Tag Archives: superhero

Review Aquaman by Jonathan Evans.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Of all the Superhero movies to come out in recent years I don’t think there is one I can point to where it’s appeal mainly goes to its star. To be fair there are co-stars and costume department and the director and the writers but without the special magic of Jason Momoa, who takes the concept of the character and fits it to his liking this movie would probably be dead in the water (pun intended!).

Opening the movie is a prologue of a man by the name of Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) runs a lighthouse and during one dark and stormy night, he sees a woman washed up onshore and un-conscience. He takes her inside and tends to her wounds, she is Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) who is the princess of Atlantis and has fled because of an arranged marriage. But this beautiful woman from a distant land, falls for this man of a different world and for a time love thrives and they have a son together named Arthur, but she has responsibilities and so her people come to take her back, leaving Thomas to raise Arthur alone.

Years later a submarine is being boarded by pirates, they take the ship but it’s hit by something, not a creature, or a missile, but a man. For his introduction, you will have a smile on your face. Jason Momoa is such a larger than life character that is so happy to be onscreen that his joy is sent through the screen and right into you. He looks good with his top off (which happens a lot), moves with swagger and confidence and is either given or writes his own witty repartee which is even accompanied with a few notes of an electric guitar (a fun peppering of fun for the audience).

Joining Arthur is Mera (Amber Heard) a red-headed Atlantian that comes from a noble house and tries to bring Arthur to Atlantis to restore order, he wants very little to do with it but tidal waves keep damaging the shoreline so he’s in for the ride. Mera has special…magic? Where she is capable of controlling the water itself. Heard and Momoa has good chemistry with witty banter that they sharply bounce off each other.

Director James Wan is most well versed in the horror genre, with movies like Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious under his belt but also directed Furious 7 so he’s also cut his teeth on mainstream blockbusters. He channels more of his Furious 7 muscles here though there two moments when he gets to flex those horror skills of his. He has good control of his camera, knowing when to move it and when it should stay still and there are a few neat wipes used within it (though they are just for flash). He and cinematographer Don Burges even make use of the underwater segments with allowing the camera to drift in a fully around, above and below the characters.

Setting the movie primarily underwater, for the most part, helps give the movie a unique look from the other Superhero movies. Atlantis itself is as a city is impressive visual realization with lights that strobe-like cuttlefish and other deep sea creatures and the building take the shape of shells, fins and the bones of marine life. As well as that there are many other locations that we are given because of how the plot is laid out.

This whole movie has a getup and go, waste to time mentality. This is to its detriment because we never get a few precious moments to absorb what’s been said, as soon as something has been explained Arthur gets up and goes to the place or fight someone (though he does seem to be that type of character). Same for other scenes with other characters, we are in a location and they spout their dialog at a fast passe and as soon they are don’t then the other talks and the scene immediately ends.

This is essentially a treasure hunt movie. With artifacts that need to be found and clues hidden in different locations around the world and one thing leading to another. These types of movies, like Indiana Jones, are good for keeping the characters and plot moving and allowing for different locations and action set pieces.

With all the incredible progress that’s been made with computer animation in recent years, it’s a shame that this movie looks so artificial. here are times when we are meant to be within a ship or an undersea castle of sorts or even have our heroes up against a creature from the deep and you will never believe it’s really there. Adding to it are very unconvincing capes that flow up and down and they are like flags of artificiality (I also have no ideas why you would need a cape underwater).

Music is used to heighten the emotion of the scene playing on-screen. Depending on the scene or on the tone of the movie itself it can be loud and aggressive or delicate and nuanced. Sometimes as well no music should be played and the image and the quiet are all we need. But during moments in this movie composer Rupert Gregson-Williams is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Especially during the second act where every emotion the characters express is accompanied by a tune, all dramatic images come with a BOOM and one moment where something dramatic is happening on-screen it comes with choir music. Such blatantly obvious as well as obnoxious use of music don’t enhance but obstruct and make us aware of how the creators want us to view the movie.

