Review: Black Panther

I don’t even know where to start! Often, I believe that is either the sign of a good review or a bad one but I frankly don’t know where to start but I suppose it’s best to start out with the simplest fact: Black Panther is damn good! Not perfect, but damn good.

The film starts out a week after the events of Civil War, with T’Challa picking up his on-again, off-again girlfriend Nakia on his way home to the technologically advanced and isolated nation of Wakanda, to ascend the throne. T’Challa will inherit the mantle of the chieftain and protector of his homeland, but in this film, he will also inherit the sins of his father.

One in the form of a fugitive that has eluded Wakandan capture for decades in Ulysses Klaue and the other in the form of an American black-ops soldier named Erik Stevens, whose career has dubbed him the moniker of Killmonger. Both foes present a challenge for T’Challa as he must navigate between upholding his father’s legacy and creating his own.


Image by Marvel Studios

I’ve waited a long time to see this movie but it was worth it for I truly enjoyed what I saw. Ryan Coogler has crafted a film that not only carries on the already incredible momentum that Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is riding but also a film that feels so organically original and independent from Marvel’s grand design. What’s more is that the film itself is a rock-solid foundation for what’s to come of Chadwick Boseman’s character; this is probably the first true MCU origin story I enjoyed since Iron Man!

Having said all of that, I did find that Black Panther left too many aspect of its story unresolved. Perhaps that was intentionally designed by Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole so that those unanswered questions can be answered in a future Marvel picture or in a Black Panther sequel but the fact that so many open-ended details in this story were left behind just hampered my enjoyment of the film that and that held Black Panther back just a little.

Despite a story that left its share of loose ends, this movie had everything it needed to succeed. Great direction that really gave this character and this movie a strong sense of identity and independence in this grand universe, an amazing cast spearheaded by Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, John Kani and Florence Kasumba, great visual effects, the pacing was steady, the action and humor was balanced; Black Panther is another product of the Marvel machine but it has its own unforgettable flavor.

Rachel Morrison’s cinematography is superb, Debbie Berman and Michael P. Shawver’s editing couldn’t be more on point, Ludwig Göransson’s music melded the right blend of superheroic theme with African influence and the soundtrack compiled by Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar was superb, Hannah Beachler’s production design was outstanding, the art direction was beautifully conceived, Ruth Carter’s costumes were stupendous and beautiful, I could tell that a lot of love went into the production of this picture to get this iconic character and his world exactly right and they did it! They truly did it.

Can I say this is the best film to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No, but what I can take away is that Ryan Coogler built Black Panther a rock solid foundation to build on for future films. Hail to the king!


Movie of the Week: Black Panther

My first feature film of 2017 is a movie about a man, who happens to be a genius, who happens to be a warrior, who happens to be an animal, who happens to be a protector, who happens to be a king, who happens to be a hero, who happens to be an Avenger! In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa returns home to Wakanda to carry on his father’s legacy as leader of his people but forces inside and out of Wakanda threaten the peace and the future that T’Challa and his late father believed in. Black Panther is ready to rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I am giddy with anticipation!

Director: Ryan Coogler

Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Florence Kasumba and John Kani

What am I expecting to see?: As someone who has been following the production and anticipation of this movie, I can just feel that I am going to love everything this movie has to offer! I expect to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue to fire on all cylinders with another rousing, action-packed superhero adventure but with an origin story about a character who will play a major role in what’s to come for Marvel films going forward. Black Panther will be the first film I will review in 2018 and I for one hope that 2018 starts with a booming bang!

Review: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Dark times. The Resistance is hanging by a thread. The loss of the Republic has General Leia’s band of fighters in a corner and with limited resources and allies beyond reach, hope is dwindling.

Despite the destruction of Starkiller Base, the First Order is poised to seize military control of the galaxy and they are hot on the Resistance’s heels ready to snuff them out. General Leia’s last hope is the return of her brother, Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi, to spark hope renewed and unite the galaxy against Snoke’s tyrannical rule.

Rey finally meets the legendary Jedi Master face-to-face, resolute to urge him back into the fight but her first encounter with Skywalker results in a door slammed in her face. Rey must convince Luke that the Jedi are not meant to die out; Luke and the Jedi Order are needed in the galaxy now more than ever.

