Film Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther has taken the world by storm, both the film and the cologne.  To be frank, I had no desire to see this film.  I also had no desire to see Ant Man and Dr. Strange and was pleasantly surprised by both.  I also had no desire to see Batman V Superman and the first 2 Thor films and hated them all.  I wasn’t familiar with Black Panther growing up; he was as tertiary as Ant Man and Dr. Strange so why make an entire film about him?    It opened on Rotten Tomatoes at 99%; which made me afraid that with today’s racial climate, people would inflate their scores to come off as “woke” and not racist.  Is white guilt playing a role in the success of this film?  Is this going to get the female Ghostbusters/Wonder Woman treatment?  Who shot first, Han or Greedo?  Clearly Greedo shot first and missed and any of you who think otherwise is wrong.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, his home country in Africa, after the death of his father in Captain America 3.  Wakenda sits on a treasure trove of Vibranium, the same stuff his suit and Captain America’s shield is made of.  They’re a technologically advanced nation although they hide their success right in plain sight to blend in with the other African nations.  T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and has his family that supports him in many ways.  His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), plays Q to Panther’s James Bond.  His mother, (Angela Bassett) is queen of Wakanda.  Daniel Kuluuya (Get Out) plays T’Challa’s best friend and solider.  Panther also has an army of kickass women soldiers that protect him, including his ex, Lupita Nyong’o.  We learn that N’Jobu, Panther’s uncle, was killed while stationed on Earth.  Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), Panther’s cousin; who is hellbent on revenge for his father’s death and through military training, will stop at nothing to kill T’Challa and take over as King of Wakanda.  Killmonger wants to supply all suppressed minorities around the world with the Vibranium and technology so they can no longer be the little guy.

Are there nods to any of the other Marvel characters?  Very, very few.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as Klaw, an arms dealer who fought off the Avengers in Cap 3.  Other than that, no other call backs to the other Marvel films except the end credits which I won’t spoil.  Now, for the social themes.  A lot of people are talking about the female empowerment in this film.  Those lady bodyguards do kick ass and it’s not contrived one bit.  It’s completely believable and they’re a welcome mixture of action and comedy.  Director Ryan Coogler does a fantastic job of portraying African rituals and pride while spinning the tale of Black Panther.  I’ve seen a lot of people post on social media this is the best comic book film ever.  It’s not.  I’ve seen some people post that Killmonger is the best villain in a comic book film ever.  He’s very, very good but c’mon, not the best.  Heath Ledger as the Joker will be damn near impossible to unseat and I’ll even throw Magneto, Green Goblin,  and Vulture (Michael Keaton) in that group of untouchables.  Is this film as a masterpiece like others pain it to be?  No.  I felt that it drag a tad here and there.  The action was solid, the plot flowed smoothly, and the jokes worked.  But it’s damn solid and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’ll bet that you will as well.

Score of 7.5/10

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Film reviews: “Arrival”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, and “Jason Bourne”

The main 2 rules of gambling are: 1) Go with your gut and 2) Don’t be a hero, just win money. 

arrivalposterToday’s reviews are going to focus on rule 1.  When I saw the preview for “Arrival,” I said aloud, “Who gives a shit?  This is Jodie Foster’s Contact 2.0.”  And the reviews started to come in: Rotten Tomatoes loved it, some of my friends loved it, Amy Adams is going to win the Academy Award….you get the idea.  I figured since I was wrong about “Dr. Strange,” I decided to give it a go.  

So I did give it a shot.  I even saw it in the theater as other reviewers said you MUST see it in its purest form.  Amy Adams plays a master linguist who is called to service and communicate when alien spaceships land in many different countries.  Forest Whittaker and his lazy eye play an Army officer who recruits her for the position.  Tiny Jeremy Renner plays a scientist that goes with Adams to facilitate the communication betweens the aliens and Adams. And director Denis Villeneuve (did Sicario and LOVED it) is at the helm.

