Black Panther – Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off its tenth year in style with its 18th film, Black Panther. The film brings brilliant directing, acting music and design to the forefront of this origin story of sorts for the MCU’s first black lead character.

Black Panther is set a week or so after Captain America: Civil War as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home after the death of his Father to be crowned King of Wakanda, only for his reign to be challenged by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). The film’s storyline, while good, is probably the weakest part of Black Panther as it doesn’t offer much that is new. It’s a ‘sins-of-the-father’ plot that we have seen before in the MCU especially in Iron Man 2, though this is executed better. While this film repeats the traditional hero with specific powers vs villain with very similar powers plot point, I would say that this is probably one of the best versions we have seen because of the time taken to develop the villain. Erik Stevens AKA Killmonger is the hero of his own story. While from our point of view he is the villain, the film sets him up with enough background and emotional development that he is a villain we like and understand. This is something that the MCU has struggled with in the past but not in Black Panther.

That isn’t where the character development stops in this film. Black Panther is full of strong, likeable and developed characters. From T’Challa struggling with his rise to power to his good friend and chief of security, W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) who sees some of Wakanda downsides, everyone gets their chance to shine. The old saying goes that behind every great man there is a great woman, in Black Panther though there are many great women. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) is T’Challa’s ex-girlfriend who acts as a Wakandan spy in the outside world. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the head of the Dora Milaje, a team of women who serve as the special forces of Wakanda. Shuri (Letitia Wright) T’Challa’s sister, Princess and tech-genius. Shuri is the Q to T’Challa’s Bond while also developing new technologies for the nation of Wakanda. We round out the main female cast with Ramonda (Angela Bassett) T’Challa and Shuri’s mother and the Queen of Wakanda. Also bringing fantastic characters to the table are M’Baku (Winston Duke) the leader of the Mountain Tribe, Zuri (Forest Whitaker) an elder spiritual leader in Wakanda and friend of the former King T’Chaka. Andy Serkis reprises and improves on his role from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ulysses Klaue and Martin Freeman returns as Agent Everett Ross.

Black Panther features a stunning setting in the Afro-Futuristic Wakanda a nation with incredible technology that is tied together with it’s spiritual roots that creates some stunning visuals. The design of the world of Wakanda is beautiful and my only issue is that we don’t see enough of it. I would return to Wakanda in a heart beat and judging by the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, it looks like we will, even for just a little bit. The costume design incorporates that same vibe of the future coupled with traditional African culture, so colourful and vibrant, it continues the MCU’s departure from the muted tones of its earlier entries. One of the biggest tools used to immerse the viewer in to the world of Wakanda is the music. The score by Ludwig Göransson is inspired by local musicians from Senegal and South Africa. It brings a feeling that the film is in touch with the culture it is portraying. It helped make Wakanda feel real.

Director Ryan Coogler has created an amazing world within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He and co-writer Joe Robert Cole brought the characters and story from the comics to life in a way that the MCU hasn’t done before. They were able to bring the idea of a secretly futuristic African nation and somehow still ground it in a bit of reality. Coogler brought out the very best from his actors to the point where you could say this film has some of the best and most developed characters in a single film in the MCU. I can’t praise his work on this film enough. Quick shout out to cinematographer, Rachel Morrison who helped bring this world to the screen and came up with some really nice shots including a inverted shot that turns 180 degrees!

Black Panther is a great film and just what we needed to get us excited for Avengers: Infinity War in just a few months. The film benefits from great acting, direction, writing and world-building. The sum of all this come to one of the best ‘solo’ MCU film.

Above Average

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It’s Official: Ron Howard will take over directing the Han Solo project

The front runner of the choice of directors to take over from Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the untitled young Han Solo film has been confirmed by Lucasfilm. The announcement came in a press release on StarWars.com:

Lucasfilm is pleased to announce that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard has been named director of the untitled Han Solo film.

“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”

Howard has made some of the biggest hits and most critically-acclaimed movies of the modern era. Among his many films are Lucasfilm’s Willow, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind (winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director), The Da Vinci CodeFrost/Nixon, and Rush. He also narrated and produced the beloved comedy series Arrested Development, starred in George Lucas’ American Graffiti, and remains a TV icon for his roles in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days.

