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Posts Tagged ‘Black Panther’

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — movie review
Today’s review is for the Marvel Studio comic book adaptation of the Thor character story: Ragnarok.  The movie came out last year, but because I rarely go to the theater any more and because I’m too cheap to pay full price for a movie, this review is from my first viewing of the movie which is now on Netflix.  For those not familiar with Norse mythology, “Ragnarok” is supposed to be the end of the universe and the death of the Norse gods.
Thor’s (Thor, the god of thunder, is played by Chris Hemsworth) father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) dies and his death frees Thor’s older sister Hela, the goddess of death (played by Cate Blanchett) who seeks to claim the throne of Asgard (the place where the Norse gods live).  Thor and his adopted brother Loki, the god of mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) are defeated in initial combat with Hela, but manage to escape with their lives.
Thor is captured on a foreign planet by a former Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) and meets and fights the Hulk / Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Meanwhile, Hela goes to Asgard seeking the throne and her revenge.  Blah, blah, blah.  Most everyone dies fighting the goddess of death (makes sense), but a few escape, led by Heimdall (played by Idris Elba).
Blah, blah, blah.  Thor convinces Hulk and the Valkyrie to join him in fighting Hela.  They escape from where they are imprisoned and go back to Asgard to defeat Hela.  And then we all live happily ever after (kinda / sorta).
In my review of the first Thor movie, (this is the third in the series), I said it was a bit schizophrenic and needed to decide if they were going to have the movie in Asgard or on Earth.  This one is almost exclusively off-Earth – and it is much better for it.
This movie is fun AND funny.  It has the requisite fights and special effects.  The movie runs about two hours, but felt shorter to me.  That’s a good sign.  The movie seems to be an almost immediate lead in to the Avengers: Infinity War movie, and that’s okay.  It’s okay, because (like in Infinity War) almost everyone in Asgard dies and so, whatever happens to bring back everyone in Infinity War II, probably also brings back Asgard and all of the folks who get killed in this one.  I guess we’ll have to see, next year.
The movie tries to inject a bit of philosophy by repeatedly stating it is the people who make the place and not the place which makes the people.  It kind of works, but not really because the vast majority of the Asgardians are slain by Hela and the rest appear to face capture / doom at the closing credits.  Like I said, we’ll see…
Anyway, final recommendation: highly recommended!!  As stated earlier, this movie is both fun and funny, with action, lots of humor and great fights / battles / special effects.  I would say this ranks right up with Iron Man and the Black Panther as among the very best of the Marvel Studio’s comic book / movie adaptations.  It is rated PG-13, so it might be a little too intense for very young (pre-7 years) children.  As for 7 – 13, it’s probably not too intense, but it may get them too excited and have them running around acting crazy trying to imitate the movie.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Black Panther (2018)  —  movie review
Today I went to the new Marvel super-hero movie, “Black Panther“.  The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as the title character King T’Challa / Black Panther; Michael B. Jordan as the main bad guy Erik Killmonger; Andy Serkis as the secondary bad guy Ulysses Klaue; Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri (T’Challa’s little sister); Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, the King’s girlfriend / love interest; Danai Gurira as Okoye, the general of army and the King’s personal guard; Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, the King’s best friend and husband of general Okoye; Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, a US CIA operative who risks his life to save Nakia; and Winston Duke, as M’Baku, chief of the gorilla tribe. There are also noteworthy appearances by Angela Bassett as Ramonda, the King’s mother and Forest Whitaker as Zuri, a high priest and counselor to the King.
This is a stand-alone movie within the “Extended Marvel Universe”.  As such, it is the origin story of the super-hero – “Black Panther” who comes from the fictional, Central African country of Wakanda.  Basically, there are five tribes in the country, each of which is patterned after an animal deity, but the Panther symbol is the primary one for all but the gorilla tribe.  T’Challa’s father dies and he must become king.  He is challenged by the chief of the gorilla tribe, who T’Challa defeats, but who T’Challa allows to live because his tribe needs his leadership.
Blah, blah, blah, T’Challa’s cousin (Killmonger) uses Klaue as an entry into Wakanda, and then claims the throne as his own.  Killmonger defeats T’Challa in personal combat, but fails to kill him.  Blah, blah, blah, T’Challa recovers and defeats Killmonger in personal combat (Killmonger chooses death over subservience).  Blah, blah, T’Challa announces to the United Nations that Wakanda wishes to share its technologies with the rest of the world.
So, is this a “great” movie?  Probably not.  Is it a “great” comic / super-hero movie?  Yes!  Definitely.  I would rank it up with IronMan and Wonder Woman as among the best in its genre.  It’s entertaining (action), visually striking (colorful and with great special effects), and it has a better than average story-line which transcends the typical “comic-book” genre.  In its own way, it is very political and ethics driven.  Basically, do the wealthy and advanced countries have an obligation to help those with less?  Alternatively, does military might give one country the right to subjugate the rest of the world?
Did I have any criticisms?  Yes, but they are minor.  I would have liked to see a little more development of the five tribes.  The Panther and the Gorilla tribes were introduced, but I really got no idea what was going on with the other three.  The second minor point was the two main battles were in dark environments which made it difficult to follow the martial arts.  While this is a not, strictly speaking, a martial arts movie, I like to see the actual moves.  Like a few of the “Transformer” movies, sometimes the shot was too close to see what was happening, and, sometimes it was just too dark with the combatants both in black costumes.  They did give us a bit of help by altering the color of the striping and necklace between the hero and the villain.  Again, these were minor points.
I would also like to add a side comment…  IMHO this is not a “pro” African-American film.  It is an African film.  The good part of that is that it presents people of color in roles (King, Queen, brilliant scientist and general) which are not common in American films and which can hopefully help all peoples of color start to visualize themselves in similar roles (that of good people in impactful lives).  The bad part is that the “African-American” (Killmonger) is portrayed as no better than any of the white / European colonizers whom they (he) purportedly are criticizing.  Killmonger attempts to destroy Wakandan heritage and to turn the nation into a new-age British Empire.  We must also be careful to recognize that, in the end, the hero is victorious by force of arms and combat skill and not because of enlightenment, moral superiority or any oral argument.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and give it a very highly recommended rating (if not a must see).  As I stated with the Avengers movies, we really are in a golden age of movies based on comic-book super-heroes.
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On This Day In:
2017 In Defense Of A Free Press
2016 Lost Opportunity
2015 Are You Listening Ladies?
2014 Practice, Practice, Practice
2013 A Fist Full Of Confusion
2012 Teaching Faith
2011 The Heart Of Terror
The Proportion Of Gravity And Probability

