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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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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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Movie Review

Grief and fear are two very potent emotions. They have the power to control our actions and if we give them power, our destiny.

The latest addition to the MCU universe, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, uses grief and fear as the emotional base of the narrative. The sequel to Doctor Strange, the movie starts with the wedding of Doctor Steven Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) colleague and ex, Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams). The festivities seem to be going well until predictably, the city is attacked by a monster. Its target is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a young lady with abilities to travel through the multiverse.

Together with his friend, Wong (Benedict Wong), he has to keep America safe from Scarlett Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). She wants to use the girl’s powers to get back to the fictional children she created within the world of WandaVision. Nothing and no one who will stop her from getting back to her boys. The only person who can save the world and the multiverse is Doctor Strange.

This movie is absolutely amazing. I would even go so far as to say that I would rank it in the top 5 of MCU movies. Making a sequel to one story is hard enough. Making two of them and marrying them into a larger tale is twice as hard. I loved the surprising horror elements, the underlying emotions that drove the characters, and the ending that is absolutely perfect.

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Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was top ten lists of movies come the end of the year.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is presently in theaters.

P.S. As usual, stay for the mid-credit scene. There are two of them, so I recommend staying until the very end.

Avengers: Endgame Review

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.

Avengers: Endgame is presently in theaters. 

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

*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.

I absolutely recommend it.

Thor: Ragnarok is presently in theaters. 

 

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review: Yes, Captain

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.

I highly recommend this movie.

 

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