Black Panther: Film Review

WAKANDA FOREVER!!

To put this simply, this is the film the MCU/Marvel studios needed to continue to be both current and influentially fresh. its groundbreaking, mostly because it IS groundbreaking


Director: Ryan Coogler Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, Full cast and crew: Runtime: 2h 14m

There isn’t much wrong with this movie when one looks at the technical and creative choices made. I can split hairs over the lack of practical jungles (it’s not hard to film in them; films of old have had to shoot in them) I can even split hairs over the lack of a main score to hum to yourself for years to come much akin to anything made by John Williams. I could even say that the action to the film is a tad slower than I’d like. But these things are minimal hairs to split over…

Black panther comes at the right time when you objectively look at our current modern history. Black Panther certainly gives viewers something they haven’t seen in a hero flick before.

What could possibly be fresh from a studio who has shown us both space and Asgard(and made it believable)? Black Kings, Queens, Black Princesses and a plethora of Royal armies and families from An African nation.

I remember when Kevin Feige said that creating Wakanda was a challenge because they don’t think audiences would believe in the idea of Wakanda (being such a powerful, proud, profitable African nation I imagine). Pre-sale numbers have shown people are ready. I can’t begin to describe the joy I got watching a black film like this. For a brief, moment lets appreciate that a black director got to tell the story of an African King with a healthy number of black cast and key crew members, in Atlanta of all places. There’s a joy from not seeing slaves, addicts, or thugs in a high-profile film. Yes! These tropes exist and ought to be represented as well. But, if ever there was a historic site for all movies ever made, we have made enough for the next 50 years of black hardships from the slave era to the crack baby. We have other stories too! and Ryan Coogler did one hell of a job to bring our truths, our impressions of self, and bring up questions about why certain things didn’t happen post slavery.

Even if you feel like you will only root for the hero because of the hero being right, this film asks the viewer for a moment to ponder the motivation behind the flick’s “Big bad” in Eric Killmonger (M.B.Jordan). If you haven’t been living in Latveria, you know that there’s been a steady movement in the US of A called Black Lives Matter. Main news media outlets and the woefully ignorant, would love for you to believe they’re a militia group who solely believe that blacks and ONLY the lives of blacks matter. That they are ready to kill like other blacks have been killed by the boys in blue. In truth what they are simply saying is “Hey, you know we see how you have been treating our race, as opposed to others…. right?!” (How this concept is lost on some is beyond me but here’s a picture of MBJ in a suit).

BP premire

SO. All that said, Killmonger’s motives are that which the media would have you believe. But he’s not wrong in just his methods aren’t democratic. I Kinda hoped his character won in a way. T’Challa on the other hand was very much more poise. He has a long-term goal that wont impede on the world, but rather co-exist with the rest of the world. Where Killmonger wants his comeuppance to be immediate almost akin to Magneto aka Malcolm X, T’Challa is very much a calculated individual who understands that, that way of thinking does no one any help and is much more akin to MLK/ Professor X . No one wants a tyrannical leader, regardless of race. the leading men both give portrayals that can be seen from a multitude of perspectives. it is something that can be enough of a reason to see this film multiple times before it makes its home viewing debut. Killmonger’s best scene was the museum. There was a lot of truth in those words. and I feel hd a great flair of improv on the tail end. I hope he takes on more villainous roles
T’Challa with his father just felt so organic. Eerily familiar to Lion King
Danai’s character, Okoye, is catching flak for not being like the Source Material. Look I understand how important representation is. BUT WITH THAT SAID, can we not?! The movie ‘ about her, her sexuality is only relevant for the means of making a certain scene come to an end in the back half of the film. There will be sequels and I’m sure something can be done. That said, Danai seems to get some of the best bad ass roles. Her Korea scene is definitely some of her finest work action wise. she’s so good in this film its hard to pinpoint her stand out scene, but I’d argue it being the loyalty scene with Nakia.
Lupita’s Nakia does well with her role. I loved that she seemed to give new meaning behind the old saying “behind every great man…” in many ways she is T’Challa’s equal minus the powers.

