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.

 

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Movie Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

The latest installment of the Cloverfield movies came as a surprise. When people actually watched it, for the most part, they hated it. I see a lot of negative reviews from fans and critics. To get to the point, it is an okay movie. I love the franchise. The first film is a unique take on a monster movie with the sequel being one of the most intense thrillers I have seen in years. The Cloverfield Paradox explains the franchise in a somewhat interesting way, but not the most satisfying of executions.

The story takes place in a space station with various scientists from around the world trying to solve the planet’s energy crisis. The world is on the break of war, and they might be able to do some good for mankind if things go well. However, as the name of the film suggests, they get sucked into another dimension. The main threat becomes their own reality as they try to get home.

The scientists that take place on this station are Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who gets the most development as a character, Kiel (David Oyelowo), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl), Monk (John Ortiz), Mundy (Chris O’Dowd), Volkov (Aksel Hennie), Tam (Ziyi Zhang), and a mysterious woman who gets transported to their station from another dimension named Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki). Nobody is that special of a character. Hamilton gets the most fleshed out with her relationship with her husband Michael (Roger Davies). Even then she is not the most exciting characters. A relatively typical troubled past and a relationship that has nothing unique to it. Other than that, nobody gets a whole lot of development. All of the actors do a fine job, but they are left with characters that do not have the best dynamic and typical drama that feels too short to give any weight.

The story was a bit difficult to understand for the most part to see what their primary objective in space was. The time paradox was not only mentioned in the title of the film but even in a throwaway scene with a guy on TV saying that this will happen. Which felt too forced. Let the audience discover what is happening in a more natural way like the first two movies. The mystery of the franchise is great, and this movie gave an easy answer. Even with the time paradox that explains this universe of movies, it did not feel as satisfying because it felt too easy to explain these events. However, this does make sense since J.J. Abrams has said in the past about the first two films being connected, but not in the traditional sense of a direct sequel. Cloverfield Paradox gives more insight to the other movies (I won’t put in too many details about that). It is interesting throughout the film to explore this idea but did not feel right exactly.

The directing was well done from Julius Onah, and the writing was interestingly done by Doug Jung and Oren Uziel, but maybe handing this movie to more experienced people would have been the smarter idea. The franchise has always done marketing differently and usually gives the power to people less experienced for a possible big break, but things did not work as well here. Maybe with someone with experience with a similar style of movie and in this genre then things could be different. Who knows what messed up from making this into an okay film from a great entry to the film’s universe.

There is a lot that is special to the franchise, especially the first two movies. There are strengths to the latest film with its special effects and interesting story but fails to deliver with characters and better development of the universe. Maybe keeping everything a mystery would have been better off since a time paradox feels too easy to explain the events in different movies. I personally enjoyed it as a fan of the series, but it is the weakest of the three. Something is just missing that puts it up to par with the other films. With a possible World War 1 entry that is rumored to come out late this year, we may get a film that will have something to it that makes this franchise so special.

You can see the movie for yourself on Netflix. As a fan of the franchise, I would highly recommend the first two films, especially the second 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Score: 6/10

Image via Netflix

 

 

Movie Review: The Shape of Water

A woman falls in love with a fish. Yes, that is the main idea of this film. On paper, it sounds dumb and should be garbage. Everyone is saying how it is so beautiful, one of the best romantic stories in years, and that it deserves to win Oscars. Is anything of this true? Absolutely!

I have had a lot of respect for Guillermo Del Toro but never seen much of his movies. The only film I have seen from him was Pacific Rim, which I hated. So my experience in his films is low, but from what I have seen in clips and screenshots from his other movies, he always has a great style that makes for some pretty film. I did not like Pacific Rim, but I loved it visually. He nails it again with The Shape of Water. From the characters, story, cinematography, makeup, wardrobe, and everything else in this movie are beautiful.

