #1 – and the presentation of Wakanda and the film’s groundbreaking nature make it a must see in my book.

Replay Value: If I didn’t have so many other movies to watch before the Oscars, I would have seen this again by now. I’m looking forward to a second viewing and I suspect it will hold up pretty well. It is a film I will want to own.

Sequel Potential: The film’s success will certainly fast-track a sequel. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it released in 2020. T’Challa should be playing a significant role in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films.

Oscar Potential: I called multiple nominations for Get Out at this time last year and I was right on most of them. I feel less confident in Black Panther‘s chances. This film’s strongest cases are probably in the Production Design, Costumes, Visual Effects, and Sound departments. Michael B. Jordan has already got some Supporting Actor buzz, but he probably won’t get a nomination.

*Dina Meter: My wife would have enjoyed this movie.

8/10 (Must See)

*I’m adding a new element to my movie reviews. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me. Someone asked what my favorite movies of 2017 were and my first response was The Shape of Water and the person I was talking to said he hated it. My friend I saw it with didn’t like it much either. I feel like my wife is a pretty good measure of what a casual filmgoer will like or not like. She tends to not enjoy the more obscure films that I like. With that in mind, I’m implementing the Dina Meter, where I will sum up what she thought about a movie or what I think she would have thought if we didn’t watch it together.

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Captain America: Civil War (2016)

May 7, 2016

Starring: The Avengers
Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, You, Me and Dupree)

Bottom Line: Somehow Marvel keeps outdoing themselves. Starting with The Avengers in 2012, Marvel has been putting out a nonstop string of top notch superhero films (with the clunky Age Of Ultron being an exception). With the same creative team responsible for The Winter Soldier in charge of making Civil War, fans of the MCU had every reason to believe this could be Marvel movie yet.

And it is. While The Dark Knight will be extremely difficult to top as my favorite comic book movie of all time, Civil War is quite easily my second favorite. Just like The Winter Soldier, the label of “comic book movie” can be dropped from the equation when discussing Civil War‘s greatness – it transcends the genre; this is simply great filmmaking.

Civil War explores what happens when The Avengers are held responsible for the consequences of their actions – in other words, what happens to innocent bystanders while they are trying to save the world. So when the United Nations steps in to try to control the superheroes, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark find themselves on opposite sides of the agenda – and then all sorts of fun things start happening.

A decade ago, I never would have dreamed that I’d be more excited to see Captain America and Iron Man duke it out over a Batman/Superman conflict, but this is the world we live in today – Marvel is king and DC is… struggling. Where it seems like DC is trying to do too much by having its big three all in the same film, Marvel seamlessly tells a story that involves up to 12 superheroes. Everyone contributes in Civil War – both to the humor and to the awesome action pieces – and it never feels like the film is crowded or trying to cram too much into the plot.

It also somehow introduces two major characters into the MCU – Black Panther and Spider-Man – and instantly turns them into fan favorites. Fourteen years and six films later, we finally get a Spider-Man that feels totally true to the character. Tom Holland is genius casting – he’s a teenager and this Spider-Man acts like a young Peter Parker should: wowed by everything around him and constantly running his mouth to hilarious results. To say I can’t wait for Spider-Man: Homecoming would be an understatement. And Chadwick Boseman is brilliant as T’Challa, the Wakanda native that takes up the Blank Panther mantle when he becomes king of his nation. His nuanced performance is the best one Marvel has produced since Robert Downey Jr. first blew us away in the original Iron Man. I can’t wait to see what he does with a starring role in 2018’s Blank Panther.

Civil War is about as fun as summer blockbusters get. With solid performances all around, good surprises, the perfect dose of humor, and relentlessly awesome action, this movie takes over the top spot as Marvel’s best film yet – and it’s not all that close, it really blows The Avengers away. Phase 3 of the MCU and the upcoming Ininity War movies are in great hands with the Russo brothers. Take note DC… this is how you make great movies.

Replay Value: A rare movie that’s worth seeing in theaters more than once.
Sequel Potential: Marvel’s Phase 3 has release dates all the way out to The Avengers: Infinity War Part II in 2019.
Oscar Potential: I would have nominated The Winter Soldier over American Sniper for Best Picture, but comic book movies are generally dismissed come awards season – even The Dark Knight got snubbed. Maybe Civil War will finally break tradition and snag a Best Picture nomination.

Grade: 7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Must See)