Black Panther

Marvel’s Black Panther now has his own movie! First introduced really well in Captain America: Civil War, he is now the star. The Black Panther is T’Challa, king of a fictional African country known a Wakanda. Wakanda is traditionally isolationist and has technology far greater than what the world has.

The movie is fun and really Marvel. I wouldn’t say it’s groundbreaking, but I would say it’s solid and well-made. If you enjoyed the previous Marvel movies, this one is great. If you’re looking for something new, it won’t be here.

What this movie does have is great characters and a cool tour of Wakanda. They enjoyed crafting the country and showing it off to the viewers, and I enjoyed the trip. The country is a mixture of high tech and old traditions, and it combines into a dazzling visual style.

The characters are all great in this film. We get to see a softer side fo T’Challa, but he’s still stern and kingly when he needs to be. And you know from the beginning that T’Challa is ready to be king. This isn’t him learning about that. He does take other lessons from the movie.

The side characters are fun and engaging. T’Challa’s allies are all important. None of them could be removed without drastically changing the film. The villain, Klaue, is fun to watch. He just always seems to be having the best time. The other villain, Killmonger, is really well done. He makes some valid points while going too far to the extreme to achieve them. He’s menacing and out of place in Wakanda, but he knows how to get things done. The ending scenes with him is really fantastic.

But, the one character that stands out the most, M’Baku! Leader of the Jabari tribe! He’s the comical character of the movie, but he’s so much more than that. M’Baku is a leader, and he shows it. At the same time, he’s dismissive of the Black Panther while still being respectful. The man balances things just right to be entertaining all the time he’s on screen.

The movie does get repetitive, though. Like I said earlier, it’s a Marvel movie and follows a lot of the same style and story beats. But it also gets repetitive within itself. Certain events happen multiple times. Each time is important, but it still stands out.

Black Panther is still a great addition and really well done. The villain is engaging. The side characters are fun. Overall, a solid movie in an already-great Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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The Librarians Season 3

This is going to be a shorter post. This is the third season of the Librarians, and for those that watched the previous 2, you know what you’re getting. If you’re starting out, the Librarians is a cheesy (in the good way) show about people trying to protect the world from magical artifacts. They use a lot of smarts and a decent amount of brawn.

This season feels a lot more focused compared to the last one. There is an ongoing thread of tethering to the Library and who should do it. If the Library isn’t tethered, it’s going to disappear, so one of the Librarians and a Guardian has to do it. Of course, the first choice is Flynn.

He’s around a lot more this time around. At times, it seems like he takes over as the main Librarian again, and the three that I got to know and enjoy were pushed to the side. But Flynn is still cool to watch.

Also, the others all get a focus episode, so that really helps. The characterization is really good and fun to watch. I enjoyed all of them getting a chance to be the star. Also, Jenkins. He is great this season. He get’s quite a bit of focus and I really liked his episode.

Now, for some super spoilers on the last episode. Don’t read past here if you haven’t seen the season finale.

Whoa. I am kind of upset they did a time reset thing. All the character development, gone! Especially Jenkins! I liked the new him, with actual friends outside of the library. I hope he still somehow still gets friends outside of the Library.

Overall, I liked this season a lot. It brings back a good plot running through the season and mixes in really enjoyable episodes for each character. Hoping for more.

Over the Garden Wall, My Favorites

Over the Garden Wall is a charming and short series that is awesome all of the time. It stars two children lost in the woods and trying to get home. On their way, they encounter all sorts of crazy situations and strange characters. Each episode is short and packed with so much to see and experience. The world over the garden wall is an imaginative and whimsical one that still has its dark spots.

I really like the series because it’s like a modern-day fairy tale. I mean, it takes place in the past, of course, but it’s made up by modern minds. There are witches, talking birds, ghastly spirits and more roaming the woods. The world is mysterious and unsettling. Like peeling off the thin layer of happiness would reveal some thing horrible underneath.