The Shape of Water takes place in the 1960s following a young mute woman named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who works at a research facility. She continues her duties cleaning up the building and keeping company with her coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer). One day a mysterious aquatic creature (Doug Jones) is brought into the facility. Elisa sees the creature to look human with the shape of his body, but to look like a fish. The amphibious man is being tortured. He forms a bond with Elisa who develops a plan to help the amphibious man escape. She teams up with her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) to support the creature. Her relationship with the amphibious man grows as they start to fall in love.

Most of the time in the story is spent developing characters and relationships. All of the characters are interesting and brought to life wonderfully by the actors and actresses. The way Elisa develops her relationship and later explains how she feels about the amphibious man is well developed and unusually beautiful. She manages to be enthusiastic, charming, funny, dramatic, and so much more without uttering a single word. Sally Hawkins does a phenomenal job and is Oscar worthy. Her supporting friends Zelda and Giles are fantastic, with Giles being my favorite of the two. His quirky and supportive personality is enjoyable. The bond between Elisa and her friends feels genuine and lifelike. Zelda is a true friend. She is supportive of Elisa throughout. Since Elisa is such a great listener, Zelda often talks about her home life and whatever is on her mind throughout the day. Her character’s attitude and dynamic with Elisa makes her an enjoyable, supportive role in the movie. The main threat and real monster of the story are Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) the director of this whole operation for the “asset” and tries to keep control of the situation. His weird characteristics and intimidating demeanor will steal every scene that he is in. He is a relentless force that is hovering over people’s shoulders. This true monster is shown to be a white, Christian, conservative, man. The stereotypical type of character for the era, but with some quirky behavior that makes him unique. Especially with the excellent performance by Michael Shannon. We have all seen this type of character being the antagonist in so many movies. The writing and performance make him different from all those other characters we have seen before. Any story needs a good protagonist like Elisa, but you always need that great antagonist that we get here.

It is more than just the romantic story and fantastic characters that make this movie beautiful, it is the cinematography and editing. Everything is perfectly done and with some unique moments. The opening shots are beautiful. The tone is set right from the beginning with the mix of the music and the camera shots around Elisa’s apartment building. The whole movie is filled with such fantastic camera shots that set the mood for the scenes or can just make the audience enjoy the scenery that is set with the 1960s look.

Most of the effects are practical which makes everything look real as can be and absolutely beautiful. Guillermo is known for loving his practical effects which shine most with the aquatic creature. The costume is almost entirely practical with some CGI mixed in for final touches to make the creature come to life. You could practically reach out and touch him. Along with Doug Jones who’s performance was the last piece to bring the creature to life as he interacts with other characters and the world around him.

The Shape of Water is a cinematic masterpiece. Blending genres from romance, some comedy, horror, drama, and thriller all into the mix to make a truly unique movie. The cast is perfect who were able to take such great characters and bring them all to life. Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor came together to write one of the most compelling stories from something that could have easily been the biggest trash of the year. No matter how you feel by the end of this review, you should check it out for yourself.

Score: 10/10

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Image via Fox Searchlight

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Two years we have been waiting, but it is finally here. The new episode in the new Star Wars trilogy is here. This is by far one of the most controversial and polarizing movies in the series. I will say it right now, I love this movie. There are perfectly solid reasons to hate it, but I will go into what felt right to me. No matter what, if you are a fan of Star Wars then you must see it. Have your expectations low and go in knowing as little as possible. That is the best bet to gain your full enjoyment out of it.

Just to say before going forward that I will not have any spoilers here. Somethings need to be said but will be kept vague as possible. If you are a fan, then go see it no matter what.

Ever since Rian Johnson was announced to direct and write this movie, I was so exciting. Looper is a really solid sci-fi movie and one of Bruce Willis’s best in a long time. Also, Rian is from my hometown, so it is hard to not be proud and excited. No matter how people feel about this movie, his vision was clear and he made the movie that he wanted. There needs to be respected whether you hated or loved it. He has been able to make some of the best choices in any Star Wars movie ever. Some decisions did not pan out, but for a two and a half hour movie, this is not a huge surprise. I loved Force Awakens for the same reason that J.J. Abrams accomplished with his own vision, despite some flaws.