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There’s so much talent in this film. Honourable mentions come from the two Caribbean actors playing Shuri (Letitia Wright, Guyana) and M’Baku (Winston Duke, Trinidad) the two added much-needed grounded comedy after the not really needed over the top comedy in Thor Ragnarök. I hope to see them in more roles in the MCU or even becoming stars in their own right.

In no way was anyone Oscar worthy(acting) here but there was considerable effort from everyone (Hi, Ms Basset).

Where the film is able to excel is that in turth, Black Panther is relatively unknown to many. So liberties can be taken ll thruout

As far as Comic book films go, This isn’t Chris Reeves superman bar setting, but it definitely sets itself to be among the most favoured on an ‘all-time’ list. At the end of the day its a great film, one that MCU had in the making since Iron Man 2 (Fury, Stark, Bunker scene) and have been teasing ever since. It’s about time this particular film was made. I’m happy with whom the studio got to tell this story. I just wish they didn’t do the Marvel thing and Spoiler: Kill their villains all the time.

  • Overall rating of the movie: 9.4 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 8 out of 10,
  • Editing: 8.8 out of 10,
  • Audio: 8.5 out of 10,
  • Acting: 9 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the B? IMAX or nothing. The costume dept alone is worthwhile in Imax. But grab the blu-ray.. I want a sequel.

ps. Anyone else notice he got his powers from grape drink?

THAT’S IT! Cheers: “To Peace”. Your eLEWsive Thought Provided by: the “LEW System”.

Dr. Strange:Film Review

Dr. Strange.
It’s officially the best time to be a comic book, movie loving, nerd. Of all the secondary, second tier, silver/bronze age heroes from comics… we got the best of the mystical controlling characters of the said mediums on the silver screen.

Director:Scott Derrickson, Writers:Scott DerricksonJon SpaihtsC. Robert Cargill, The cast Run Time:1h55m

Dr. Steven strange was reportedly created to reach the mass few who delved into the psychedelic, paranormal mind altering activities or the few who got there from vice favoured substances. Over the years he’s had books launch and cancelled and has even switched roles for a time. He even served as an ‘Avenger’ as recent as B.M.Bendis’ run on the aforementioned comic title.

Whatever your reason for liking Dr. Strange as a character, he has always been more of a lurking in the background character. Which works to his benefit as seen in this film.

Director Dickerson, Cumberbatch and Co, treated him and his story in what felt like two halves. It felt as dark and gritty as the Netflix stuff with his origin/ first 40 or so minutes and then more like the Marvel films, dubbed MCU, has been known to have.

This may or may not be a spoiler but I thought it very interesting how on the surface they kept everything, namely his injured hands, in the foreground. I thought they would’ve had that healed up by the half mark. But for the dramatic effect of his character it was one of his core challenges. (Side note: has Cumberbatch always had a lisp?) Cumberbatch did a great job from being a dude with his head up his ass to learning some humility. Its reminiscent of the first Iron Man & Thor film. Though as fun as the jokes were. I just feel it could have done with less but that’s just my strict personal opinion. After seeing the trailer above you’d think there would’ve been a darker tone to entire film. For me it takes me out of the dire need to save the day if you’re constantly laughing.  In no way is it a comedy, but there’s just a few too many on the nose jokes for My liking. Let serious moments be sometimes.

I think its cool how even though he could have ended up like Johnathan Prangborn in the film, he was so amazed by this new world, that he gave up the life style he had in NYC to become something more.

Chiwetel, I feel, out acted Cumberbatch and arguably everyone else. But not  in a better or for worse way; Just in more sincerity to convince me/the audience on his take of his character, MordoMads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius was very under developed though. He has his moment of explaining his plan to Strange, and he begins to cry, and for the life of me I couldn’t fathom why. I get his mind has been opened, but I did not care. the best core acting scene was between McAdams and Cumberbatch in the “I don’t need your pity scene”. Additionally I felt like Christine was poorly developed as well. I think this movie could have used an extra 30 minutes.

A shame the film was shot in the manner it was as they opted for a more thrilling ride than arguably stronger shots. I think they should have pushed for some pop shots and to tease us with some other parallel known universe, from the comics, when he was traversing time and space.

