Month: February 2018

Black Panther – review

Black Panther is the latest entry in the MCU, following the events of Civil War, T’Chala is set to be crowned king but has to face inevitable challenges, both to his nation and to his potential royal title, the film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Lupita N’yongo, Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis.

After much hype and anticipation, Black Panther is here and is sort of a game changer for the MCU in more ways than one, being the first film in the cinematic universe with a majority black cast for one of course but the change brought on by the film goes deeper than that, though to start with that. The tone and feel of the film is just very different to previous Marvel films and you get Wakanda – and I mean a lot of Wakanda which is great and it’s crazy to think that at just over 2 hours, you barely scratch the surface of the nations lore and history. But you still get a real historical sense and understanding of it which is incredible for the average movie-goer, with just 1 or 2 brief mentions of Wakanda in the MCU previously, now knowing a fair amount about the fictional nation.

With the mis-en-scene and great production to help evoke the feeling of Wakanda being a real place – shielded by technology to the outside world, the visuals are fantastic and the vision of a technologically advanced African nation is so at odds with our modern view of Africa that it makes for great spectacle. It’s just great to see so much alternate cultural representation in a Marvel film of all things, with clear honouring and referencing to real African culture, clothing, jewellery and even body modification done respectfully, Wakanda is sort of a mish-mash of a lot of African tradition and culture rolled into one, making it quite the unique place.

The visuals on the whole are great, with well shot action scenes and a particularly notable and memorable fight sequence all done in one take – Netflix Dardevil style, from T’Chalas fight style to the Dora Milajes, the set pieces are well done and exciting with an emphasis on physicality and close combat, especially when it comes to the Panther suit itself.

One low point of the action is that early on some of it feels a bit out of focus which may be a technical error but it doesn’t remain an issue for the duration of the film, the CGI at times also looks a bit weightless. That being said, the films strengths far outweigh its few downfalls and it’s also an audible feast, with a brilliant soundtrack that evokes the culture represented in the film. Where Black Panther really shines is with its characters, a great ensemble cast with pretty much everyone giving an A+ performance, especially Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan who kills it as Eric Killmonger (pun not intended), Andy Serkis is again great as Ulysses Claw and is clearly having a great time playing him. While the likes of Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker bring some added gravitas to the film, with the dramatic moments hitting home and not being played off for laughs like previous Marvel films have been guilty of *Cough* Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2, there’s weight to death and sacrifice in the story and it helps to ramp up the drama.

The film brings maybe surprising depth with the themes it tackles head on with some unwavering bravery, even making you sympathize with the antagonist in Killmonger, it also raises some fascinating thoughts on the idea of tradition Vs modernity. the notion of your heroes being imperfect and nationalism, can/should loyalty to your nation stop you helping people from other nations? There’s a lot to unpack and delve into. But in my eyes the film may have a big enough impact on the MCU to rival even Civil War with events to take place in the future – though details would be spoiling things.

Ultimately Black Panther is just sort of great, a deep, emotional film with thought provoking and pertinent themes that feels very of the times, the Marvel-isms are there of course with frequent humour, inevitably conflict and action but the film felt like a well done character drama that just happens to be in the MCU. Opening up a new type of storytelling for future films and while this may not be the first big black or majority black film, it’s still a great step forward regardless in its depiction of women and for diversity in genre films – especially in the comic book film variety.

8/10

. Fantastic performances throughout the cast

. Engaging plot and story

. Brilliant characterisation, complex characters throughout the story

Jumani: Welcome To The Jungle – review

Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle is sort of a direct Jumanji sequel directed by Jake Kasdan and an update for the the 21st century, as we follow 4 very different teenagers in high school who are thrust together in detention, finding themselves playing a Jumanji video game and finding themselves inexplicably sucked inside of it. The film stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas.

Right off the bat, the film is derivative and feels inspired by other entries, I mean it definitely is Breakfast Club meets Tron with its set up of different teenagers in detention getting sucked into a game but I have to give the film its own credit for taking an existing idea and expanding on it. Things are changed around with the teenage characters becoming drastically different avatars in the game which is a central source of a lot of comedy in the film, the shy, scrawny Spencer is now the ripped Dr Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), while Fridge, the built football player in real life now finds himself in Kevin Harts body. The same applies with body switching for social outcast Martha who finds herself in a kick ass martial arts fighting woman and shallow popular girl Bethany who finds herself in the body of a middle aged man as she puts it as Jack Black.

