Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel is at it again with a wild superhero ride. As they have done in the past dozen or so times, the ride was a success. As Infinity War was coming, my mom and I got prepared by watching the MCU. When we got to Ant-Man, it was the only one on our list that neither of us has ever seen. We had low expectations based on the character but were blown away by the hilarious experience. With excellent performances by Paul Rudd and Michael Pena along with its unique scale and style with its action, this was one of the most surprising movies in the MCU. Now we finally have a sequel to the 2015 film.

The sequel starts off by partially recapping the story of the first film. Some significant details are missing, so might as well watch the first. Most of the details surround Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who becomes the Wasp, along with her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and her mother whom is trapped in the quantum realm. Details show why Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was not available during the attack that endured by Thanos, which is heavily linked to his actions in Civil War. After some catching up with the characters, the real story begins.

Scott turned away from being Ant-Man to focus on his family and making a career with his old group, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (T.I.), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). After a vision from his time in the quantum realm, he calls Hank to inform him what he had just seen. Hank and Hope pull Scott with them in hopes to discover new information that might save Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfieffer). The only problem is that they need technology to build a tunnel into the quantum realm. Hope, Hank, and Scott go to a meeting with a black market dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). As predicted, the meeting goes wrong, so Hope and Scott get their costumes on to fight their way through. A mysterious figure, Ghost (Hannah John-Karmen) appears to take away what they needed. Now the three of them must get that technology back to finish their project to potentially save Janet.

Its predecessor from 2015 was an enjoyable experience with witty writing and loveable characters, but there were flaws. The villain felt generic, and the story was a run-of-the-mill origin story. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, we get a more interesting story. Moments in the story are predictable or stretch the logic too far, but an overall improvement. A focus on the characters gives everyone more to develop as individuals and with their relationships.

Besides the already excellent cast of characters from the first film, my favorite being Luis, a few more characters are introduced. Sonny is a side villain who feels more like a distraction for our heroes. I felt disappointed since I love Walton Goggins, who would make a perfect main villain for the MCU. Now that he is in the MCU as a throwaway villain, we will never see him play a more prominent role. Despite that, he puts on a charismatic performance as he always does, you can never go wrong with his charisma. Then we see Hank’s old partner Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) who plays a bigger role than Sonny. His character has some complexity which is revealed by some of his choices and his words. However, he is not that fleshed out enough or given much to do to make him matter all that much. His relationships with his daughter Cassie (Abby Rider Fortson), her stepfather Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), and his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) are not that expanded upon. Cassie and her relationship with her father are sweet and remain to be healthy. While Paxton has grown to be a good friend of Scott’s, he is a lot more under utilized than the first movie. He gives a few hugs, funny moments, and support that does not carry weight. Maggie is used for only comedic purposes that make her look a lot dumber than the first film. The family moments are a nice touch with the daughter, but the mother and stepfather are worthless compared to the original Ant-Man. Ghost is a much better villain than Darren Cross from the first film. She is given much more interesting motivations and backstory that make her sympathetic. The MCU’s best villains are the ones the audience can see where they are coming from. She is not one of the best villains in the entire MCU, but she is not a part of the lower tier either.

The action is more enjoyable than the first film, which was already good. Nothing beats seeing cars turned into the size of Hot Wheels or a Pez dispenser turned into the size of a truck. The scale of the action varies with the size of our heroes. A deadly gunfight looks even more intense when our heroes are small while making everyday items match that intensity. The scale is everything to these characters, and it is utilized hilariously from beginning to end. The choreography is on par with other movies in the MCU. Wasp and Ant-Man have great chemistry when they are beating up thugs or the powerful Ghost. Growing and shrinking at the perfect times to help each other do not get old. Ghost brings her own style due to her powers of phasing through anything, which is fresh compared to the last film which felt like Ant-Man fighting someone who was an exact replica.

