Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.
This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.
For the last ten years, movie fans have come to expect a new Avengers film every year or so. All of the major male heroes (with the exception of Hawkeye) have had at least one stand-alone film over the course of those ten years.
For most of the franchise, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was the only woman on the team. Up until very recently, she was also without a stand-alone film of her own. The trailer was released earlier this week for Black Widow.
The movie looks fantastic. The supporting cast (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour) looks equally fantastic. But I have to question why it took so long for Marvel to greenlight a Black Widow film?
It feels like an afterthought. Its as if Marvel is trying to stretch the franchise as far as it can go instead of following the natural narrative. This film feels like it is akin to a child giving in to the pressure from their parents to eat their vegetables. I wish it was not this way, but this is the reality that we live. Women still have to fight for the opportunities that come naturally to men.
This movie is on my must-see list for 2020. But being that it will not be released for another 6 months, we can only speculate about this film. My hope is that it does well and finally breaks the glass ceiling on female superhero films once and for all.
Note: This review will be as spoiler free as possible.
The final film in any film series should pack an emotional punch, ramp up the drama and end with the feeling that the audience has seen everything that they need to see.
After months of buildup and expectation, Avengers Endgame premiered this weekend.
Starting off where Avengers: Infinity War ended, the film begins with a feeling of grief. After their numbers of have been decimated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), the surviving Avengers are not themselves. The loss of their friends and colleagues has cast a pall over the team. But Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) may have the resolution to their problem. But the plan is dangerous and has the possibility to not be completed as expected.
Can Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Scott Lang/Ant-Man bring back the lost Avengers or are they doomed for failure?
If there any definitive comic book super hero movie, Avengers: Endgame is it. Despite it’s 3 hour-ish run, it is not boring, predictable or has the feeling that some scenes could have been left for the extras section of the DVD. It has plenty humor, heart pounding action, feels emotionally authentic and has an ending that feels just perfect.
I also loved that the female Avengers were given just as much screen time and ability to kick ass as their male counterparts.
I absolutely recommend it. I also absolutely recommend that you use the bathroom before going into the theater. Trust me, you do not want to miss a moment of this film.
Disclaimer: I know nothing about the Captain Marvel comic books, this review is strictly based on the movie.
These days, movie-goers have a certain expectation when it comes to movies that are based on comic book super heroes.
Captain Marvel was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree, super-human alien like race. She is a member of the elite Starforce Military. Her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tries to teach Vers to control her emotions and her powers. Vers is captured by the Skrull, a shape shifting alien race that has been at war with the Kree for years. During her captivity, the memories of another life and another identity as Carol Danvers starts to become more prominent.
After escaping from her captors, Vers crashes to earth. Landing in a Blockbuster Video, she is greeted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Together, they will uncover the truth of Vers’s past and the hard truth about the Skrull lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).
It’s not a secret that women in super hero movies, especially in leading roles that are not the love interest or significant other, are few and far between. What this film has going for it is humor, a strong female lead and a villain who is not really a villain. In most super hero narratives, there is a clear delineation between the hero and the villain. But in this movie, that line is not so clear.
I wanted to like this film as much as I liked the other Marvel films. But there is something missing from this film.
One of the hallmarks of the hard-fought for gender parity, especially in Hollywood, is that the idea of a female superhero headlining a film is no longer an anomaly. But, then like any superhero film, the question of quality, especially when compared to the source material, has to be asked.
In the 2005 film, Elektra (based upon the comic book character of the same name), the titular heroine, played by Jennifer Garner survives a near death experience. Breaking with the rest of the world, Elektra’s sole focus is her job as an assassin. Her latest assignment is protected a single father and his young daughter from a group of supernatural assassins. Can she protect her charges and perhaps regain her humanity in the process? Or will she forever run from the world?
At the time, I knew nothing about the MCU or the characters that inhabited that world. I suppose the film is ok, but when it is compared to other films within the MCU, it doesn’t quite hold up.
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?
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.
*I have no knowledge of either the narrative and characters in the Black Panther comic book, so this review is strictly based on the movie.
Comic books, especially the ones based around superheroes have become our modern-day fairy tales. There are heroes, villains, difficult journeys and life lessons that leave a lasting imprint long after we have read the final page.
The film starts off where Captain America: Civil War has ended. T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), is stepping into the role of King of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa, after loosing his father. He is supported by his ex/best friend, Nakia, (Lupita Nyong’o), his younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), the Q to his James Bond, his widowed mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his general, Okoye (Danai Gurira), who is the head of Wakanda’s Amazon-esque army.
When Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) threaten T’Challa/Black Panther and his kingdom, our hero must fight for his thrown and his country.
I loved this movie. I loved this movie. It has heart, it has humor, it has action, it has bad ass female characters and most importantly, character and actors of color who are proudly representing their heritage.
This movie is worth every word of praise and every dollar that has been spent to see it.
*Warning: this review contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk.
A sequel of a sequel of a superhero movie walks a fine line. It has to be entertaining, but it also has to extend the narrative and the character arc in a way that feels right to both the universe and the characters.
Two weeks ago, Thor: Ragnarok hit theaters. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is no longer of this world. His previously unknown first child, Hela (Cate Blanchett), otherwise known as the Goddess of Death has returned from exile to return Asgard to the way it was before her exile. But to do this, she has to make sure that her brothers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are out-of-the-way. They find themselves in another world where Thor is a gladiator and fighting against The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). This world is ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), who might be crazy. With the help of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor, Loki and The Hulk might be able to defeat Hela and save Asgard.
If there was a proper way to do a second sequel, especially for a movie which is based on a comic book, this film is the blueprint. It is funny, entertaining and takes the narrative and characters in new directions without feeling stale or overproduced. And of course, the two female characters, played by Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett are amazing. They contribute to the narrative, both standing on their own two feet and neither relying on the stereotypical female caricatures that exist in the genre.
Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you have not seen this movie, do not read. I will not be offended.
Superhero movies, especially sequels to superhero movies, can be a tricky prospect. If the movie does well, it means that there will be more movies in the future. If the movie bombs, the fans will be up in arms and will trash the movie for all eternity.
That being said, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is thankfully the former and not the latter.
The movie starts off several years after the first Avengers movie. In Washington DC, Shield has setup headquarters where they employ Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and The Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff(Scarlet Johansson). When Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is assassinated by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) assumes command, the truth about Shield is brought to the surface. Falcon/ Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) joins the fight against the now corrupted Shield with Captain America and The Black Widow.
I enjoyed the movie. It was long, but it did not feel long. The action was non stop, but not over the top.
I only have one criticism. I wrote a post several weeks ago about women in film and how we are still often portrayed as the fainting, needed to be rescued damsel in distress.
After seeing this movie, the scene where The Black Widow is unconscious and has to be carried by Captain America makes sense. However, I still wish she would have walked out instead of having to be carried out.