Category Archives: Reviews

Black Panther – Movie Review

Marvel Studios does a lot of things right. With the deep pockets of Disney to back them up, the gang at Marvel has perfected the art of world building. The country of Wakanda is big and beautiful. Admittedly, it took some doing to connect with the kingdom of T’chala, primarily because I’m a western boy with eastern roots and Africa somehow falls between the cracks of east and west. Immersing myself in Black Panther’s world took some work, but was well worth it.

The other thing Marvel Studios does right is ground their superhero flicks into a relatable story. T’chala (Chadwick Boseman) is a prince thrust into leadership sooner than he hoped. To make matters worse, he is forced to correct the one lapse of judgment his father made, which spawned the origin of the film’s villain, Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). In some way, Killmonger is a ruthless villain, who is on the side of right.

If Disney ever had a “James Bond”-type franchise, they found it in Black Panther. He’s a Wakandian spy who fancies Asian casinos. He has a “Q” in his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), a Felix (Martin Freeman), a sassy equal in Okoye (Danai Gurira) and is chasing the plans, the shipments, or whatever to save the world. The only difference is he’s monogamous, frozen on the hard-to-get Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o).

The final joy of Black Panther is that it sits perfectly in the MCU and the future of Wakanda is about to open up in Avengers: Infinity War.

Writer/director Ryan Coogler admirably takes command of a Marvel movie and deserves his spot next to James Gunn, the Russo brothers and the other creatives responsible for a now well-rounded inclusive universe.

If there is a flaw in Black Panther, it’s that T’chala most of the time takes a back seat to his amazing co-stars. T’chala is a low-key hero surrounded by a colorful cast.

Black Panther (2018) Written and directed by Ryan Coogler. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Not quite the poignant film of The Lego Movie. The Lego Ninjago movie is just plain fun and funny. Kids will love it.

Director: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan
Writer: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Stars: Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armison, Justin Theroux, Abbi Jacobson

Just like the Fast and the Furious, the film is about family. I was afraid of getting real bored, but at the halfway mark when the Lego gang have Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) in their capture and he tries to reconnect with his son, Llyod (Dave Franco).

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle – Movie Review

I’m busy reviewing films for Film Threat. So, I’m going to do shorter reviews of mainstream films, just so I can maintain my sanity and keep this site up-and-running.

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle is a fine sequel to the Kingsmen. Matthew Vaughn is able to maintain the fun and feel of the original. This sequel is a continuation of the first film and after a huge loss up-front, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) travel to the United States to seek help from the Statesmen. Help comes in the form of Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger (Halle Berry), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champ (Jeff Bridges).

The film is fun but feels shortened as if there was too much story and it needed to be seriously edited down. Julianne Moore is great as the film’s villain, Poppy. The return of Harry (Colin Firth) is semi-plausible, but a welcome return. I appreciate that the film went in big unexpected directions from the very beginning.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming is in my humble opinion the best of the Spider-Man movies and arguably should sit near the top of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Release Date: July 7, 2017
Writer: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daily
Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton

Thankfully, we fans are spared a Spider-Man origins story as the events of Spider-Man take place soon after the airport battle in Captain America: Civil War. Also, this tale of Spider-Man is clearly a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming is the story of sophomore high school student Peter Parker (Tom Holland).

Like any new adolescent, Peter is trying hard to find his identity. His only notoriety at school is his internship at Stark Industries, but even that is hardly the credentials he needs to be popular or land a date with his senior crush, Liz (Laura Harrier). As Spider-Man, Peter wants to impress the world by becoming an Avenger.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns Peter to his Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei) with his new Spider suit and with instructions to lay low until he is needed again. This is pretty much a Don’t-Call-Us-We’ll-Call-You situation. Stark leaves Peter with Happy’s (Jon Favreau) phone number for any questions.

Meanwhile…in the past, clean-up specialist Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is hired to clean-up New York City after the Jitari attack. Before work can get started, Toomes is quickly fired by S.H.I.E.L.D. but not before he is able to steal some of that sweet alien technology. Long story short, Toomes begins to sell newly created alien-hybrid weapons to the New York criminal underworld. Toomes is also able to steal more technology thanks to his Vulture-like battle suit.