Ant-Man and the Wasp are much better than its predecessor. The story is much more interesting, despite some flaws. The ideas surrounding the story are more unique and less typical than the first film or any other film in the MCU. Characters are a hit or a miss. We get fantastic moments with Kurt, Luis, and Dave. They are still that support system that is mostly used for comedic reasons, but Scott’s main friend Luis does have a lot more weight to his character regarding his actions. Ghost is a much better and more sympathetic villain. She is technically the villain, but that does not mean she is necessarily the “bad guy” or I should say “bad woman” in the cast of characters. Sadly, some characters are horribly underutilized or even a waste of space. I was so happy to see Walton Goggins in the trailer but disappointed to see his character be used as a simple obstacle for Scott and Hope to hop right over. Despite the film’s issues, we got a much more improved film with some great characters, a fun story, hilarious writing, and some good action scenes. A typical MCU film that is not in the top tier of Avengers, but a great palate cleanser from Infinity War.

One final note, this is one movie that you will not want to miss the after credit scene. You will see why Scott will need to be involved with defeating Thanos. The first after credit scene is one of the best we have seen from the MCU. One final moment to give the film some added weight. Now we will wait for our small, and sometimes large heroes return in Avengers 4 next year.

Score: 8/10

Comparison to the first film’s score: 7/10

Image via Marvel Studios

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Movie Review: Sicario: Day of the Saldado

For those of you who read my most anticipated movies of 2018 then you know how excited I was for the sequel to the 2015 film Sicario. Well, I should say worried and excited. The first is a brilliant, tense, and thought-provoking look at the Mexican cartels. Sure, some things were questionable and exaggerated, but nothing is perfect. All in all, it was a solid film that stood on its own two feet. Now Hollywood gives us a sequel that is not needed.

Most of the same cast and members of the crew remained. Taylor Sheridan wrote the first film and has been on his A game for writing and directing. With his release of Wind River and Hell or High Water, I thought that Sicario: Day of the Soldado would be safe. Taylor took the director’s chair for the sequel when the first film had Dennis Villeneuve who has also been on a streak of successful movies such as Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival. His absence might be a factor as to the downgrade of quality in Day of the Saldado. Along with his absence, Emily Blunt’s character Kate is missing from the story. Sure, it would have been hard to do anymore with her character that would work. However, without her, a balance to the movie is missing. She brought in a lot to the story of the first film. Now we get a disconnection between both movies. At least we get Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, who always bring in excellent performances.

Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is tasked with bringing all-out war against the cartels after a massive suicide bombing. The cartels are now being labeled as terrorists who give the U.S. military more freedom to intervene with the violence that is happening in both Mexico and the U.S. Matt teams up with Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) along with members of his team from the previous film. Their attacks on the cartels are made to look like rival cartels are attacking. The plan is for the cartels to wipe each other out. After a plan to take Isabella Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of a major leader in one of the cartels goes in the wrong direction, a conflict between Alejandro and Matt is ignited. Alejandro goes rogue to protect the girl which leads him to a crossroads between several threats, the U.S. government and the cartels.

For the most part, a lot of the same tones are present. The film is, for the most part, a slow burn that shows the horrors of human trafficking by the cartels. However, the film feels a lot less grounded. Moments happen with characters’ motivations and their actions that feels unlike them. A lot of the time I am questioning decisions being made both by the creatives who made the film and the characters themselves. The first trailer mentions Sicario as a saga. That is accurate since the entirety of Day of the Saldado is a massive setup for more movies. A huge cash grab that disrespects the brilliance of the first film.

While everyone’s performances are excellent. The introduction to Isabella is a suitable replacement for a female lead since Emily Blunt is no longer present, or even mentioned at all. Josh Brolin is on a roll, especially this year with Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War. Although his performance is good, nothing is added to his character. Matt is just a man doing a job. He is determined to do what he is told to complete the mission. Other than that, nothing is expanded upon him as a character. Benicio Del Toro steals the film with his prosecutor turned hitman. Alejandro gets some development, but by the end feels wrong in so many ways by the way the film lends itself to a third installment. Some of his actions, especially in the final act, feel out of nowhere. The writing feels forced to make room for another sequel.

While the action is not a central point of the film, it is the tension. The action sequences are done just as well as the first installment. We get plenty of Alejandro doing what he is best at, which is taking down anyone in his path. The violence is an enjoyable distraction from some of the problems with the story and characters. A mix of the original’s slow tension along with some typical Hollywood explosions mixes things up to make for some good entertainment.