Under Zack Snyders creative reign these movies have had a washed out or, murky, dark look to them. All the color is faded down and black is not used as a contrast but dominated the frame, accompanied by browns, bronze, and variations of grey with only a few other shades being allowed in, it is a very unappealing thing to look at. Here we get vivid, lush colors as well and a few darker setting for contrast. Each character has their own main color so they can be easily distinguished from another and pop-out against the environment.

This movie does not have one but three villains from the Aquaman mythos. Primarily there is Ocean Master (whose title they find a way of saying out loud and not sounding ridiculous) Arthurs half Brother that want the throne for himself as well as to declare war on the surface. Black Manta, a deep-sea pirate that is geared with special Atlantian technology that gives him an edge in the fights. It’s a testament to the costume people that they took the original design of the large helmet and made it look good in the movie when by all means it should be hilarious. Finally, there’s The Trench, a race of water-breathers that live in the deepest darkest part of the ocean and have become savage. They are the most recent installment in the comics and are really just Piranha men though are a definite threat. Anyone of these villains is enough to provide fuel for one movie and all three are here, none of them is throwaway and get their moments, it’s just another example of the main problem with the movie, it’s rushed and cluttered.

In terms of DC movies, this is a much better step forward with recent debacles like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. It is not as strong as Wonder Woman and in terms of a Superhero facing a different culture, this is no Black Panther. Though it is still an everyone is doing an admiral job is all their departments, but the special spice is it’s star Jason Momoa that is able to take it on his broad shoulders and elevate it.

 

Review Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Within this current Superhero renaissance that we are experiencing Spider-Man is the one that has seen the most iterations. Since his cinematic debut in 2002 (directed by Sam Rami, starring Tobey McGuire) there have been two other live-action interpretations as well as three animated shows. Superheroes are meant to be handed to other creative teams and have other actors give their interpretation for a new audience. But within one generation we are now very aware of how malleable these characters are, especially Spider-Man.

This movie is all about accepting that malleable. About how you can have the same character and shoot them through a prism and see all the wonderful spectrums they can cast. We are introduced to our Spider-Man (Chris Pine), he tells the story we all know, he was bitten by a radioactive spider, gained superpowers, his Uncle Ben was shot, with great power comes great responsibility and for the last ten years, he has been your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!

Living his life in the city as well is a young boy named Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), he is entering a special school which he feels he doesn’t belong in however his cop dad (Brian Tyree Henry) insists on it. Miles isn’t having a fun time but likes to kick back with his uncle Davis (Mahershala Ali) and one day while wandering around New York’s underground Miles gets bitten by a mysterious spider. The next day his body begins to go through changes (not puberty), he is sticking to walls and can sense incoming danger. He goes back to the underground to investigate and while there comes across a battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, he attempts to shut down some giant sci-fi machine but it goes boom and Spider-Man is crushed and dies under the debris. This is the end of the hero and Miles is left with questions, while visiting Peter Parker’s grave he’s visited someone else, Peter Parker!

Yes, that machine was a portal to other, alternative universes where another Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) has crossed over. He is more of a self-pitying screwup than the one that perished but Miles certainly lacks experience so this looks like a student mentor set-up to me.

Of all the other Superhero movies this is the one that literally looks like a comic book come to life. There are numerous movies that have adapted and taken visual cues from the source material but this one, due to it being animation literally looks like the characters were drawn and were printed with ink on paper. This comes from neat touches like having their shadows be represented by lines, or printing spots and even speech text and sound effect words appearing on-screen. Adding to this they cut down on the frame rate to make the characters movement blockier, a similar effect was used in The LEGO Movie (makes sense because Phil Lord and Chris Miller serve as story developers).

This is a graphic heavy world told through the perspective of a bi-racial character living in Brooklyn, so it only comments the vision that the soundtrack reflects that. Daniel Pemberton serves as the main composer while Post Malone and Swae Lee also contribute original songs to the movie. It is fast and upbeat and compliments the intensity of the story and tone.

Being that we are dealing with characters whose defining ability is to stick to surfaces and maneuver them we get some fun playing with that shifting of perspective. The camera doesn’t stay upright like what a regular person would, it follows the Spider-Men and when they walk along a wall then the camera adjusts for them and the surroundings look as if they are shifting. It is a refreshing and fun way of conveying wall-crawling.

