Tag Archives: Chadwick Boseman

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) Review

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Time: 94 Minutes
Cast:
Viola Davis as Ma Rainey
Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green
Glynn Turman as Toledo
Colman Domingo as Cutler
Michael Potts as Slow Drag
Director: George C. Wolfe

Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable “Mother of the Blues”. Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play.

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I had heard about Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for some time as it was gaining awards attention, especially with its two lead performers Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Both are great actors, so I was looking forward to their performances alone. Aside from that I didn’t really know what to expect from the movie. While it does suffer the same problem as most movies adapted from plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is quite good on the whole.

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First of all, it should be known going into the movie that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based off a play from August Wilson. You can really feel that it’s based off a play pretty early on when watching it. Not only is it very dialogue based, with some big and extended monologues at times, the movie also spans over the course of one afternoon during a recording session, and is generally set in just one location. For the first 30 minutes of the film, you might find the pacing a bit slow, and it is indeed slow. After the first act or so though, you might get into it though, that’s what happened with me. At its core, the movie is a contained and subtle character study. I’m not familiar with the play so I can’t comment on how much is taken from play, but either way the film is well written, especially with the dialogue. There are long stretches of dialogue, and while thankfully I was interested in hearing them play out, there are parts where I’m not quite as interested and it dragged for me. Generally though, I found myself engaged throughout. Runtime is just over 90 minutes, which was probably the right length although if you’re not as invested it’s going to feel much longer for you. With that said, while the movie does have a lot of themes throughout including systemic discrimination and racial tensions, if the film was a bit longer it would’ve been able to flesh out its themes a bit more.

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For all the solid writing and decent direction, the performances were the highlight of the movie for me, and that’ll be the same for most people who watch it. The main stars are Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Davis as you’d expect, really gives it her all, she’s a powerhouse and has such a huge onscreen and offscreen presence. As Ma Rainey, this is practically an acting showcase for her. Davis isn’t the only actor delivering an outstanding performance in this movie. Chadwick Boseman sadly passed away in 2020, and this will be his last performance of his career. Everyone who has seen the movie have declared this to be a career best from him, and its definitely warranted. And yes, make no mistake, the movie may be called Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but it’s more like Ma Rainey and Levee (the name of Boseman’s character). Boseman’s performance was raw, tough, free, dynamic and liberated, and he brings a lot of passion to the role. The character is larger than life for sure, but there’s a lot of emotional depth to him too. His character had a lot to him, and eventually more becomes revealed about him as the film progresses. Boseman particularly has some great monologues, some of the best monologues in the whole movie, and those moments really stood out. Despite those two main performances being in the forefront, the supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked either, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts deliver some great work here. The whole cast really does play off each other very well, which is needed with it being a dialogue and character driven movie.

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George C. Wolfe directs this movie, and overall I thought his work here was good enough. If you couldn’t tell already from the writing and the dialogue that it’s based off a play, you can definitely tell that by the way it was filmed and directed. The sets are limited, but the production design, makeup and costumes are detailed and accurate to the time. One could say that the cinematography and camerawork is unremarkable, but it’s simple, vibrant and effective, and catches the right moments. It really does firmly place you at the setting of the movie. Also, while it could’ve been more stylish and stand out more, it is a step above most films based off plays. The music or lack thereof drives the plot forward, and so naturally the music is handled very well too.

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As I said before, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has the typical issues from other plays turned into movies, including pacing, some of the way the dialogue is handled, and some of the direction. On the whole though it is good. I think that it won’t work for everyone, even just for the structure. However I highly recommend that people watch it for the performances alone, especially with phenomenal work from Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman.

Da 5 Bloods (2020) Review

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Da 5 Bloods

Time: 154 Minutes
Cast:
Delroy Lindo as Paul
Jonathan Majors as David
Clarke Peters as Otis
Norm Lewis as Eddie
Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Melvin
Chadwick Boseman as Norman Earl “Stormin’ Norm” Holloway
Mélanie Thierry as Hedy Bouvier
Paul Walter Hauser as Simon
Jasper Pääkkönen as Seppo Havelin
Jean Reno as Desroche
Director: Spike Lee

The story of four African American Vets – Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) – who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature – while confronted by the lasting ravages of the immorality of the Vietnam War.

