Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Panther: First Look (No Spoilers)

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Well, my date and I got stuck in LA traffic and almost missed it. But that story is for another time.

For African American audiences, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther will be a transformative experience. We have simply never seen anything at all like this: a huge blockbuster featuring a mostly-black cast with effects rivaling Avatar and where every dime of that budget is up there on the screen along with a powerful story that transcends the usual hype to actually achieve the impossible– entertain audiences of all ages.

Yes, in the name of God, bring the kids. I saw no moments in Black Panther that embarrassed me either as a grandpa or a minister. A little rough language here and there, but an efficient, crisp plot that just dances along a disciplined two-hour running length and a cast overflowing with brightly realized individual characters. You don’t sit there struggling to remember who is who, and there is no generic Central Casting dialogue to be found, here. The movie neither insults our intelligence by over-explaining or dumbing-down, nor does it lord it over us with technobabble. It is exhilarating fun. It feels like a block party and, hey, you’re invited. Parts of it are almost as much fun as Thor: Ragnarok, and, special bonus, this film has an actual plot.

There are at least four audiences for this film: Black Panther comic book fans, general comic book fans, African American general audiences and general audiences. This film offers high octane entertainment to all of these groups, but it will be the African American general audiences–who neither know nor care who I am–who will struggle the hardest to make it through the first act of this film without tearing up. The film’s glorious fairy tale of a highly advanced African civilization is enough to drop even the most cynical among us to our knees. A love letter to African Americans, the first half hour of this film had me wiping away tears at the sheer beauty of a people–my people–brought to glorious and amazing life in ways I never could on a static comic book page. Here, Black Panther finally had a soundtrack, and it is the soundtrack of my ancestors, my homeland. It was emotionally overwhelming and something I’d not quite prepared myself for. (more…)

Okay, I Saw It (No Spoilers)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Okay, I saw it. Snapshot:

Not my Panther. An interesting take and nice performance by Boseman, but missing the fundamental element of the Black Panther (and upcoming PriestStroke): that he’s smarter than everybody else in the room. Black Panther’s super-power is his intellect, and this guy spent most of the movie pursuing an errant assumption.

T’Chaka was wasted. Could have gotten so very much more mileage out of that character.

Not my Ross. Martin Freeman is hilarious, this character was not. Ross was not brought on-stage properly and is ultimately forgettable. Also, I had no idea they’d have “Thunderbolt” Ross (whom I enjoyed) in the film, thus confusing the characters. I suppose it’d be fine if my Ross was somehow related, but the thought had never crossed my mind.

The overall plot was pretty thin– we’re going to fight because some of us signed some stupid pledge. Okay.

Spider-Man stole the movie. My goodness, well done. Thank you, Marvel for finally getting him right. A close second: Ant-Man. (more…)

Not Yet

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Haven’t seen the new Marvel movie. Not reading movie-related posts because I’d rather people not assume I’ve seen it and spoil it for me 🙂

Thank you, folks emailing and posting congrats. Much appreciated–but I had nothing whatsoever to do with this film 🙂

Swamped, will get around to seeing it sooner or later. Thanks!

Credit where credit is due: Civil War

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Respawning here since it’s going on the Deathstroke discussion and doesn’t really follow that topic.

Among the “thank you” credits in Captain America: Civil War was a nod to Priest and Tex for general work on Panther and specifically the character of Everett K. Ross.  (Eventually someone will come up with a picture of the credits screen.)

TFA (No Spoilers)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a brilliant film, the latest empty-calorie frenetic 120-miute chase scene from director J J Abrams, who is threatening to become the Michael Bay of franchise remakes as he cheerily goes about strip-mining better films while demonstrating, amid astonishing creative wizardry, that he doesn’t actually understand them.

As with Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, TFA serves up heaping helpings of nostalgia like Grandma’s delicious chicken and dumplings, albeit served with a trowel from a plastic bucket and flung from the window of a speeding minivan. Keep up, open your mouth wide enough, and there are wonderful morsels. Also, as with Abrams’ Trek, the pace and nostalgia efficiently mask the film’s alarming lack of depth. Whereas the quasi-religious overtones of the original Star Wars disturbed the Force of Evangelical Christian Televangelists, triggering fierce debate and even condemnation from religious conservatives, TFA never slows down enough to provoke any level of academic or religious discussion.

In its headlong lunge to un-do one of the greatest pop sagas in human history, TFA makes absolutely no statement about the essential nature of mankind, the existence or role of God, or the role of spirituality. TFA says, essentially, that we can never again believe that evil has been vanquished. All of that Ewok dancing was for nothing because the Bad Guys Always Strike Back.

Which means, if I take this shiny, delicious candy-apple Star Wars into my heart, if I take it seriously, I have to now severely devalue the original trilogy, which I, at my advanced age, honestly can’t do. I similarly accept Abrams’ Star Trek for the fun Saturday Night Live sketch that it was but can’t possibly take that film seriously. TFA is a substantial improvement on the satirical Star Trek and the apocryphal sequel Into Darkness wherein Abrams, already choking on his ideologically bankrupt Trek Lite, virtually rapes the Holy of Star Trek Holies—The Wrath of Khan—while the family is tied up and forced to watch. (more…)