The story is somewhat typical and a continuation of the last movie. Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her power from Luke (Mark Hamill). Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and a new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) find a hacker who can help them on their mission to escape from the First Order who are hunting them down. Meanwhile, the Resistance is preparing for battle against the First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) continue their mission for Snoke (Andy Serkis) to destroy the Resistance.

The pacing of the story is quite slow. A lot is going on and is packed into the timeline. There is enough action, humor, and big moments that take that weight off. No matter how you go about it, the length will still feel long no matter how much you love it. Most of which felt necessary, but somethings could have been done differently for the sake of time. There are enough side stories to keep everything afloat. Rey’s story goes a little slower, but some others go faster to keep the audience interest.

As it has been teased before the movie’s release, there is the biggest twist in any Star Wars movie and by the trailers, some big moments were going to happen. Without spoilers, just know that these are not what you think. Go to open-minded and clear-headed, you will be fine with what the movie throws at you. Personally, the twists and turns felt great to character arc, story, and the lore of this universe. Some questionable moves were made that I had to google and do some research afterward. Some elements from the extended universe are in this movie. Since it has never been seen in the big picture, some audience members like myself might be confused.  Out of my research, everything is canon and has happened in some capacity in the extended universe or hinted in the original trilogy. Everything stays true to how people in the universe are and how everything works in terms of the force and technology.

Some plot points are not huge. They fall flat, but that does not mean in a bad way. Yes, some do fall flat in negative ways. That is mostly with characters, but we will get to that shortly. Big reveals, twists, and plot points are usually made to be giant, but this movie makes something small. I like it because that is a bit of a risk. Takes expectations people have and downsize it. This works with how certain characters are and their overall arc.

Characters both new and old are all here. Kylo is expanded and a lot more likable as a villain. Still an emotional character, but Rian Johnson made this feel a lot more right. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan who wrote episode seven had a particular vision that did not sit well with a lot of people, myself included. Kylo felt too whiny and weak. This builds him with a lot better development that makes more sense. Adding more complexity to him and other characters. I love Rey more than before. Her growth is just as immense as expected. There is more added to the legendary Luke Skywalker. I felt Rose was a good addition, but she might need another movie to fully develop her into someone more likable. Plenty of new alien animals were shown like the popular porgs were great. I can’t remember a Star Wars movie having so many cute animals than this one. Several others are shown that are cute and have a great design for them. I was not excited about the porgs like everyone else, but they are really funny and cute. Those little creatures won me over big time!

Not every character felt right. There was a lot of hype for a new character known as DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who could have been a lot better. I am trying to be vague, but I was not a fan of what they did. It felt a lot less important than what I was hoping for. Still, Benicio did a good job like he always does. I can never be too mad at him in a role because he is just that good. More happens with Snoke who is not what I was hoping for. Personally, he did not bring what I had hoped for to the story. His scenes were great, but with how things play out, I was not a fan.

Visually this is one of the best out of any of the movies. Of course, it will be beautiful since almost all of the Star Wars movies are beautiful, except the prequels and their awful CGI. In the trailer, there is a planet in some substance on the ground that is white, but right under it is some red dust. This salty and dusty world makes for some simple, but beautiful shots. Some other interesting and pretty planets are shown, but I just wish we had more. I love being in space but seeing beautiful and unique worlds are always the best to experience.

The tone of the movie is typical, a bit darker as we move forward in this new trilogy with some humor in place. Just like The Force Awakens, a lot of humor is put in that does not always sit well. Some unexpected comedy is thrown in but honestly work. Some of the funniest moments in the whole franchise happen in this movie. I wished things were kept even darker and placement for humor was distributed differently. A funny scene occurs early on, which is great but gives a weird tone and expectation for the rest of the movie. Starting lighthearted is great, but you need some space between drama and comedy or it can bring either one down if placed too close. Something funny can happen, but right away there is something dramatic.

