Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Movie Review

When Chadwick Boseman passed away two years ago, it was more than the loss of an actor whose gifts were once in a generation. His portrayal of T’Challa/Black Panther in the original Black Panther film was groundbreaking and universally applauded.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released in theaters this past weekend. It takes place a half dozen years after the first movie ended. It starts with T’Challa’s off-screen death from an unknown illness. The loss of both the King and protector leaves Wakanda in a state of mourning. While his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) steps up to lead the nation and deal with pressure from the outside, her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) tries to pretend that everything is fine.

Then a new threat emerges. Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is the king of an underwater Indigenous people. His ancestors were nearly exterminated by Spanish colonizers. Like the Wakandans, vibranium is part and parcel of their culture. Namor is threatening to wage war against the surface world. The only way to appease him is to bring him a young wunderkind scientist, Riri Williams/Ironheart (Dominique Thorne).

Ramonda and Shuri have a tough decision ahead. Do they sentence this young girl to death or do they work with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and M’Baku (Winston Duke) to stop Namor?

Wow. Like its predecessor, the film balances action, emotion, and timely social issues. This is Wright’s film. She carries it with everything she has. I was floored by her abilities as a performer. In addition to dealing with the grief (and the connected mental health issues) that come with losing a loved one, Shuri must protect her country.

As in Black Panther, it is the women who are in leadership roles. Each is human and powerful in her own right. She is also an important part of the narrative and is dealing with the loss of T’Challa in her own way.

My only issue is that it was a little long.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It is one of my favorite movies of the year.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is presently in theaters.

P.S. As usual, stay for the mid-scene credits. It will make you cry.

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Thoughts On the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Trailer

Death, as we all know, is a part of life. Some of us are fortunate to die in our sunset years, others leave this world far too soon.

When Chadwick Boseman passed away from cancer in 2020, it was a loss that was palpable. He was a well-liked and respected actor with a bright future. After the dust settled, there were obvious questions about how the creative team behind the Black Panther film series would go on without its lead actor.

Earlier this week, we sort of got the answer. The trailer for the sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released. As is normal for this stage of the game, the details are kept close to the vest. The only things we know so far is the future of Wakanda is in question and the loss of Boseman and his character, T’Challa is keenly felt.

I have a feeling that this film is going to pack an emotional punch and perhaps force fans to shed a few tears.

Am I looking forward to it? Without a doubt.

P.S. If I were a betting woman, I would put my money on Shuri (Letitia Wright) as the new Black Panther.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be in theaters in November.

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Thor: Love and Thunder Movie Review

By the time the 4th movie in a franchise is released, the audience has certain expectations. Those expectations at least partially dictate how fans will react to the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder was recently released in theaters.

Since we last saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at the end of Avengers: Endgame, he has gotten his act together. The beer belly is gone and Thor is once more saving the day. When Gorr, the God Butcher (Christian Bale) leaves a path of destruction and dead gods in his wake, Thor goes on a mission to stop him. Joining him are Korg (voiced by director/screenwriter Taika Waititi), King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and former girlfriend Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

This is not only one of the best movies of the year, it is one of the best comic book superhero movies of the last few years. The humor is top-notch, the action is perfect, and the chemistry/awkwardness between Thor and Jane is the emotional lynchpin of the narrative.

As Gorr, Bale is as scary and unnerving. The only villain who has created that same emotion in me is “He who shall not be named” (Ralph Fiennes) from the Harry Potter franchise. Like Erik Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in Black Panther, Gorr is not just a baddie for baddie’s sake. His reasons are understandable, even if we don’t agree with his actions. The makeup on him is fantastic, he almost disappears under the prosthetics and white paint.

If I had a favorite moment in the film, it was Russell Crowe‘s scenes as Zeus. His take on this character is a bombastic, full of it God who knows that he is in control. Instead of ruling by force, he rules by charisma and charm.

If that was not enough to make me happy, the soundtrack includes a number of Guns N’ Roses songs. I couldn’t help but sing along.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Thor: Love and Thunder is presently in theaters.

