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Black Panther Movie Review

Black Panther Movie Review

Black Panther movie review

Black Panther is not your ordinary Marvel Comics film.  It has begun a cultural movement all its own.  As a black man, I can’t remember the last time a movie with a black director and a predominately all black cast has made such a splash in the mainstream cultural consciousness in such a positive way.  It’s so amazing to see all these young black kids (and adults) coming out and supporting this movie, its cast and director Ryan Coogler.  It’s an astonishing and humbling site to see.

Is it a good movie though?  I’m not going to let my blackness get in the way of looking at this film with a critical eye…. but the answer is yes.  So lets talk about it.

The general plot of the movie is that Wakanda is an isolationist nation that has never been conquered or colonized by an outsider.  This due to the mountain sized vibranium deposit that was left when a meteor crashed in Africa millions of years ago.  The vibranium powers all of their technology.  Everything from medicine and transportation to the weapons of war and self defense.  As a nation that is entirely self sufficient, they are also loathe to lend aid to others.  A similar analogy would be like feeding the birds at the park.  It starts with just one, but before you know it, you have a whole flock at your feet.

— Read More: Black Panther: Where is Wakanda?

This movie takes place after the events of Captain America 3: Civil War where King T’Chaka was killed by an explosion leaving young T’Challa in charge of a nation. Wakanda and its new king T’Challa, played exceptionally by Chadwick Boseman, want to protect their isolationist way of life from Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan.

Killmonger feels like Wakanda is hoarding its technology and wants to use Wakandan advanced weapons and technology to wage war on the rest of the world.  Particularly those who he feels are currently oppressing peoples of color be it local police on up to governments.

— Read More: Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?

The movie is beautifully shot with epic sweeping cinematography.  Wakanda is fleshed out with vibrant bustling streets, techno-organic skyscrapers, kids rushing off to school, young people jubilantly carousing about in cafes, waiting for sky car taxis, cooking street food and generally going about their business.  It’s definitely the most life like city in all of the Marvel Universe.

And the costumes.  Oh my god, the costumes. Ruth E. Carter, costume designer completely nails the afro-futurism look by blending the history and traditions of tribes from all over Africa. With 30 years of movie experience and two Oscar nominations for her work (on Malcolm X and Amistad), Carter understood the role clothing would play in shaping the film’s world. “Wakandans are serious about fashion,” Carter via said  The Atlantic, of the inhabitants of Black Panther’s tech-forward, eco-conscious, never-before-colonized country. Her vision for Wakandan dress draws from traditional and contemporary African fashion. Sartorial cues help viewers understand the social geography of a fictional place—its political ideologies, cultural norms, etiquette. It’s easier to convey these unspoken elements when a film is set in a space and time the audience already has some reference for. For example, American viewers can read the message of a certain dress or hairstyle in, say, 1960s Alabama, which worked in Carter’s favor when she was designing the costumes for Selma.

(https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/why-fashion-is-key-to-understanding-the-world-of-black-panther/553157/)

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The impressive score is crafted by Ludwig Goransson.  The score is as textured and layered like the costumes as it blends and layers traditional African drums and vocalizations with a sweeping grandiosity usually reserved for epic films like Lawrence of Arabia, Out of Africa and dare I say it, Star Wars.

The cast rounds out the movie with powerhouse performances. Chadwick Boseman is a bit understated bringing a quiet maturity and presence to each scene, however I felt that the movie would have benefited from a bit more range from him.

The runaway star of the show, the scene-stealer is far and away is Shuri, the younger sister of T’Challa and played by Letitia Wright. She’s insanely smart, developing most if not all of the “Panther-tech”, plucky, irreverent and best of all: absolutely fearless.  If you are a fan and reader of the Black Panther comics, you already know that at some point Shuri dons the mantle of the Black Panther and becomes the protector of Wakanda. I’m hoping this is something we will seen in the inevitable sequel as word has it, Kevin Feige has already asked Ryan Coogler to return.

Black Panther Shuri Disney princess

Shuri steals the show! Do we have a new Disney princess in our midst?

This film does have some issues however.  So lets talk about those too.

First off, the fight choreography isn’t my favorite.  While Danai Gurira shines bright in her scenes as General Okoye, leader of the all female Dora Milaje, the same can’t really be said for most of the scenes involving hand to hand combat.  The shots are cut quickly and the camera is way too close to see any meaningful movements.  It’s tends to be a jumble of arms, legs and other flailing limbs. Aside from this action scenes (the car chase aside) end a few short minutes after they begin.