His transformation from pretty boy doctor, to desperate man, to sorcery supreme was very well crafted by the hair makeup and wardrobe/costume departments. Every characters look in the film felt authentic and probable for the universe and the individual franchise. The amount of colour that came from each frame of film, especially during the astral planes of existence. It’s arguably 2nd for all time colour film of the mcu*. The production value for what we got was pretty great. Only wished less green screen was used for more of the films simpler things.

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Bottom line:
It’s a good film but the character development was missing either in the edit suite or the actual script. There could have been some great moments but I feel as though the powers behind these films are pulling too much of the strings to give us great films. I’m happy they made this movie as it helps pave the way for more riskier characters to be given the light of day. I just hope the next one gives characters like Mordo, Wong & Christine more to do.

  • Overall rating of the movie: 7.3 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 7 out of 10,
  • Editing: 7.5 out of 10,
  • Audio: 5 out of 10,
  • Acting: 8 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? fun in Imax especially with the Dormammu stuff. it will be a worthy add to any collection of the MCU once its hit home viewing.

*(Avengers for 1 and a tie for 2nd between GotG and Dr. Strange for most colourful)

 

Ant man: Film Review

Ant-Man_Poster-1Writer: Edgar WrightJoe CornishAdam McKayPaul Rudd, Drictor: Peyton ReedRuntime: 117m, Cast(<= link)
Who would have thought that Ant-man would be a star of any movie? Certainly not I.

I remember when Ant-Man (As Hank Pym) had his own group of “Avengers” back in the fox kids days… needless to say, it was a terrible show. Fast forward to present day and you have Scott Lang who probably is most famous for blowing up Avengers Mansion Thanks to Scarlet Witch not getting her way… oh yea. SPOILER ALERT. (note: it was in the comics and will probably never actually happen on the big screen – Avengers Disassembled arc)

But I’m drifting. A lot of what you saw in the trailers, the leaked and official images and TV spots are what you end up with in the final product. Which, turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. It’s great cause you know what to expect and then it’s just bad for the lack of surprises. Maybe I’ve been around long enough but everything that happened was pretty much expected minus a certain winged cameo. The story was fairly easy to follow. I think of any marvel film to date, this is the easiest one to get at face value, while not having a comic book friend sit beside you and explain anything. They didn’t really get in to the science of the suit either. It was a fly by that really just felt like some person yelling in the back screaming the obvious. Something to the tune of: “It shrinks, let’s move along already.” This Marvel film was more interested in being a better movie more than it wanted to be a great comic book movie (but don’t think it to be more than a comic book movie, it won’t win anything more than like an MTV movie award). That said it played more heavily to the kids at heart as it did this in the right age of being a kid.

Paul Rudd is one of those actors where you either love him or you can’t stand him. I’m always on the fence with his films but as of late, he’s been casted in fairly decent films. Comedic actors are proving to be better at this dramatic thing than some dramatic actors are (see Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Most of those actors are of a seasoned comedic background). When Rudd is having emotional moments, particularly with his daughter, it’s pretty clear how he feels and makes you want to root for him. I’m sure we’ve all been in a position of “I wanna do good for _____but this stupid thing is in my way“. It sucks but it’s our individual moral code and or our character facing a dilemma of such nature that make us question how far we are willing to go… that make for great stories. I love seeing dad’s get their due. Dad’s are the under valued, equally paramount parent who often get shitted on and overshadowed due to the growing number of bad ones. His performance isn’t ground breaking but it’s fairly memorable in its ambition. essentially, It felt too much like a Rudd movie as opposed to a character who to look like a hero in his daughters eyes. When he’s funny, however, it felt so organic to the medium and feel to these movies. Rather with what these movies have been missing with so much dark undertones. Mr. Rudd handled his lines so well, I wouldn’t be shocked if they came out and said most of it was improv. He’s a special talent and I’m glad he’s getting a major movie.

Hank Pym, which is the one I was hoping would have been the Ant-Man as he brings in a more interesting story as far as I’m concerned, is played by the great Michael Douglas. He too is a father of a little girl who I can only imagine is to spur up some contrasts to Scott’s character. He either played Hank with a lot of hidden agendas or the nature of the piece alluded to a bigger story for Hank in a potential sequel. He had spurts of anger which seemed so right to the character, given what he’s done in the comics. Given the age he was intended to play, I felt that it was a nice respectful performance from Douglas.