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I only found out months ago that Netflix would be releasing the next Spike Lee joint, Da 5 Bloods, and just the mere fact that he was making a new film had me interested. Although I’ve only now seen like 5 of his movies, he’s definitely got a unique style and vision, and he’s a great director, and so I’m looking forward to seeing any of his movies. Da 5 Bloods is one of his best films, and considering it’s coming from the man behind movies like BlacKKKlansman, Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, that’s saying a lot.

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It’s a very long movie at 2 hours and 30 minutes but I was pretty invested throughout. It does well to balance the tone throughout, between dark comedy and some emotional and character driven moments. I will say that for the first hour I did like the movie, it’s pretty entertaining, funny and I was invested throughout. However it was mainly the second half where I started to love it. There are some truly impactful moments that I wasn’t expecting, and its truly affecting. It’s greatly written, with sharp and impactful dialogue, and multi dimensional characters. It’s very thematic like a lot of other Spike Lee films, and there’s a lot of hard hitting commentary, mainly of course about race in America (in fact its date of release happens to be quite perfect). You feel the passion and urgency throughout, and you can really tell this was a personal project for Lee throughout the entirety of the movie. There’s a lot to absorb and take in with Da 5 Bloods, it’s a war movie but there are a lot of layers to it, and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

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The whole cast are great. Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr. are the main cast, and all of them are fantastic. The dynamic between the main characters is very believable, between Lindo, Peters, Lewis and Whitlock Jr. as veterans who served together, as well as Lindo and his character’s son played by Majors, who have a very strained relationship. Of that main cast however, it’s Lindo who stands out the most, as someone who really gone through a lot to say the least. His performance is truly heartbreaking and practically made the whole film, he’s central to the whole story and he does so much. It might be too early to talk about it, but I really hope he gets some sort of awards recognition for his sledgehammer of a performance. Also notable is Chadwick Boseman as the dead squad leader of the group, you only see him in like flashbacks but his performance in the scenes he’s in, along with how he’s utilised in the film makes him a noticeable presence throughout.

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Spike Lee is a great director, but this is some of his best work. The flashbacks back to the main 5 soldiers fighting in Vietnam have the aspect ratio change to 4:3 and with grain, it’s simple but nonetheless quite effective. This is not an action movie but the scenes of violence, and the tense moments are directed excellently. There’s one moment in particular that stands out as being incredibly tense, you’ll know what it is when you see it. You also get a lot of Spike Lee trademarks, with the flashy editing, heavy monologues (sometimes directly to the camera), all of that’s here, and in fact this is some of the best editing in a Spike Lee movie I’ve seen. Splicing in pictures and footage from real life played a big part in that. It’s a great looking movie too, the cinematography by Newton Thomas Siegel is outstanding. The music is also good, from the score by Terence Blanchard, and the pre-existing songs that were perfectly throughout the film.

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Da 5 Bloods is truly fantastic film, entertaining and funny yet impactful and emotionally affecting, part thematic war thriller, part character study. Add on top of that an outstanding ensemble of performances, and Da 5 Bloods easily ranks among Netflix’s best films, and among Spike Lee’s best films. Watch it as soon as you can, it’s currently my favourite film of 2020.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was a movie I was meaning to re-watch for some time now. Every time I thought about Civil War, I just got this incredibly underwhelmed feeling. I didn’t dislike it but after greatly anticipating it, I was relatively disappointed by it. Now that it’s been years and I decided to give it a rewatch in the lead up to Endgame, I was hoping for a turnaround on it like what happened with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While I definitely do like the movie more than when I last watched it, I still have some issues with it, and it’s a real shame because there are a lot of parts about the movie which are legitimately great.

As this is a retrospective review, this will be spoiler filled, it’s the only way I can talk in depth about what I think about the movie. Generally, at around 2 hours and a half the movie is paced pretty well all things considering, and I was surprised that most of the humour didn’t detract from the more dramatic moments. The highest praise that I can give in terms of plot is the third act, which is largely done well. None of the ‘twists’ really hit hard at all for me but I really liked certain reveals, such as the subversion of the randomly introduced extra Winter Soldiers as just red herrings. You really feel the emotion with every character, Rogers, Stark, Barnes, T’Challa and even Zemo, and it was all handled very well. There are a lot of great parts to Civil War as well, however they also don’t handle it in the best way and so it detracts from the movie. For example, while I liked the idea of the Sokovia Accords, the introduction of them in the movie was pretty messy. One explosion during a mission by the Avengers is what sets off the creation of the Accords, which is something I really don’t get. There’s even a bit where during a meeting, General Ross showed a montage to the Avengers of the amount of destruction that the past films have caused, considerably higher casualties and damage, however this one relatively smaller even is what got the world thinking “these guys need some oversight”. It wouldn’t be so bad if almost all of the MCU movies didn’t have some large destruction during it and most people just brushing it aside easily. Age of Ultron was the most destructive, so it was the perfect Segway into Civil War. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t directly link it with the Sokovia events (you’d think they would given the title of the Accords), after all it’s what led Tony Stark and Zemo to make their decisions over the course of the movie. With all that being said, I do like the debates about the Accords with all the characters, and they do make some interesting points. I do like how they managed to make the change from ‘superhero registration’ to ‘Avengers Oversight’, the superhero registration thing definitely wouldn’t work in the MCU, even the large amount of characters that exist in it would be too small for an event of that size.

