Black Panther Review

Black Panther movie reviewSynopsis
After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) takes his place as king of the technologically advanced and secluded country of Wakanda. His succession is in jeopardy when the mysterious Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) challenges T’Challa for the throne.

Review
I think it’s safe to say that Black Panther is one of Marvel Studios’ most anticipated movies to date. Chadwick Boseman stole his scenes in Captain America: Civil War, a lot of time and effort was put into researching different African cultures for inspiration for Wakanda, and the cast consisted of fan-favorite black actors including Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gunra, and many others. Black Panther had the world’s eyes on it. It stood its ground, didn’t falter, and brought one of the most compelling experiences to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

One thing Marvel films have always been good at, in my opinion, is having great action. Black Panther is no exception. Whether it’s a car chase through the streets of Korea, a large-scale battle on the plains of Wakanda, or a one-on-one battle between Black Panter and Killmonger, every action piece is well choreographed and well shot. The camera does a good job of staying on what’s important in the scene and framing the action. At no point did I feel lost or didn’t understand who was where and doing what.

This film really stands out because of its cast and their chemistry. Letitia Wright played T’Challa’s genius little sister, Shuri. She and Boseman felt like siblings. They had this playful banter that felt natural and didn’t feel like it was written in a script. The same can be said for whenever Boseman, Nyong’o, and Gunra shared a scene. I had a smile on my face when these three were together.

Going into Black Panther, I was most interested in seeing Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Killmonger. I haven’t seen him in an antagonistic role before so I wanted to see how he would do in the part. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Jordan oozed swag. His character was intelligent, cold, and calculating and Jordan pulled it off with ease. Admittedly, Marvel has had a bit of a villain problem. Outside of Loki, not many have been compelling. Killmonger is a perfect foil to T’Challa. The two of them have similar goals but approach them different ways, much like Professor X and Magneto in the X-Men franchise. For being unsure what to expect, it’s hard to imagine another actor filling the role as well as Jordan did. He might have stolen the entire movie for me if it wasn’t for one actress: Letitia Wright.

Wright hands-down made this movie several times better than if she wasn’t in it. Her take on Shuri was better than I ever could have imagined. She was witty, sassy, strong, and intelligent. I mentioned it before but her and Boseman’s chemistry was uplifting. She wasn’t afraid to give the king a hard time and to ground him when necessary. She brought a lot of the film’s humor. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Wright in the future.

Wakanda is a technologically advanced country located in the heart of Africa. Director Ryan Coogler vision for the country is breathtaking. I know this sounds like a cliché but the country is almost a character unto itself. It is this mix of futurism and African tradition. Clearly, a lot of time was spent visualizing this “character.” Whether in the Golden City or on the country’s plains, you won’t believe your eyes.

With the MCU consisting of nearly twenty films, there is a lot of interconnectivity between the films and it can be daunting to jump into one of these movies “in the middle.” However, Black Panther does a great job of standing on its own. Yes, the death of T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, that essentially kicks of this story happens in Captain America: Civil War, but this movie recaps the events nicely. Other than that, there is very little that new viewers won’t understand. This film can stand alone but if you have seen the other movies, it will help you understand its place in the series overarching story.

Since The Avengers, most of the movies proceeding it have had a similar style of humor. I brought it up in my review of Thor: Ragnarok because it was almost too much in that film that it undermined many of the more serious moments. This movie has that trademark Marvel humor but it uses it much more effectively than most MCU films. There was only one time that I really felt it was interjected at the wrong time.

As much as Killmonger didn’t fit the traditional MCU villain mold, Ulysses Klaue, aka Klaw, did. He feels extremely underutilized. As someone who knows his significant history with Black Panther, it’s disappointing to see him not used to his full potential. And Andy Serkis does wonderful in the part. It probably would have been hard to have two well-built villains in this movie but it hurts a little that Klaw had to end up shorted.