My personal favourite actor, in this, was Michael Peña. He was just fun to see. I can’t think of a movie I really dislike him in. He either has a great agent or a keen eye and understanding of his abilities, because he gets to be apart of some great films. His acting ability was more of a feat than it was artistic. His scenes arguably steal the show.

Corey  Stoll was goodt in this but I felt he was poorly directed. He very well could’ve been a great villain. It would have been nice to see him get really into it that way. His performance is Good. He isn’t afflicted in his talents on screen. I just wished it was a bit more intense and less like a high school dick head. Being the failed protégé has a considerable amount of weight in it. Someone you looked up to tossed you to the curb.. why? I can only wonder what the Game feels like after he was dropped from G-Unit. Spolier: when they said he was having negative effects from the Pym particles, I felt cheated. But it could be explained by the subtle acts we see in Hank during the film.

I wondered how up close ants would look on a giant screen. I always thought that his connection to ants would be the movies down fall. Ultimately, it wasn’t. They found a great way of not really showing them in great detail but more in a manner of seeing them pass by. I even learned a thing or two about ants which isn’t something you go in expecting. The best parts of the film are how detailed they got to showing you the world from a ants perspective, or rather one that small.

Even though the film felt rushed and I think it was the fastest filmed to date, it didn’t quite have the problems rushed films have. It’s still runs to be about 2 hours long but the pacing is consistent and fun.

Bottom line: Theres more to be desired, but what you get isn’t anything bad. It’s one of those lovable movies that can be watched by anyone and you will still have a satisfied audience. Great way to end Phase two on a high note.

Spoiler: the second post credit scene is a scene from Civil War so don’t look into it too much.

Best of phase two:
Captain America 2
Avengers 2
GOTG
Ant-Man
IM3
Thor 2

Whats your list of Phase 2 films?

  • Overall rating of the movie: 6.8 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 8.5 out of 10,
  • Editing: 9 out of 10,
  • Audio: 7 out of 10,
  • Acting: 7.2 out of 10,

Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Its not bad in Theatres, but I could of seen this at home and still enjoyed it…. sucks for people who want to watch it on their phone.

THAT’S IT! Cheers: “To Peace”. Your eLEWsive Thought Provided by: the “LEW System”

– Xavier – @CoolyoNgeLEW

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Movie Review

I’m a man who likes seeds. I also really enjoy great character performance.

(minimal spoilers ahead)

Director: Joss Whedon, Writer: Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Runtime: 141m, Cast & crew(<link)

Seeds. In the MCU, seeds are what fans crave just as much as “easter eggs”. Though I didn’t see many eggs like Cap’s shield in the first two Ironman movies. The seeds however, are very upfront and yet still underlying need I say the first words Ultron says to Scarlet Witch in the curch or the way she looks at The Vision. EACH. AND. EVERY. TIME (Yea. It was very much there folks. Read your comics). The way this movie is benefitted by the seeds: it sets up, Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok (That might be wrong), Black Panther, and what could possibly be the next Avengers and/or Hulk movie. Which if J.Whedon has any say, it’s not Planet Hulk. The way it does a disservice to the film is that it comes off Ironman 2 -ish in the sense that the movie is more of a bridge to more, rather than a movie of its own doing. In Ironman 2 it basically set up Thor,  Captain America: the first avenger and explains a bit of Incredible Hulk. Those are seeds. It’s great but having to pave way or set up other films takes a toll on a film intended to be a sequel to one of Hollywood’s massive franchises… ever. I felt that once it got to its inevitable end, I said that’s it? which also isn’t a bad thing. I just felt he ws obviously beaten just too easily for my liking. Seeds are awesome.

avengers-age-of-ultron-collageWhedon really knows how to write. I’m curious to know if the announcement of the future to the MCU had any affect on what was intended to be in this movie. He crafted such a brilliant tale of heroes and with the help of his D.O.P., really continued that comic book look and feel. Not everything is as vibrant  looking as it was with its predecessor. I did find its definitely better on a second watch as you can really appreciate it instead of getting lost with the excitement the film naturally brought….  but better in imax.  Since I am somewhat discussing his writing…. what the hell was up with Hawkeye?!? I feel for Renner to do the film, it was deliberately done to give him an over arching story. But the parts with him and his “wife” took me out if the film. Probably because I know how most of his life plays out thanks to Bendis’ Avengers run. But something about it seemed forced vs organic which was a shame given all Whedon has accomplished since joining Marvel. Though Hawkeye’s best moment is the bit with Scarlet around the end.