The untitled Han Solo film is slated for a May 25, 2018, release.

They still have about 3 weeks or so of production where Howard will have to review footage they already have and make the tough choices of what to keep and what to re-shoot, for which another 5 weeks have been scheduled. There could be some clashes in the future that the production will have to keep in mind with Emilia Clarke likely to return to filming for Game of Thrones (provided she doesn’t die in season 7) and Donald Glover to shoot Atlanta season 2 soon.

What will this mean for the film? Good question. Ron Howard is a safe choice and he will produce the best movie he can. He is a competent director who has work on a few average films in the last little while, the best recent film he has directed was Rush so we’ll see how we go. I can give you a proper answer in May next year.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired from Han Solo anthology film

I didn’t write about this when the announcement was made because there wasn’t all that much information. Now we have a report from Variety that sheds more light on the situation.

Yesterday, Lucasfilm announced that 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had exited the untitled Han Solo production citing creative differences. Lord and Miller had also released a very co-operative statement. The film has been in principle photography since January this year.

Variety talked to an unknown source with knowledge of the production who said that the chemistry between the directors and Lucasfilm boss, Kathleen Kennedy was never right. The source went on to say that Lord and Miller also clashed with co-writer Lawrence Kasdan who has been heavily involved in Star Wars since Empire Strikes Back.

“Kathy, her team and Larry Kasdan have been doing it their way for a very long time. They know how the cheese is made and that’s how they want it made,” said the source. “It became a very polarising set.”

Kathleen Kennedy in her announcement stated that a new director will be announced shortly. There have been reports from Variety again and Deadline saying the Ron Howard may be the front running candidate for that new director spot.

Ron Howard would no doubt work well with Kennedy, Kasdan and Lucasfilm, he would tow the line and work well with the studio. However, Lord and Miller were hired for their comedic chops and it’d be interesting to see how what they have filmed will blend in with Howard’s product. Let’s also point out that Gareth Edwards suffered similar clashes with Kennedy during production of Rogue One – A Star Wars Story. Tony Gilroy was brought in to direct some of the re-shoots for that film.

I’m not concerned (yet) about these recent developments because of the issues that went down with Rogue One, and the film still ended up being an enjoyable Star Wars movie. I’ll be watching the developments of this production very closely.

The still untitled young Han Solo film is still slated for a May 25, 2018, release date. We will most likely see or hear updates from the upcoming D23 convention and/or Comic Con.

Iron Sky – Review

In 1945 a secret Nazi space mission saw a colony of Nazi’s establish a base on the dark side of the Moon. It is now 2018 and America is heading back to the Moon one reason, to get the president re-elected.

Christopher Kirby plays James Washington an African-American Male Model, is sent into space as one of the astronauts in the Moon mission, he is hired purely because of his ethnicity, a marketing ploy by the President’s ridiculous PR and Campaign Advisor, Vivian Wagner (played brilliantly by Australian, Peta Sergeant). While on the Moon Washington is ambushed by the Nazis, captured, and forced to help the Nazis return to earth and steal handheld computing devices crucial in the Nazis plan to launch their space-warship, the Götterdämmerung (literally translated to Twilight of the Gods). The some of the Nazis, Klaus Adler (Second in command – The Next Führer) played by Götz Otto and the stunningly beautiful Renate Richter played by Julia Dietze travel to Earth where they are used in a Nazi-Style campaign by the US President (played by Stephanie Paul) that actually seems to work. But the Nazis have their own plan. The dynamics of the characters change and the film becomes something hilariously epic.

Iron Sky is hilarious, stupid, and grossly politically incorrect. But that is what makes it so fun. If you know your world politics, this film take pot-shots at so many countries, and many one liners reference points in history briefly and some of these may be missed by the general audience. The studio shots for this film were shot in Queensland, so there’s an Australian element involved too! This film is a brilliant political satire/black comedy and I recommend everyone sees it.

Average