One excellent quality from the first film that is still mostly intact is the cinematography. With the director of cinematography is changed to Dariusz Wolski (The Martian and Alien: Covenant) the shots are still beautifully done. A lot less memorable shots are in the film, but the thought behind the way scenes are shot is still present. Beautiful sweeping shots of the desert and cities are throughout the film. The best scenes are captured perfectly to give everything that extra edge with some great camera work.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is an entertaining movie, to say the least. An overall disappointment that feels like a cash grab from the studio instead of leaving the first to stand on its own. If this sequel needed to be made, then we needed a sequel that stands on its own and delivers everything and more from what the original gave audiences. If you have never seen Sicario, then it is a must watch. Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, and Emily Blunt are all excellent. Here we get some explosions and no new development that furthers any interest in the story or characters. Day of the Soldado is not a bad film by any means, but it is a prime example of a movie that is made to create a franchise to generate a lot of money. The second film in a series tends to suffer from just setting up the third installment without much conclusions to stand on its own two feet. Maybe a third film will redeem itself with a better outcome and development of characters, but for now, we should play it safe by keeping the first and scrapping the second. At least the film has Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro, that is always some redemption.

Score: 6/10

Comparison grade to the first film: 9/10

Image via Columbia Pictures

Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have finally got a chance to see the underperforming Solo: A Star Wars Story. For those of you who don’t know, the film is doing terrible at the box office. The reviews are all pretty good from critics and fans, but nobody is watching the film. For all of its flaws, Solo is a fun heist movie set in this massive universe that tells the story of the beloved Han Solo.

Reviewing this movie and not talking about the disaster that it went through during production is impossible. The director chair had a switch that saw Ron Howard step in to “fix” this film because Lucasfilm did not like the comedic direction that Solo was heading. We will never know if Ron Howard truly saved this film, or ended up hurting it. From what I can tell, yes and no.

The story starts with Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) who are scrapping to get some credits to be able to get off of their planet and pay off their debts. The couple’s plans get ruined which splits the two apart. Han joins the Empire to get a ship to fly and save Qi’ra. During his time serving in the military, Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Val (Thandie Newton), and Rio (Jon Favreau). They go on a quest that will not only get Han enough to buy a ship but to pay off the debts for Beckett, Val, and Rio. We see these criminals battle and steal their way to hopefully gain their freedom. Along with the story, you will see how Han becomes the man that we all know and love in the Harrison Ford era.

The best part of the film is its characters. Emilia Clarke is as strong and beautiful as she is in Game of Thrones, Woody Harrelson puts on a good performance as usual, and the main villain Dryden (Paul Bettany) is compelling through every scene, but the two characters to talk about the most are Alden’s Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando. Alden does well as Han. A lot of people were worried, but he did fine. It would be difficult for anyone to match Harrison Ford’s charisma, but Alden did an excellent job to make this younger Han Solo believable. I would be perfectly happy to see more of him in the future. Donald Glover as Lando could not be more perfect. He stole the entire movie with his charm and his sassy droid sidekick L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Every best scene in the film involved Lando and his droid in some capacity.

Outside of the characters, everything else is fairly plain. The story is fun, but there are no stakes. You can assume almost everything that is going to happen since a lot of these characters you don’t see or hear about in the other films. The building to who Han is from his last name being Solo, meeting Chewie, and obtaining the Millennium Falcon. A few of these moments are interesting and fun, but nothing that mind-blowing of his origin. The development of his character is straightforward and uncreatively done for the most part.

A significant problem with the writing was the humor. This movie had a ton of jokes that were properly placed throughout. Each joke had space between the next with all of the action and drama. However, none of it was funny to me. I liked the jokes in my mind, but the way all of the gags and jokes were executed, none of them put the slightest smile on my face. L3-37 was the funniest character in the movie, but even she could not make me laugh out loud. Maybe one or two jokes made me smile or laugh. Everything else was missing something to give it that power to make me laugh. The best way to describe the failure to the humor is that the film did not feel like there was much heart to it. There was a personality in there, but not enough to give the movie a real beating heart.

