Black Panther

In 2017, I was a bit disappointed with the superhero genre. It was the first time in awhile that a superhero film didn’t make it in my best of the year list. And that includes Logan, which I gave an average rating to.

As for Marvel, in 2017 they gave the average Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the decent Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the funny Thor: Ragnarok, but none of them really blew me away.

Black Panther I was really hoping would start the year off strong. I loved the character for years, he was amazeballs in Civil War, and for all intents and purposes, it looks like they took a lot of care to ensure this one would turn out right. To not be another Catwoman, if you know what I mean.

And somehow it exceeded most of my already high expectations.

Duel
Ah sweet! A duel between two panther orphans.

Days after the bombings that took out King T’Chaka (John Kani), and all that Civil War nonsense has ended, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has returned home to his country of Wakanda to ascend the throne and become their leader.

And you know what? Things are sure going swell for Wakanda. Minus the death of their ruler and some missionaries, they are still prosperous as fuck, living mostly peacefully in their walled off community. They are rich, they have crazy good technology, all thanks to luckily living where Vibranium deposits are, from a meteor a long, long time ago. Yep, it pays sometime to be lucky, I guess!

The Queen (Angela Bassett) is ready for her son to rule, and his younger sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), is a tech genius, helping beef up his Black Panther outfit. And there is a former love interest, in Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), a warrior champion of one of the many tribes who believes they need to be helping all of Africa, not just themselves.

Unfortunately, things are about to be not so peaceful in Wakanda. A combination of meddling white people (Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis), both good and bad, and the sins of their fathers, are about to change the way Wakanda is seen by the world and by the tribes who inhabit it. Because Wakanda is about to unknowingly welcome home a former son and member of the royal family back to their fold (Michael B. Jordan), and he has his eyes set on the throne.

Also starring Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Florence Kasumba, and Forest Whitaker.

Dual Pewpews
Ah sweet! A set of dual panther blasters.

Good news! Kilmonger is officially one of the best Marvel villains to date. You know why? Because he is a bad guy with realistic motivations, one who doesn’t speak in cliches, and arguably, he is right. He is right! Not necessarily in the methodology he ends up employing with his drastic measures, but he has justifications that just make sense. He is correct that Wakanda should branch out more and that it is totally fucked up what happened to him his past. He legitamately deserved some amount of revenge.

Okay, okay, I will not talk only about how great Jordan is and his character. The rest of the cast really shines too. I want way more Shuri and certainly more M’Baku. This movie celebrates its diversity in ways we haven’t seen in a blockbuster in almost forever, and that diversity shines brightly. There are vivid colors without relying on the Doctor Strange spectacles, and thrilling fight scenes without excessive explosions.

Hell, the best part about the climatic fight scene (besides the obvious repercussions as they are happening and the crowd pleasing moments) is that it for the most part took place in the open, during the day. It was well lit, we could see it all, and it wasn’t hiding behind quick camera changes and bad choreography.

There are some easy things to nitpick, sure. Like Vibranium becoming a catch all wonder cure. Like the excessive amount of violence involving stabbing items without a lot of consequences from those actions. Like this film following the general strategy of “Intro Marvel Film” means good guy fights evil version of himself.

But it does a lot of things right, from a cultural stand point, from visual stand points, from the plot, to the acting, to the action, and to the scale. It is a strong bar to set for Superhero films this year, and one that Marvel is hoping to actually surpass in just a few months.

4 out of 4.

Get Out

For most films I try to avoid the trailers and ads and just go in blind. For Get Out, I did see the opening trailer, and I did feel like I understood a lot about the film, things I would have liked to not guess on.

Going into the film, I had my whole theory ready on why the events of the film would happen. It is a horror, mystery, and potential for comedy, and I was worried the trailers gave it all away. (Don’t worry, they didn’t).

Either way, the trailer did a good job of hyping up the film. Add on the excitement of Jordan Peele directing his first film ever, and writing this one on his own. He wants to show he has the chops to create content on his own.

Ride
Aw, look at the happy couple.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is a photographer, good dude, and he is black. Don’t worry, his color matters. Because he is dating Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) a white woman for a few months now. And he has agreed to go and visit her parents home for a weekend, and no, they don’t know she is black.

But he heads up. They are in a rich mansion by a lake, very secluded. His friend Rod (LilRel Howery) is watching his dog, and he hopes they don’t get upset. But hey, they don’t! After all, her dad (Bradley Whitford) would have voted for Obama for a third term, so he can’t be racist. The mom (Catherine Keener), is a psychiatrist who uses hypnosis and is willing to help him quit smoking.

Hypnosis! Yay!