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Spider-Man: Homecoming”  –  movie review
On last Wednesday, my son (James) and I went to see the recently released “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) staring Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man and Michael Keaton as a surprisingly good villain: the “Vulture”.  Ok.  Let’s just say it…  This is THE BEST Spider-Man movie EVER!  No, it’s not particularly true to the comics from the 1960’s – they play fast and loose with some of the characters, but trust me…   This is a GREAT movie!  Of course I mean comic-book movie and not Oscar-worthy drama, but even then, it’s still pretty good.
Robert Downing Jr. has some significant cameo time as Tony Stark / Iron-Man.  Maybe a little too much…  But, I found it made up for leaving out the traditional “origin story” which should have happened in this – with it being a series re-boot and all.  Filling out the main roles: Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds (Peter’s best friend and fellow nerd), and Zendaya as Michelle (“M.J.” – Spider-Man’s future “luv” interest).  And, of course, Stan Lee has his token “minute-of-fame” / cameo.
Does the movie work?  Yes!  Holland is a better Parker than Toby Maguire and a better Spider-Man than Andrew Garfield.  For one thing, Holland actually looks like he could go to high school.  Prior versions of Parker did not.  (There, we can finally admit it.)  Junior College definitely, but not high-school.  Plus, Holland plays both Spider-Man and Peter as a kind-of goofy teenager.  So, the main actor was a good match to the role.
How about the special effects?  Okay, not so great.  The costume was blurry against the green-screen “most” of the time.  Did it hurt the movie?  No.  At least I didn’t mind it (too much).  Action?  Got it in spades!  History?  The building lift scene is almost exactly the way I remember it from the comic book 40+ years ago…  Awesome!
Final recommendation and what’s next?  This is a great summer action movie!  Highly recommended!  Bring on Civil War II, Thor, the Black Panther and the next Avengers movie…   I can hardly wait.
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On This Day In:
2016 The Responsibility Of Freedom
2015 Face It
Birdfight
2014 Honoring Firefighters
2013 And Never Will
2012 The Human Adventure Continues
2011 Almost Never

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