The performances are all pretty on point as you’d probably expect, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart again show their great chemistry and sort of steal the show with their back and forths and interactions with Martha and Bethany as well but importantly, none of the performances feel too forced or like the actors are trying to hard, which is a fear I had for the film. Johnson especially is great as a make believe naïve teenage boy who can’t believe he’s now muscle bound and a de facto ladies man while Jack Black is quite funny as a make believe 16 year old girl.

Plot wise, things are a bit by the numbers and play out like the original Jumanji in more ways than one, which is a bit disappointing as the story could have done things a bit differently in the vein of its premise, events are localized in the video game rather than real life which is different but the plot fails to capitalize on the endless possibilities of being in a video game. You do get a few fun video game tropes but again, they’re not really expanded on and could have made for some really fun comedic beats – the idea of a controller dying/not working, glitches, invisible walls and barriers, leveling up etc are all things I just thought of off the cuff and things that could have provided some added laughs.

But ultimately the film is alright, not knee slapping-ly hilarious but not terrible either, it takes the idea of the original Jumanji and gives it a modern spin which is completely fine and the performances are quite fun but not enough is really done with the creative world of the video game which could have made the plot a bit more exciting and less generic.

6.5/10

. Well done comedy, good performances

. Plot is a bit generic

. Character interactions are fun, wouldn’t mind seeing them together again

The Cloverfield Paradox – review

The Cloverfield Paradox is the latest film in the sci-fi Cloverfield series, this outing is set in space, following a crew aboard a space ship aiming to get a source of energy that may just save humanity from itself, the film stars David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha raw, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz and Ziyi Zhang.

Ah where to start with Cloverfield Paradox, it’s sort of in the name actually… because the film sort of makes no sense and trying to tie it into Cloverfield or 10 Cloverfield Lane I guess does make a paradox. Time travel, inter-dimensional travel, god particles, the concepts are pretty high level but the basics are that we follow a crew in space trying to get endless renewable energy for the Earth, simple enough…. but this is apparently a prequel to Cloverfield, so the world we see is exactly the same as the 2008 film but they seemingly have nothing in common, with no mention of the Shepherd (the space ship in this film) or the energy crisis.

But non-sensical continuity aside, more than anything, its disappointing that the film missed a great chance to expand on previous films and give out some real answers, the story goes full JJ Abrams, raising about 10 questions for everyone one answered, with events happening seemingly at random as things go on. Almost as if to shout to the audience “Hey this is weird, betcha didnt see that coming!”, at best it’s intriguing writing and at worst it’s pandering to an direction-less engima machine with no real end goal in sight, effectively JJ Abrams ‘mystery box’ at work.

Which is further disappointing because the film actually has some good production value, it looks great and has a pretty good cast to boot, the likes of Daniel Brul, David Oyelowo to name a few and some great dramatic moments and nice sprinkling of levity in between. That being said, the film isn’t a completely LOST cause (pun intended, this is totally like LOST) and it is an engaging watch, the plot moving pretty much without taking a break but unfortunately the quick pacing and writing makes each new event feel a bit cheap and forced for the sake of a new random crisis as engaging as this also makes the plot.

I just don’t quite get the point of Cloverfield Paradox, a film that barely ties into the previous two in the series, a film that apparently wasn’t even a Cloverfield film at all but got adapted into one for some reason. Answering almost nothing but raising a number of new possibilities and despite a good cast and good production overall, the final product is something that adds nothing substantial to the overall series aside some incoherent new mythology and a bunch of new mysteries. Marketing itself on the back of the Cloverfield name to cynically get more eyes on the films in my view.

