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Posts Tagged ‘Black Panther’

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Not an MCU movie, but part of Sony’s own ever more confusing cinematic universe. Like Peter Parker before him, Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a new Spider-Man. At the same time Kingpin opens a portal to other alternate realities, bringing multiple Spider people into Miles’ world.  Using an ever changing array of animation styles to create a bizarre and bonkers movie that is also amazing fun, and very funny, as well as being full of heart.   The freshest and funniest comic book movie for a very long time.  The voice cast is amazing, Shameik Moore is joined by: Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Zoë Kravitz, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, and Chris Pine.220px-Spider-Man_Into_the_Spider-Verse_poster
  2. Black Panther – So much has been said about Black Panther, possibly the most significant is the quality of the villains, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klae, the over the top moustache twirling comic villain and Michael B. Jordan as the more interesting and nuanced Erik Killmonger (with a name like that, he was never going to be a hero!).  The supporting cast is fantastic, all the characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Daniel Kaluuya were interesting enough that they could have had their own movie. Angela Bassett is sadly underused. Not as original or as fun as Thor Ragnarok, but it certainly has enough going on to please Marvel fans and for those who are new to the series. Importantly, It also works as a standalone film.Black Panther
  3. Avengers: Infinity War – Ten years of Marvel movies have been leading up to this point, the arrival of Thanos, the franchises chosen big, bad. The series so far has introduced so many characters, it would be impossible to service them all. Amazingly the film manages to give everyone (except a few characters left on the sidelines for future use) reasonable screen time without slowing the narrative. The action scenes are fantastic and the character interactions are often devastatingly funny. The problems are with the narrative; I can’t expand on this and keep this spoiler free, beyond saying that it is most likely part of the setup for the next film, a setup that could be satisfying or infuriating. Avengers Infinity War
  4. Deadpool 2 – If you have seen the first film, you will know what to expect. By definition it lacks the originality, but is as funny as the original. The greatest revelation is Zazie Beetz who is excellent as Domino. I wouldn’t mind seeing a third instalment, but also wouldn’t be bothered if this is the last one.Deadpool 2
  5. Aquaman – Aquaman should have been the Justice League’s equivalent to Thor, the preposterous but fun member of the team, the character played totally staight the more silly things get.  In a way it achieves this, but it lacked the fun and charisma of Thor.  But given his own movie he fares better.  The silliest movie on the list, but the most fun (after Spider-Verse).  The visuals are spectacular, Jason Momoa has fun with the part, and is well supported by Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe.Aquaman
  6. Ant-Man and the Wasp – Lighter and more comedic than the rest of the MCU, Ant man is never going to be the best of the franchise but it is always fun.  Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are both excellent in their own right, but have little to no chemistry together.  Walton Goggins is as great as ever, but seems to be in a different movie to everyone else.  Michelle Pfeiffer is underused.  Michael Peña offers his usual comic relief.  Rising star, Hannah John-Kamen provides an interesting and compelling antagonist.  Great comic relief that was much needed after Infinity war.  Marvel Movies tend to come in trilogies, let’s hope the final instalment nails it. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  7. Venom – Venom was poorly served in the terrible Spider-Man 3, in a post Deadpool world, this is the chance to make a funny and fun super(anti)hero movie, it fails.  The plot is a little plodding, the action isn’t a patch on anything Marvel has done in the past decade.  It does however have an ace up its sleeve, Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed, all of whom are always worth watching.  A mid credit scene suggests a sequel, with the origin out of the way, hopefully a second film will live up to the promise.  It failed to live up to its potential and is bottom of this list, but is far from terrible; don’t bother paying for it, but if it crops up on TV watch it. Venom

I promised this year’s comic-book movies ranked from best to worst, as you can see from my comments, none of them are actually bad films, not even Venom.  Before anybody asks where Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, and Incredibles 2 are on my list.  I didn’t see them. 