Along with this other Peter, there are still more Spider-Men. There is Gwen Stacey as Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Peni Parker (Kimiko Elizabeth Glenn) a Japanese, Anime inspired little girl that pilots a robot suit that has the soul of her father in it, Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage) from the nineteen thirties and exists in Black & White, finally there’s Spider-Ham/Peter Porker (John Mulaney) a cartoon pig that is probably the least serious out of the gang, also my favorite.

Along with their different design they are drawn differently, have a unique style of animation from one another and each has their own characteristics. Spider-Gwen is like a graceful dancer with fluid leg movements and able to stand on the tips of her toes. Peni, typical of anime, has her expressions change within one frame and have symbols flash on her forehead, Spider-Ham moves like an old Fleisher or Looney Tunes cartoon, with a bounce in his walk, stretchable limbs and even able to hovers slightly.

You have to roll with the continuity. Don’t want an in-depth understanding of every character and their history. See there is a character named Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber) and understand he is the bad guy that hates Spider-Man. See someone in a crazy costume and just accept that this is Superheroes and they are everywhere. This movie moves too fast and throws too much at you for it to be smoothly explained.

Of course though with every story to really work it needs its center. There is a lot going on in this movie but it is always Miles story about how he is able to rise up to this legacy and responsibility. As well as that even beyond the fights is the interaction between all the different Spider-People and Miles family and friends. As long as you have a core and stay true to it you can layer it as much as you want.

We have been served a great amount of-of movies of the Superhero genre in the last ten years, but before that, they had already endured for over sixty years. They are able to do so because stories about good and evil are constant and they allow for fantastical imagery and ideas. As well as that each character has their core and is able to be handed to different people and adjust for their interpretation and adapt for a different time. We have seen so many different Superhero tales, from the dark grittiness of LOGAN, the mad colorful comedy of Guardians of the Galaxy to the epic scale of Avengers: Infinity War. This is a tale of a great enduring character and the genre itself and why they will endure forever.

 

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp by Jonathan Evans

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

Another season another MARVEL movie. I remember a time when we might only get one Superhero movie a year (if that), or at least one MARVEL movie a year, now we are at the rate of two or three a year. What the studio has done which allows itself to be maintained is stuck to style and principles but allow the correct amount of diversity and identity among its many ongoing characters. This is a genre movie like any other, we already understand the basic flow of the narrative, we need just enough surprise, variation and high level of competence to execute the project so it is enjoyable and not stagnant.

The plot of this movie is based on events that are carried over from the previous as well as a little bit of the events of Captain America: Civil War. The original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly) are seeking to rescue Janet Pym (Michelle Pfeiffer) who’s been trapped in the Quantum Realm for years. However, there is a gear in the works because Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the new Ant-Man is under house arrest.

The humor is the element that is most on-point in this movie. Not since the first Guardians of The Galaxy have I laughed so hard and consistently during a MARVEL movie. Yes, the movies have all had a generous serving of humor and none of them have been unfunny but this one especially tickled me. One particular joke about truth serum stands out.

As the title would imply in this movie is the inclusion of the character The Wasp. She is Hope Pym, she has the same shrinking powers as Ant-Man but comes with wings that greatly help in maneuvering and stingers, gauntlets that shoot paralyzing blasts and are able to expand and shrink objects they hit. She is pretty much superior to Ant-Man, but a job is always easier accomplished with more than one person so he’s along for the ride too.

Causing other problems for the heroes this time is a mysterious specter that is named Ghost. They are named so because they have the mysterious ability to phase through solid matter i.e. walls, cars etc. They wear a white costume with small red, glowing eyes, so they are mysterious and threatening and once we learn they’re the motivation they also become sympathetic. Ghost isn’t as deliciously overpowered as Hella from Thor Ragnorok, or tragic and threatening as Killmonger in Black Panther, but they are a solid character and obstacle for our heroes.

