Throwback Thursday: Venom (2018)

The antihero is an interesting character type. Though this person does eventually save the day, their motives and actions do not match what is expected of a heroic protagonist.

In the 2018 film Venom (based on the comic book character of the same name), Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a former reporter whose career is in shambles after an interview does not go as planned. Six months later, he discovers a symbiote from outer space named Venom and becomes bonded with it. Among the things that are ruined by this new “relationship” is his attempt to get back with his ex-fiance, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Anne was employed as a lawyer before Eddie’s mishap ended her employment and their engagement.

Before this movie, I was vaguely aware that Venom existed within the world of Spider-Man. I tried to watch it, mainly because of the lead actors. Hardy and Williams are two of the finest actors of their generation. The problem is that I was quickly bored and lost interest in the narrative.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Flashback Friday: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

A secret is only as powerful as its content. Its corrosivity is based on the power it has and how it controls those who know the truth. It can be as benign as stealing a candy bar from the local convenience store as a child. On the other hand, it can be as destructive as having cheated on your significant/spouse for decades.

2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp is the sequel to Ant-Man (2015). Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is walking the tightrope of fatherhood and being a superhero. To say that it is complicated is an understatement. Adding to the difficulty is a new task assigned by his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Hank’s daughter/ Scott’s partner, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). His ultimate goal is to reveal a secret that has been kept close to the vest for a very long time.

Compared to other individual IP continuations with the Marvel universe, it’s slightly weaker. That being said, it is not a complete dumpster fire. Even with the narrative’s darker turns, it is still fun to watch and an entertaining film.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Best New Television Shows of 2022

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: The DisneyPlus series answers the question of what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in between the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977). My favorite part of the series was the introduction of Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram).
  2. Anatomy of a Scandal: Based on the Sarah Vaughan book of the same name, this Netflix miniseries follows the investigation of a politician accused of rape.
  3. The US and the Holocaust: This Ken Burns multi-part PBS documentary exposes how the United States failed to help the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
  4. Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
  5. Gaslit: Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in this Starz production that tells the tale of Watergate from Martha’s perspective.
  6. Dangerous Liaisons: A sort of prelude Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it started off a bit slow and took a few episodes to get interesting. Unfortunately, Starz canceled it at the end of the first season.
  7. The Serpent Queen: Samantha Morton plays the title character in this Starz series about Catherine de Medici. Wow, that is all I have to say.
  8. Women of the Movement: This ABC/Hulu miniseries told of the murder of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie’s journey to get justice for her son.
  9. Ms. Marvel: A young woman goes from an ordinary teenager to a superhero who saves the world.
  10. Andor: The prequel to Rogue One, the series explains how Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) became the rebel leader who led the fight against the Empire.
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This will be my last post for 2022. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking time out of your day to read this humble writer’s work. I’ll see you in 2023.

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Best Movies of 2022

  1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: After the death of Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), the questions on how the IP would continue without its leading man seemed endless. Black Panther‘s sequel is both the perfect memorial to Boseman and a continuation of the narrative.
  2. Avatar: The Way of Water: The 13-year wait for the follow-up to Avatar was worth it. The themes of climate change are just as relevant now as they were in 2009.
  3. She Said: Based on the book of the same name, it tells the heart-pounding story to uncover the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NY Times reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) take on Weinstein and the Hollywood machine in a way that is jaw-dropping.
  4. Elvis: Austin Butler transforms himself into Elvis Presley, adding new layers to the music icon.
  5. Call Jane: Elizabeth Banks plays a housewife whose pregnancy is not going well in the days before Roe v. Wade. Denied an abortion by the local hospital, she finds an underground group and soon joins them in their mission to help women.
  6. Hocus Pocus 2: After 29 years, the Sanderson sisters are back. It has enough of its predecessor while holding its own in the best way possible.
  7. Mr. Malcolm’s List: Based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm is the most coveted bachelor in this Jane Austen-inspired narrative. In order to fend off marriageable young ladies and their match-making mamas, he creates a list of qualities that his wife should have. Little does he know that it will soon be moot.
  8. Downton Abbey: A New Era: This second film in the franchise opens the door to new stories while closing old ones in perfect fashion.
  9. Cyrano: This musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Peter Dinklage adds new flavors to the well-known tale.
  10. The Tragedy of Macbeth: Shot in stark black and white, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star as the power-hungry and bloodthirsty Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
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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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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.

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.

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.

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