The CGI (especially during the final fight between Killmonger and T’Challa) is just plain bad. It looks unfinished is really the only way to describe it and  seeing how well everything else is in the movie it’s really unfortunate and distracting.

This shouldn’t deter you from seeing the movie however.  Not in the slightest. It’s a cultural milestone and I am anxiously looking forward to revisiting T’Challa, Shuri, Okoye and Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther 2.

Go see it.  Now. This isn’t just a movie.  It’s a movement.

— Read More Black Panther Posts here:

  1. Black Panther
  2. Black Panther Categories
  3. Black Panther vs. Kraven the Hunter (Black Panther, The Man Without Fear #519)
  4. Black Panther & Wolverine vs. Sabertooth
  5. Emma Frost tries to read The mind of the Black Panther. 
  6. Black Panther: Klaw kills King T’Chaka
  7. Black Panther: T’Challa avenges his father. 
  8. War Machine, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and Black Panther vs. Thanos (Civil War II)
  9. Black Panther 50th Anniversary – NYCC 2016 Panel Highlights
  10. Images from the Black Panther premiere!
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Who is Ego the Living Planet?  If you just watched Guardians of the Galaxy you know that Ego, played by Kurt Russell is Peter Quill aka Star Lord’s father.  In the comics he has a similar origin as he explains in the movie, except he is not the father of any of the superheroes in the Guardians.  (Unless this has been retconned.  If so, let me know.)

So exactly who is he? What is he? Where did he come from? Keep reading for more answers…

I was digging around my old comic book archives looking for more stray trading cards and came across a few old issues of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. These official handbooks were compiled character profiles that were assembled into issues before Marvel started publishing them in the large hardcover format.


I flipped through a few pages and landed right on Ego the Living Planet! I had been meaning to do a profile since watching Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend but this saved me a ton of time. I scanned the two Ego pages and posted them here. I don’t think Ego has really changed much since this was printed, but if it has then please let me know!

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Main Poster; Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper

Guardians of the Galaxy manages to keep the heart and spirit of adventure from the prequel and inject a new level of weirdness into the sequel and it is 100% appreciated by this comic book fan.

I really loved this movie. When I said there is a new level of weirdness in Vol. 2, I meant it in the best way possible.  In this movie we are literally walking around on a friggin Living Planet!  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features the group who has now, through a series of adventures and misadventures, begun to mesh together as a tea

the sovreign

Ayesha of The Sovreign

m and family.  They lend out their special talents to others, in this movie a race of genetically perfect, super pretentious, gold skinned people called “The Sovereign”, to take on threats that would send other people running for the space hills.
That threat is a giant rainbow shooting, bug eyed tentacle monster that has been eating (?) some very expensive space batteries that the Sovereign use.   The interesting part about this scene, which is right at the beginning of the movie, is that in most sci-fi movies a fight scene like this would usually be THE key scene in the film.  It’s a scene that would usually be the end or mid movie climax that is meant to grab and hold your attention.   In Guardians of the Galaxy it’s just a backdrop for baby Groot to dance to Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra.

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Mantis has empathic powers and is able to transfer feelings to others as well as receive them.

The music in this movie is just as good as the first with some nice cuts like Fox on the Run by Sweet, My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, and Southern Nights by Glen Campbell and Bring it on Home to Me by Sam Cooke.   The highlights of the soundtrack for me were Brandy by Looking Glass and Father and Sons by Cat Stevens.  It was amazing to see how “Brandy” was used to illustrate the longing and the calling of the sea to the vast ocean of space that called Ego the Living Planet (played by Kurt Russell) away from Peter Quill’s mother and how that same calling can and will affect Peter in all of his future relationships. It’s a powerful and nuanced moment that I can’t help but feel that is almost too deep for a movie that features a talking tree and raccoon and where almost every other main character is a different hue.  But it fits.  It fits perfectly.  I didn’t think that that soundtrack was quite as powerful and striking as the Awesome Mix vol. 1 (Peter dancing to “Come and Get Your Love” is my favorite opening scene in all of the Marvel movies) but it still hit all the right notes right when it needed to.

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Yondu gets his “fin” in Vol. 2.

