Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In several respects, I think we all knew as fans that BLACK PANTHER WAKANDA FOREVER would not – indeed could not – be the Marvel Movie most of us WANTED to see as the follow-on to the original “Black Panther’ movie.  The unexpected death of Chadwick Bozeman almost FORCES this movie to be something other than the straightforward, high-energy continuation of the original story arc it’s safe to assume most of its fans hoped to see at the conclusion of 2018’s“Black Panther” … and so it is not.  But it is an interesting and good movie in it’s own right, with all of the things we all expect in a Marvel superhero movie – action, familiar characters, tight and interesting story telling, sneaky humor – and in many respects it opens up the larger story of the Black Panther and Wakanda to the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which I suspect will be a good thing going forward.

The movie does have an air of sadness about it – the movie opens with Princess Shuri frantically racing to find a technological solution to her brother’s fatal illness, a fight she cannot and does not win.  The Requiem portion of the movie, in which a deeply grieving Wakandan nation celebrates and buries its king while struggling to find a way forward, is a very well done piece of the movie, and sets the tone of – for lack of a better way to say it –the challenges and conflicts around the concept of FOUND BALANCE the primary characters will struggle with for the remainder of the movie.  Angela Bassett does a true star turn as the now aged and sad Wakandan Queen Ramonda who must somehow contain her own grief, hold the hostile forces of the world at bay, and provide a lodestar to the grief maddened Princess.  I should also note the movie tries hard to convey a passing of time since the first movie, of things that have happened … not just the loss of the King, and not even the Blip as they refer to the mind-numbing events around Thanos and his attack on the Homeworld.  But of the passing of many things …

At this point, we are introduced to the ‘villains’ in this movie, Prince Namor and his Talokeans, a staple of the comics world but new to the MCU.  Namor is the first publicly named MUTANT in the MCU (with significant implications for future movies one supposes!) and his Talokeans are a blue skinned race of modified humans – descended from the Mayans surviving in the Yucatan at the time of the Spanish Conquest – saved by a variant of vibranium influenced plant life, and representing a mighty but hidden undersea kingdom.  In addition, the Talokeans possess vast amounts of vibranium, and to a vibranium obsessed world could potentially represent an alternate source of the precious mineral.  Namor of course is determined to prevent his people being mistreated by the surface world, and he tries to force the Wakandans to both cover his actions to date – he has committed an act of war against the Americans for example – and do things he thinks he wants relative to the surface world.  Queen Ramonda sees this as madness immediately, but isn’t quite sure how to handle yet another wrinkle in her world …

The interactions between Namor and Shuri, and the Talokeans and Wakanda, play out the challenges of FOUND BALANCE throughout much of the remainder of the movie.  Namor, who has kept his people hidden under the seas for the last 500 or so years, has been isolated for so long he no longer knows HOW to find balance with friend or foe, and so he rushes to war.  Shuri, who rejects the mystical side of her traditional culture in the rush of youth and her need to absorb all that she has lost at such a young age – a point made quite subtly by the Elder M’Baku of the Jabari tribe after the funeral of her mother – likewise does not know how to balance the blind rage she feels towards Namor and the Talokeans as anger and urgency becomes war and its ugly aftermath.  There are a number of action scenes between the Talokeans and the Wakandas throughout the movie, and they provide more than enough of the high energy one normally expects – indeeds looks for! – in a Marvel movie!

In the end of course, the strength of Wakanda’s traditional culture, and indeed of the Black Panther itself, asserts itself in time to prevent disaster from occurring, and the madness of war is halted, with the promise of a tentative but positive alliance in place between the Wakandans and the Talokeans to protect the vibranium.  This then gives the Princess Shuri time to process her own losses and begin her own healing process, as she realizes she must move to take on the mantle of the Wakandan throne. 

The movie ends on a surprising and sad but overall, quite positive note. The door is left open for future installments.

I would note there were a couple of particularly effective performances worth noting.  As mentioned above, Angela Bassett was simply outstanding as Queen Ramonda throughout the movie.  Winston Duke brought a seriousness and depth to the M’Baku character that makes it clear he will play an outsized role in the story arcs going forward.  Tenoch Heurta did an outstanding job as Namor, a difficult character and one who will play an important role throughout the MCU going forward.  I should also note the Marvel people have managed to keep the humor rolling throughout this movie, even given its somewhat somber tone, and that provides a welcome relief through much of the movie.

