Tag Archives: Jonathan Majors

Loki Season 1 (2021) Review

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Loki Season 1

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer
Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15
Eugene Cordero as Casey
Tara Strong voices Miss Minutes
Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius
Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie
Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20
Jack Veal as Kid Loki
DeObia Oparei as Boastful Loki
Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki
Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains
Director:
Kate Herron
Creator: Michael Waldron

Loki, the God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston), steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

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Loki was yet another show from the MCU which would be releasing on Disney+. Out of the shows that Marvel initially announced, I was wondering about what the point of this one was, especially after Loki had his death in the opening of Avengers: Infinity War. From the trailers I reckoned that it would be just filling the gap of the Loki who disappeared with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, and would generally just consist of him getting into shenanigans involving time periods. Some of that was true, but it ended up being a lot different than I thought it would be.

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There’s some aspects of the show worth experiencing for yourself, so I’ll try to be light with spoilers and details. Loki starts out with a whole lot of worldbuilding in the first episode with the TVA, an organisation that preserves the current timeline, and I thought it was quite interesting learning about all this. Like with WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki also explores its lead character and the show is character focused. The lead character certainly goes through a change, even when it’s picking up with the Loki from 2012’s The Avengers. The show is definitely slower paced and for some that might get a bit dull. However I appreciated the slower pace and what it was going for. There are some action scenes in the show but it never feels like it is reliant on it. It does take a while to get into what the story is really about, the first couple of episodes takes its time to develop things and while I was invested, I know that some will find that its just meandering. After the first three episodes though I think you’ll get into it. There is some humour but unlike some other MCU projects it doesn’t interrupt anything and actually works well for the tone of the show.

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Usually the finale is where the MCU shows have an issue. WandaVision changed from what it was trying to do and just devolves into a very typical Marvel climax with large special effects. The Falcon and Winter Soldier was more consistent but the way the finale played out ended up highlighting the issues that the entire show had. However, Loki actually nails the ending quite well. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t end with a traditional climax, and once again I really appreciate that. It is staying true to itself and being more about the story and characters rather than just ticking another box in the Marvel formula. I will say this however, unlike the other two shows, it ends in a cliff-hanger. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say this since its been announced that Loki has been renewed for a second season. Some character arcs haven’t been quite completed and story plotlines weren’t quite fully resolved, as a result some aspects feel less satisfying compared to the other Marvel shows because they haven’t been finalised yet. So much critical stuff happens in the last episode that I’m surprised that it was happened in this show as opposed to one of the bigger Marvel movies. I know that not everyone watches the MCU shows, even people who watch the movies, and some will probably look over Loki because it seems like a one off show just about Loki. However for what it’s worth I think the show is worth watching if only because of the roll on effect it will have on the other movies and shows. In terms of credits scenes, surprisingly there’s only one in episode 4, and just a little tease in episode 6, which are worth watching.

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The cast were also great in their parts. As expected, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role of Loki. Not only does he get to have a lot of fun as Loki, but Loki goes through a change of his own over the course of the show. To put this in context, this is the Loki from The Avengers (2012) finding out what happens to him (including his death in Infinity War). So he goes through his own change and development, like the lead characters in the previous Marvel shows. However, there’s something even more fascinating about a character like Loki going through the change, and this show makes me like Loki more as a character. Sophia Di Martino plays a vital character named Sylvie, and she’s great in her part too. Her onscreen dynamic with Loki was great to see, especially considering the connection the two of them have (won’t get into it more than that). Another notable character is that of an agent of the TVA named Mobius played by Owen Wilson, and this might actually be one of my favourite roles and performances from Wilson. He has great chemistry with Hiddleston and I loved seeing the two of them interacting, especially in the earlier episodes. Other supporting actors with the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku are also good in their parts. There are two guest performers in this who stand out, both of them are particularly great in their screentime. The one actor whose name I can mention is Richard E. Grant, and while I won’t go into what his role is, he pretty much stole the entire episode that he was in with his performance. The second performer is a critical role, and who makes me very excited for what’s to come next in the other movies and shows.

