REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER

CAST

Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Danai Gurira (The Visitor)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Letitia Wright (The Commuter)
Winston Duke (The Messengers)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantrn)
Forest Whitaker (Rogue One)
Andy Serkis (Kong Kong)
Sydelle Noel (Arrow)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya)
John Kani (Endgame)
Florence Kasumba (Wonder Woman)

Florence Kasumba, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Lupita Nyong'o in Black Panther (2018)Five African tribes war over a meteorite containing vibranium. One warrior ingests a “heart-shaped herb” affected by the metal and gains superhuman abilities, becoming the first “Black Panther”. He unites all but the Jabari Tribe to form the nation of Wakanda. Over centuries, the Wakandans use the vibranium to develop advanced technology and isolate themselves from the world by posing as a Third World country.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)In 1992, King T’Chaka visits his brother N’Jobu, who is working undercover in Oakland, California. T’Chaka accuses N’Jobu of assisting black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue with stealing vibranium from Wakanda. N’Jobu’s partner reveals he is Zuri, another undercover Wakandan, and confirms T’Chaka’s suspicions.Angela Bassett, Connie Chiume, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and Danai Gurira in Black Panther (2018)In the present day, following T’Chaka’s death, his son T’Challa returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. He and Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje regiment, extract T’Challa’s ex-lover Nakia from an undercover assignment so she can attend his coronation ceremony with his mother Ramonda and younger sister Shuri. At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku challenges T’Challa for the crown in ritual combat. T’Challa defeats M’Baku and persuades him to yield rather than die.Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Connie Chiume, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, and Daniel Kaluuya in Black Panther (2018)When Klaue and Erik Stevens steal a Wakandan artifact from a London museum T’Challa’s friend and Okoye’s lover W’Kabi urges him to bring Klaue back alive. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia travel to Busan, South Korea, where Klaue plans to sell the artifact to CIA agent Everett K. Ross. A firefight erupts and Klaue attempts to flee but is caught by T’Challa, who reluctantly releases him to Ross’ custody. Klaue tells Ross that Wakanda’s international image is a front for a technologically advanced civilization. Erik attacks and extracts Klaue as Ross is gravely injured protecting Nakia. Rather than pursue Klaue, T’Challa takes Ross to Wakanda where their technology can save him.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)While Shuri heals Ross, T’Challa confronts Zuri about N’Jobu. Zuri explains that N’Jobu planned to share Wakanda’s technology with people of African descent around the world to help them conquer their oppressors. As T’Chaka arrested N’Jobu, the latter attacked Zuri and forced T’Chaka to kill him. T’Chaka ordered Zuri to lie that N’Jobu had disappeared and left behind N’Jobu’s American son in order to maintain the lie. This boy grew up to be Stevens, a U.S. black ops soldier who adopted the name “Killmonger”. Meanwhile, Killmonger kills Klaue and takes his body to Wakanda. He is brought before the tribal elders, revealing his identity and claim to the throne. Killmonger challenges T’Challa to ritual combat, where he kills Zuri, defeats T’Challa, and hurls him over a waterfall to his presumed death. Killmonger ingests the heart-shaped herb and orders the rest incinerated, but Nakia extracts one first. Killmonger, supported by W’Kabi and his army, prepares to distribute shipments of Wakandan weapons to operatives around the world.Nakia, Shuri, Ramonda, and Ross flee to the Jabari Tribe for aid. They find a comatose T’Challa, rescued by the Jabari in repayment for sparing M’Baku’s life. Healed by Nakia’s herb, T’Challa returns to fight Killmonger, who dons his own Black Panther suit and commands W’Kabi and his army to attack. Shuri, Nakia, and the Dora Milaje join T’Challa, while Ross remotely pilots a jet and shoots down the planes carrying the vibranium weapons. M’Baku and the Jabari arrive to reinforce T’Challa. Confronted by Okoye, W’Kabi and his army stand down. Fighting in Wakanda’s vibranium mine, T’Challa disrupts Killmonger’s suit and stabs him. Killmonger refuses to be healed, choosing to die a free man rather than be incarcerated.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)T’Challa establishes an outreach center at the building where N’Jobu died, to be run by Nakia and Shuri. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa appears before the United Nations to reveal Wakanda’s true nature to the world. In a post-credits scene, Shuri helps Bucky Barnes with his recuperation.Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)Like many others, i have waited for months for Black Panther to come out. Although i was incredibly excited, a little part of was worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to the expectations placed upon it. But boy, did it blow my mind. It ended up surpassing my expectation by miles (and i was expecting a lot). It was truly an exquisite film. Chad Boswick acting as the Black Panther was perfection…not one thing was forced, everything he did, he did with grace and ease. Danai Gurira as Okoye was beyond words; she was fierce, elegant and a total badass. Lupita Nypngo, Letita Wright, Micheal B Jordan, Martin Freeman etc..were incredibly as well. The heartfelt acting shined through every actor and actress. The visuals were glorious, the portrayal of African culture in all its beautiful halo was something of a sight to behold.  This is a film that is educational, honest, visually stunning, humbling and historical. It does not bullshit or gloss up. Do yourself a favor and go watch it.