The problem is that despite all this, this still ends up being a movie about Bucky. Both of the major ‘versus’ battles, the Airport scene and the Cap, Iron Man and Bucky fight at the end, are all surrounding Bucky. While people are split into ‘teams’ because of the Sovokia Accords, they aren’t battling because of their positions on it, that’s just a background event that coincidentally splits them on the sides fighting during the airport scene. It feels like there was no point in having it in the story, even without the Sokovia Accords, the idea of Bucky Barnes being framed and on the run with Cap trying to protect him would’ve worked well (on a side note though, wasn’t that invested in the Bucky Barnes story in this movie either). I’m not making this a MCU vs DCEU thing, but it’s worth pointing out that once WB announced that they would be making Batman v Superman, Marvel gave the Russo Brothers the go to do Civil War. I don’t know for certain what their plans for the third Captain America movie were beforehand but I’m guessing it would’ve been more consistent than what we got at least. As for the impact of the Sokovia Accords on the other movies, I guess it’s mentioned briefly like in Ant Man and the Wasp and maybe some of the other movies, but all in all really didn’t have too much impact on the other characters and movies that much. The reason I’m mentioning this is because I’m wondering how much impact Civil War really had on the MCU, and it doesn’t seem to have much, there really weren’t many consequences, any problem that was raised, many of the characters seemed to bounce back from pretty easily. Even when Rhodes crash landed at the end of the airport battle and needed exo-sketal leg braces to walk again, in Infinity War he’s back flying and fighting in the suit like nothing ever happened. The only thing that was really impacted was the relationship between Steve and Tony, which was fractured during the last act of the movie. The thing is that at the end it almost feels like they resolved it and that they regret fighting each other at the end, and they aren’t at odds with each other anymore, as evidence by that message from Cap at the end and Tony’s lllleaction to it, so even then it doesn’t feel significantly damaged. Not to mention by the time the events from Endgame come around, what happened between them in Civil War will be relatively unimportant in Endgame considering The Snap and the aftermath. That last bit however is just speculation, maybe Endgame addresses those events (I hope so at least).

The cast generally do a good job in their roles. Chris Evans once again does a commendable job playing Captain America, though I can’t help but feel like he was robbed of a proper conclusion to his trilogy. While The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier were definitely Captain America movies, Civil War doesn’t feel like that, even if he definitely is the main character of it. His story arc was relatively weaker as well and he didn’t seem to go through as much in comparison. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Don Cheadle as War Machine and the rest of the Avengers cast that appear here do well once again. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Paul Rudd Ant Man feel shoe horned into the movie just for the airport scene (even if both actors played their roles as best as they could), but at least Hawkeye has a reason for being there, with him repaying a favour to Scarlet Witch after the events of Age of Ultron. Ant Man was just sort of put there in the scene with really no motivation behind his actions. When I first watched Civil War, I was very mixed about Tom Holland as Spider-Man, he just felt so out of place. Now after watching Homecoming I’m much more into his version of Spider-Man and so he came across better here, however like Ant Man, still feels a little forced into this movie just for an action scene. I think the part that annoys me so much about his appearance in the airport scene is because he’s only there because Tony Stark wanted another person to help him stop Cap, if he at least knew what was going on and why everything was happening, it would’ve been a lot more tolerable. Let’s just say that I liked him a lot better in his Peter Parker scenes, based off those scenes along he’s a perfect Peter Parker. Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his best performances as Iron Man, even if his sudden change in character was a little shaky. For whatever reason I guess he never realised that people died in Sokovia and it took Alfre Woodward’s character to confront him about her dead son to actually realise it. With that being said, Downey is fantastic in the role as usual and was one of the highlights from the movie. Chadwick Boseman made his strong debut as Black Panther here, and it was actually a great storyline for him, with him starting out wanting revenge for the death of his father and when he does find the man responsible, he chooses to stop him from killing himself. It’s by far the best character arc/story in the movie, as well as the best character in the whole movie. Daniel Bruhl is the main villain Zemo and a lot of people have questioned whether we even needed a villain for the movie, given that it’s mainly Cap vs Iron Man, while I get that perspective, he set the events of the movie into motion and I was fine with him. It’s a very different kind of antagonist compared to the other villains, with almost all of them being super powered beings, and if not that they’d have powerful suits or something. He’s much more of a human based villain, very intelligent and making well laid plans and successfully breaking The Avengers apart (sort of). Also he’s driven by revenge, and it’s a revenge story you can really buy. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to him outside of that, however Bruhl did such a good job at playing him that I’d be open to seeing him again in another movie (even if I don’t think there’s much more you could really do with him).