I thought Black Panther was GREAT 😀 As Chadwick Boseman made a great impression as a supporting character during his debut in Civil War, many of Black Panther‘s supporting cast have unforgettable roles. The action is well shot and choreographed and the villain is actually complex and empathetic. Black Panther shows that even ten years later and eighteen movies in, the MCU still has plenty of steam.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Ryan Coogler – Director / Writer
Joe Robert Cole – Writer
Ludwig Goransson – Composer

Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa / Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan – Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens
Andy Serkis – Ulysses Klaue
Lupita Nyong’o – Nakia
Danai Gunra – Okoye
Martin Freeman – Everett K. Ross
Daniel Kaluuya – W’Kabi
Letitia Wright – Shuri
Winston Duke – M’Baku
Angela Bassett – Ramonda
Forest Whitaker – Zuri
Florence Kasumba – Ayo
David S. Lee – Limbani
Nabiyah Be – Linda
John Kani – T’Chaka
Sterling K. Brown – N’Jobu
Atandwa Kani – Young T’Chaka
Ashton Tyler – Young T’Challa

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Trailer Round-Up – 2/19/18

A Quiet Place

Overboard trailer #2

Rampage trailer #2

Uncle Drew teaser trailer

Incredibles 2 Sneak Peak

Pacific Rim: Uprising trailer #3

Mary Magdalene international trailer #2

Ready Player One ‘Come With Me’ trailer

Gringo final trailer


Which of these films are you excited to see?

Ultimate 70s Blogathon: The Exorcist (1973) by MovieRob

Today’s entry for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon comes from the movie review monster Rob, from MovieRob. If you are somehow unfamiliar with Rob and his feats, you must be living under a rock. He has reviewed literally thousands of movies and is always participating in one blogathon or another. Definitely go check out his site to see for yourself. He joins this blogathon today with his review of the horror favorite The Exorcist.


The Exorcist movie poster“There are no experts. You probably know as much about possession than most priests. Look, your daughter doesn’t say she’s a demon. She says she’s the devil himself. And if you’ve seen as many psychotics as I have, you’d know it’s like saying you’re Napoleon Bonaparte” – Father Karras

Number of Times Seen – 2 (Video in the 90’s and 4 Feb 2018)

Brief Synopsis – After her daughter starts acting very strangely, an actress contacts two priests to try and help her.

My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing back in high school and absolutely hating.

I have never been a fan of films in the horror genre and stay as far away from them as possible whenever I can.

For this blogathon by Drew and Kim, I decided that I will attempt to get a new perspective on it and hopefully would find some way to enjoy it.

Surprisingly, I did.

I really enjoyed the way this story is told and they are able to kepe things both interesting and thrilling the entire way through.

The story builds up at a great pace and never feels either rushed or drawn out.

They do an amazing job approaching this kind of supernatural story from a realistic viewpoint and only after trying all kinds of medical and psychological solutions do they attempt the supernatural ones.

They are able to make it seem conceivable and realistic that such an event could theoretically take place in our world.

The cast is perfectly chosen for this and they all help keep things exciting, powerful and even humorous when possible.

Obviously, I loved the fact that the detective played by Lee J. Cobb is a cinephile because it helps give the character a familiar and down to Earth feel to him.

This film has some great special effects and thankfully, I wasn’t scared by any of them, perhaps do to the fact that I knew more or less what to expect form this film.

This film was definitely deserving of being the movie to break the glass ceiling and garner  the first ever Best Picture Nomination in the genre of horror where only a handful of films have managed to duplicate in the 45 years since this nomination.

In addition to Best Picture, this film also managed an additional 9 nominations which makes it the horror film with the most Nominations ever. [Jaws (1975) – 4, Silence of the Lambs (1991) – 7, The Sixth Sense (1999) – 6 and Get Out (2017) – 4]

It managed to only win two awards that year for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound.

It also was able to win the Golden Globe for Best Picture Drama, Director, Supporting Actress (Linda Blair) and Screenplay which is also an incredible feat.

I am so glad that I finally gave this film another chance because it really is a great film that everyone should probably see even once just to share in this enjoyable experience.