A few ties these movies have taken older actors and for the purposes of flashbacks reverse aged them. They have been working on this technique within a few movies and here we get to see it reach the pinnacle of perfection. We see Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburn look how they did twenty years ago with almost no sign of artificial tampering. Along with that are seeing fully grown adults be shrunk to three feet tall, a regular sized human next to a colossal sized human and even when they are shrunk down huge fat dust particles float around them. There’s also the right mixture of practical-camera effects and giant props.

With the introduction of the growing, it adds another element to the action sequences. The shrinking was also a rich element, two cars can be racing and when you shrink you can go underneath the other vehicle, now mundane objects and be thrown which become obstacles for others to traverse or even straight up block them. Also when the heroes grow the seemingly large threat is now an annoyance. Along with this Scott’s new suit was a rush job so it doesn’t work perfectly. All this abides with the “But and Therefore” mentality towards narrative and action mentality.

One of the key distinguishing elements about this movie is what I liked so much about the first Ant-Man, the smaller scale. Infinity War was such a massive project, with some genuinely dire tones that have a movie that takes place within one city, that is not at risk of being blown up and some funny humor comes as a nice change of passe.

Payton Reed has stepped into this world and characters and made it his. This is the playful, toy mentality chunk of the MARVEL cinematic universe. It is slick, inventive, colorful and fun!

Jonathan Evans

Review The Incredibles 2 by Jonathan Evans

We are now in the renaissance of Superhero entertainment. Every blockbuster is a Superhero, on television, there’s plenty of choice of Superheroes from adult entertainment to kids animation. Many other toys and games as well, they are deeply embedded in our culture at this point. When the first Incredibles movie came out, it wasn’t amongst such heavy competition, when a Superhero movie came out in 2004 it had about one other Superhero movie to compete with as well as probably not another one coming out the year before or after that. Now, how does it distinguish itself from so many other movies of the same genre?

The movie picks up just about where the last one left, with some crazy supervillain, armed with a giant drill wreaking havoc on the city. The Incredibles launch into action, during the pursuit Superheros, are still illegal and the villain gets away, this doesn’t help their case. Fortunately, an enthusiastic fan of Superheroes is eager to bring them into the spotlight. He is Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) the head of a flashy technology company, he’s the face while his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) is the idea genius that relaxes behind the scenes.

When it comes to action sequences we need the same thing that’s required in a narrative arc. We need one character with a want and then a but so therefore and then a but again and so on and so forth until it is somehow resolved. Take for example our opening action scene where Mr. and Mrs. Incredible is chasing The Underminer. He has a huge drill and is sinking buildings and robbing a bank. They need to get inside so Mrs. Incredible turns into a trampoline for Mr. Incredible, but it goes underground making is difficult for him to hang on, he gets inside but then gets sucked into the large hose he’s using to suck up all the riches, therefore he must punch his way out of the vault and so on and so forth. Along with this, it must be shot clearly, usually with wide angle shots so we see all of the characters and get a sense of their surroundings, with a few extreme wide angle shots and close-ups so we gauge the bigger scenario and see the characters reaction so we emotionally connect with them. Being that this is animation the camera is allowed to smoothly move along with the characters in long, unbroken shots that would be nearly impossible in live action. Along with all of this, we have people with superpowers so its a case of utilizing their abilities for their situation or against eachother. Director Brad Bird and his team are simultaneously enthusiastic kids playing with their toys and sophisticated storytellers, efficiently utilizing and visualing the different elements at play.

The Parr family is still just the same as they were, only with a new situation to deal with. Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) is eager to get back into crime-fighting but is detoured so now must deal with the struggle of raising his family, Mrs. Incredible/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) is ever concerned for the family but also has a passion for crimefighting and makes the decision to commit to that and trust Bob. Violet (Sarah Vowell), the adolescent with the power to turn invisible and create forcefields, she the constantly questioning her parent’s decisions as well as going through her own personal troubles, she is also my favorite. Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox from the first movie) is the young energetic kid that acts on impulse, add superspeed to the mix and it’s a perfect analogy. Finally, there’s little baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) who in fact has multiple powers, from laser eyes, to teleport, to turning into a literal little devil.