Most of the Russo Brothers’ direction is pretty good here. The action scenes are mostly good and I appreciated it a lot more than the last time I saw them. The opening action scene in Lagos was better than I remember it being, it is a little too shaky but still good. There’s the Bucky chase scene with him, Captain America and Black Panther, also very good. Most of the other action scenes were also well done. The final fight is one of the highlight action scenes from the MCU, you really feel the weight of every blow and it was all handled very well. The cinematography is not as grey as a lot of people have said it was, it’s actually pretty good for the most part. The score by Henry Jackman is also much better than I remembered it being, with most of the themes being quite memorable, even if some of his other scores are a little better.

The one scene you’ve probably noticed I left off mentioning was the Airport Scene, it’s so far removed from the rest of the movie and I have so much to say about that I had to dedicate an entire paragraph talking about it. Generally, it is widely known as one of the best scenes in Civil War and one of the best scenes of the MCU. Many people have described the scene as the cinematic version of smashing action figures together, and I can’t think of a more apt description, though you can probably tell where I’m going with this that I mean it in a bad way. It honestly brought down the movie for me, it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the movie at all. The tone is completely different, even if the some of the other action scenes have some humour, it still managed to maintain a sense of tension and weight throughout, just like what the Russo Brothers did with The Winter Soldier. This scene on the other hand was like cheesy ‘fun’ comic book mayhem that doesn’t particularly progress the story like the other action scenes did. Really everyone is pulling their punches too (except for Black Panther of course, who’s trying to kill Bucky), so you feel no tension whatsoever. Even on a technical level it’s a bit of a downgrade from the rest of the movies. As I said earlier, most of the movie isn’t that grey but this particular scene definitely is, it’s not visually appealing to look at, even with all the battles that are going on. Most of the CGI in the movie is actually pretty good but in that scene, it is hit or miss, whether it be the green screen backgrounds, Giant Man or even the effects on Iron Man and War Machine. The best part about the scene I guess is that it does show off everyone’s abilities well, particularly Scarlet Witch and even War Machine gets to show off more than in previous film appearances. Despite its issues, on its own the scene isn’t terrible, and it would’ve fitted in a much more lighthearted movie, like the first Avengers. In Civil War however, it doesn’t belong there at all and the movie would’ve been better if it didn’t have it.

What gets me about Captain America Civil War is that there are some legitimately great parts to it. Even if you remove the frustrating Airport scene, it’s got some issues in its story which keeps the movie back from how it could’ve been. It’s not bad by any means, it’s decent, just unfortunately with a lot of problems. With talk about how Endgame makes the previous MCU movies even better in hindsight, I really hope that it’ll retroactively improve Civil War too.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

Black Panther (2018) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Winston Duke as M’Baku
Angela Bassett as Ramonda
Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue
Director: Ryan Coogler

After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

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Black Panther was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Not only was it a Marvel movie and one focussing on Black Panther (who became one of my favourite MCU characters after Civil War) and not only does it have a fantastic cast, Ryan Coogler directed it. Coogler had already established himself as a director to pay attention to after Fruitvale Station and Creed, so naturally I was excited to see him work on a comic book movie. Black Panther definitely had the potential to be one of the best MCU films and having seen it, I can say that it didn’t disappoint.