Nothing here expands the universe or characters in a way that is mind-blowing or too interesting. We see some new planets and technology that is interesting along with new aliens we have not seen before. Those are interesting, but they are to be expected in a Star Wars movie. All we get is something plain that gives a basic understanding of characters we have known and loved for years.

Solo is far from a bad movie. It is fun in a meaningless way. Seeing how Han meets Chewbacca and Lando is interesting. Seeing how he gets his iconic ship is a major highlight of the film. Along with a cast of new characters who are all great, that is about all Solo has to offer. I recommend watching it in theaters to support the film. I do not think Solo should do poorly at the box office. However, keep your expectations low. This is not a top-tier Star Wars movie, but it is better than a lot of movies that are coming out. I hope Lucasfilm gets a better vision for how they want to expand the universe with future films. With the next few spinoffs being similar stories such as a Boba Fett movie, I am not too confident in the future. Go see it and enjoy the ride for what it is, either in theater or on Netflix.

Score: 6/10

Image via Lucasfilm

Movie Review: Deadpool 2

With how great the first movie was, how much hype behind the sequel, and a new director, to be worried for the sequel to Deadpool might be wise. Right here, I can already say that this is just as good, if not better than the original film. The film delivers everything and more of what was loved from the first. You will be getting violence that is bloodier and more of the great humor that is expected from a Deadpool movie.

It was a little worrying when the original director, Tim Miller, left because of creative differences. Having David Leitch come in from his work in the John Wick movies then cleared away any negative feelings. With Ryan Reynolds, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick writing to guide the film and give it life then there could be nothing to stop this from being the sequel that fans deserve.

The film takes place with some distance away from the first. We see where Wade/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is at in his life (I will not go into detail for those wanting to know as little as possible) which means him fighting bad guys all around the world. We get some fantastic action and witty dialog from the foul-mouthed hero. After some traumatic event that puts our hero to rock bottom, he finds a kid named Russell (Julian Dennison). He has a powerful fire superpower that makes him a danger to society. Deadpool puts himself in a situation to protect him (yes, he is doing something for someone other than himself) and that introduces Cable (Josh Brolin). Cable comes from the future with a vendetta against Russell. Deadpool then forms a super team of various characters to create the X-Force to protect Russell from Cable’s wrath.

The plot is much more complicated compared to the simple origin story from the first. The direction goes in many places throughout, mostly to build up to the next movie which will be about Deadpool’s team, X-Force. For the most part, the film has great pacing and goes down a path that works. A scene or two felt a bit disconnected in some way. Maybe the way it was placed alongside another scene that felt too quick. Everything, for the most part, does go well, except for a slower final act that feels dragged on for several reasons. A bit happens to be funny but goes on for an absurd amount of time. Including there is a tense moment that does feel slowed down for other goofier moments to take place. That takes away from some of the tension and what is moving the story forward. Not to say the final act is terrible, it is great actually. The final act just saw its fair share of issues, but not to take away from the overall quality.

Having David Leitch come into the director’s chair was a brilliant move. While the action has good choreography in the first film, the sequel does a better job. This is probably due to David’s work on other action movies that are excellently choreographed such as Atomic Blonde and John Wick.

The writing is just as well done with almost every joke hitting the right beat. Some jokes were weaker than others, but the ones that hit, which are most of them, land hard to get you to burst out loud laughing. Some of the funniest scenes that I have seen in recent movies takes place here, even funnier than the first movie’s best moments. The references are also heavier, but not too heavy that it feels too much. Some of the references people may miss, but enough is out there for people to catch. Just like the first film, there is a lot of detail, especially in writing. This needs a second or third viewing to take every joke. Besides the humor being placed in every moment, the story is more emotional. Deadpool goes through a lot and has an emotional bond with his group of friends who help him on this adventure. The tone gets mixed up a bit because of the humor. Serious scenes are hard to be taken seriously, or even if they were meant to be taken remotely seriously. Some of the more emotional beats hit well, but the humor usually distracts from those moments. Going in for the characters, the fun, and the violence, it did not bother me. However, I felt it could have been executed better to blend the different tones.