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This show is directed by Kate Herron, and she’s done a great job with it all. The show is visually striking and nothing like what the MCU has done before. The set designs, environments and CGI are great (the look of the TVA alone was immediately distinct), those and the cinematography came together to form a gorgeous looking show. As said previously, there is action here and to be honest they aren’t that spectacular. They usually just consist of Loki and other characters involved with hand to hand combat with maybe some weapons. They are filmed okay and are solid enough, they are good enough for the purpose of the show. There is one large set piece involving a lot of CGI in one of the later episodes but even that’s handled very well. Another standout is the score from Natalie Holt, which is incredibly distinct and really gives the show a unique tone and feel. One of my favourite scores from the MCU.

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Loki has ended up being one of my favourite instalments in the MCU. As someone who almost begrudgingly likes some of the MCU projects, I was thoroughly surprised by it. While it is still in the MCU, it remained true to itself and didn’t feel too constrained by some of the formula that some of the movies and shows have to follow. The performances were all solid, the direction was great, and I was invested with the story and characters. If you are interested in the MCU I think it is worth checking out.

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.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Cast:
Jimmie Fails as Jimmie Fails
Jonathan Majors as Montgomery “Mont” Allen
Danny Glover as Grandpa Allen
Tichina Arnold as Wanda Fails
Rob Morgan as James Sr.
Mike Epps as Bobby
Finn Wittrock as Clayton Newsom
Director: Joe Talbot

Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and his best friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) try to reclaim the house built by Jimmie’s grandfather, launching them on a poignant odyssey that connects them to their past, even as it tests their friendship and sense of belonging in the place they call home.

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I didn’t really know anything about The Last Black Man of San Francisco outside of it being distributed by A24, but the people who have seen it have mostly raved about it, and it’s even reached many peoples’ best films of the year lists. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for some time, and I finally did. I was going in blind and I found myself to be quite surprised by what I saw, it’s a really great movie that more people should be watching for sure.

First thing to note is that this is a semi biographical movie (partly based off Jimmie Fails’s own life), and it certainly feels that way, it’s very much a personal story. It’s incredibly well written by Rob Richert and director Joe Talbot, particularly with the dialogue. Throughout this movie it just felt so fresh and different, and it kept me interested throughout. There’s just one thing that sort of holds it back a little. It doesn’t seem like the story has a whole lot of focus, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, plenty of movies aren’t necessarily driven by something. However I wasn’t really sure where the movie was moving towards really, so it felt like it meanders a little bit and you’re just following along, seeing what this movie is really about. With that said, it still kept you invested throughout, and I get the feeling that the movie might now be better on a rewatch. Though I’m not sure many people will be revisiting it, as great as it is. It’s rather melancholic and emotional, but in a genuine way, none of the major emotional scenes feel forced or anything. It’s pretty hard selling what this movie is really about, so it’s one that you’ll have to see for yourself.

The acting is quite great, with the main leads being of Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors, and both are fantastic. Both performances feel real and have good chemistry, and you really believe that the two of them are best friends. Supporting actors like Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Mike Epps, and Finn Wittrock also work in their respective roles.

This is the directorial debut from Joe Talbot, and this is an incredible feature film to start his career with, he’s clearly a very talented filmmaker based off this movie alone. It’s an amazing looking movie (shot by Adam Newport-Berra), featuring some of the best cinematography of the year, and given some of the movies released this year, that’s saying a lot. The score by Emile Mosseri was also fantastic, one of the most memorable movie scores all year. All the music in general really stood out and perfectly fitted the movie., days later the music was still in my head. Pretty much everything on a technical level is handled spectacularly. While it’s not the only reason to watch the movie, it’s worth watching The Last Black Man in San Francisco for the direction alone.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is one of the biggest surprises from 2019, and it’s really great on the whole. The writing is solid, the acting is fantastic (especially Fails and Majors), and it’s directed spectacularly. It’s fresh, sincere and personal, and was a real stand out from 2019 movies. I’m looking forward to seeing Talbot direct more movies, because he’s shown himself to be a real talent here. Definitely check it out when you can, it deserves a lot more attention than it has been receiving.