She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Review

*I know nothing about the original comic book on which the show is based. This review is strictly about the series.

In life, and in writing, when one door closes, another opens. Just because one storyline has been completed does not mean that there is room to take a connective narrative in new directions.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premiered a few days ago on DisneyPlus.

Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a thirty-something lawyer who is doing her best to get ahead in her career. Then she gets into a car accident, which changes everything. In the passenger seat is Jennifer’s cousin, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

As a result of this accident, Jennifer turns into a She-Hulk, creating new problems. In addition to her job and her personal life, she is now officially a superhero and must save the world.

So far, I really like this series. It is funny, action-packed, and Maslany as the title character is fantastic. It speaks to the fact that many women (regardless of their romantic or familial status) are balancing multiple aspects of whatever is part of our daily lives.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will be released on Thursday on Disneyplus.

P.S. There is a post-credit scene that is worth waiting for.

Throwback Thursday: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The truth about life is that it is complicated. We are often juggling multiple things at the same time, making decisions as to what is important and what can be put aside for the moment.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) is the sequel to the 2002 film, Spider-man. Since we last saw Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) has dealt with a series of personal disasters. While continuously saving the world, his grades are falling fast, he cannot keep a job and he is being attacked in the press as a criminal. On top of all that, Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is no more.

All signals are pointing to the end of his career as a superhero. Then an accident turns Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) into the villainous Doc Ock. Instead of putting his mask away for good, Peter has no choice but to do his thing and stop Doc Ock before he destroys the city.

This one is not bad. The narrative flows nicely from the previous movie, creating more trouble for our leading man. Moving from adolescence to early adulthood, Peter is learning how to keep several figurative plates spinning in the air at the same. The problem with this is that one or more of these plates will eventually fall to the ground and crack into pieces.

My problem with his movie is the usual issue. The women in this film are constrained to the love interest/damsel in distress/spouse and maternal figures, not giving them room to stand on their own two feet.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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.

Throwback Thursday: Thor (2011)

It has been said that pride goes before a fall.

In the 2011 film, Thor, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is the firstborn son of Odin and Frigga (Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo). The heir to the throne of Asgard, he thinks that he can do no wrong. When his arrogance gets him into trouble, Odin sends Thor to Earth (Midgard). Falling for scientist Dr. Jane Porter (Natalie Portman), he has to learn humility while saving both realms from his vengeful younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

This movie is so good. It’s funny, it’s charming and entertaining, and Hemsworth is the perfect actor to play the role. Hiddleston, as usual, is spot on and proves once more why he is one of the best actors around today. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the Shakespearean influence is subtle, yet powerful.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

P.S. Who else is excited for Thor: Love and Thunder. I know I am.

Chris Hemsworth Thor GIF by Marvel Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

Ms. Marvel Review

*This review is solely based on the series as I have never read the original text.

For far too long, the majority of superheroes have been white and male. Thankfully, things have been changing to include women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Ms. Marvel premiered last Wednesday on DisneyPlus. Based on the comic book of the same name, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is a Pakistani-American teenager who is going through the same growing pains that we all went through at that age. Her parents are overprotective, she is unpopular at school, and desperately wants to spread her wings. She is also also a Captain Marvel Superfan.

Living in Jersey City, New Jersey, Kamala is torn between her own needs and being true to the family /faith that she was raised in. When she unexpectedly gains superpowers, she must use them to save the world.

Like Peter Parker before her, it is her ordinary ness that makes her stand out. What I have watched so far, I like immensely. As the child of immigrants, she speaks to and represents the mindset of many children and grandchildren who chose to leave the land in which they were born and make a new life in the US. I love that she is a nerd and proud of it. I love her imagination and I love her spirit.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of Ms. Marvel are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.

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Moon Knight Review

The ancient world has always been fascinating. The mixture of mythology, history, and curiosity about life back then has piqued the interest of modern people for centuries.

The new MCU/DisneyPlus series, Moon Knight, premiered last Wednesday. Steven Grant/Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) is a former member of the US Marines. Living in London and working at a museum gift shop, Steven/Marc has a figurative weight attached to his ankle via dissociative identity disorder. Blacking out and then having vivid dreams of another life, he encounters Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). Arthur is an enemy from one of Steven/Marc’s other life. To say that he is dangerous is an understatement.

He soon finds out that he has the powers of an Egyptian Mood G-d. Though the powers appear to be a windfall, there is a downside that he quickly discovers.

I walked into this series completely blind. This is the first time I’ve heard of Moon Knight. Knowing nothing about what I was about to watch was a good thing. I had no expectations, therefore I cannot be disappointed by any changes that have been made from the original text.