To be completely fair and objective despite the amazing visuals and banging soundtrack, the first act of this movie is a bit of a mess.  It’snot unwatchable by any means (far from it actually), it just lacks direction.  There isn’t that one thing that really advances the plot (like trying to constantly stay one step ahead of Ronan the Accuser and keep the Infinity Gem out of his hands) and it kind of meanders a bit between action set pieces and people sitting and talking.  I’ll say this though, characters sitting and talking never gets boring because all the actors in this movie are all over the top interesting and the delivery of comedic lines are on point. When Ego finally lays bare his plans, that’s when things get REALLY get interesting.  I won’t spoil anything here, but he reveals a critical plot point that elicited loud gasps of disbelief in my theater.

That’s all I can really say about this movie for now because the longer I talk about it the more I’ll want to reveal some spoilers!  If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend going as soon as you can.  It’s worth the full price of admission, especially if you were a fan of the prequel.

What did you think about the movie?  Have you seen it yet? How many times have you seen it?  Comment below and let me know.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Rating: 4.5/5

+ Amazing visuals and soundtrack.

+ Some truly touching and heartbreaking moments.

– Plot meanders a bit in the first 1/4 of the movie.

 

*make sure you stick around for all 5 post credit scenes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Mary Poppins y’all!

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday [Review]

This isn’t really comic book related but I thought it would be of interest to someone out there in the internet-land ether. My fiancé and I watched Pee-Wee’s big holiday over the weekend and we both loved it. We are both fans of the 80’s movie Pee-Wee’s big adventure and the Saturday morning TV show so seeing this movie was just such a treat. It’s totally a Sunday afternoon movie that you can put on in the background while you chill out on the couch and wait for Monday to arrive. In our cases, I was updating the blog with some neat stuff I found in my archives and she was making wedding invitations. We had already gone to church, eaten breakfast and oh yeah THERE WAS A FRIGGIN BLIZZARD IN APRIL happening outside. So yeah, we weren’t going anywhere.

The premise, keeping with Pee-Wee Herman “tradition”, is not deep at all. Pee-Wee has never left his hometown, is not really curious about leaving his hometown and is perfectly happy working in the diner and “jamming” with his band. That is until the mysterious stranger, Joe Manganiello breezes into town on his motorcycle, convinces that this big world needs some discoverin’ and invites Pee-Wee to his birthday party in New York City. It’s pretty hilarious that Joe is playing himself and the movie is fully aware that 50% of the world’s population has difficulty pronouncing his last name. Including Pee-Wee who mangles his name so often that he just gives up trying to say it correctly and just says something different every time. After Pee-Wee shows Joe his toys and tree house the most self-aware, self-referential, surreal adventure begins.  

This movie is so bizarre. It’s bizarre in a very good way. Put your brain aside for an hour and a half and there is fun to be had. There are several sequences that defy the laws of physics, logistics and basic common sense. If these scenes were to happen in any other movie they would be completely unforgivable and probably lead the viewer to shut off the TV entirely and go read a book, but this is Pee-Wee Herman, so in an odd way they make perfect sense within the context of the movie.
There is a scene where Pee-Wee falls down a well and can’t get out. So, because it makes sense within the context of the movie, Joe Manganiello pulls out an industrial strength magnet out of his pocket (because we all carry those around right?) and pulls Pee-Wee out of the hole because the magnet attaches to the plate in his head. Woof. Oh and this is after Joe repelled down from his penthouse level suite on a line he shot from his personal grappling gun. And of course this isn’t a Batman sized grappling gun, no, no, no my dear reader. It’s the most comically large grappling gun they could find. 

But you know what? I loved every minute of it. The camp is back and the lame jokes still land perfectly. And they are funny! Take a look at this sequence below. (This is the same actress, Diane Salinger, who plays Simone in the 1985 movie: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure)

  
 

“Why don’t you take a picture it’ll last longer!”

 
  

Paul Reubens is still great as Pee-Wee (with the benefit of some strong digital retouching). You can tell that over the last 30 years his voice has changed (totally understandable) so if you are a Pee-Wee aficionado that might take a little getting used to.

We laughed out loud on more than one occasion and if you are looking for a good Sunday-afternoon-chill movie to watch and are a fan of Pee-Wee Herman, you can’t go wrong with Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.

​Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is a 2016 American comedy film directed by John Lee and written by Paul Reubens and Paul Rust. The film stars Reubens as Pee-wee Herman. The film was released on March 18, 2016, on Netflix.