As everyone is saying, this movie takes some big risks. To defend it, people were made at episode seven for playing it safe, but mad at eight for playing it too risky. You are not going to make everyone happy. Most of these big risks I liked. One or two do not sit well with me, but overall, I am quite happy that Rian Johnson took his vision and ran with it. There is a clear vision that mostly works throughout the film. Despite some flat characters and plot points that do not go down like I had hoped, it is still one of the best Star Wars movies. Big franchises need to take bigger risks. Better to have people loving or hating it than having people being neutral. Having these big reactions has caused interesting discussion and has riled up the fan base. New territories for characters, the force, and the entire universe are explored here. Risky, but works out so well to give a unique Star Wars experience that we needed. I am beyond excited that Rian Johnson gets his own trilogy that will certainly continue being risky and exploring what has not been touched in one of the movies.

Score: 9/10

Image via Lucas Film and Disney

Movie Review: Lazer Team 2

Over the years Rooster Teeth has grown exponentially, especially in just the last two to three years. Shows have gotten more ambitious and bigger in scope. In 2015 the company crowdfunded their first movie, Lazer Team. Despite mixed reviews from fans and negative reviews from critics, the success was good enough for Rooster Teeth to create a sequel. The first was directed by their CEO Matt Hullum and written by  Burnie Burns, Chris Demarais, Josh Flanagan. and Matt Hullum. This latest film is directed by Matt and Daniel Fabelo while being written by them and Burnie. The first had its flaws, but it was enjoyable. Many of these flaws are fixed in the latest movie.

The story takes place a few years after the events of the first movie. The team has disbanded and gone their separate ways. Woody (Gavin Free) becomes a part of a research team for the government in which they discover a way to create a wormhole to another dimension. The team is recruited by Maggie (Nichole Bloom), a scientist who was working with Woody.  Fighting off aliens and the obstacles that are created from Kilborne (Victoria Pratt) who is given the power to dismantle this government-funded project.

Burnie Burns, who plays as Hagan, described the movie as a focus on the comedy because the first movie was able to establish the characters and the world. This rings quite true. The story is strong overall, but the main focus is to make the audience laugh. The comedic element is more of a consistent focus throughout the movie. Plenty of jokes that anyone can get, but plenty of jokes that are meant for Rooster Teeth fans. This blend of focus on story and making jokes is a great blend that works better than the first movie. What might throw fans off, just like the first Lazer Team, the humor is not quite the style that Rooster Teeth is known for. Their adult style of humor is not really present, but it is more so in Lazer Team 2. As a long time fan who appreciates their adult side more, I wish they went all out with an R rating to make something that feels like more of their style. I am sure we will be getting that in future movies such as the next movie, Blood Fest.

Characters are generally quite great. If you liked the characters from the first movie then you get to enjoy them even more here. Besides the return of the main team, two more characters return from the first movie. Officer Vandenbloom (Kirk Johnson) makes a wonderful return. Just as funny as ever, and given a more significant role. Joel Heyman’s small cameo as a reporter returns in multiple scenes. The range of cameos from Rooster Teeth personnel and other related people are throughout the entirety of the movie. Some scenes you may have to pause to catch all of the different people in it. The weakest character who plays a big role in the story is Kilborne. Her motivations on various levels feel off and confusing at times. I feel that movies tend to have a great time with heroes and side characters, but so many times it is common to have a failed villain. Overall, characters are well done with excellent casting choices which have always been a staple in Rooster Teeth content.

Being a smaller budget movie the special effects are just as poor as the first movie. Despite the style, it still bothered me to look at spaceships and lasers. The practical effects are quite well made and even better than the first movie. The use of sets instead of locations worked in their favor to create interesting places that the team would have to navigate through. I understand they want to make sci-fi movies as their start in making movies, but should have waited to get the right budget as they develop their movie side of the company.