I’ve waited so long for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. I went into the theater with a clear and serious mind, free of expectation ready to take whatever writer/director Rian Johnson threw at me. This was hands down, the best Star Wars movie I’ve ever seen!


Image by LucasFilm

Johnson promised to take this franchise in a direction that has never been explored, used techniques that have never been seen, turn the franchise to a very dark and somber place while still retaining the delight and wonders a galaxy far, far away had to offer and Johnson hit a grand slam! (Most of) The questions I had after watching The Force Awakens, were answered in this film, we saw the young trope of characters including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren take their own journeys to become characters to take over for the old guard of Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Han Solo, some of the events that took place in the film stretched credulity but it’s Star Wars! This franchise was built on stretching the imagination and showing audiences the world over ideas and concepts that have never been seen before! I was immersed in everything this film had to show me and it was an emotional ride!

After seeing this film, my excitement for Rian Johnson’s standalone Star Wars trilogy was not only reinvigorated but heightened! Disney and LucasFilm assuredly put their faith in the right man, regardless of what he intends to do with these movies. He did a stupendous job writing and directing The Last Jedi!

We saw the characters of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suotamo, Jimmy Vee evolve to become stronger, more anchoring figures in the Star Wars franchise, essentially carrying the torch that was passed down to them from Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones and so on, and players such as Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Frank Oz and Lupita Nyong’o make their mark on this franchise, the performances in total were very good.

The visual effects were outstanding, John Williams’ score and composition for this movie? What more can I say about Williams’ legendary career and the mark he has made on these films? Steve Yedlin’s cinematography was awesome, Bob Ducsay’s editing did a grand job at piecing this film together although, it did feel elongated in the final act, Rich Heinrichs’ production design was gorgeous, the art direction was superb and the set decoration courtesy of Richard Roberts was on point, Michael Kaplan’s costume design and the makeup department did a superb job!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was a remarkable achievement. It put your emotions through the ringer, it messed with your mind in parts, it answered some questions, it was an amazing adventure, it allowed audiences to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, it brought hope to the future and if the opportunity presented itself, I would see it again just for the sheer pleasure of it all!

Now, the ball is back in J.J. Abrams’ court. How, oh how is he going to bring this new trilogy full circle with Episode IX?🤔


Movie of the Week: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

My most anticipated film of the year arrives in theaters this week and all I can do to contain my excitement is breathe. Just breathe. The First Order and the Resistance have sustained heavy losses in the aftermath of The Force Awakens but Rey has gained a major victory. The scavenger from Jakku has taken her first steps into a larger world and she is on her way to continue down her path, which leads her to the mythic Luke Skywalker himself. The battle between the light and darkness wages on and Rey must pull Luke out of the shadows and into the light, both figuratively and literally. This is the movie the entire galaxy has waited for. This is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Director: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Jimmy Vee and Lupita Nyong’o.

What am I expecting to see?: Where to start? The Star Wars franchise holds a significant and special place in my heart but writer/director Rian Johnson promises that this film will forever change everything we think we know about Star Wars and take the franchise in a direction that has never been ventured before. I don’t even know if I’m ready for what’s coming but I am certain that whatever will come, The Last Jedi will shake me to the core.


Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

To be honest, I was going into War for the Planet of the Apes with an idea of what I was in for. Based on what I’ve read, what I’ve seen and heard about the film up to that point, I thought audiences were going into a film where Caesar would be leading his species in an all out assault to preserve their survival against what is left of mankind, yet I was unprepared for what really was in store.


Image by 20th Century Fox

Essentially, War occurs two years post-Dawn and well distant from the events that transpired in Rise but not totally disconnected. After Caesar suffers an unimaginable loss that rocks him to his core, he takes it on himself to journey across the wintery wilds to find a man called The Colonel and kill him. Caesar is aided by his most trusted simian companions, Maurice, Luca and Rocket and pick up a few stragglers along the way in the peculiar Bad Ape and a mute girl who is later dubbed Nova; this journey to find the Colonel fills Caesar with inner turmoil to hold on to the principles he held so dear to him or embrace the darkness within himself to exact his vengeance, like Koba did. This inner battle within the first super ape is the War that takes center stage in the film.