If you are a Marvel Universe fan, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” should not be missed.

This is a 4 Star Movie!!

Black Panther in 3D

THIS IS A REPUBLISH FROM FEB 17th 2018

“Black Panther” is a bold departure from the normal Marvel Universe movie. The movie is extremely colorful, has visual interest and has a detailed back-story. The detailed back-story is played out and sets the stage for the events that happen throughout the movie.

“Black Panther” tracks T’Challa who after the events of “Captain America:Civil War”, returns home to eventually become king, but there is someone who has other ideas. The story unfolds from there…

“Black Panther” is extremely entertaining. The visual effects are awesome. There is plenty of action and suspense. The costumes adorned are beautiful. The cinematography at times is breathtaking.

One aside is that the villains are a bit weak…but this is the first installment. This first installment is off to a great start.

If you are even mildly interested in the Marvel Universe, “Black Panther” is a “MUST SEE”.

This is a 5 Star Move!

Mission: Impossible Fallout in 3D

Once again Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Alec Baldwin) along with several of their allies (Rebecca Ferguson and Michelle Monaghan) find themselves trying to correct a mission that has gone terribly wrong.

The team races against time to stop several nuclear blast. The story unfolds from there…

Wow! They went back to the drawing board and figured out how to best the first installment!

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is loaded with action, violence, intrigue, drama and crazy stunts. The story is deep and the plot is wide. It’s “Edge-of-Your-Seat” entertainment. The cinematography is brilliant. The 3D aspects are very good.

Even if you don’t love Tom Cruise, you have to respect him. He does all his own stunts and the stunts he does in this installment are worth seeing.

It’s very rare that deep into installments one comes along that’s better than the first. This is one of those times.

If you are a fan of the “Mission:Impossible” Franchise, “Mission:Impossible – Fallout” is a MUST SEE!

This is a 5 Star Movie!!

London Has Fallen

“London has Fallen” is an “Action Junkie’s” Dream!

At the order of the US President a drone strike attempts to take out an internationally known Terrorist. It’s believed that the strike was successful, so no further Surveillance was ordered after the strike.

Fast forward two years, an announcement that the British Prime Minister has died causes a major stir among world leaders. Everyone makes plans to descend on London to pay their respects. Security is extremely high given the importance and severity of the situation. The leaders start to arrive in London. The story unfolds from there…

“London Has Fallen” is not quite as bad as the paid critics indicated.
There is a plot, a story, tons of action, suspense and intrigue.

The only problem is that a lot of the events couldn’t possibly happen in the real world. Agent Banning (Gerard Butler) tries to come across as a Presidential James Bond, but he lacks the charisma to pull it off and the movie is a bit short at 1:39.

The action is non-stop. You won’t be bored. I thought Morgan Freeman was pretty good as the Vice President. I still think the movie is worth at least 2 1/2 stars.

Olympus Has Fallen

At the writing of this review I am undecided as to whether I like “Olympus Has Fallen” or not. There are a few good elements about the movie, but there are also an equal number of bad elements about the movie and that’s what makes it difficult. The Cast is HUGH and are all excellent actors.
On a nice July day the unthinkable happens, an extreme terrorist and his army invade the air space around the White House. The army is well armed and knows all of our secret weapons and how they operate. President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and most of his key staff are taken hostage in the White House bunker.
Fortunately for President Asher, one of his former security officers Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) happens to arrive and is able to get inside the White House undetected before everything is shut down.
Banning needs to locate the President’s young son and rescue the President before the extremists unleash their intended plan on the US. The story unfolds from there…

Think “Die Hard” at the White House. This is what “Olympus Has Fallen” will remind you of. Security Officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is John McCain (Bruce Willis).
The difference is “Die Hard” was more interesting while “Olympus Has Fallen” has a bigger cast. The plot is mildly interesting. There is some cool artillery that is used. The movie is very bloody and in your face violent. A bright spot is that Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Gerard Butler are excellent.
But, with all of that being said, this has been done before. Only the venue is different. It’s really sad that you have a ton of great actors/actresses and the movie is borderline mediocre. I found my self checking my watch on a couple of different occasions during the movie. If I do that, it’s not a good sign.