I liked the inclusion of mental illness. It is one more step away from stigma and one step closer to acceptance. My problem is that I was confused. Maybe it’s the plot or maybe it’s because I am totally new to this world. Either way, the jumping back and forth was a bit confusing. What did make me want to at least watch the next episode was when he turned into his superhero alter-ego.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Moon Knight is available streaming on DisneyPlus.

Ranking the MCU DisneyPlus Series

The beauty of a world like the MCU universe is that the number of stories that can be told is nearly endless. Over the last year or so, DisneyPlus has released four different series that extend the narrative beyond the ones that exist on the big screen. The list below is my ranking of the existing series.

  1.  Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as the trickster g-d turned hero. With Owen Wilson as a mid-level bureaucrat and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie/the Variant, the program takes one of Marvel’s most beloved and iconic characters in surprising directions.
  • WandaVision: A loving rip-off of the family sitcom over the decades, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned to the roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. An allegory of grief and loss, it speaks to how difficult it is to lose the ones we love. The highlight at least for me, was Kathryn Hahn as nosy neighbor/baddie Agatha Harkness. That is a character for the ages
  • What If…: This animated series takes the narrative into new directions, introducing new storylines and mixing characters in ways that do not fit into the big screen timeline. From a writing perspective, this program is completely unique and a lovely way to take this world to places where it had not been before.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Taking place after Avengers: Endgame, this is sort of a buddy comedy meets series with a not-so-subtle political message. Though it was did not quite hit the mark as other series did, it was still relatively engaging. The addition of Erin Kellyman’s character, who turns from baddie to hero was a nice twist that I happily did not see coming.

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Throwback Thursday: Ant-Man (2015)

A parent’s love for their child is a powerful thing. Sometimes, this leads to actions that might be considered odd or out of the box.

In the 2015 film, Ant-Man, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a con-man with a past and a record. He is also a father who adores his daughter. Given a super suit that allow him to change his size, Scott joins his mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to save the world against Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Joining Scott on his path to superhero-dom is Hank’s daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly).

This movie is so much fun. I can’t comment on the transfer from the page to screen because I have never read the comic book. The best thing is that it does not take itself too seriously, which allows the audience to have fun in a fully engrossing and entertaining manner. The actors have amazing chemistry, the special effects are nicely balanced with the narrative, and Lilly’s character stands on her own two feet without being limited to the relationships she has with the male characters.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Movies and/or television shows that are based on comic books have been part of our modern entertainment era for decades. What is important is the balance between the source material and the enjoyment of the audience.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Based on the comic book of the same name, we are initially introduced to twenty something Shaun (Simu Liu). Living in San Francisco, he and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) earn their living parking cars. Reality intervenes when Shaun’s ancient warlord father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) send his goons to bring his son back to China. On the plane, Shaun tells Katy that his real name is Shang-Chi and the truth about his family. Meeting up with his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), they have to come together to defeat their father and prevent an even greater disaster from occurring.

I loved this movie. Though I have no knowledge of the narrative or the character arcs within the books themselves, I can say with certainty that the film adaption is superb. I loved the balance of the comedy and the action. The female characters who surround Shang are not sitting in the background, waiting to be rescued. They are as important to the action as the male characters. The one role that stood out to me was Xu Wenwu. He is akin to Anakin Skywalker in that his intentions are good, but his actions are not exactly on the up and up.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently in theaters.

Black Widow Movie Review

No one’s past is crystal clear. It is full of potholes, bad memories, and mistakes that still linger in our minds. When facing our past, we can either run from it or face it.

The new Marvel movie, Black Widow, premiered two weeks ago. It takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. The film opens on an average American suburban family in Ohio sitting down to dinner. But dinner is cut short when their true identity as Russian spies is revealed and they must hightail it out of the US. It then cuts to the present. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) has discovered a conspiracy that is tied to her previous life as an assassin and spy. When she becomes a target, she must turn to the family that was assigned to her by the spy agency. Her younger sister, Yelena (Florence Pugh), father Alexei (David Harbour), and mother Melina (Rachel Weisz) have all gone their separate ways. Revealing the source of the conspiracy and ending it requires more than a physical coming together as a group, it means facing the unhealed emotional wounds that still linger.

This movie is amazing. The action and stunts are well balanced with the humor and the emotion. As an audience member, I saw the main character as more than a superhero who is able to save the day. I saw a woman who is conflicted about both her present and her past. She makes the difficult decision to look at what she has done square in the eye instead of running from it. It a lesson that goes well beyond the genre and movies in general.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Black Widow is now in theaters.

P.S. Stay for the mid credit scene. The wait is long, but it is worth it.

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