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P.S. There are two post-credit scenes. Trust me when I say that it is worth staying for both.

A Princess in Theory Book Review

We all get those emails that claim to come from an unknown foreign royal promising a fortune. Logic dictates that it is a scam and should be ignored. But what happens when the email is legit?

The 2018 romance novel, A Princess in Theory, is the first of three novels in the Reluctant Royals Series. Written by Alyssa Cole, the narrative starts off with this kind of email. When Naledi Smith starts receiving emails stating that she is betrothed to an African Prince, she writes it off as junk. As soon as she disregards it, it comes back to her, again and again. Raised in foster care, she learned early that the only person she can rely on is herself. Between grad school and her part-time job as a waitress, the last thing she has time for is a boyfriend.

Prince Thabiso will one day inherit the crown of the fictional African country of Thesolo. Now that he is a man, the next thing he must do is marry. The young lady who was chosen as his future Queen disappeared years ago. Using the information that he has, Thabiso finds her in New York City. Knowing that Naledi has no memory of him or their planned future, he pretends to be “Jamal”, wanting to experience life on his own terms and be loved for his person and not his title.

The attraction and chemistry are instant, but Thabiso knows that he will have to come clean eventually. Will Naledi accept the truth and his true self or will she walk away?

The best way to describe the narrative is Coming to America meets the Prince and Me with a pinch of Black Panther. I don’t normally read this genre But this one is totally worth the time. It is romantic, sexy, and oh so hot. As the female lead, Naledi is everything I would want in a protagonist. She is smart, driven, capable, but also willing to open to the idea of love when it comes around.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

A Princess in Theory is available wherever books are sold.

What’s Your Favorite Black Panther Moment? — Annlyel Online

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the news. Chadwick Boseman, after battling colon cancer for four years, has tragically passed at the young age of 43. To commemorate his most iconic role as Black Panther I’m making him the topic of this week’s Who’s Your Favorite? Enjoy! Black Panther’s Reveal Captain America: Civil War was […]

What’s Your Favorite Black Panther Moment? — Annlyel Online

RIP Chadwick Boseman

To say that cancer is cruel is an understatement. It steals lives when one is otherwise perfectly healthy, taking away what should be years, if not decades of life, love, and experiences.

Actor Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer earlier today. He was 43.

He was best known for playing real life heroes (Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013) and James Brown in Get on Up (2014)) and fictional superheroes (T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Avengers franchise).

My heart hurts. Tears are welling up in my eyes. He was one of the actors who could jump from genre to genre, from character to character. The transition was seamless. His future as an performer was full of possibilities.

But cancer had other plans.

May his memory be a blessing and may he live forever on the silver screen.

Z”L

P.S. The fact that he was constantly working throughout the four years of his battle with cancer tells me at least everything I need to know about who the man was.

Best Movies Of 2018

2018 has been an interesting year for movies. Below is my list of the top ten movies of 2018

  1. Widows: Women in action movies are at best the romantic significant other and at worst, the damsel in distress. Widows flips the genre and the expected narrative on its head and tells the story of four women who take fate into their own hands after the deaths of their criminal husbands.
  2. The Wife: Based on a book by Meg Wolitzer, Glenn Close plays a woman who questions her life choices as her husband reaches the peak of his career.
  3. Ralph Breaks The Internet: The sequel to Wreck-It Ralph follows Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) as they journey from their world of arcade games to the Internet.
  4. The Party: A group of friends get together to celebrate the professional success of one of them. In the process, hard emotional truths are revealed.
  5. Black Panther: Based on the comic book of the same name, an African King must fight for his throne while leading his country into the future.
  6. Vice: A biopic of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
  7. The Favourite: Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) may sit on the throne of England, but she is not the one who is really leading country. Two women in her court vie to be her favorite and to gain power that only comes from being close to Queen.
  8. A Star Is Born: A Star Is Born is the 3rd reboot of a narrative that audiences have seen since the 1930’s. Unknown Ally (Lady Gaga) sees her career dreams turn into reality while her mentor/lover’s career flails due to addiction issues.
  9. Crazy Rich Asians: Based on a book by Kevin Kwan, Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) travels from New York City to meet her boyfriend’s family for the first time. The visit is a bit more turbulent than Rachel expects.
  10. Aquaman: Based on the comic book of the same name, Jason Mamoa plays Arthur Reed, a man who is born of two worlds and must choose where he belongs.

