Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther Roars!

Black Panther is arguably the most anticipated film starring a Marvel comic character, next to Deadpool 2 and Avenger: Infinity Wars. Chadwick Boseman returns after thrilling audiences with his performance as the new king of Wakanda, T’Challa, in Captain America: Civil War. This time, he’s joined with an all star cast in Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forrest Whitaker, and Martin Freeman. Fans will not be disappointed with this two-and-a-half-hour film that sets the bar high for films in 2018. It’s a film that goes far beyond the big screen and has decades of history building up to this moment.

The Black Panther has been around since his arrival in an issue of The Fantastic Four back in 1966. The character has also made appearances in several television cartoons, video games and now films. T’Challa has always remained constant in the Marvel universe for several reasons other than a fancy cat suit. The Black Panther is armed with unlimited wealth, dangerous fighting techniques, and superior technology. His sole mission, the protection of his country Wakanda and to keep its secrets hidden from the outside world.

The film stays true to these principles; starting off a week after the events of Captain America: Civil War. In that short amount of time, T’Challa is just realizing his potential as king and as the new black panther. While T’Challa does what he can, other players are working behind the scenes to dethrone the new king for personal reasons. Michael B. Jordan provides a methodical, vicious antagonist for Boseman by portraying someone with deep scars connected to Wakanda. Jordan’s performance is spot on and the chemistry between the two delivers for one hell of a showdown in the film.

Some of the best moments of the film are when you get to see certain parts of Wakanda and the rituals that take place. Some scenes are so beautiful, it almost breaks your heart because you have to remember that’s not a real place. The film is dragged out in some areas, but those are short lived, and the action sequences are terrific. The gadgets are somewhat farfetched, but the film does find a way of making it work. There are some political views expressed in the film that may turn off people who just want to be entertained, but I’m not going there.

Black Panther is a fun ride with a well written story that sets up Marvel for arguably their biggest release, Avenger: Infinity Wars. There’s two post film scenes; one in the middle and the other one is at the end. I give this film a nine out of ten only because of the dragging scenes and farfetched gadgets, but this film is virtually perfect. I’m not saying that Deadpool and Avengers won’t beat it, but they have a high bar to reach. Congratulations to all involved on bringing this highly anticipated character to life and I will be seeing this movie again as soon as possible.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goodbye Peter Capaldi

It’s over fellow Whovians. Peter Capaldi’s reign as the 12th doctor has come to an end and the era of Jodie Whittaker is ready to debut in 2018. Peter Capaldi has passed on the torch years after his debut with the episode Deep Breath, leaving in spectacular fashion. When Peter Capaldi was selected to be the new doctor, fans were divided, but now they can’t seem to imagine what the series will be like without him. Peter Capaldi brought a unique style to the famous British icon that Whovians connected with immediately. Twice Upon a Time was truly a bittersweet goodbye that was a pleasure to see in theaters.

I didn’t see the Christmas Special until I saw in at the Regal near me, so you can only imagine how hard it was to avoid spoilers. Peter Capaldi was chosen to fill the shoes of his predecessor, Matt Smith, which left fans mixed for several reasons. The first reason is the age difference; the past three doctors have been young, attractive, and portrayed witty humor. The kind of person you wouldn’t mind having a beer with and proud to call your best friend. Peter Capaldi’s doctor was more serious and gave off more a serious but compassionate protector.

Just like this Doctor, the stories for Peter Capaldi came off darker than any other seasons, but was also groundbreaking that would pave the way for Jodie Whittaker. Groundbreaking in the name of Michelle Gomez who would take up the mantel of the doctor’s worst enemy, The Master. Many fans didn’t understand how come the show decided to change the gender of The Master, but ultimately, she was accepted by a many Whovians. As Peter Capaldi’s time was coming, many people wondered if it was possible that The Doctor would change gender, then the obvious happened. Some see it as a fantastic opportunity, others see it as a way of pushing a political agenda, and other simply just don’t want a female doctor.

So how did she look in the Christmas Special and did it do Peter Capaldi Justice? Twice Upon a Time introduced a unique story that involved the first doctor, once played by the famous William Hartnell and now played by David Bradley (Game of Thrones). Bradley was great both as the character and looking like the first doctor. The story itself was kind of a let down because I was expecting some grand send off by fighting an enemy one last time, but it didn’t turn out that way. The only time that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen was when it was time to regenerate and hear Peter’s last words.