Despite their totally not racist antics, they do have two people who work at their house, who happen to be black. Georgina (Betty Gabriel), their maid, and Walter (Marcus Henderson), their groundskeeper. And they act very strange. Like they have no real personality, like they are…trapped.

Nah, white people can’t be that crazy. Right?

Featuring Caleb Landry Jones as the brother, Lakeith Stanfield as the first victim, and Stephen Root as a blind art dealer.

Stare
Should he get out or are they just out to get him? Who knows!

Get Out is amazeballs and that is not a word I get to use to often in a review. Last year we had an early horror film get a 4 out of 4, and it was The Witch, for feeling truly evil, authentic, and scary. Get Out is a horror film with tense scenes, but it is wildly different.

First of all, yes, it has comedy elements. It isn’t a horror comedy like Scary Movie 5, which is not horror, and also not comedy. Some of the scares will make you laugh, for being ridiculous. Some of the scares though will make you cringe back. And some of the scares are deeper than that. They are the societal pressures that are ever present today coming out and haunting us.

Get Out is extremely topical, with the current level of race relations in America. It refers to the past and calls out those who are not outwardly racist, but still end up being racist to some degree. The minor way people will act different if there is a minority present, like a change of language or your choice of dinner conversation.

And honestly, in the third act when it becomes a sort of revenge flick, the deaths are graphic, unexpected, and they had me clapping along with others ready for some of that juicy justice.

Get Out is funny, frightening, and fucking relevant. But what really brings the whole thing together is LilRel Howery. He is the single greatest thing to happen to the TSA since…well, he is the single greatest thing to happen to the TSA. Because literally nothing else before this has been great for the TSA. But they finally have something they can look on and be proud about. A fictional movie character.

4 out of 4.

Sicario

I am happy to say that I was able to go into Sicario with a blind eye. I knew nothing about the plot and I was happy about that fact. Hell, when I first saw the cover and name, I just assumed it was some random horror film.

But what I was unable to avoid was the hype train. The hype train drove through my city like a…well, train. Praise from all sides about the acting, directing, cinemetography, plot, you name it, people loved it.

That sucks. Now I went into the film expecting greatness. The important note here is that I did, in fact, go into the film. I was supposed to see 99 Films this night. I convinced myself otherwise, to avoid the free pre-screening, and pay my hard cash money to see the movie so I can review it and compare it to its hype. I might have had to wait until a DVD release if it wasn’t super hyped, and who the hell knows when that would be. I can’t miss out on potential Oscar greatness for Andrew MotherFucking Garfield!?!

Immigrants
Some say Garfield is living his post-Spider-Man life as an immigrant on the run from the law.

Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent living in Arizona and she is pretty dang good at her job. She is currently working on a string of kidnappings in the area by a Mexican Cartel lord. The guy pretends to be a legitimate business man, but they all know he is running the gangs secretly and taking orders from Mexico. Kate and her partner, Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), also find out that parts of the house were rigged to explode. Well fuck. These assholes are going to start booby trapping their hideouts to smuggle people places. This means every future job just got that much more dangerous and things really really suck.

But have no fear, every day American citizens. The government is on the case!

Kate is hand picked to join a larger, inter-department task force, lead by the CIA. She doesn’t know a lot about the mission. Just that it is lead by an asshole, Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who only slightly works or the CIA, and his mysterious friend, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), someone who isn’t even American, nor is he CIA. He is a “consultant.”

Next thing Kate knows, she is whisked away to El Paso. She was told the overall mission of the task force was to bring own the kidnappings and drugs in that area. To actually hurt the cartel from the top and not through their lackies.

What she didn’t know is how many laws would be broken in the process. Not including murder, crossing borders, torture and kidnapping. Lovely. What’s a moral girl gonna do in a situation like that?

Also with Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Maximillia Hernandez, and the best Miami Spy, Jeffrey Donovan.

Jef
You can’t fool me with your hipster glasses and fake mustache. I know it is you, Michael Weston.

Sicario was one of those perfect movie experiences. Outside of the two dudes who literally had phone calls during the showing. This is what I get for going to a non-screener, non-drafthouse like setting.

Why was it perfect? Sicario was like a slow burning wine. It was dark, realistic, slow, beautifully well shot, great characters, tense moments, and with a bit of moral ambiguity. Not a lot, but a bit. Someone should let me know if what I said about wine makes any sense, because I don’t know anything about wine, but the saying seemed natural enough.

