The Predator

I don’t think I saw the first Predator movie, nor did I see the next one. I did see both Alien vs Predator films though, and of course, Predators, from a handful of years ago.

I think I would enjoy the first Predator movie, it sounds like it is really well made and will have high levels of tension, especially in the end. I will put it on my list. I still know roughly the events of these films, because hey, geek and movie culture.

But to continue the string of very nondescript movie titles. this one is going to be called The Predator, because I guess there is only going to be one. That is some Highlander stealing shit right there. And since it is directed by Shane Black, I can only assume that it will take place during Christmas.

Pred1
Time to hang up the people stockings.

Let’s all head to Mexico! Where there are drug deals, of course! Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an asshole, but he is our asshole. He is also a good soldier and sniper. Sure it basically cost him his marriage, being all soldier-y and out a lot, but he is still a good soldier. And during a mission, a space ship crashes nearby with a scary creature with invisible capabilities.

So he does what any hard working American would do in that case. He steals some of the monster’s equipment and mails it to his P.O. Box at his home city. Thanks to plot though, they go to his home, so his young autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) can find it and mess with alien stuff.

Through other plot, the alien gets captured by secret space force people. We got a real mean dickhead (Sterling K. Brown, who seems to be getting younger in his roles) who wants to unlock their potential. We got an alien biologist (Olivia Munn) who is surprisingly good at shooting things with various weapons. Hell, we have a whole bus load of “crazy” PTSD soldiers that they are hiding away who are going to be dealing with this thing.

But most importantly, this will end up taking place over Halloween. Damn Shane Black, way to trick us.

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Jake Busey, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen.

Pred2
Well I guess instead of hanging stockings, they are just hanging Halloween decorations. Makes more sense.

The Predator is basically a trash movie. A movie that feels like an incredible waste of time, and did not live up to any of the expectations that I went in with. And honestly, I didn’t have many.

People tried to talk about what the trailer implied, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know where they were coming from. Instead, I just know it is a crap film. Why? Well, this film is basically a comedy. It is very much almost a slapstick comedy. Because we have this group of men with zany personalities (because of mental disturbances) they all have quips and one liners. This means everyone, starting with the guy who is supposed to be the joke maker, all the way down to the more serious characters. It is like they wanted to make The Avengers, but you know, PTSD army folks.

Gosh, the humor was so annoying. At no point could a viewer feel threatened or scared by the predators. When everything is a goddamn joke, it is hard for anything to really draw the viewer in. Tense moments are wasted by jokes and by extremely bad cut jobs. This film moves all over the place, and it is hard to judge how time works. We quickly go from a night scene to an early morning scene, a literal night and day difference, in the final action sequences. If there were a lot of practical effects (/people in suits) it is wasted by the other CGI effects. The kills aren’t too great. And the predator v predator fight is not worth any amount of hype.

AND HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO HAVE A FILM CALLED THE PREDATOR WITH MORE THAN ONE PREDATOR.

This cannot be the movie people were hoping to get. Somewhere a better film might exist, but really, it needs a plot upheaval and most of it to be re-shot with a different cast. Yeah, we just need a different movie.

1 out of 4.

Hotel Artemis

Hotel Artemis started advertising not that long ago and then went really hard at it. I avoided watching any trailers, but it did have a ton of posters, character spotlights, and general social media campaign.

I definitely thought and just assumed it was the same hotel in John Wick: Chapter 2, because again, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to it.

I also went in expecting a shoot out, broken rules, high famous people death count, and so on.

Really, the only reason I was interested in the movie was due to the people acting in it.

Blooming
Including this formerly elusive fucker who is trying to be in everything the last year.

Hotel Artemis is less a hotel and more a hospital. It is in a penthouse of a large building in Los Angeles and it is a secret organization for criminals. After all, every hospital out there is for the good guys and regular guys, so why not a place for criminals. You cannot just be bad and get in, you have to join their club and pay your membership dues.

Basically, as long as there is an empty room and you are a member, you will have a place to go and get patched up without alerting the authorities. And this film starts with Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown) and his brother (Brian Tyree Henry) hurt after a robbery gone wrong making it over to the facilities. It is the future and LA is having big riot problems over clean water, so everyone is on edge.

Thankfully, they get patched up by the Nurse (Jodie Foster) just swell, and just have to wait for a new liver to be created for his brother. They find out that the current patrons of the hotel are not all there by coincidence, and that greater and more deadly stakes are afoot at this place they thought was safe.