This film is better than Contact was but I have to admit, I was underwhelmed.  The ending was different than expected but not enough for me to pull a 180 on this film.  Just like Seinfeld, a lot of people found this to be fantastic and I’m just not with it.  You’ve seen the same plot before: aliens land on Earth, humans attempt to make contact, humans make headway, another nation wants to attack the aliens because they don’t want to wait for first strike, conflict arises, will the aliens destroy humanity or do we take them out first?

This film is alright, save your 15 bucks and watch at home.  6/10

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Trivia question: What do you a comedy that isn’t funny?  Answer: a Wes Anderson film.  BOOM!  Taking no prisoners, that’s for goddamn sure!  “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is loosely based on the true story of 2 brothers who were told by their parents to bring wedding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii after countless family gathering were ruined by the boys.  Zac Efron stars as one of the brothers who needs to make sure his shirt is off in at least 73% of the scene.  Anna Kendrick co-stars as a scorned bride who was left at the alter who makes it her life’s work to get on that free trip to Hawaii.  I did notice Stephanie Faracy (the mom in Great Outdoors) plays the boys’ mom and between plastic surgery and aging, Father Time has given her a vicious right uppercut to her work calendar.

When this preview came out, I said, “This COULD be that summer R-rated comedy of the year.”  And I wasn’t enamored by the preview and the reviews were as kind as a 24″ inch waist is to Rebel Wilson.  So, I watched it for free with the free (cable company which doesn’t sponsor me) points I’ve accrued.  You know a film is bad when you turn it off after 45 minutes AND YOU GOT IT FOR FREE.  I think I semi-chuckled twice, which is double the times I laughed at “Napoleon Dynamite” or any other Jack Black comedy.  Nothing gets me like a solid R-rated comedy but when the punchlines are softer than any Drake song, you lost me.  This film is dogshit and I was SHOCKED that it actually turned a profit. Anna Kendrick has a weird face and it’s funny to see her attempting to be sexy.  She’s perfect as Clooney’s protege in, “Up in the Air” and from what I saw while changing the channel, good in those, “Pitch Perfect” films.  Raunchy comedy, not her bag.  

I’d rather watch teens play in a video game tournament that finish watching this film.  2/10

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The first Jason Bourne film, solid.  The second, not so much.  The third, fantastic rebound and my favorite of the trilogy.  So when I read that Paul Greengrass (director of the 1st and 3rd films) was coming back to do the 4th Bourne and this time, I penciled this in to see in the theater.  Matt Damon reprises his title role, and we can wipe our memory banks clean of Jeremy Renner?  Cool, I’m in.  What scenes do you see over and over in the preview?  Damon dropping a dude with one punch and then yet another insane chase scene, this time on the Vegas strip.  Again, I’m in.

And then the reviews came in: nothing positive and pretty much all of them saying this was a hybrid of all 3 Damon films with no real original aspects of it.  So I didn’t see this in the theater as most of my friends confirmed these reviews.  I was going to see this and Suicide Squad in the same day and I’m glad I laid this hand down.  It’s the same recipe as all of the other films.  Hell, I think I can direct the next Bourne film.  Have an older white guy in a communications room, barking out orders to SWAT teams who are trying to locate Bourne for about 60% of the film.  The next 30% would be chase scenes mixed with a few hand-hand combat scenes.  The last 10% would be him trying yet again, to unearth even more backstory about how and why he was recruited to be an assassin. Give me 5 million bucks and the catalog rights to Moby’s, “Extreme Ways” so I can do the 234235th remix of that song and I’ll see you next summer with a 2 hour film that hopefully makes its money back.  

I again, used points from (cable company not paying to advertise with me) and didn’t pay a dollar for this film.  I wasn’t thrilled at all but hey, at least I made it all the way, unlike “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” The Vegas chase scene does carry on a little too long.  The plot is murky and we’re again trying to figure out his character’s as well as his dad’s history with the Treadstone.  You end up not caring about this story about 20 minutes it.  “Bourne Ultimatum” did a fantastic job of wrapping up loose ends and answering all questions.  Greengrass should’ve ended on that high note cause this note cracks and falls flat. 

I’d rather watch all of the trailers for Rogue 1 (review next week) on an endless loop than watch this again.  4.5/10