Acting on all fronts were great. We got Brolin being a dick, pretty standard. But the obvious and clear stand outs come from Blunt and Del Toro. Blunt has been having a heck of a career with her last few movies. She seems to always give it her all and seems to be getting even more dramatic roles in the future thanks to it. Blunt gets to play our law abiding character who doesn’t know what really goes on, the one the audience gets to relate to.

Del Toro isn’t introduced until later in the film, but by the end he definitely becomes a true co star and almost another main protagonist. I once had a friend who said he would watch anything with Del Toro in it. But that was in 2010 and he was trying to justify being interested in The Wolfman. I knew he was in a lot of good movies, but I wasn’t a megafan. But hell, this is the type of performance that could make someone a megafan. His character is very rich and the movie does a nice job of slowly unraveling his mystique. He is one of the most BAMF characters in film this year, while at the same time you never really know if you are supposed to be cheering for or against him.

I wouldn’t be a good reviewer if I didn’t further talk about the cinematography. Denis Villeneuve likes pretty movies and he wants your eyes to be ecstatic. You’d know that if you saw his recent movies, Enemy and Prisoners. That is why with this film and Prisoners he used the legendary Roger Deakins to set up his shots. So much attention to detail was put into every frame, the only thing that could ruin it would be mutilated bodies and dead nudity.

Oh.

Yeah. Some of that is in here too I guess.

4 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Kick-Ass 2

Author Note: This review has been censored by the Author himself for hilarity sake, not any entity running this review.

Kick-[Butt] 2 is the sequel to Kick-[Bottom], that much is obvious.

What is not obvious is why Jim Carrey started acted strangely this summer, so I think we should discuss it first. In June, he tweeted that he could not support the level of violence in Kick-[Rear] 2, which was shot a month before the Sandy Hook incident.

However, his actual character in the movie, while violent, happens to be a born again Christian who refuses to use guns or swear. Yes, he actively protests gun violence with his character, yet won’t support the film? Ridiculous. Needless to say, his cast members had some choice words to say about the incident, and the sheer silliness of it all probably will lead to more people seeing Kick-[Posterior] 2 than before.

jIM
Thanks Jim. Gee whiz.
This movie takes place a few years after the events of the first film. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has now given up crime fighting, but we all know that isn’t going to last long. Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz) is going to high school for the first time, and as a 15 year old girl, she has a lot to learn about real world teenage girls. She eventually gives up Hit-Girl, as a promise to her passed away father and new caretaker, Detective Marcus (Morris Chestnut).

It doesn’t take long for Dave to go back to his superhero roots, but finds fighting crime alone to be a bit daunting. He decides to team up with Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison), who introduces him to the vigilante group, Justice Forever! Lead by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Carrey), it also features Battle Guy (Clark Duke), Insect Man (Robert Emms), and Night [Female Dog] (Lindy Booth).

But evil is lurking. Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) is upset over his fathers death (understandably), and wants to get revenge. In order to do that, he has to start his own evil organization. He is no longer The Red Mist, that was his hero name. As a super villain, he is now The Mother[Fornicator]. He recruits a few sociopaths, including Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), The Tumor (Andy Nyman), Black Death (Daniel Kaluuya), and Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu), and calls his group The Toxic Mega [Very Bad Insult Name For Women]. They plan on bringing down NYC and all the masked vigilantes. Especially Kick-[Gluteus Maximus].

I already tagged a lot of people, but lets tag a few more. John Leguizamo plays Chris’ Bodyguard/Butler like person, Augustus Prew plays the “other friend” Todd, and Claudia Lee plays Brooke, the high school drama queen.

gANG
Wow, he is wearing Big Daddy’s armor. That is all sorts of [Sexed] up.
In a lot of ways, Kick-[Buttocks] 2 is a lot like the first movie. There is over the top violence (involving teenagers) and a lot of people end up dying. But in a lot of ways, it is also different.

It is hard to describe, but something is missing in this sequel. I think it lacks the heart of the first film. In the first film, you could definitely tell Dave wanted to be a good guy, to do good things, and help save the world. In this movie, he felt like almost an entitled jerk, and he certainly felt selfish. Sure, he said he wanted to just help people in the movie, but it all felt superficial.

The film also has far too many plot lines, lessening its potential. You know what is boring? Watching a movie about “Superheroes” not fighting crime. This is unavoidable if it is the first movie in a series, because we need to get an Origin story. This movie had our heroes away from their costumes many times throughout and gets in the way of a lot more fisticuffs. The comedy and violence is the only thing this franchise is going to have going for it.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, however, played the self entitled super villain really well, especially when his super power is being rich. It was amazing.

Overall, the movie is just not as good as the first, it isn’t as funny, and it spends too much of its 100 minute run time lollygagging.

2 out of 4.