Bottom Line – So much better than I had recalled. This film builds the story up really well and keeps things thrilling and interesting the entire time. I liked the fact that they approach this supernatural subject from a realistic perspective and try to show that something like this can actually happen.  The pacing of this film works really well and nothing seems neither forced nor rushed.  The cast is great and they are do a fine job keeping this exciting and powerful. Definitely was deserving of being the very first film from the horror genre to break the glass ceiling and get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture along with 9 other nominations.  It managed to only win Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The scene where Regan projectile vomits at Father Karras only required one take. The vomit was intended to hit him on the chest. Instead, the plastic tubing that sprayed the vomit accidentally misfired, hitting him in the face. The look of shock and disgust while wiping away the vomit is genuine. Actor Jason Miller, (Father Karras), admitted in an interview that he was very angered by this mistake. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) by Box Office Buzz

My fellow Star Wars and MCU enthusiast, Ashley, enters the blogathon with the first non-host entry. If you are unfamiliar with Ashley, she runs Box Office Buzz, reviewing all sorts of films, creating lists, and examining the movie industry as a whole. If you don’t follow her already, do yourself a favor and give her site a look, after you finish up here of course! Now let’s get to her review of the film that started one of the most popular film franchises in cinema history.


Star Wars original movie posterFew film franchises have had as widespread or lasting an impact as Star Wars. For over 40 years and counting, the franchise has continued to draw in new fans to a certain galaxy “a long time ago” and “far, far away.” It’s hard to imagine a time when Star Wars wasn’t a part of pop culture, so it’s interesting to think that back in 1977, Star Wars was just this unusual little space adventure from up-and-coming director/writer George Lucas.

We all know the story well by now, from the film that started it all. We meet Luke Skywalker, a seemingly ordinary farm boy from the desert planet Tatooine. He learns from mysterious hermit Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi that his father was once a powerful Jedi Knight, and that Luke can have that power too. They team up with roguish smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee copilot, Chewbacca, to rescue Princess Leia and end up becoming a part of the Rebellion against the evil Empire, led by the Emperor and the menacing Darth Vader. The Rebels blow up the planet-destroying Death Star and celebrate what seems to be a decisive victory (though the later films reveal it wasn’t quite that simple).

It’s challenging to evaluate “A New Hope” as an isolated film, because I’m used to discussing it as simply one chapter in a still-expanding franchise. People watching it for the first time back in 1977 didn’t know about that huge plot twist still to come — that Darth Vader is Luke’s father — or that 40 years later we’d still be telling stories about the Skywalker family, who continue to struggle with that pull to the dark side.

However, on its own “A New Hope” was (and still is) a fun, rousing adventure. Though technically science fiction, it’s really more of a space fantasy/western. It’s less about science and more about the power of myth. The universe of “A New Hope” feels authentic and “lived in”; it’s not slick and shiny and futuristic like some sci-fi. This grit and grime make it feel more real, yet there’s also plenty of “magic” to fill this universe with mystery and wonder.

The pioneering special effects of “A New Hope” still hold up pretty well today, and helped pave the way for a lot of other beloved blockbusters. And of course no Star Wars discussion is complete without mentioning the amazing soundtrack from John Williams. At this point, Williams’ score is as much a character as Han, Leia, or Luke, and is a vital part of what makes Star Wars “work.”

And speaking of Han, Leia, and Luke… this film (and the whole franchise, for that matter) wouldn’t be nearly as fun without Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill leading the way. They became such a part of their characters that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in these roles.

When I recently put together my ranking of the Star Wars films and animated TV shows, “A New Hope” actually ended up at No. 7 on the list, which surprised me a little bit. It seems almost wrong to put a beloved film so far down the list, especially since without it we wouldn’t have any of the other movies. I love “A New Hope,” and it will always have a special place in my heart. However, I do feel the later movies were able to add more emotional depth, which resonates with me more. Though you can’t have “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” without “A New Hope,” I love those two movies’ themes of redemption and sacrifice.

Even as a fan, I must admit that the Star Wars franchise isn’t flawless, and “A New Hope” is no exception. There are little inconsistencies, and a few moments where George Lucas could have done something different or better. The special editions, where George Lucas returned to and tweaked the original trilogy, are a whole different topic of conversation. Some of the additions don’t bother me, though that awkwardly edited Han/Greedo shootout is rather obvious.

People will undoubtedly be discussing the legacy of Star Wars for many more years to come, especially as the saga continues to develop. Yet it’s always worth returning to the very beginning, where the franchise got its start. Interestingly, both George Lucas and the original studio, Fox, had doubts about “A New Hope’s” box office performance. They needn’t have worried — it quickly broke box office records, and continues to delight new fans today.