Black Panther is yet another Marvel comic book movie and there are aspects of it that feel like a Marvel movie but yet it feels quite fresh and new. After the first few scenes, I was riveted with Black Panther through to the very end. The characters were really memorable and established very well. The themes explored in the movie was really effective and the social commentary was applied well and didn’t feel forced at all, they were very well integrated into the story. The MCU often had a problem with its humour, but Black Panther’s was effective for the most part and most importantly didn’t kill any dramatic or emotional moment just for a joke. Black Panther also doesn’t feel like it’s too connected to the rest of the MCU, there are character’s like Martin Freeman’s Ross and Andy Serkis’s Klaue who were in other Marvel movies and there may be a brief reference to the MCU but on the whole it’s standalone. On another note, there are a couple of post credit scenes, I liked them both but the first of them really should’ve been part of the actual movie itself. I’ve noticed that recent MCU movies such as Thor Ragnarok and Captain America Civil War have post credit scenes which don’t just tease the future movies but are also important to the actual movie itself, so when these scenes are placed after the credits it feels like they just didn’t know where to put the scene. I just wished that they would handle these scenes better.

The characters in Black Panther are great and Coogler has a fantastic cast playing them. Chadwick Boseman is once again great as T’Challa/Black Panther. T’Challa is quite a different character compared to the other MCU heroes, he is more serious and isn’t a constant humorous quipper like some of the more recent characters like Ant Man, but he does have moments of levity. More importantly though, he is a king and so it feels very fresh and new watching this type of character in the lead role. With his solo movie, T’Challa once again shows himself to be one of the best characters in the MCU and Boseman again killed it. The supporting cast with Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and others do quite well, Letitia Wright was particularly a stand out as T’Challa’s sister. It’s common for Marvel villains to not be that great, every so often you’ll have a Loki or a Vulture but on the whole, they just end up being passable. Thankfully, not only is Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger great, he is one of the best villains in this cinematic universe. He is very well established and written and you can really understand why he does the things he does and maybe even agree with his views, even if you don’t agree with his methods. Aside from an early scene though, he’s mostly just in the second half of the movie, however he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. The other villain is Andy Serkis as Klaue (who was established in Avengers Age of Ultron in a rare motion-capture-less role) and he is very entertaining when he’s on screen.

Ryan Coogler once again shows himself to be a really great director. The action scenes were great, very well shot and choregraphed. Coogler also portrayed the fictional country of Wakanda greatly, from the production design to the costume design, everything feels different from anything you’ve seen. There are some truly great cinematography at times. The music was also really good, one of the more memorable score of the MCU movies. There were some action sequences that took place at night that were difficult to see and the CG as times looked a little fake, especially with some of the big action sequences, however they aren’t close to being the worse CG ever. Despite these aspects, most of the direction was great.

Black Panther was really great and surpassed my expectations. Yes it’s entertaining and watching the action sequences are enjoyable but it’s really the story and characters that stood out the most to me. It separated itself from other Marvel and comic book movies and is really something special. I don’t know yet if I’d call it the best MCU movie but it’s at least in the top 2, and after many movies since Captain America The Winter Soldier, that’s saying a lot.

Gods of Egypt (2016) Review

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Gods of Egypt

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus
Brenton Thwaites as Bek
Gerard Butler as Set
Chadwick Boseman as Thoth
Élodie Yung as Hathor
Courtney Eaton as Zaya
Rufus Sewell as Urshu
Geoffrey Rush as Ra
Director: Alex Proyas

The survival of mankind hangs in the balance when Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, usurps Egypt’s throne and plunges the prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. Hoping to save the world and rescue his true love, a defiant mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) forms an unlikely alliance with the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Their battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens for an epic confrontation.

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Since its release, Gods of Egypt has been panned, absolutely everyone has been trashing it and calling it one of the worst films of 2016. So naturally I was curious and wanted to check it out. While others despised the movie, I personally enjoyed it, but for all the wrong reasons. It really will surprise you how bad it this movie gets, from terrible green screen and CGI, to an uninteresting and familiar story. This film doesn’t work at all. Aside from the unintentionally hilarious aspects and two of the performances, Gods of Egypt pretty much fails on every level. I almost recommend seeing it.

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The story itself isn’t really interesting at all. We’ve all seen this story and types of characters many times over, there’s nothing to really comment on. I’m finding it difficult to remember much about the plot itself. The only reason this film works in a bad way is the way they try to execute this movie. They make the film so over the top, it’s kind of a glorious trainwreck to watch. The dialogue is really bad, awkward and clunky, the romance in the movie you don’t buy at all and there is also some humour which seems really off (which is funny but not because it’s done well, it’s funny because it was so horribly and awkwardly done). Pretty much almost nothing about this film works at all.