This will be my last post of 2018. Thank you so much for visiting and reading my blog, your support means the world. Wherever you are this New Years Eve, have a safe and happy one. I will see you in 2019.

RIP Stan Lee

Comic books are sometimes dismissed as violent, sexual, immature and not fit for the eyes of its young readers. But comic book can also reach its readers in a way that few genres can. Today the comic book genre lost one of its brightest stars and iconic creators, Stan Lee.

Mr. Lee was born in 1922 to Jewish immigrants who were originally from Romania. In his teens, he started working at Timely Comics, which would decades later become Marvel Comics. After fighting for his country in World War II,  Mr. Lee returned creating comic books. Instead of introducing readers to variations of the same characters they had seen previously, he started creating characters that were not just misfits, but also fully fleshed out as human beings.

Readers fell in love with  immortal characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, the Fantastic Four and X-Men. While they were reading about superheroes who were going on out of this world adventures, they were also hopefully opening their minds to those were being disenfranchised because they were different. In a very subtle manner, the Feminist Movement, the Civil rights movement and other movements whose goal of enfranchisement of those who rights have been taken away or non-existent benefited from the characters whose stories are told within these comic books.

In the words of our mutual ancestors, may the memory of Stan Lee be a blessing not just to his loved ones, but to the millions of fans who have adored his creations over the years.

Avengers: Infinity War Movie Review

For ten years, Marvel Studios has been telling the individual stories of their heroes. Last week, Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, bringing all of their heroes together in one film.

Thanos (James Brolin) is known as a destroyer of worlds. He is on a quest to locate all of the infinity stones. When one has all of the stones, they are guaranteed limitless power. It is up to the Avengers and their allies to prevent Thanos from collecting all of the stones and gaining that power. If they cannot stop Thanos, then life on Earth as they know it to be will cease to exist.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to the number of characters is that the smaller the list, the better. Too many characters with varying narratives can often confuse the audience. But somehow, the screenwriters were still able to create a compelling narrative with the large cast of characters. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), etc are all given equal screen time. Another general rule of thumb is to limit the length of the script. The movie clocks in at just under three hours.

I would remiss in saying that I would not bring young kids to the movie because it has certain adult elements in terms of language that a young child might need an explanation for. It also goes without saying, at in my mind, that I would not see this movie unless I had at least some knowledge of the narrative and characters from the previous films or the comic books.

But other than that, the film is entertaining and enjoyable.

Avengers: Infinity War is presently in theaters.

P.S. Am I the only redhead who is a little perturbed that Black Widow is now a blonde?

Shuri, The New Disney Princess

When one tends to think of a princess, the image is of a passive, beautifully dressed girl wearing some sort of crown and waiting for her prince charming.

Thankfully, times are changing and so are the images young girls are seeing on the big and small screen.

Black Panther hit movie theaters this weekend akin to the same way an asteroid hits a planet.  The mark this film left on the audience will not be forgotten anytime soon.

The title character is surrounded by strong, capable women. None more so that his younger sister, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.

A princess by birth, Shuri breaks stereotypes on multiple levels. Not only is she a woman of color, but she is a fierce warrior, a bad ass in her own right. She is also a technology wiz whose inventions help her brother to win the battles he needs to win to protect their people and their kingdom. And, of course, like any little sister, she knows how to add in a some good-natured ribbing of her brother to the conversation.

I don’t know if the people at Disney know this, but they have a new princess on their hands. If they don’t, then they are loosing out on a character whose reach goes beyond the standard princess imagery.

Welcome to the world of Disney Princesses, Shuri.

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