If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate 70s Kickoff: Saturday Night Fever (1977)

It’s finally here! The Ultimate 70s Blogathon has begun! For the next several weeks, my co-host Kim, I, and many of our fellow film bloggers will be looking at some of our favorite films from the far out 70s. Check back regularly to see some of the great picks people have made. Earlier today, Kim reviewed the science-fiction horror classic, and one of my personal favorites, Alien, as part of the blogathon’s kickoff. Now it is my turn! Let’s get started, shall we?


Saturday Night Fever movie poster

Synopsis
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life. (From IMDb)

Review
Since I both open and close the Ultimate Decades Blogathons that I co-host, my opening entry isn’t necessarily my favorite film from the theme decade, but rather a film that is a snapshot of the decade. For me, the Ultimate 70s film is Saturday Night Fever and here’s why:

  1. The music. Every decade seems to have a distinct sound. In the 60s it was the rock pioneers like Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, in the 80s it was hair bands and heavy metal, and in the decade in between, disco music was all the rage. Bands like the Bee Gees, ABBA, and Chic defined the sounds of the dance floor in 70s. The Bee Gees, having great success and falling into a bit of a funk before this film’s release, created the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever, cementing the movie’s place as essential 70s.
  2. The dancing. To go with the music, disco clubs were popular places to hang out, dance, and hang out with others. Moves like the Hustle, the Bus Stop, and the aptly named Disco Finger could be seen all over the dance floor. John Travolta’s Tony Manero makes use of these quintessential 70s dance moves and more.
  3. The fashion. Like music, every decade can almost be determined by looking at the clothes and hairstyle of the time. Bellbottom pants, large-collared shirts, and uniquely patterned shirts all but scream 70s. Tony Manero and his friends are constantly wearing outfits that instantly remind you of Saturday Night Fever‘s setting.
  4. A young John Travolta. John Travolta was popular in the mid-1970s thanks to his role in the television series Welcome Back, Kotter. By the late 70s, he stared in the decade-defining films Saturday Night Fever and Grease before having a lackluster career in the 80s. So if you see a film with a young John Travolta, chances are you’re watching a 70s movie.
  5. Tony Manero’s room. Several scenes throughout the film take place within Tony Manero’s bedroom. On his walls are several posters of popular movies and actors of the time, including Rocky, Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon, and Farrah Fawcett of the television series Charlie’s Angels. His walls are covered in that hideous wallpaper that was popular at the time and his drapes are that unique 70s floral and shade of pink.

Now, as for what I actually think of Saturday Night Fever, not too much, honestly. I wasn’t really sure what the central plot of the film was supposed to be. Was it the dance competition? Was it Tony trying to win the girl? Or one of the many other plots running through the film? I feel like it was supposed to be the dance competition but it didn’t have the dominance to make it the main focus. There were a bunch of interconnected plots that no single one seemed to specifically be what the film was supposed to be about. I guess my takeaway is that it’s an examination of what it meant to be a teenager during that time period.

It that’s its focus, then I would say it did it well. And perhaps that’s why I didn’t connect with it. I couldn’t find much to connect with Tony Manero and his friends. I didn’t agree with several of Tony’s choices or actions. Maybe I’m just too far removed from being a 70s teen.

However, I didn’t completely dislike it. I did really enjoy how the music was incorporated into the movie. In the opening scene, “Stayin’ Alive” was integrated in such a way that Tony was moving along with the beat of the song. It reminded me of the opening scene of Baby Driver, which I loved as well.

I thought Saturday Night Fever was OK 😐 I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be watching the movie for. It might just be a simple examination of teenage life in the 1970s. If that is the case, then I can’t personally find much to connect with. I appreciate that there is an audience out there for this film. Unfortunately, it’s not me.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
John Badham – Director
Norman Wexler – Screenplay
The Bee Gees – Composers

John Travolta – Tony Manero
Karen Lynn Gorney – Stephanie
Barry Miller – Bobby C.
Joseph Cali – Joey
Paul Pape – Double J.
Donna Pescow – Annette
Bruce Ornstein – Gus
Julie Bovasso – Flo
Sam Coppola – Dan Fusco
Martin Shakar – Frank Jr.
Val Bisoglio – Frank Sr.
Lisa Peluso – Linda