If you liked the first Lazer Team, then you will like the sequel even more. People who hated the first movie will absolutely not like this one either. Overall it is stronger than the last. As the company makes more movies, the quality will increase. They are used to making excellent shows, but not at this level of length and production size. It has poor special effects, given that it is so low budget that it makes sense. A villain that has odd choices and a motivation that is hard to understand hurts major plot points. These problems are few but major. What holds it up is the comedy that is spread consistently and is able to land well most of the time. Colorful characters that have an excellent chemistry feels genuine. This universe they made is interesting with some great ideas that flesh it all out. If you are not a fan of the company, you may still enjoy this movie. There are plenty of references that will not change how you feel about the movie. If you are a fan then you may enjoy it more than the typical moviegoer with great cameos and jokes that only the most hardened of fans will understand. The company made a great effort and will only continue to grow better as they move forward.

Score: 7/10

Image via Rooster Teeth

 

Movie Review: Thor Ragnarok

When the next big Marvel movie releases a brand new trailer, everyone seems to go nuts for it. I have not gotten onto the Marvel hype train yet. I love some of the movies such as Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and from the Fox-owned films, Deadpool. Despite there being great movies in the superhero genre, I still have not been able to get into it because of some less favorable movies. I heard a lot of people who were excited about Thor Ragnarok. When I saw the trailer, I groaned and thought it looked terrible. Just cheesy as a cheese quesadilla and looked like other movies to me. I have never seen any of the Thor movies before, and I hear not great things about the first two films. That left me with a feeling that this will be a more comedic Thor movie that will fall flat like the other two.

The movie finally came out, and everyone is raving about it. When my friends, my favorite internet personalities from Rooster Teeth, and all the reviewers are saying how great this movie is, then I had to try it for myself. I went to the theater with the most comfortable seats just in case I was bored. I would rather be comfortable and bored rather than bored and uncomfortable. After the first few minutes, I was already in love. My reaction became the exact same as the first Guardians of the Galaxy. That is a movie I thought would be terrible, but after my best friend dragged me to see Guardians, I fell in love with everything about it.

Thor Ragnarok is about Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) find out about a sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett) who is the goddess of death. In a fight with between the two brothers and their sister, she destroys Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer and they must retreat back to Asgard. After their attempt has failed, they find themselves on the planet Sakaar. He is imprisoned by a man named Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) in which he is forced into a battle arena to earn his freedom. He discovers that the champion he must defeat is his old friend from the Avengers, the Hulk. Thor must team up with the Hulk, Scrapper 142, and his brother to attempt to save Asgard.

The story goes back and forth between Hela’s quest to take over then destroy Asgard and Thor’s mission to escape Sakaar to save his home. Thor’s side of the story is the stronger side of the story. There is a lot more humor that brings the audience along and more interesting character interactions. Hela as a character felt like a lot of the other MCU villains that have been defeated before. Absolutely powerful and evil, but falls flat in many areas. Cate Blanchett did a job well done regarding acting but was not given the best role to be playing.  See her arc did not feel that unique overall.

Of the vast array of characters that hold the movie up, one of my personal favorites is the Grandmaster. Jeff Goldblum does a fantastic job as always as this goofy and theatrical character. The interaction between Thor and other characters such as Hulk, Bruce Banner, and Loki are all enjoyable throughout the entire film. If you saw Doctor Strange and stayed for the ending credit scene, then you would know him, and Thor meet. Their brief interaction was funny and transitioned Thor onto this adventure worked so well. I was hoping to see more of Doctor Strange, partially because Benedict Cumberbatch is great, but I just expected that he would be providing more to the story. Seeing how their chemistry works is an excellent insight to see how things will play out in Avengers: Infinity War which comes out spring of 2018.

For a while, the Marvel Cinematic Universe got complaints about the lack of color. Visually these movies may not have been the best to look at. With films such as Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy, the visuals got better both from practical effects to the special effects. Thor Ragnarok might be the most beautiful movie out of every film that has been released so far in the MCU. It vomits out colors in almost every scene and is beautifully crafted in every detail. Each movie is getting prettier and prettier, and Thor is excellently showing this progression.

Most of the film is centered around the comedy, which is one of the standard complaints. I can do with or without a lot of comedy in a Marvel movie, it depends on how it is done. Out of this side of the Marvel movies, I have loved the most comedic side such as ThorGuardians, and Spider-Man.  The more serious of the MCU movies I have seen, I did not like. I thought Captain America: Civil War was average at best. I have loved the other side of Marvel that is owned by Fox when it comes to Logan, a depressing side of the superhero movie genre. It all depends on how it is done, and to me, Thor nailed it comedy on all levels.