Visually, the film, for the most part, looks quite good. Cable looks great, while everyone else also has great costumes. However, some of the special effects do look off at times. Nothing seems particularly awful, but it can be distracting for anyone who notices. Even with the parts that look good, nothing looks spectacular.

Outside of the original cast who are all great, the new cast is excellent additions. Domino (Zazie Beetz) and Cable are highlights of the whole movie. Domino is a great strong female character. She feels like someone playing off of the trope of female characters being incredibly strong just like in Batman v. Superman had with Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, the smaller characters were all just as good. I do mean small because the movie does focus on the original cast, Domino, Russell, and Cable.

Deadpool 2 is a worthy sequel in every way.  There are some issues here and there. A few moments with the story that feels a bit weaker at times. The third act does show some blemishes in the plot in ways but manages to end strong. A few special effects are a bit weak and could have used some more attention, which is far too familiar in any blockbuster movie. The jokes land, for the most part, characters are all great, and far better action with more gory violence. If you loved the first movie, then you will love this. If you hated the first, then watch anything else. On a final note, this movie does have one of my favorite after credit scenes of all time.

Score: 8/10

Image via 20th Century Fox

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

I cannot believe that they did it, but the Russo brothers and their whole team did something that I could not see meeting all of the hype and expectations. 10 years in the making with this part 1 of the major shakeup in the MCU and the ultimate threat that our heroes have ever seen yet. I have made several lists building up to this moment, and that work was worth it. Avengers: Infinity War has made history on so many levels. I love this movie for practically every aspect. Before we get into it, there will be no spoilers. I will briefly mention things in broad terms and with information that has been known before the film was released, so there is nothing to spoil. Just go watch the movie if you are a hardcore Marvel fan.

Our heroes are scattered all over Earth and universe. Thor and Hulk are facing the aftermath of Thor: Ragnarok. The Avengers are split because of the events of Civil War. Then the Guardians are just doing their thing somewhere in space, being as goofy as usual. Thanos is on his quest for the infinity stones and quickly gets on everyone’s radar as he plows through anything in his way. If you were wanting a movie full of Thanos crushing everything in his path, you got what you are looking for.

The film is full of new and old characters. Everyone wondered how it could be done with this many characters, but Marvel keeps proving it is able to produce substantial superhero movies. Everyone has their own screen time, some more than others. Everything is organic and perfectly paced. What I was looking forward to the most are the interactions. Seeing the Guardians and Thor is a perfect combination that I had no idea on how it would look. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Iron Man had such great chemistry. Everyone was able to work together in the funniest of scenes to the most dramatic. Just like every Marvel movie, the characters and their chemistry is what makes these movies so great.

Thanos and his children are all forces that stand on their own. Each of his children is powerful and interesting. Some get less dialog and fleshing out than others. Nonetheless, I enjoyed these characters, even though some more could have been done for some of them. Thanos was incredible. Josh Brolin did some phenomenal acting that I did not expect. The man always does a great job, but I did not see Thanos be this sympathetic and complex. All I knew was a few things about his personality such as he thought to be the hero of the story and he is incredibly intelligent. It has been said that the movie would start off by showing his power and he should be feared. This is an understatement. He is devastating to everyone he crosses paths with and indeed is the ultimate villain. I am saying it here that he is not only the best villain in the MCU, but we will not see anyone better for another few years. All of this build-up to this significant antagonist was worth the wait. He steals the movie by far.

Pacing throughout the film was excellent. It is the darkest and most violent movie in the MCU but has some fantastic moments of levity. I thought the other two films the Russo brothers did for Marvel were solid but lacked the humor to level things out. Civil War was a bit better about that than Winter Soldier, but that was for a few minutes when we had Spider-Man and Ant-Man. Here we got to see the tone of the movie leveled out a lot cleaner. The reason was mostly from Guardians who were the best part next to Thanos. Every scene had me dying of laughter, which is to be expected from the Guardians. They still managed to have their serious moments too. Nothing took away from moments whether a scene had a joke when it was dramatic, or all of the death and destruction taking away from a quick joke. The film had a great balance of action, suspense, comedy, drama, and so much more. This combined so many emotions that it will take time to digest once you finish this film. The surprises are everywhere. Nothing can prepare you for what happens here.