6/10

. Good cast and performances but mostly wasted on the film

. Seemingly random enigma machine in the vein of LOST, more unanswered questions

. Disappointing for anyone that wanted answers to the previous films

Ranking the Superbowl trailers

I know, its a bit late now for a Superbowl post but It’s another year and another Superbowl has gone by (which I didn’t really watch, due to being British) but I did catch a few trailers as I was still awake and excited to see first looks at a few films. Anyway here’s my ranking of what we did see, noting that some most ‘trailers’ were just 30 second TV spots.

 

Mission Impossible: Fallout

The new MI film is a film I had no expectations for up until about last week when I saw Cruise, Cavill and some of the cast on Graham Norton the other week and well, I’m pleasantly surprised as I ten to be with every new MI release. The premise looks interesting, Cruise again looks to be in his element and the action looks great, especially knowing he did all of them himself and with almost no CGI. The cast is again solid and the additions of Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett should spice things up, colour me interested.

 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Now that’s now how you make a good Jurassic Park trailer, following the events of world, Owen and Claire are back on the island but not for long, volcanic eruption and all – and saving dinosaurs seems to be the main theme here but here comes some nefarious people who have gone and created another artificial dinosaur – cos that worked so well the last time right? Anyway it’s notably smaller this time but looks pretty menacing, I have to say I didn’t expect that and it may be tied into the notion of making armed, weaponised dinosaurs from Jurassic World, its stupid but still something different. Anyway the trailer’s good, with action, some horror elements and surprises, muc better trailer than the first one.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

We already have our first full trailer for the film, just 3 months away now and of course, it looks good but we get some new footage here, mostly character stills from different locations with some interesting interactions – Iron Man and Dr Strange, Cap and Black Panther (which we saw already) but with Caps new shield in action. I’m intrigued to see why the Avengers are all in varying locations and how everything ties together with Thanos being the big threat but Wakanda seems to be the central location for the action to took place…. or so I think. Good teaser overall.

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I’ve wanted to see something, anything from Solo for a while now and we finally got our first look at it, it’s hard to really judge anything of note from 30 seconds or random footage but it looks…. not terrible I guess? Alden Ehnreichs hair still looks a bit ridiculous but there’s some interesting looking action and the visuals look a bit gritty in the vein of Rogue One so if it’s anything approaching the quality of Rogue One then we should be in for a treat.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox

I have not yet seen Paradox but I don’t really know what to make of this teaser either way, it was so out of the blue and well, strange and though I love Cloverfield, I’m a bit wary on the announcement of random sequels/prequels with no build up whatsoever. Anyway its enough to get me to watch the film but yeah, it’s a bit odd.

 

SkyScraper

In what may be the most Dwayne Johnson film ever, DJ is a loving father with a wife and 2 kids who has to somehow get them off a really high floor on a skyscraper that’s on fire… of course he does, it looks stupid and generic but I’ll probably watch it, because Dwayne.

February film preview

Hey, hello reader, I’m still here – I’ve just been busy and admittedly a bit neglectful to the blog and I somehow missed the January film preview for 2018 which is a shame, but I didn’t want to let that become a habit so here is my first official film month preview for the year.

And would you look at that, after a so-so January for films, we have a few big’uns on the way already as we delve further into winter. (US release dates by default)

 

Black Panther – Released on the 16th of February

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis.

The latest entry in the MCU and last film before the game changing Infinity War sees the action take place in the secluded Wakanda this time around, as we follow T’Chala ascendence to the role of king after the death of his father, though he has to contend with direct challenges to his rule and ot the safety of his nation.

 

Early Man – released on the 16th of February (already out in the UK)

Directed by Nick Park

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Timothy Spall, Miriam Margoyles, Richard Ayoade.

Stop motion comedy in the pre-historic era as Dug and Hognob unite together against an enemy force.

 

The Party – released on the 16th of February (already out in the UK)

Directed by Sally Potter

Starring: Sally Potter, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cherry Jones.

Black comedy set around the events of a house party thrown by Janet to celebrate, that quickly goes off the walls as things aren’t exactly what they seem and revelations come to the surface.

 

Anhilation – released on the 23rd of February

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac

Sci-fi fantasy film based on a novel of the same name, based around a group of soldiers who investgiate an environmental disaster, after finding a lone surviving soldier, trying to uncover what caused the disaster.