It was poetic, heartbreaking, and enough to make you wish that this wasn’t the end. The Doctor is known for not liking the end because you have to say goodbye and this time, I understand. When Jodie Whittaker appeared, some still showed signs of criticism, but a majority were willing to give it a try. The cliffhanger definitely teased a new Tardis and I love her look because it almost feels similar to Tom Baker, so I’m looking forward to seeing her debut in 2018. To those of you who say you’ll never watch Doctor Who again after Peter Capaldi, take his advice and be kind. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Netflix Does Frank Castle Justice

The Punisher is arguably Marvel’s darkest, yet most attractive anti-hero. For those of you that don’t know, The Punisher is a comic based around Frank Castle. The ex-marine turned vigilante following the massacre of his family that immediately caught the interest of Marvel readers. After appearing in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man back in 1974, fans were instantly draw to the brutal world of the man who would bring a one-man war to the criminal world. A war where he takes no prisoners and the only mercy he gives is a quick death.

Frank Castle’s rise to popularity has been slow considering the numerous failed attempts to bring him into the public eye. The first attempt was in 1989 with a film starring action star Dolph Lundgren that failed miserably both critically and financially. The second time would be in 2004 staring Thomas Jane, and it was more acceptable to fans, but still lacking financial success. The final blow came in 2008 with Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson, and that’s when Marvel threw in the towel for good reason.

Many thought they had seen the last of a live action punisher until the success of Daredevil, another anti-hero of Marvel that was produced into a series by Netflix. When it was time for season two, many fans rejoiced when they heard that Frank Castle would take part and he was being played by Jon Bernthal. Fans widely accepted the new punisher with open arms and a spin-off staring Bernthal was inevitable. The question is, did the Netflix series succeed where three films failed? The answer is a bloody, broken yes!

The Punisher takes off sometime after the season two events of Daredevil and Frank Castle has gone into hiding after getting justice for his family. Much like any soldier coming home, Frank is having a hard time adjusting to a quiet civilian lifestyle. Frank soon finds that the war he left behind didn’t just come back to haunt him, but also shed more light about the massacre of his family. With the help of a friend, Frank once again finds he must fight this war that never ended if he wants to put it behind him and put certain dreams to rest. It’s arguably Netflix’s bloodiest show that punisher fans would expect from their favorite anti-hero.

The show starts off with a bang but then slowly drags in a few episodes as it heads towards the finale. Once you hit two thirds of the way, the action really picks up and that’s when you want to start the binge watching. Jon Bernthal delivered once again, by bringing the methodical, brutal savagery of Frank Castle. What I love the most about the series is that it took the time to show the mental torment that Frank experiences as he attempts to find a reason to live. Fans will not be disappointed by this show, but they might be bored midway through.

There are several antagonists in this series that make it a mess for a few episodes, but the main antagonist is Billy Russo, played by Ben Barnes. Billy is someone who has a history with Frank Castle. If fans don’t recognize who Billy is, then I promise you that you will at the finale when you see the Easter egg. There’s also an appearance by fan favorite out of Daredevil, Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen, a former assistant turned reporter. The show also expresses certain political issues such as gun control and the treatment of soldiers returning home from war.

There was a lot riding on this show and fans were waiting patiently to see this in October, but because of the massacre that occurred in Las Vegas, it was pushed back a month. It’s been a long history of failures for this Marvel character; almost as horrible as the Fantastic Four franchise owned by Fox. Thanks to Netflix and great story telling, Frank Castle has gotten the treatment he deserves and fans can’t be more grateful. It’s a long but brutal, dark and deep story that grabs your attention and for that I give this series nine out of ten stars. The Punisher is a must see for anyone who is a fan of the character or Marvel in general, because this series does Frank Castle justice. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Eat well, enjoy the holiday, and be safe if you're going out for Black Friday shopping.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Justice League Review

Warner Bros. and DC Comics have once again managed to produce a film that fans love and critics love to hate. Justice League has finally come after the success of its predecessor, Wonder Woman, and it delivers a punch, but not as powerful. Some saw the debut of the amazon as the turning point for their cinematic universe, but I’m afraid the league still has a few kinks to work out. This film was not as good as Wonder Woman, but I will say this film was a vast improvement from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Justice League is a fun, action packed film that fans of DC comics will enjoy and seems to be a step in the right direction.