Also starring Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, Charlie Day, Jeff Goldbloom, Jenny Slate, Kenneth Choi, and Zachary Quinto.

Big Dog Little Dog
Finally, some hired help who can punch and sew.

Hotel Artemis is a film that has some cool and interesting ideas, but never really reaches its goals.

The plot is a bit shit. We have good reasons for future riots, those are believable, but the backstory for the Nurse takes too long to play out despite being one of our major points. The plot line with Boutella was average, and Brown’s was more fleshed out, but still didn’t feel really worth it. Tons of hype around Goldbloom, but in the end it also lacked a huge amount of oomph in the trunk.

It also didn’t have as much action as promised. Sure, we do get a few creative deaths and really well choreographed and decorated rooms, but the action itself is weak. Near the end it looked like there would be two different hallway scenes. One of them was interesting despite the many camera cuts, the other fell completely flat and denied the viewers of a great brawl aspect.

And yet, there are still elements to praise. For example, Foster was completely into this character. She had the quirks, the voice, everything felt unique. Foster transformed herself for this role and really, I couldn’t tell Foster was behind it at all. Probably her best role in over a decade.

Almost all the actors seemed to be acting in ways that were very uncommon for them. Brown doesn’t really play shooting criminal badasses, Day is generally spastic, but this time he was wormy and theoretically “cool” with a different voice, Quinto played a character who was definitely slow witted, and Slate wasn’t completely annoying.

The cast of characters is the reason to watch this movie, but it will unfortunately leave you just watching it once. Too many plot points that don’t go too many places will leave the story forgettable and the idea a wonderful dream.

2 out of 4.

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.

Marshall

I´ve joked in the past that Chadwick Boseman is being forced to play every famous black American throughout history. You know, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, T´Challa, and so on.

But holy shit. Thurgood Marshall as well?

What is his agent doing? Is he trying to mold the youth of America into thinking everyone in History is Chadwick Boseman? Maybe Boseman is playing some long plan to eventually run for president himself. With his past roles he will seem like a trendsetter, someone with soul, a ruler, and someone who knows the fuck out of some laws.

I don´t know when we should start being scared by all of this. Maybe in two more real bio roles. Maybe if he ever plays Eminem in a biopic.

Court
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Thurgood Marshall (Boseman) is super famous. He did a lot of things as a lawyer, went to the Supreme Court a lot, did the whole Brown vs Board of Education thing, and even decided to move in and live in the Supreme Court.

But this movie is about before all that, just when he was working with the NAACP, looking for any case that might have racial bias to help free innocent men or women. Especially those who could not afford their own council of choosing.

Thurgood is now in Connecticut, where a limousine driver (Sterling K. Brown) allegedly raped and tried to kill his boss´ wife (Kate Hudson). A real shocker of a trial, but he claims his innocence. They imagine they are just grabbing any black gentleman and they have a civil rights case on their hands.

In order for Marshall to get on the case, they need to join the team of someone who has passed the bar on the state, and through some shenanigans, got a local insurance guy (Joah Gad) to take on the case so that something could be done. The judge (James Cromwell) isn´t having any of their shit either, so doesn´t let Marshall do any of the talking, just behind the scenes help.

Yep, this is a battle against racism. A battle against injustice.

Also starring Dan Stevens and Keesha Sharp.

Bar
Inconspicuous thugs are inconspicuous.

You know who deserves a movie about their lives? Thurgood Marshall, for sure!

You know what this movie gave us? A movie about Marshall and Sam Friedman, the local insurance lawyer. You see, Friedman later went on to do more civil rights cases too! And he had to do most of the fronting of this trial, due to racism. So it is a movie about how this white dude overcame his personal lawyering fears and branched out to be a better person.

That is cool and all, but I really don’t give a fuck about Sam Friedman. I came to see this movie because it was about Thurgood Marshall. I didn’t expect a double biopic about him and some white guy. This may be one of Marshall’s biggest and earliest cases, but I really do think they did a giant disservice to him. In fact, they mentioned in this film he had already argued in front of the Supreme court multiple times. We know he did it later. And, for crying out loud, he was there for Brown v The Board of Education!

Why the hell did they pick a case where he isn’t really the main star or focus? Why?

Oh yeah, because they needed a white loveable lead to make sure white people saw this movie too. Gotcha.

This movie is very okay. The acting is fine, the case has its moments, and some characters cry. Some people yell, some justice is served. But goddamn it, the focus is so far away from Marshall in a movie that carries his name, it is just unacceptable.

2 out of 4.