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Hands down the best part of the movie is Gerald Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Gerald chews up the scenery as the villain and looks like he’s enjoying every second he’s on screen. Nikolaj at times looks like he’s genuinely trying to give a good performance, despite the bad material he’s given. Everyone else is forgettable, granted they didn’t have a whole lot to work with. Even some of the really good actors like Chadwick Boseman and Geoffrey Rush don’t really come away with anything. I think it is worth noting that there aren’t any Egyptian actors in this film, Gods of Egypt didn’t have any Egyptians. Not really a flaw with the performances, just thought it was worth pointing out.

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The green screen and action scenes were done absolutely horribly. Think of how out of place the green screen was in the Star Wars prequels. Only it’s 5 times worse. You can clearly see where the green/blue screen is around the actors, its kind of embarrassing. Same with the CGI, nothing feels natural. And as for the action scenes, there is so much slow mo and camera rotations used, it’s crazy. It tries to make it look epic but it ends up looking ridiculous, over the top and amateur. It’s weird because the director of Gods of Egypt made The Crow, which didn’t use a lot of CGI but still I don’t see how he could’ve made both films.

Undated Film Still Handout from Gods of Egypt. See PA Feature FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Entertainment One. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Reviews.

I didn’t give it my lowest score as I enjoyed this movie as a so-bad-it’s-good movie and Gerald Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were actually good in the movie. But it’s still so far the worst movie I’ve seen this year, with the awful CGI, greenscreen and action scenes, the mostly mediocre performances and a cliché story. Gods of Egypt really is the Jupiter Ascending of 2016. However, if you like so bad it’s good movies, you should definitely check this out when you can. This film is definitely one to remember, for all the wrong reasons.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

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Captain America Civil War

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favourite movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the directors of that movie, the Russo Brothers, are returning for this film. Not only that but it featured most of the Avengers. Ever since its’ release, Civil War has been met with critical acclaim. After seeing this movie, I can say that it is good, it does have a lot of great aspects from the excellent acting, entertaining action scenes and many moments of the story making a big impact. Overall I think that if you liked the other films in the series, you should definitely check Civil War out. But there are a lot of aspects that could’ve been improved that would’ve made the film significantly better.

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In terms of the pacing, the first act was quite slow as it set up the story, by the second act though it picks up, however I will say the film definitely does feel its length of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Even though I would’ve preferred the overall story go in a different direction (which I’ll talk about later), I thought that the final act was done quite well, it actually goes quite dark, much darker than I’d expect it to be. One thing that was quite unfortunate was that most of the story was quite predictable. For example, there is a revelation in the final act that was supposed to be significant, however I could see it coming within the first few scenes of the movie. However the story was still decent enough and kept me interested throughout the movie. Another thing I should mention is the humour. Some of the humour worked quite well and was entertaining, other times it didn’t, sometimes the jokes didn’t hit, sometimes there were too many jokes and sometimes the jokes even interrupted actually emotional scenes. This was quite unfortunate as these moments could’ve been much better without the poorly placed humour.

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There is an issue I have to mention. One of the main selling points of this movie is that it will have the Avengers fight against each other. I should warn you, don’t go into this movie expecting the Civil War storyline just slightly changed. In the first act the Sovakia Accords (the agreement for government oversight over the Avengers) does play a part and the film does well at illustrating both sides. Even though coming into this movie I was on Steve’s side, there were some points made by Tony which were quite valid. However by the 2nd act the film almost ditches that plotline and the mains source of conflict between Steve and Tony are no longer related to the Accords, it’s related to Bucky. So it almost feels pointless calling the movie Civil War other than the fact that it gives an excuse for most of the characters to return and to draw attention to it because it’s the name of a significant Marvel storyline. It would’ve been a lot more ambitious to stick with this setup and have them fight each other because of their ideological differences. Another result of the need to make the Avengers fight each other is that some of the characters don’t really play a significant part of the story. Some of the characters like Hawkeye and Ant Man are in this movie simply for the airport scene and they seem to feel quite out of place, but they are still good in the couple scenes they’re in. As I said earlier though, the plot is done reasonably well, it’s just that I think that it would’ve been better in taking it in a different direction.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War L to R: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2016