Age if Ultron comes at you fast. But it works both in favour and does this film a disservice. Comic book movies, namely Marvel, have been known to give a crap about their films.  When casting of RDJ hit media outlets it was their way of saying we care about acting, we care about the story, we simply care about our product. Since that particular casting, the other names to the roles has been stellar since. In James Spader, we have a talent with a voice that instantly captivates. My real first encounter with him was on “The Office” and even from that show (Thank you Netflix) I could see why he was special. I believe I was watching that show as they announced he was casted. His voice a covers a range and it is aptly suited for cold, dry, sarcastic and even terrifying dialogue (of Ultron) to really come across. The best feeling is that this allows for Ultron to be menacing still yet like a child. Like a child who has grown up and held on to his id personality. I can honestly say  (unless said in another review) that not since Darth Vader or that Matt Damon look a like in Breaking Bad, have I felt a fear of what a character might do. The voice acting was really superb and deserves at least one nomination, at the very least, at the MTV movie awards; or the Scream awards. This said, for me, The character really needed a scene of him just observing life. To see if there was a reason to end humanity (If you will indulge me a moment. ..or.skip to the next paragraph) it would have been excellent if they had like Ultron looking at children playing and then an incident led to him on his twisted view on life. I get why it played out the Manner it did though

It’s pretty interesting how they have handled Captain America since his first outing (read into that as you see fit). From a real 1940s Brooklyn kid to a leader amongst gods and men. He didn’t have a stand out performance but his presence is felt and I definitely saw some seeds for civil war when it came to him and Tony.

Tony. RDJ. Love em both. Especially RDJ for walking out of that interview. However I feel like he genuinely pissed me off when Rhodes was getting a wee bit of screen time as War Machine. And all of a sudden its a close up of RDJ and I was like: “honestly … how many frames per second of a contract did thus guy sign?!?” I know he is the poster child but in many ways it’s annoying to have him be the center of attention even in posters. I don’t see the avengers as a band. I see them as a team. And teams don’t always need their star player. Sometimes they need the unsung hero to make the hail Mary play.. you know to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.

Black widow seemed to have a bigger role. Even tho she was sidelined by her little bundle of joy. Which I thought the camera team and story handled it perfectly with hiding it. Notice she is shot mostly in close ups in the end, and she exits the story in a believable way. Nicely done again Joss.

Vision. Holy. His look, acting, costume design… so much is right with him. The art direction dept. Just got it right in so many ways. It’s gonna be interesting to see what develops with his character, especially in his last scene.

Hawkeye… I said that already.

Banner. Is sorta the unsung hero of the group who sadly gets to live out his worst nightmare(well sad for him, fun for us). Time will tell how he’s handled next. Maybe(a tad bit of spoiling) an avenger-less hulk film? Just saying, I would read a comic that delves into that aspect of the hulks MCU story.

The way Scarlet Witch is handled was superior to what I would have thought possible. However her brother… wasn’t. Felt like a total waste on him or overall, just handled incorrectly. They should have a dedicated more of the Ultimates (Ultimates 2 to be exact) story line with him. Though I think with him, the reason for his lacking is more legal than anything.

Well.. I think we have reached the end. What a grand way to start the summer movie season. I think i just found a way to start reading comics again.

Bottom line : I was in love with the performance of Spader, loved it more in imax. It’s a tremendous story but it does have a lacking effort in areas.

  • Overall rating of the movie: 8 out of 10,
  • Cinematography: 8.5 out of 10,
  • Editing: 8 out of 10,
  • Audio: 10 out of 10,
  • Acting: 8.9 out of 10,
  • Theatres or wait for the blu-ray? Great in Imax. Definitely worth picking up. Hopefully theres a lot of bits stuff and deleted scene as a lot was left on the cutting room floor.THAT’S IT! Cheers: “To Peace”. Your eLEWsive Thought Provided by: the “LEW System”

– Xavier – @CoolyoNgeLEW