 

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REVIEW: MARVEL KNIGHTS – BLACK PANTHER

CAST (VOICES)

Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Stephen Stanton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Alfrie Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jill Scott (Girlfriends)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
JB Blanc (War Dogs)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Taye Diggs (Equilibrium)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Stan Lee (Chuck)

The concept of the motion comic is controversial to say the least. Many comic purists would argue they are pointless endeavors, while others, like myself find them an interesting supplement and even more a way to get those uninterested in comics to seek them out, provided they enjoy the program.

The newest release in the series may be their biggest yet, produced not just for DVD but as six-episode animated series. With “Black Panther,” Marvel adapts Hudlin’s own take on the character from 2005 and the end result will induce much headshaking and confusion.

Unlike the previous two installments in the Marvel Knights Animation line, I had not read the original source material, however, it’s safe to say, with the author being directly involved in the adaptation, it likely follows the comics quite closely. The most apparent change viewers familiar with the motion comic concept will notice is the consistency in runtime. Each episode runs around 18 minutes long and is paced like an episode of a TV-series. There are no more abrupt endings as before and this is a truly welcome change. Also worth noting is the star power in the voice cast. Hudlin has secured veteran voice actors Kevin Michael Richardson and Nolan North, as well as Hollywood stars Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington, and in the title role Djimon Hounsou. It’s all downhill from this point, with Hounsou’s involvement being the only positive memorable aspect of a disaster of a series.


“Black Panther” is a muddled mess, attempting to weave an origin story amidst a half-baked plot against our hero’s life by a band of largely second (or even third) rate villains. The tone of the entire series is wildly inconsistent; one minute our villains will be bickering with each other in classic Saturday morning cartoon fashion, giving the impression the series is lighthearted, but all this comes following an intro that is decidedly more mature, featuring tribal warriors getting impaled on sinister traps and severed Nazi heads on pikes. Add to that a very mean spirited tone, resulting from most characters not related to Black Panther being either stupid, bigoted, or both and the 132 minute runtime feels achingly brutal.

Comic book fans may immediately take issue with the series’ sad attempt to establish dominance of the Black Panther by having him swiftly defeat Captain America in hand-to-hand combat. The character doesn’t need such a wildly unbelievable fight to appeal to audiences, nor does he need the sympathy formed from broad stereotypes attempting to hold him down because he’s the leader of a small African nation. What should be a fun fantasy tale is instead drenched in an underhanded political theme that is downright tiresome and boring; if more time was given to developing supporting characters, a little bit of preaching would have been tolerable. To Hudlin’s credit, his take on Black Panther or T’Challa (Hounsou) is a fascinating, three-dimensional creation, and his home country of Wakanda is given admirable life and scope. Hounsou brings strong balance of kindness and fierceness to the role, and a scene midway through the series where he removes his mask to speak to a boy who worships him as a god, is one of the more heroic and humble moments I’ve seen in a superhero adaptation.
On the flipside, Kerry Washington, delivers a strangely overacted vocal performance as T’Challa’s sister, while Stephen Stanton is in full on, evil for evil’s sake mode, as Klaw, the main villain, an assassin responsible for murdering T’Challa’s father decades earlier, who returns to finish killing the royal family. The less said of Klaw’s inept cadre of support, the better, but the Vatican Black Knight is worth mentioning of only for the fact his character adds another layer into the theme of the evil Western world; not only does a rival nation want Wakanda overthrown, but so does the US (led by a cartoonish and ignorant General voiced by Stan Lee), and yes, the Pope. As a final insult to comic fans, Hudlin shoehorns in the story of T’Challa’s romance with Ororo Munroe, or Storm as she’s more commonly known. The addition is nothing more than a way to artificially extend the overly long runtime of the series and find an excuse for a few worthless X-Men cameos.

“Black Panther” is heavily dissappointing, and it’s a damn shame, as there is great potential with the character. The writing has a bad pace to it; dialogue driven scenes are sometimes choppy, flashbacks are overused (even as an origin story), and the action sequences often have great buildup but result in a sad whimper in terms of execution; a half-assed inclusion of zombies in the final episode tempts me to a giant stamp of “fail” on the series, but there are more than a few Panther centric moments to elevate it from the lowest possible rating. Animation wise, John Romita Jr’s art style translates horribly to the motion comic format, and some sequences are animated in a amateurish fashion at best; the fact I waited this long to mention it, is a strong indicator of how forgettable it is. There are strong talks that the Black Panther will see life on the big screen and I’ll reiterate again, Hounsou deserves a shot at the role, however, I hope this series is used as an example of what not to do.

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.

The best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.