Almost all the Avengers return and they are great, it’s surprising that most of them have their own mini arcs in the movie. There are a few notable stand outs. The first is Tom Holland as Spiderman. It is way too early to tell whether he’s the best Spiderman as we haven’t seen him in his own movie, but I can at least say that he is a good Spiderman (CHECK BOTTOM OF REVIEW FOR UPDATED THOUGHTS). Another standout was Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. One of the best parts of the movie is that it set up his character quite well, he was one of the most interesting characters in the story. He’s actually one of my favourite Avengers now and I can’t wait to see him in his own movie in 2018. Now there is one performance which I think isn’t getting enough attention and that is Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, who steals this entire movie. The few moments in Civil War where I felt emotionally impacted by a scene featured Downey Jr, and it was him who made the scene significantly better. I know that he has a reputation of just playing himself in this role, but here he proves how great of an actor he is and how well cast he was. This is the best performance I’ve seen from him since Iron Man. Now there’s one character that’s going to divide people and that is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who is the main villain. On one hand he’s not the most memorable villain and he’s absolutely nothing like the character in the comics, but on the other he is written quite well, with actual reasons behind his actions. He could’ve been made better by not having him in the movie (since there doesn’t really need to be a villain for Civil War) or by having him in more scenes and making him more memorable. But either way, he’s still one of the better Marvel villains, though that’s not saying a lot.

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The action for the most part is good. The first scene has a lot of unnecessary shaky cam which made the action hard to comprehend but the rest of the action is pretty steady and easy to be entertained by. The airport scene, which has been hyped up quite a bit is decent enough and showcased all the Avengers’ abilities and skills greatly, Ant Man for me stole that entire scene. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say I wasn’t underwhelmed after all the hype. There were a couple of problems I had however, first is that there were far too many jokes that felt like an overload, especially when it came to Spiderman. It did feel really odd for the Avengers to be cracking jokes while beating up their former friends, in fact they didn’t seem that concerned that they are now divided and fighting each other. Another complaint is some of the CGI, it works quite well in most of the film but there are a couple moments of bad CGI, both of which were in the airport scene. One is Spiderman, although his action was good the CGI on him looks incredibly fake. The other is, where I swear the filmmakers photoshopped Downey’s face onto an Iron Man suit, but those are really the only times that the CGI was fake. The best action scene however for me is the final fight in the last act. As I said the final act goes quite dark, but the fight scene is a lot more dirty and rough than you’d expect, the direction of that scene is the direction I wanted the airport scene to go in.

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Despite many of my problems with it, Captain America: Civil War is still one of the better Marvel movies. It has great action scenes, very good performances and some ambitious ideas, some of which I never expected at all to come from this movie. It’s just some of the aspects of the plot that weigh down the film. It felt like it could’ve gone further than it did, some of the humour didn’t land and the direction of the plot could’ve been handled a lot better. I have a feeling that a lot of that is due to the fact that the Russos’ had so much that they had to handle, that not everything integrated perfectly. I do think however that this movie is worth watching, I just don’t think it’s as flawless as some are making it out to be.

UPDATED THOUGHTS ON SPIDERMAN

My thoughts on Civil War are pretty much the same as in this review. However something that had changed was my thoughts on Spiderman.

After watching Civil War I didn’t really know what to think of Holland’s Spiderman, I had mixed feelings. I ended up just saying that I liked him in the review (as I wanted to get the review up as soon as possible), which was a bad idea. I felt like I should’ve waited to collect my thoughts before posting the review. So months later, here are my current thoughts on him:

I loved Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, I have only seen one scene of him but out of all the Peter Parkers, he’s my favourite. That’s absolutely impressive. I did not expect that.

As for his Spiderman… I have mixed feelings. He was honestly quite annoying to me, and not in a good way. There wasn’t really any moment in the Airport scene (the only scene in Civil War where you see Spiderman) which made me like him, not one joke that worked. However I don’t think it was the way that Holland played him, Spiderman just wasn’t used well in the scene or the movie for that matter. He feels completely forced in and wasn’t given much depth. He didn’t even work on an entertaining level.

Now I will say that Holland will have a lot more to work with when his solo movie comes around. I felt like if Spiderman was integrated throughout Civil War and had his own arc like Black Panther, I might’ve liked him. The best thing I can say about him in Civil War is that Holland shows potential. He definitely has the potential to be the best live action Spiderman. But we’ll just have to see.