Causing trouble this time is an entity that calls themselves the Screensaver. A plotter that wears a gas mask like mask and takes control over people through the screen using a hypnotic strobe effect. They believe the people have become lazy in this age of television and convenience, so they plan to flat out enslave them anyway. Like with Syndrome in the last movie it seems if you choose to don black and white for your costume, you are the villain.

Later in the movie, more Superheroes are introduced. The Incredibles costumes are mostly red with a sleek, minimal design to them to other heroes all have a unique silhouette and color scheme to their costume so they become instantly recognizable even if you squint your eyes. This is a sign of the clear visual storytelling that animation can allow. But it is peppered nicely with a few scenes that have a majority of the shot in black, adding a threatening nature to the mood and only allowing the bare essential information to be absorbed.

The heart of the first movie is still the heart in this one, family. The Superhero genre is about taking a common emotional problem and greatly escalating it through powers and extravagant situations. The Parr family is a like any other, they drive each other crazy, support one another and when an obstacle come they do what they can to hurdle it, like any family drama, they just have the added spice of powers and villains.

In this time of many other superheroes, the original Incredibles still stands as a slick, punchy action adventure movie with a lot of heart and maturity. But through its unique visual style and interpretation of the Superhero genre is unique among its peers, the sequel is exactly the same.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Boa Review 

The opening short revolves around food and the emotional connection we develop with it. It is allegorical and has beautiful texturing with the many different types of food is puts before us. You will most likely be hungry while watching it. Though I do believe the ending will have children more confused and asking questions that immediately understand.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Jonathan Evans

Review Avengers: Infinity War by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

Avengers was the accumulation of years of planning and character development that had originally started in 2008’s Iron Man. It wasn’t the first to bring multiple characters together from other movies but this was the one that clearly had a plan, each character got their own movie so they could all be here and gathered together. In the end, it made a promise of a villain that there was more. Infinity War is the payoff.

Now, ten years later and eighteen movies we have arrived at where the plan was apparently alway to be. Many heroes, many different locations, visuals, effects, moments etc. This movie takes everything in the toy box and throws it at us and introduces new ones while doing so.

Only recently has MARVEL done better in having better villains in their movies. But most of them weren’t really serious threats, they were scene chewing, fun bad guys. Thanos (Josh Brolin) is one of the biggest and baddest of villains in the comic book world and has now been realised on the big screen. He stands eight feet high, bulky with muscle and a plan that will devastate everyone. He believes that there is too much population in the universe so he has taken it upon himself to wipe out half the population to stabilise it. This is quite mad and the characters point it out. Dread is packed into the way the characters talk about him and he proves that he is indeed someone to fear. Not only does he pack a punch, but can take one and has a sophisticated way with words and philosophy. Brains and brawn, he most certainly has a few key elements of a great screen villain.

His plan revolves around acquiring six Infinity Stones that all control a certain aspect of existence (reality, mind, time, soul etc.). Once he has all of them he can accomplish his goal with a literal snap of his fingers. These Infinity Stones have been scattered throughout the other MARVEL movies so for us watching we can connect the dots. Now the race is on to either get to a stone before he can, get them away from him or destroy them. Failure means the death of half the universe.

To describe all the different scenarios going on and who is where will take up too much space in the review, so I will simply name the players. Iron Man (Robert Doweny Jr.), Cpatian America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Panther (Chadwick Bosseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Winter Soilder (Sebastian Stan), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cummberbatch), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bentny), War Machine (Don Cheattle), Falcom (Anthony Mackie), Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). There are a few more but that’s enough.

This is obviously a big cast. Approximately twenty characters that are not just present but are essentially their own main character. What helps is that they have had their own movies previously to help develop them so they can come into this movie smoothly, a lot has been established so the writers have plenty to work with and the actors know the characters inside and out. But what if this is the first movie you’ve seen and have not viewed any of the others yet? Well, you’ll probably suffer from overload, I don’t recommend this as your first MARVEL movie but it will definitely be someones. There is just enough in terms of efficiency establishing the characters in their moments of introduction to understanding who they are and roll with it for the rest of the movie.

