Tag Archives: Forest Whitaker

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.

Arrival – Movie Review

What’s the first thing you do when confronted with an unknown alien threat? Try to communicate with the aliens, of course. Arrival is this year’s science fiction entrant in the Oscar race stars Amy Adams as the nation’s top linguist charged with the mission of communicating with an alien race.

Release Date: November 11, 2016
Writer: Eric Heisserer, Ted Chiang
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Arrival starts with the arrival of 12 large alien pods scattered throughout the world. The US pod is located in Montana, while others are found in Russia, China, England, et al. The film’s main storyline follows Louise Banks and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) as they interact with the seven-legged aliens they call “heptapods.”

The most fascinating part of Arrival is the process of deciphering language. Each pod has an access hatch where Banks and Donnelly can interact with the heptapods. The heptapod language is a unintelligible sounds of some sort, but their language consists of complicated circular symbols. Banks uses her name as a starting point. The heptapods respond in kind and now they are off to the races trying to find words and phrases that can be translated, such as eat and walk.

As fascinating as linguistics are, there’s a bigger picture. Why are the aliens here and what do they want? Are they a threat or are they friendly? The entire operation is lead by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) representing the military and Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlberg) representing the US government. At the same time, all of the other countries with pods are also trying to communicate with the heptapods and coming to different conclusions about the aliens’ intent.

Here you have the typical military tale of staying ahead of the possible alien threat and the lack of time the team needs to answer questions. Let’s also note that the world is falling apart wondering if these is the start of an alien invasion.

The story though is about Louise. Flashbacks abound as we look into the loner lifestyle of this college professor. We see that she is divorced and the parent of a child who recently passed from a terminal illness.

It’s hard not to liken Arrival with an episode of Star Trek. As with most alien films, there’s a lesson that we need to learn about ourselves individually and as a member of the global family of humans. The film also manages to tie the story of Louise, her past and future, together in a way that intertwines her life with the current mission.

Arrival has your riveted from beginning to end. You’ll marvel at the science of language and you’ll feel the sense of discovery as the alien language is slowly revealed. There is also the sense of urgency and frustration as our heroes must appease and outmaneuver the government with very little patience.

The best part of Arrival is its ending that sneaks up on you out of nowhere and begins to answer the question, you’ve asking from the very beginning. Arrival is a complex story that never gets confusing and ends in a nice tidy package. The ending is so strong, you’ll almost instantly need to see the movie again to catch things your missed.