Matt Reeves, the director and co-writer of the film, impressed me in bringing Caesar grand story to a stirring finish in the fashion that he did. Reeves and Mark Bomback have crafted a story with heavy biblical references to allow their protagonist to shine in the brightest way they could and truly cement his legacy as his story comes full circle.

Essentially, the Planet of the Apes franchise in its entirety is a story about hubris; how living creatures create their own undoing and there is a success in how this story, Caesar’s story, was told. In War, Caesar wrestles with his darkness brought on by immense grief, he suffers like Christ suffers, he led his species to freedom as Moses did, every action he takes in this movie, shapes the course of his future and the future of his apes and this story leaves a profound and thought-provoking experience with audiences and it resonates when they leave the theater.

I especially took pleasure in how the film handled Caesar’s relationship with Nova. Before the two meet, Caesar dives right into his inner demons to the point where he is almost apathetic, remorseless and bloodthirsty but Nova reminds him of the humanity inside him and how that humanity has kept him from becoming Koba; in a way that theme of humanity and hubris tied all of the films together.

Andy Serkis’ performance is once again, high caliber! The CGI visual effects are just a costume but he breathes life into his characters and audiences are taken for an emotional ride with his performance as Caesar. From the moment, Caesar makes his presence known in the picture, everyone becomes invested; Serkis commands the screen as this character and doesn’t let up for an instant!

Woody Harrelson is as good as I’ve ever seen him as the vicious and bloodthirsty Colonel. Steve Zahn is a hoot as Bad Ape, Amiah Miller is terrific as Nova, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria, Judy Greer, Ty Olsson, Sara Canning, Aleks Paunovic, Devyn Dalton, Max Lloyd-Jones, Alessandro Juiliani and Toby Kebbell were all outstanding in the roles they played.

Michael Giacchino’s score, Michael Seresin’s cinematography, James Chinlund’s production design, William Hoy and Stan Salfas’ editing were all very satisfying. The visual effects were as elite as you might see all year.

I went into War for the Planet of the Apes expecting something totally different but I was completely washed away by how emotionally resonating, thought-provoking and creatively assembled this movie was. You won’t be flat out excited by it, but you will be immersed in how Caesar cements his legacy and how his tale comes to a close.

The Planet of the Apes franchise finishes on a very strong note.


Movie of the Week: War For the Planet of the Apes

The epic conclusion to the legend that is Caesar is coming to a close this weekend. The first of the super-apes has inherited the sins of the wicked Koba and now what is left of mankind has dispatched a military force to quell the threat the apes possess. Caesar led his species to freedom in Rise, he did all that he could to maintain that peace in Dawn, but now that seems so long ago. For his home, his family, his future, Caesar has finally embraced the fact that now is the time to fight for his future and this is War. This is the war that will determine who is the superior species on Earth. This is the war that will shape the course of the future going forward. The War For the Planet of the Apes has begun!

Director: Matt Reeves

Screenwriters: Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Terry Notary, Max Lloyd-Jones, Gabriel Chavarria, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite and Devyn Dalton.

What am I expecting to see?: I have enjoyed this rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise thus far and from what I’ve heard regarding this film in the past few weeks, is that War For the Planet of the Apes is the best one yet and could be the best film to come out this summer! I expect this movie to do what every final installment in a trilogy should do: tie everything together and turn up the intensity another notch. I expect Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson to command the screen and this movie to be technically elite in every aspect. I’ve been looking forward to War for the Planet of the Apes for a long time.


It’s time for the Jedi…to end?! The Last Jedi trailer

The next chapter of a new generation is on the horizon. When last we left the Star Wars universe, the scavenger Rey was swept up into the fray between the First Order and the Resistance and at the center of this conflict was one individual: Luke Skywalker. The legendary Jedi Knight, who once proved pivotal in the overthrow of the sinister Galactic Empire, suddenly vanished in the galaxy’s most turbulent hour and the quest to locate him has delivered gains and losses on both sides. At the conclusion of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rey made her way to come face-to-face with the mythic Skywalker and where this encounter goes from where the last film left off, forebodes a grim outcome. This is the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Jimmy Vee, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Laura Dern, Benecio Del Toro, Billie Lourd, Gwendoline Christie and the late Carrie Fisher. The fate of the galaxy will be revealed on December 15, 2017.