Beyond having all the characters on-screen at the same time what the filmmakers have to consider is the different visual style all the other heroes have. The Guardians have a stronger, disco colour pallet, Black Panther has more jungle colors and Dr. Strange comes with psychedelic visuals. All of them have to be represented here. They are. Along with that, this is (along with tone) the darkest MARVEL movie color wise. There is a lot of blacks on-screen, deep, true blacks, contrasting with other deep, vivid colours that pop out. It makes for an engaging image and adds to the dire nature of the story.

As I have mentioned at least once in my recent review’s of the MARVEL movies the screenwriters are prone to adding quips in the dialog. Or sometimes having what feels like mandatory jokes happen every ten minutes. The tone of the movies has always been a light-hearted one to a degree so it wasn’t off-tone and they were funny so that also wasn’t a bother. They are present here as well, a character makes comments on the others attire, name, mentality etc. But these are moments of characters either being themselves within moments of respite or even dealing with this seemingly hopeless situation.

This movie naturally comes with its share of action set pieces. As previously stated we have had many other movies to get to know these characters and in the time they have in this movie is enough to connect with them. So we care a little about who is going into battle. But when it comes to the fights everyone has different abilities and they use them like great pieces in a strategy game, others get close, while one attacks from a distance and another distracts (these are just examples).

A popular criticism of other MARVEL movies is that their aren’t any real stakes because none of the main characters ever die. Only a handful of important characters have died and these movies are light as a feather and so forth. Well, it’s as if this really was all part of the plan because now characters do indeed die. I won’t spoil who (go see the movie!), but early on they do and later on others. So being that some can it means anybody can die, which adds great gravitas to the action scenes that now have the biggest stakes of all.

I have to mention directors Anthony and Joe Russo and scriptwriting team Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that took on this monumental task of juggling all these characters and taking all the story threads and weaving them into something not only consistent but effective.

This movie doesn’t work as a single character arc, nor does it work as a self-contained story, because of the immense story and characters, this is actually part one of two. This is a grand accumulation of seeing all of the characters and worlds we have come to know and love over the course of many movies and face something that is too big for any one of them to handle on their own. It shows all the amazing images and feet’s of imagination and drama that the world of Superheroes is able to present before us. All the fun times and pulp from before is brutally stripped away and since we had that mindset in the previous movies the darkness and brutality hit all the harder.

 

Review Black Panther by Jonathan Evans

“You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media. There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.”

-Dwayne McDuffie

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Black Panther is here to make up for lost time. It is not the first Superhero movie to have a black lead, that goes to Steel, but we are now ten years into these MARVEL cinematic movies and now they have enough capital and are allowed to explore other characters that are nonwhite people. It is here with a mission. It is here to give the spotlight to characters and actors that aren’t Caucasian, to represent black culture in both Africa and America and deliver a message of legacy while proceeding forward.

In Captain America: Civil War one of the standout characters was Black Panther himself. Chadwick Bowesman embodies this character with his physicality and majesty with how he walks into a room or a fight and owns everything. This is a time where monarchy is a tricky subject, I wont throw my opinions in here but I do believe he is an engaging likable character so if people are able to pin down their beliefs for the sake of the movie I believe they’ll be very appropriately entertained.

The country in Africa in which T’Challa reins is Wakanda. It is a city that has reached the pinnacles of modern technology. The buildings stand and pieces of modern art, shining bright underneath the sun and with high-speed trains that go from the skyline to the deep caves of the land itself.

The movie also comes with a generous colour pallet. Many different, vivid colours are onscreen making it visually stimulating. In Wakanda the sets have colder colours or blues and whites and a characters costume has yellows, reds or green to make them pop, it is an effective way to make the people and surroundings instantly identifiable.

Director Ryan Coogler has already built an impressive resume for himself. His directorial debut was the  poignant Fruitvale Station, then followed by the sublime Creed. So he is able to handle delicate moments of emotion and fight scenes. Something that I believe helps to sell the fight scenes is the sound, they have convincing punching sounds so when a punch or a kick lands you believe it. Coogler has made two very strong movies on a low scale and now he’s proven he can handle a blockbuster, this is a man with a promising career.