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We lost Stan Lee this week at the age of 95.  Many people first became aware of him from his cameo’s in Marvel movies, but his impact on popular culture goes far beyond that:  For better or worse, make your own mind up; without Stan Lee we probably wouldn’t be seeing all the comic book movies that are dominating cinema screens.  Like many people I first became aware of him from the animated shows of the 1980’s.  These animated show were the start of a push to develop Marvel properties into other media.  Initial results were mixed at best but eventually led to what we now know as the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Stan Lee 1922 2018

But it all started before that, growing up Lee born (Stanley Martin Lieber) loved swashbuckling movies, and dreamt of becoming a novelist.  One of his earliest jobs as a writer came writing obituaries before at the age of 17 a family connection got him a job as an assistant at Timely Comics, the precursor Marvel Comics was at the time a new division of a pulp magazine.

Lee’s first job actually writing in a comic book came with the text fillers for Captain America Comics #3 in 1941.  This was the first time he used the pseudonym Stan Lee, which later became his legal name.  Before long he moved from fillers to writing the backup feature, “‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent”.

His early creations Jack Frost, Father Time, and Destroyer may not be household names now, but things were about to change.  At the age of just 19 Lee was made interim editor, a position that quickly became permanent, one that he remained in for just over thirty years before becoming Publisher.  After the war, were Lee served in first the Signal Corps, and then the Training Film Division, he formed a partnership with artist Jack Kirby, together they created a few characters you may have heard of: the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and the Fantastic Four. x men fantastic four thor iron man black panther hulk ant man

He also created Daredevil with Bill Everett. And with Steve Ditko with, Doctor Strange and his (and Marvel’s most successful character) Spider-Man. Doctor Strange Daredevil Spider-man

As significant as the characters they created, in 1963 gathered them together along with some older character, most notably Captain America to create the  Avengers, a rival to DC’s Justice League (originally Justice League of America). With various reboots, relaunches, spin-offs, alternate universes, and ever changing line-up, The Avengers have been a constant fixture within the comic book world.     The Avengers

In 1981 Lee moved from New York to California in 1981 to develop Marvel’s movie and TV, while the live action of these were forgettable at best, the cartoons introduced a whole new generation to Marvel.  They also provided the springboard of what was to come.  The success of Blade for New Line Cinema, X-Men with Fox Studio’s and Sony’s Spider-Man movies proved there was a market for quality comic book movies that snowballed into the MCU, and who knows where that will take us? Excelsior!

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The beginning of the end is near.  The next movie in the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War is less than a month away.  That will just leave Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel (a prequel to existing films rather than a continuation), and then an as yet untitled Avengers film, with it Phase Three will be over.  And with the end of Phase Three we will potentially see the end of some of the characters.  It has been reported that the following actors intend to hang-up their super hero costumes next year: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers aka Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark aka Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Chris Evans Robert Downey Jr Chris Hemsworth

This will leave just Tom Holland (Peter Parker aka Spider-Man), and Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa aka Black Panther) as the only remaining Avengers deemed significant enough to have their own films.  They will be joined by any surviving cast.  They can’t simply recast, this will be conspicuous at best, disastrous at worst.  There is another answer within the existing cast: Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier aka White Wolf), Don Cheadle (Lieutenant James Rhodes aka War Machine).Natalie Portman Sebastian Stan Don Cheadle

In the comic books on which the MCU is based, these characters have all taken on the part of other heroes: Bucky Barnes – Captain America, James Rhodes – Iron Man, Jane Foster – Thor. Bucky Barnes Captain America Don Cheadle Iron Man Jane Foster Thor

There have been many other incarnations of the comic books where existing characters have taken on the mantle of other heroes, they include Sam Wilson aka Falcon as Captain America and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow as Thor. Sam Wilson Captain America and Natasha Romanoff Thor

You may remember the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron when the Avengers take it in turns to try and lift Mjolnir, all except  Black Widow, should this tell us something?

Having said all this, they could just introduce some new characters! 