The action is well choreographed as always. I always love the bigger casts such as Civil War and the other two Avengers movies. Everyone has their own unique weapons, powers, and fighting style. That fighting style mixed with people who have different methods is well done. Seeing people combine moves or have any interaction to give a good blow to an enemy is awesome. This makes everyone work as a team. Their teamwork feels real especially with characters who have known each other for so long. With a movie full of action, none of it gets boring. Every action scene is excellently done and is exciting throughout.

My biggest issue is some moments make me question the power level of individual people and weapons. At times it feels someone or something is downplayed to even the playing field. We have seen this in other Marvel movies too. It is a common problem and at times it pretty apparent here. Also, it might be me, but some of the effects looked a little off. Only a few times did it look weird to me, but overall it is a pretty movie.

All in all, I love this movie. It may not stand on its own two feet because all of the world building and characters needed. People going in need to know everything about the film to work correctly. Movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther, or Iron Man can stand alone because there are fewer strings attached. Infinity War is not perfect, but the achievement that Marvel has accomplished cannot be denied. Wrapping all of these characters into one movie and pulling it off is astonishing. Thanos is the most magnificent villain in the MCU so far by a long shot. The film is full of surprises that will catch the biggest Marvel fans off guard, but leave them happy. The risks they took and were able to stick the landing is mind-blowing. The film has everything and more than any fan would want. I had the highest expectations for this movie, and it blew them away. Out of every movie so far in the MCU, Infinity War is top tier. The film is not my favorite, I cannot let go of Spider-Man: Homecoming for being so great and that it can stand on its own two feet. Infinity War like similar movies in the MCU does not stand quite as good on its own to a newcomer, but it is the perfect treat for the hardcore fans. You have to go watch this movie right this second. Now we must wait for Avengers 4 to wrap this story up and move into the next phase of the MCU. The next part and the final blow to cause the biggest shake-up in the MCU comes out May 3, 2019.

Have you seen the movie? Go ahead and comment on your thoughts. If you have not seen it then are you going to?

Score: 10/10

Image via Marvel Studios

Movie Review: Annihilation

I will already call it here, that this one will be divisive. Movies that give the audience more questions than answers typically get a mixed response. You will either love how abstract it is and enjoy the film as an art form or hate that you did not get everything that you wanted to have. Neither is wrong because we have our own preferences for movies. Personally, I loved Annihilation, and it blew my expectations out of the water.

Alex Garland has quite the experience in writing films such as 28 Days Later. In 2015 he wrote and debuted himself in the director’s chair with the brilliant Ex Machina. Seriously, if you missed it then go watch it as soon as possible. If you have seen it, then you know what to expect from his latest film in many ways. He is new to directing still but has the natural skill at it. Like any director, he has his style. This goes to show that future films of his will be similar in a lot of ways if these first two films are an indicator of anything.

Annihilation is based on the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. I have never read or heard of these books, so I came into the film with no knowledge except for the fact this has Alex Garland directing and Natalie Portman is in it. Out of my research before the film, it is apparent that the source material is just as odd as the film.

The film takes place with a biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) is grieving from her husband who never came back from a mission. One day he mysteriously appears but has some health issues. They are both taken on the way to hospital by a mysterious group of men who are suited up in a militarized gear. Lena wakes up and is told by Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is a psychologist that there is something called The Shimmer. After getting briefed on everything, Lena joins up with the Dr. and a few other female scientists who all have different specialties go into The Shimmer. Their mission is to reach its origin and figure out what is going on before this thing grows and destroys the planet.

The mysterious gateway they call The Shimmer is interesting. The world around them is mutating. They are still on Earth, but it is changing rapidly. Not a lot of information is given to you in the film, especially the final act, but enough is provided to generate a general idea of what is happening. Not only that, but this film is beautiful. Once inside The Shimmer, the plant life is full of color. The CGI from the entrance of The Shimmer and other effects that it brings is stunning to look at, This is easily one of the prettiest movies of the year even if we are only in February.