The cast is ninety percent black, being that most of it takes place in Africa this just seems like a logical move but we’ve seen studios whitewash stories that should include non-white people but they’ve found a way. I foresee people complaining about the filmmakers having an agenda and pushing it onto the audience, there have already been other examples of this. For that I say of course, yet if the cast was comprised of white men nobody would cry fowl, it is a case of people needing to rethink about representation.

Adding again the immersion of black culture in the movie is the soundtrack by Ludwig Goransson and Kendrick Lamar. Its fast paced and even spiritual at times, using Hip-Hop and African instrumentals which distinguishes itself from the other MARVEL movies as-well as most other blockbusters that come out.

This movie, like all the other ones, comes with a serving of jokes. Visual ones, one liners etc. I am fine with this because I believe that superheroes should be fun, they can be other things but if they’re not fun something has gone terribly wrong. But I do take issue with that T’Challa seems to have changed to someone that is much more chatty. When we saw him before he was the dry, stoic one, are these movies incapable of having longer sequences of silence?

Michael B. Jordan plays Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (yeah that’s a pretty on-the-nose name). He clearly has an agenda that will link him with T’Challa, the writing clearly tells us that he’s quite intelligent and Jordan brings his great physicality to the role where he is able to sleekly handle guns and perform hand-to-hand combat effortlessly making him a physical threat and the cherry on-top is his  tooth-filled grin that he has when walking into a fight, saying that he will take some malicious enjoyment out of this.

The plot holds a few surprises but none that will really shake you up during the experience. They do many clever things with the the technology and visuals and there are moments of laughter and the action is high concept but you also feel the impact. The movies true strength is in immersing itself in black culture and representing it before the mass audience.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Thor Ragnarok by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

Let me tell you about a man named Jack Kirby. He worked in the comic book industry for most of his life. He made history when he and Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four together, from then on he co-created or created so many other characters I wont even try listing them. He propelled the medium of comics to feats of wild, cosmic scale ideas, that with the tools of paper and pen you could say and show the vastness images humanly conceivable. He had his own style that he continued to refine and produced so much work on a seemingly nonstop basis. He is probably one of the most influential figure for the medium of comics and the genre of superheros.

Thor Ragnarok operates, more than any other MARVEL movie like something Kirby would have created. It packs in so many ideas and visuals, it crackles with the enthusiasm of putting so many different kinds of characters, lines and images into a great vision.

Writer director Taika Waititi is a man with a unique gift for comedy and story telling. His previous two movies which I’ve seen are What We Do in the Shadows was an amazingly fresh take on vampires and Hunt For The Wilderpeople was one of the most original, well-made and hilarious movies that I’ve seen in a while. Here he inserts his unique brand of humor and also adopts most of the things we’ve come to expect from these MARVEL movies. Expect many quips.

Entering the picture is Hela, played by living screen legend Cate Blanchette. This is the role where she definitely has had the most fun in. She is a larger than life character that who’s nature is a big reveal for the Thor franchise and is easily one of the most powerful adversaries in all the movies. Since Loki the MARVEL movies now have another really engaging villain for their roster.

In this movie Heimdall, played by Idris Elba finally gets to play a more important part of the story. Elba is still not used to his full potential but at least it is more deserving of an actor of his caliber.

Due to plot reasons Thor is transported to the planet of Sakaar, when there its two obvious main influences shine. The first being Kirby, with it’s varied colours and designs using circles and blocky lines that resemble the circuitry of a computer chip. The other it’s science fiction movies of the eighties.

Another reinforcement of having the eighties as their influence is the music. Mark Mothersbaugh creates a synth rock score like something John Carpenter might have created. As well as the most perfect use of Led Zeppelins The Immigrant Song.

They really did find their perfect star for Thor. Chris Hemsworth comes with the muscle, hair and chiseled jaw that artist have drawn Thor to look like but he himself also has so much charm and is able to absolutely deliver a joke. To look at he’s Thor and he is him in performance as well.

A shaky first act and some other emotional moments that probably go by too fast so you don’t truly get absorbed into them are such minor complaints that they are hardly worth dwelling on. This is is crazed mad vision brought to life by a filmmaker who knows their craft and was given a budget to see it through. It is a glorious, unashamed baroque rock n’ roll nerd painting.