Tag Archives: Danai Gurira

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review

Time: 183 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Benedict Wong as Wong
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sends a message to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos (Josh Brolin) — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.

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Avengers: Endgame was not only one of my most anticipated movies of 2019, it was also one of the most anticipated movies of all time. It’s the conclusion of an 11 year long story arc and it had a lot it needed to pay off on. Infinity War surprised me with how much they pulled off considering all the hype, however I said back then that whether or not it’ll hold up will depend on the follow up, Endgame. It could easily just reverse the impact that Infinity War had, making so much of that movie feel inconsequential. However, Endgame not only makes some of the other MCU movies better, it is by far the best movie in the MCU to date, and a more than satisfying conclusion to the main MCU storyline.

There are a lot of surprises in Endgame, so I will keep my description of the movie very vague. It’s been said that the trailer footage would only show the first 15 minutes of the movie, and for the most part that is true, it does not go at all how you think it would be in the first half hour alone, and the marketing managed to hide a lot of the movie. The movie is 3 hours long and personally I was actually invested in the characters and story from start to finish. I also thought the pacing was actually really good, Infinity War’s pacing doesn’t give you a chance to breathe, for better or for worse. Endgame on the other hand takes its time with its story (it definitely helps that it doesn’t have to focus on as many characters all in one movie), but isn’t too slow either. Make no mistake, while there definitely are big action sequences, it takes its time with its story and characters. It’s surprisingly one of the most character driven MCU movies, with most of the major characters going through their own arcs, in fact there wasn’t any clear weak link with the characters. You also really feel the incredibly high stakes throughout. Most of the MCU movies feel like no major character is going to die or that there are going to be major repercussions, but with Endgame you are on edge the entire time. The first hour is very sombre, the pacing is going to not work for some but I still loved it. I might have a different opinion the next time I see it, but I felt like every scene was necessary and really did a good job at humanising our main characters, in some cases much more than previous MCU appearances have done. If you found the first act to be too slow, the second hour is when the movie really picks up. Yes, there is a lot of fanservice, but with it being the last movie, a lot of these moments are earned, and I really had fun with all of them. As this is a MCU movie you can expect quite a bit of comedy thrown in and most of it works in Endgame, not taking away too much from the seriousness of the situations. There are multiple story bits that might not entirely make sense and you can really nitpick certain plot details if you want to, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll just have to roll with. I know that some people will be taking issues with the ‘plot holes’ but personally I didn’t have too many issues with it.

The third hour is also one of the all time best comic book movie third acts. All I will say is that if you remembered how great Thor’s entrance in the Wakanda battle in Infinity War was, there are plenty of even better moments in Endgame. The third act and movie ends some characters’ story arcs, while leaving others for expansion, and it was all done very well. Yes, you do need to see all the other movies in order to get the full experience, however that’s what makes the MCU stand apart from other cinematic universes. Not many cinematic universes have over 10 films all building and tying into each other, let alone 22 of them. It even ties together little elements from other MCU movies, even making some of the previous movies even better. It may not be the last MCU movie, and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon, however this really does feel like the conclusion to the main story arc, and you could easily stop watching the series here and be perfectly satisfied with how it ends. Since we are talking about endings, no, there aren’t any credits scenes. Nonetheless I do recommend sticking around for the credits of the cast before leaving at the very least.

The cast all bring their A game to their roles, most of whom give the best performances as their characters. First, with the main trio, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, giving possibly their best outings as their characters (certainly in the case of Downey and Evans), you really see how far each character has come from their first film appearance. Downey’s Tony Stark is particularly a standout from the case, it’s not really a surprise but he is truly great here. I was wondering what was going to happen with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Pretty much everyone agrees that he was the weakest link in Infinity War, and I was very disappointed by his use in that film as most of the time he just felt like the butt of many jokes. Thankfully I can say that he is back to being really good in Endgame. It wasn’t quite what I initially expected and it will be initially jarring for some people but I really liked what they did with his character and was a logical enough next step for the character. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner also give their best performances as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. One of the big surprises was Paul Rudd as Ant Man, he was one of the most natural players from the main group, especially with the humour but also with the emotion, he fit in so well into the group of Avengers. Don Cheadle’s War Machine is a character that’s always good in the movies he appears in but he’s often sidelined, here though he gets to play a significant part in one of the plotlines and they really gave him a lot to do. Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), who is the last of the Guardians of the Galaxy, also works well in the group, as does surprisingly Karen Gillan’s Nebula. With the exception of her villainous role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, in her previous appearances she’s only been defined by her relationship with Thanos, and has come across as a bit weak as a character. In Endgame she’s given a lot more to her character and they develop her quite a bit. The newest addition to the MCU, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is also here. Despite having a significant role, she’s actually not in the movie as much as you’d think she is. Still she does good in the scenes that she’s in. One of my worries about her is that she’d overshadow the rest of the Avengers and be the simple solution to Endgame since she’s significantly more powerful that them, thankfully the focus is still on the main Avengers while she gets to have her OP moments. As for Josh Brolin’s Thanos, unlike Infinity War it’s not really his movie so you don’t get as much of him, but he’s still just as powerful and menacing whenever he’s on screen, and once again the performance and visual effects are just as good. There is a take on a major character which I know is going to divide some people (I won’t say who it is, when you watch you’ll know who it is pretty quickly). All I can say without revealing too much is that it was played a little too much for comedy at certain points (however I get the feeling that my audience misinterpreted certain serious moments as being comedic instead), but his story arc still worked well enough for his character and I overall liked the direction they went in.

Infinity War was really well put together by The Russo Brothers and Endgame is no exception, everything feels like they’re on such a large and epic scale. The visual effects in Infinity War were stunning, but Endgame takes it to a whole other level. I’ll have to watch it again but I don’t remember any glaringly bad CGI moments like most comic book movies occasionally have. While there aren’t as many action sequences as you’d think there’d be, they are really great. The third act particularly is truly spectacular. The score by Alan Silvestri (who has now done ¾ of the scores for the Avengers movies) is really good as to be expected and elevated the movie even more.

Avengers: Endgame is an emotionally satisfying conclusion of a conclusion 22 films and 11 years in the making. The cast and characters all do fantastic work, with everyone’s story arcs executed in a very satisfying way, it’s a large scale epic yet character driven at the same time, it’s astounding that they managed to pull it off this well. It is legitimately one of the best comic book movies made, and I don’t say that too often. I feel like with so much in this movie, I’ll need to watch it again so I can fully process it fully. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers this long and not watched it yet, go into the movie knowing next to nothing. I’d be surprised if Endgame is still not one of my favourites of the year by the time 2019 is over.

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.