The cast of characters is one of the significant issues. Not enough is given to flesh the characters out besides Lena. She is flawed but has a good heart and a brilliant mind. However, not much is given to her to make you care a whole lot. The other characters are even less fleshed out. Dr. Ventress is given no information until the last act of the film. Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny), Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson) are all somewhat bland. There are some good moments between their interactions, but not enough is given to really care for them. A brief explanation of their background is given, but not much more. With how long the film is and drawn out, I feel like more could have been done. Then there is Kane (Oscar Isaac) who plays Lena’s husband. Flashbacks give a feeling about their relationship, but some pieces of that puzzle are missing. Some issues are brought up, but not entirely explained which ends up making their relationship more confusing and less meaningful. All of the actors do a good job, but not given enough to fully utilize their talents. It is an excellent idea for a main cast of females who are all very different in their careers, ethnicity, and even sexuality, but some things do not work. Seriously, it was odd to let a few scientists with assault rifles into The Shimmer where soldiers cannot make it out, but they are expected to potentially survive. Nothing that actually hurts the movie, but stuck out to me for being odd.

More mysterious things happen in the last act of the film where there is some explanation, but at the same time is kept vague that lets the audience decide depending on anyone’s own perception of what happened. Maybe a film will be made of the other two books to fully flesh this story out. I really hope so because I thought it was excellent despite its flaws.

Pacing, a few pointless flashbacks that did not go anywhere, and not entirely developed characters are the main issues to the film. Despite the flaws, it is beautiful to look at and has a fascinating premise. With more films that could be made then maybe this will make more sense and enjoyable to more people. Sadly, the film is bombing at the box office, so most likely we will never see a sequel. If you love mysterious movies and the sci-fi genre, then you might fall in love with this movie. Keep an open mind if you go see it. It is not for everyone. This will be one of those you hate it, or you love it kinds of movies.

Score: 8/10

Image via Paramount Pictures

 

Movie Review: Black Panther

Marvel fans have been in heaven for the past few years. The films have been getting better each year, and the universe is expanding to be more fleshed out. However, two significant problems have been pointed out for a long time. Villains often fall flat, and there is a lack of diversity in the MCU. Thankfully we have Black Panther that correctly addresses both of these significant issues that fans have been complaining about in the MCU.

There is a lot of hype behind this movie with its glowing reviews from both critics and audiences along with the records that have been broken by this film. Left and right this film is crushing the box office. The film had a high bar set from experts, but when it came out those expectations were blown away by how wildly successful Black Panther turned out to be. So, the big question is that whether this film is worth it or not, and the answer is yes!

The film is set after Captain America: Civil War in which Wakanda’s leader dies in an explosion. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) comes home to take part in a ritual that will set him as the new leader of his home country, but make him the Black Panther. This role is not only a king but a warrior and much more. After getting some evidence that a long time villain to his country, especially his father, Klaue (Andy Serkis) who is making a deal in South Korea. After an attempt to get him, a new foe reveals himself. This introduces Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who wants to become the new king of Wakanda. T’Challa must protect his people and defeat this new enemy. That is the gist of everything that you need to know before going in.

The world sees Wakanda as a third world country. However, the country is the primary source of vibranium. This powerful metal that came from a meteor should sound familiar. Ultron is made of this metal and same with Captain America’s shield. This stuff grants powerful weapons, clothing, and pretty much is everything to the people of Wakanda. The story heavily revolves around it and gives background to this country.

A significant part of the film is fleshing out the country of Wakanda. The country is one of the most incredible locations in the entire MCU, at least that is on Earth. A mix of African culture along with futuristic tech makes for an exciting place that gives a fresh feel to a Marvel film. The whole movie is full of culture to represent the people of Africa importantly. The music, accessories, clothing, and the way people communicate plays an essential role in the main cast of characters. People have wanted diversity, and this delivers perfectly. Not only do we see people of color given power, we see women having an enormous amount of power. Seriously, I need a movie that is with the female supporting cast as the leads because they are badass.