The movie is mostly centered around Batman, but the focus of the film was on Superman and how the world fell into chaos after his death. So, instead of an invincible alien, Batman and Wonder Woman decide to recruit Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman to fight an incoming threat. A threat with unmatched power that convinces Batman to take an unexpected risk to bring back Superman and solidify the league. It’s a mission that brings everyone together and creates a powerful, but chaotic bond which happens rather quickly. In the end, there was laughter and applause at the end of the film.

Justice League is probably the most comedic film DC has produced, but still manages to keep its dark tone in certain scenes. The best comedy came in the form of Ezra Miller, who plays the Flash, and arguably steals the show. Seeing Flash run and go through the speed force is one of the coolest moments in the film. Ezra brings a witty and almost nerdish feel to the team that entertains the audience every time he’s on screen. Another debut is Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg.

I loved the warrior look of Jason Momoa and he his performance was great, but Ray Fisher’s performance is blocked by bad CGI that could’ve been done better in my opinion. The other victim of bad CGI was the main villain, Steppenwolf. He was an ok choice to be the main antagonist, but I’m sure DC fans would’ve rather it had been Darkseid, a popular DC villain hellbent on destroying Superman and Earth. My guess is that DC is saving him for hopefully another film. It’s a good action movie that all about what’s happening, but lacks the support beams that explains why it’s happening.

The story overall was decent, but it could’ve been way better if it was longer. For a story that involves so many iconic heroes, you don’t see much of their lives outside of their uniforms. There’s little time to know the characters or see their homes like Atlantis or Central City. I’m guessing that DC will probably come out with an extended cut on Blu-ray like they did with Suicide Squad and Dawn of Justice. This has always been the handicap with films from DC and why they are trailing behind their competition, Marvel Studios.

DC and Warner Bros. make films with the expectation of the audience to already know the characters and their backgrounds. That’s an alright tactic for the fans, but that creates problems for the general audience who may not have in depth knowledge of each character. If they don’t start giving characters proper time to connect with the audience, then critics will keep bashing their movies every time.

Warner Bros. and DC have had a bad run as of late with their films when Zack Snyder was chosen to direct Superman in Man of Steel. That started this issue of dividing fans and critics as the films kept rolling out. Things hit their lowest when the sequel, Dawn of Justice, came out and began to cast doubt on whether to pull the plug or not. Then there was another bomb with Suicide Squad, but then the princess of the amazons came and the rest is history. Luckily DC’s cinematic universe survived long enough to get to this point, but it’s not for lack of unfortunate events that began to worry DC Comics and its fans.

Rumors started to speculate on whether Ben Affleck was leaving Batman behind due to internal struggles with DC. So far, he’s still onboard with the upcoming solo film The Batman, but things could change. The biggest hit was the announcement that Zack Snyder was leaving production early due to a death in the family. Joss Whedon would take over the rest of way; this lead to various reshoots and cuts that began to raise eyebrows. The change in directors midway turned out to be a blessing because Whedon mixed Snyder’s direction with a bit of what Whedon did with Marvel to bring lighter tones to the film.

My heart wants to give this film a perfect ten as a fan of superheroes, but it gets a seven from a neutral point of view. Justice League could be a step in the right direction if it becomes a success financially, but fans are skeptical with good reason. It’s worth your time if you like superheroes, a fan of action movies and know a little about each character. If you only know who the characters are and not their backgrounds, then you’re going to be lost quick. Hoping for the best; because judging from the two post credits, there’s good things on the horizon if Justice League is successful. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Thor: God of Thunder

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is probably my least favorable character. The past two films have been visually appealing, but lacking in some areas that keeps this hero dragging next to Iron Man and Captain America. That isn’t the case with the third film in this franchise, Thor: Ragnarok. This film took a more drastic turn in order to keep up with other Marvel characters with director Taika Waititi making this a more comedic action film. All of Thor’s previous movies have been action mixed with drama, and some believe that’s what’s been dragging the god of thunder down.

Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, has always seemed like a lost character who was always outshined his arch nemesis, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Now things have come full circle as the legendary tale of Ragnarok has arrived. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is basically the Vikings vision of Armageddon that includes a Midgard serpent that devours the world. Then a fire giant named Surtur will destroy Asgard, the home of the Viking gods. In the film, Ragnarok mostly focuses on the fall of Asgard and the death of the gods.

As the Ragnarok on the rise, Thor must realize his place amongst his people and lead them before the Asgard burns to the ground. Things don’t get any easier for Thor when he realizes a terrible family secret that brings the goddess of death, Hela, at his door. After proving to be no match for her, Thor is exiled to another world and must find his way back before it’s too late. Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, did an excellent job portraying one of the most dangerous villains in the Marvel Universe. Taika Waititi did her justice by portraying the dark character, but showing a decent backstory to explain her motives.

The film was funny in some areas and the action made the two hours fly, but that’s where one problem reveals itself. Events were happening so fast that it was hard to digest what had just happened with certain characters. The other problem I had with the film was Grandmaster, leader of Sakaar and played by Jeff Goldblum. Sakaar is a savage planet that has significance to Hulk, but that’s a story for another time. The Grandmaster is more annoying than comedic, and could’ve done better if he appeared more serious instead of acting like the creepy uncle.

Thor has more character development in this film than any film before and it’s appropriate considering the stakes. The only problem is some fans of the god of thunder may have a problem with how this series concludes. I was shocked by certain events that took place and I had to wait till after the movie was done to finally digest what happened. Overall, I’m happy with the direction that the film took with the character and this is probably my favorite Thor film out of the three.

I can’t guarantee that some fans of Thor will feel the same because I can guarantee that Thor will never be the same after this film. Making this a film a comedy was probably the best thing that Taika Waititi could’ve done for the franchise and the audience I was with were entertained. This film would’ve been perfect if it was just a little bit longer to give the audience time to digest the events and Grandmaster was redesigned to look more like a world conqueror. This film gets an eight out of ten and there is a mid-credit scene and a post credit scene after the film. Thor will return for the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity Wars and it’ll be interesting to see how everyone reacts to the god of thunder.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Sequel

Kingsman: The Secret Service went from being an unknown film to a global phenomenon after its release back in 2014. The film would be a big break for star Taron Egerton who plays the main character of the film, Eggsy, and the femme fatale, Sofia Boutella. The overall success of the film came from the fantastic story-telling and star power of actors such as Samuel Jackson, Michael Caine and Colin Firth. The film almost resembled the very elements that made the old Bond films such a success in its day. Spies that must save the world by using out of this world gadgets to survive unique death traps and get the girl in the end.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle delivers the same punch that made the first film a success, but with a special twist. This film takes off sometime after the events of the last film; the Kingsman have regrown after the events of Valentine and the loss of certain Kingsman. Eggsy has moved up and become one of the best agents in the service, but his personal life is beginning to suffer. It only gets worse when an attack cripples the Kingsman and events lead them to find allies from across the seas. It’s an action-packed story full of new gadgets and action sequences that make this two and a half hour film feel shorter.

The story is nothing new; there’s an outlandish plot that threatens the lives of millions and Eggsy is now on a mission to save them all and get the girl. Taron Egerton performed as well as expected by being both comedian and action star. Colin Firth makes a surprising return as Eggsy’s father figure and mentor, Harry. Colin comes off almost like an English Nick Fury, but without the loud voice and the harsh leadership. The best addition to the Kingsman franchise is the main antagonist, played by Hollywood icon, Julianne Moore.

While it first comes off as corny, she immediately turns into the pharmacist from hell with a sadistic plot and disturbing sense of nostalgia. There are other additions such as Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum; their parts were short, but sweet. Halle Berry makes a surprise entrance in the film as her organization’s lead analyst and technical support. There’s other surprises in store for the audience and we’ll leave it at that. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the perfect fall movie that’s guaranteed to end the month with a profitable outcome.

This film gets a nine out of 10, because this film gives fans of the original everything they loved about the first one. Julianne Moore was a fantastic villain and the action is a fast-paced thriller that makes the film feel shorter. However, I don’t think there needed to be so many high-priced actors in roles that could’ve been done by others, but it could be used to make a spinoff or use for another sequel. Plus, there were some moments in the film that felt dragged out and could’ve been cut from the final print. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a spectacular film that lives up to what fans love about the first film and I can’t wait until the next film.