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Of the nine movies I have seen this month five are eligible for this year’s Oscars , all five are nominated.  Fifty Shades Freed is eligible for next year’s Oscars, it is unlikely to feature, but it does have eight Razzie nominations.  None of this matters, what really matters is the winner of my my movie of the month, here are the contenders: 

Phantom Thread – I have a strange relationship with the films of  Paul Thomas Anderson, I like most of them but don’t love any of them.  I have seen all of his films, but have only seen one or two of them for a second time.  Phantom Thread is one of his most restrained and constrained movies, that is what is so great about it.  Daniel Day-Lewis is as brilliant as you would expect, he is however totally overshadowed by Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps.  The best thing about it: Jonny Greenwood’s score. Phantom Thread

Roman J Israel, Esq – A strange film about the inadequacies of the overburdened American legal system.   The film is good, Denzel Washington’s Oscar nominated performance is outstanding.Roman J Israel Esq

I, Tonya – The title card tells us “based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly”.  This tells you as much as you need to know about the movie.  The story is so bonkers, if it weren’t a true story you would dismiss it as unbelievable! Margot Robbie is amazing, Allison Janney is even better, but the real star is the editing, both in the format of the film, and its composition.I Tonya

Loveless – On the surface, this is film about a young boy, unwanted by his parents who goes missing. This all happens in the first couple of scenes, most of the film deals with the parents search, but there is far more going on. Reminiscent of Michael Haneke in both it’s Stark depiction, and it’s stunning but measured photography. The full metaphor is probably lost on me as an outsider but I certainly got a sense of a society whose glossy veneer is collapsing or rotting from within, it is after all set in Putin’s Russia! Hopelessly bleak and full of despair, I loved it but don’t know many people I would recommend it to.Loveless

Black Panther – So much has been said about Black Panther, possibly the most significant is the quality of the villains, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klae, the over the top moustache twirling comic villain and Michael B. Jordan as the more interesting and nuanced Erik Killmonger (with a name like that, he was never going to be a hero!).  The supporting cast is fantastic, all the characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Daniel Kaluuya were interesting enough that they could have had their own movie. Angela Bassett is sadly underused. Not as original or as fun as Thor Ragnarok, but it certainly has enough going on to please Marvel fans and for those who are new to the series. Importantly, It also works as a standalone film.Black Panther

Fifty Shades Freed – On a positive note, the film is competently made. The acting isn’t as wooden as the previous film. Dakota Johnson isn’t terrible in the lead. That is about all I can say on a positive note! The downside; to call the plot wafer thin would be an understatement. The story is poorly told at best. The most damming thing about the film is how dull and boring it is. For a film that markets itself as a kinky BDSM movie, the only pornographic thing about it is the gratuitous displays of wealth.Fifty Shades Freed

Lady Bird – Writer, actress and darling of the indie scene Greta Gerwig turns her hand to directing; she is clearly a natural. Coming of age drama told with an easy and style that elevates it above its genre. Saoirse Ronan is brilliant in the lead as are Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf as her parents, that latter picking up a well deserved Oscar nomination. The brilliance of the storytelling is that most viewers will see something of themselves in at least one of the characters. I look forward to what Greta Gerwig does next whichever side of the camera she decides to work on.Lady Bird

Dark River – A woman returns home to the family farm for the first time in fifteen years following the death of her farther. All the bleakness and despair of God’s Own Country without the hope. Ruth Wilson is brilliant as you would expect.

Dark River

Game Night – Surprisingly good comedy: The trailer for Game Night is terrible, on the strength, or weakness to be precise, I nearly didn’t bother watching the movie. The movie however is extremely funny and well worth a look. Its greatest strength is the combination of the script and the performances. No matter how absurd the story gets Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and especially Jesse Plemons play it straight and deadpan. Like all the best comedies, it doesn’t hide from the aforementioned absurdity, it embraces it.Game Night

I, Tonya, Loveless, Lady Bird, Dark River and Black Panther are all brilliant, and could have been winners in previous months.  Game Night was the most presently surprising movies this month, Other movies have won for less.  The clear winner of movie of the month is: Phantom ThreadPhantom-thread-poster

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