The film is full of exciting and loveable characters. Their dynamic with one another is excellent. The supporting cast is so great, that makes T’Challa looks less impressive. I think he is a great protagonist, but the other characters are that good. T’Challa has a good heart and a great sense of humor. Along with his skills in fighting which is an absolute joy to watch. What shines most are his friends and family who play a significant role in the film. First, we have Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who is a spy for Wakanda. She travels the world to gather information then comes home to bring back anything important that she finds. She has wonderful action scenes and is a faithful friend to T’Challa. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is an excellent warrior who leads the Dora Milaje, who is Wakanda’s deadliest warriors. These ladies slaughter their foes, and it is the coolest thing ever. She may look familiar to some people because Danai is from The Walking Dead and can bring her skills into action scenes quite well. Shuri (Letitia Wright) provides Black Panther and many others in Wakanda their high valued technology. She can find ways to heal others while giving them powerful new weapons. Shuri is easily one of my personal favorites who brings a lot of lightheartedness to the film.  We see the return from Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) who had his first appearance in Civil War. Out of the main supporting cast, he is the weakest. I felt his role seemed a bit typical and brought nothing that unique or special to the film. He is a fine character, who felt unnecessary in some ways. Ramonda (Angela Bassett) is the former queen and mother of the king. She is a great supporting character who has a great dynamic with her children. There are many other characters, but this film is so packed with them the best thing to do was to look at a few key characters. It is always a joy to see some of the cast members who are now a part of the MCU.

Out of all the characters, it is time to look at the villains. The film has two major villains, Killmonger (I vote for possibly the most ridiculous name in the MCU) and Klaue. Klaue is not as a fully developed as some of the other characters. This issue makes him a bit weaker amongst the rest of the cast. That does not mean he isn’t enjoyable. His constant humor and mixed with his ruthlessness makes for a great side antagonist for Black Panther. Killmonger takes a more prominent part in the second half of the film. I wish he had been given attention throughout the film, but his primary focus is the second half. His motives are clear and understandable. This is why so many people love him. He has style and sound reasoning. His cause is not that bad, but his execution is where he goes into villain territory. Ignore his lust for blood and the name Killmonger to appreciate his plan that could be beneficial, but too bad he is a psychopath. Killmonger is easily one of the best villains in the MCU. There have been some good ones in recent MCU films, but he is one of the most exceptional since Loki.

Marvel continues to deliver a gripping story with loveable characters. Ryan Coogler did an excellent job of directing. He and his crew were able to provide the right film to give respect and power to their community. Like many MCU movies, you will get action, dramatic moments with beloved characters, and some hilarious moments. Besides some of the typical tropes that follow in almost every Marvel film, this takes a step in a different direction. Black Panther takes a stand in a political direction about third world countries and the racial issues across the world. Some Marvel movies have tackled severe problems before, but this does go a little bit stronger about it than the previous films. If you are not a fan of politics in your Marvel movies, the film does not go too strong with this. It says its ideas and then focuses back on superheroes going on an entertaining adventure.

The film has excellent time management and pacing that takes it time with its action but focuses on world building for Wakanda’s history and its characters. There is an outstanding balance between every aspect of the film. However, the first half is a bit slower. Some action is there, but for the most part, there is a substantial focus on T’Challa and his family. Killmonger does not get much attention until the second half, which is the best part of the film.

Black Panther is strongest with its cast of characters, exciting and beautiful location of Wakanda, and delivering the perfect amount of diversity for people of color and women. The film offers one of the best villains in the entire MCU that rivals right next to Loki’s greatness. This is a refreshing change for the MCU that is familiar, but different enough to stand on its own two feet. A few issues are there. I wish there were even distribution of attention to Killmonger. Giving him a bit more time early on would help flesh him out earlier rather than later. A few ordinary moments that we see in every MCU movie that can be a little annoying that help with the story to progress. Everything else is entirely on point. Watch it for yourself to see how you like it. Black Panther will return in the upcoming Avengers movie that comes out this May.

Score: 9/10

Image via Marvel Studios.