While waiting for the Avengers call, Peter decides to clean-up the New York crime problem. In the process, he begins to uncover the Vulture’s plans, cause more problems on the streets of New York than he can handle and inadvertently reveal his secret identity to his best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon).

There is a lot to love about Spider-Man: Homecoming. Let’s first look at it from the perspective of it as a Spider-Man movie. Homecoming ranks right up there as the best Spider-Man movie right next to Spider-Man 2. Tom Holland is perfect as Spider-Man. He has the constant running mouth that the comic book Peter Parker has. He is and remains a high school student throughout the entire movie, and he struggles with the very things high school students struggle with…identity. He wants to be noticed.

There are also brilliant moments where we get to see the limitations of Spider-Man that we haven’t seen in other films. The best example is when Peter attends a party at Liz’s home in the suburbs. He chases down the bad guys, but there are no tall buildings anywhere to swing on. He, basically, runs.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is half action film and half John Hughes movie. Director Jon Watts takes us through the struggles of an adolescent, who has to save New York City from a menacing threat. The story is well grounded and the adult moments are just as effective as the teen moments.

Baby Driver (2017) – Movie Review

From writer/director Edgar Wright, comes one of the most original and exciting action movies this year. Baby Driver is the story of a young man, Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is the best getaway driver in Atlanta. His iPod playlist is his inspiration for getting and staying ahead in any chase situation.

Release Date: June 30, 2017
Writer: Edgar Wright
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

In hopes of paying off his debt to the crime lord, Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby drives criminal passengers to and from Doc’s target, mostly banks.

Baby Driver shines in three ways. One, the action is amazing. While the Fast and the Furious is a testament to what CGI can do with car races, Baby Driver is all real driving frame to frame. The sequences are like puzzles; Wright carefully places the pieces down to create a stunning chase sequence in cars and even on foot.

Two, the movie’s soundtrack drives the action. The film starts with the song “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The song creates the Baby’s required intensity in the preparation of the chase and soon explodes into the actual chase through the streets of Atlanta. Then we shift to “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl, which Baby uses to get the coffee for his criminal compatriots. “Harlem Shuffle” is a visually gorgeous one-shot title sequence.

Third is the story of our young hero Baby. Soon the movie sets us that final heist, which will seemingly payoff his debt to Doc. Unfortunately, he is forced to team with Bats (Jamie Foxx), who is BAT-S*** crazy. Clearly uncomfortable with the unpredictably violent nature of Bats, Baby knows he’s just one job away from freedom.

Soon things get complicated when Baby becomes enamored with the cute waitress Debora (Lily James), who works the late shift at Bo’s Diner. Debora dreams of getting out of town with just her car and her music. Baby dreams of being the one who can make that dream come true.

Baby Driver is a film with amazing chase sequences and an equally solid story to support it. The love story between Baby and Debora is sweet and of course involved music. It is the love story that ratchets up the tension as Baby’s escape from his criminal life stays just out of reach.

Baby Driver’s success also falls on its supporting characters. Kevin Spacey manages to play the bad guy perfectly holding freedom over the head of Baby. As the irredeemable Bats, Jamie Foxx just makes you feel uncomfortable every time he is on screen. Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez play Buddy and Darling. This criminal duo is spicy together and almost become brother and sister to Baby. Then there’s Joseph (CJ Jones) playing Baby’s deaf and elderly foster father. Not wanting to know what Baby does at night, Joseph is the only moral compass that Baby has left in the world.

While Baby Driver is not a perfect movie, it is a great movie. The key to any action movie is tension. Tension escalates when Baby’s world is exposed when our gang stumbles into Bo’s diner and they realize that Baby and Debora know each other. Baby Driver is fun to watch and will have you on the edge of your seat. Wright also changes things up with an unexpected U-turn to start the second act and an ending that ties up loose ends in Baby’s life.