Besides the dull character arc with Hela, I have no real complaints about this film. If there was a great villain and I felt that the stakes were higher, then maybe this would be a perfect movie for me. There are far more positives that lift this film up so high. Beautifully crafted visuals from both costumes to the worlds that we see that satisfy anyone looking for a pretty movie. Clever writing to create funny moments and excellent chemistry between characters. Action scenes that are well choreographed and are well spread out throughout the entire film. It is difficult to say anything negative about this one. As someone who is not a fan of most of the MCU, Thor Ragnarok did an excellent job of selling me on going see more of the future movies coming in the years to come. If you love Guardians of the Galaxy, then you will love this film. Refreshing, but familiar with all the best ways for any fan of the Marvel movies.

Score: 9/10

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Image via Marvel Studios

Movie Review: Jigsaw

The Saw franchise has taken a long break. Seven years since the last movie and many rumors later, we have been delivered Jigsaw. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg. None of them have a ton of experience with some of the most notable movie being from Pete and Josh such as Piranha 3D. That lack of experience is concerning, but it is always great to see that people are getting the opportunity to work on a bigger franchise like Saw. For me, I am a huge fan of the Saw franchise, which will make anyone reading this cringe or cheer. I love the first four movies despite their flaws. The last few became monotonous and got trapped in a cycle that generates money but decreases quality. When Jigsaw got an official trailer, it got me excited. My expectations were kept low, but when I got into the theater, my excitement level maintained. Did this long break save this sinking franchise? Not at all.

The story starts ten years after John Kramer’s death, introducing us to a group of people in one of Jigsaw’s traps. As usual, they must complete the game to survive. The four people—Anna (Laura Vandervoot), Ryan (Paul Braunstein), Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles), and Carly (Brittany Allen). None of them were perfect as actors or had good characters to play. The worst was Ryan, the most generic and annoying of the group who I was hoping would have a creative death. The other side of the story shows two detectives, Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Keith Hunt (Cle Bennet). Both are generic detectives, especially Halloran who is painful to see this cheesy, crooked, and utterly bizarre detective. They are working together with Logan Nelson and Eleanor Bonneville who are two medical examiners. These two are the closest to interesting characters but are still relatively bland. On this search for the people in Jigsaw’s trap, there is the question whether John Kramer aka Jigsaw is alive or not. Of course, just like every movie, Tobin Bell reprises his role as John, despite being dead in several films now. The usual twist ending gives somewhat of a satisfying end. The main problem is that this has been done so many times before in the Saw series. Nothing new is done to the story or characters.

The traps and brutal deaths help keep this franchise afloat. Despite the last couple of movies declining in quality, at least they had some good death scenes. There may have been only one or two deaths in the entire movie that was rememberable. Most of which felt less creative, which is expected after making so many movies. You would have thought that such a long break could have given the writers some time to come up with a more creative story and traps, but just like many horror movie franchises, they burn themselves out. If only we were given creative enough deaths and traps then that could have potentially helped lift this movie up even in the slightest.

There is not a whole lot to say about this movie. It blends in with the past couple of Saw movies and goes to show that the franchise is dead, sadly. I wish this could have been a revival of the series. I was rooting for this movie to be good.  Sadly with bland characters, poor creativity, and a generic story made this into another Saw movie meant to get money and keep a sinking franchise afloat. There were different things done early on to make the audience interested and captured by the tone of the film. Keeping a low budget and smaller stories to tell worked best. If the studio wants this series to be alive and make them money, they need to go back to their roots. If you love Saw, you may not like this. If you can be easily entertained by a violent horror movie, then you might have some level of fun. On the bright side of everything about this movie, we still have that great soundtrack that will live forever and give a redeeming quality to any Saw movie.

Score: 3/10

Image via Lionsgate