The main characters are a pair of brothers. The older one, Wirt, wants to get home and doesn’t have time for all of the strangeness that goes on. The younger brother, Gregory, is boundlessly happy and upbeat at all times. They are joined by a guide leading them through the woods, a talking bluebird, Beatrice. Beatrice has her own brand of snark and sarcasm at whatever the brothers are going through.

Their chatty banter is great as is how each one interacts with the world. It becomes especially clear when they split up at times. Wirt tends to get roped into things while Gregory gleefully goes in. Beatrice gets roped in, too, by the brothers wandering nature. The group just works together.

Oh, and the songs. There are songs in this show and they are charming and haunting at the same time.

Over the Garden Wall is an imaginative fairy tale story that has several layers to what’s being shown. While the story sounds simple, it’s not. There’s more going on. The individual episodes are great, even when not considering the overall story. This is a great cartoon for all to experience.

Bright

Netflix’s most advertised movie, as of the writing of this post. Bright is part fantasy, part modern. There used to be a dark lord, but he’s been defeated. Now, humans, elves, orcs and other fantasy people all live in the modern world, as it is in the real world. That means the movie takes place in Los Angeles. Their history is some strange blend of what happened with the magical races and what happened in the real world. For instance, the Alamo still occured and the Illuminati was wiped out.

I found the movie a lot of fun with cool characters, nice designs, and some interesting blend of settings. Some things are super obvious in the movie, such as the messages on social issues, but there’s still a lot of subtler parts to the film, too.

Bright, as in the title of the movie, refers to anyone that can use magic wands. Normal people that touch wands with their bare hands will just explode into dust, but Brights can use their full power and survive. Two cops, a human, Ward, and the Orc diversity hire, Jakoby, stumble across a wand and must keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

The plot is standard fantasy stuff, but putting it in a modern world with guns and stuff just makes it fun again. The two cops have a really rough night as they try to keep the wand away from everyone, including the really dangerous original owners. They butt heads a lot along the way, however it’s always great to see them come together. Ward and Jakoby play off each other great, and I always enjoyed the two of them together.

There is a third main character, Tikkah. She’s an elf on the run, but I feel overall, she’s less important than the two cops. Yeah, she has her moments, but for the most part, it’s all them. Later on in the movie, she gets some better scenes.

I feel the plot can be a bit too busy, even with just three main characters. They do a lot of stuff for just one night and go through a lot of people trying to get the wand. I think cutting down on things by one would make a smoother movie.

The movie doesn’t go into the world history much, but I had a lot of fun with what was presented. I am always up for world-building, but I didn’t find myself questioning why things were the same except for the parts that were different. I think it works and adds to the feel and tone of the movie. It allowed for a more compact experience rather than having to explain everything. And they are getting a sequel, so maybe more world-building stuff can go in there.

I had a lot of fun going through the movie with some interesting to watch characters. The side characters are all pretty cool, too. I want to know more about the races and the world, but I didn’t exactly miss it while watching the movie. It works as a fun modern fantasy film.

The Great Wall

This movie is a collaborative effort. It stars mostly Asian actors along with Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal and Willem Dafoe. I, unfortunately, have not seen the asian actors in anything before. I don’t watch that many foreign movies.

This film is a fun and wild action ride. It tells a simple story. The Great Wall of China was built to keep out invading hordes, yes, but hordes of monsters that awakes once every so often to consume and feed their queen. The monsters look pretty nice, actually. I do think they look fake-looking at times, but it wasn’t enough to pull me out of what’s happening. And what’s happening is a simple story. There’s not much in the way of suprises, but the actions scenes are done well. It’s a fun watch.

One thing that doesn’t make sense in the movie are the Crane squad. They, apparently, bungee off the wall to stab the monsters down below. Even when we are shown it, they are pretty ineffective, at best getting one strike in to monsters that take multiple hits to kill, at worst just getting pulled down and eaten. It looks cool right up until they get close enough to get bit.

The main characters are Matt Damon, as William, and Jing Tian, as Commander Lin. Their relationship goes through a predictable path of not liking each other in the beginning, getting respect for each other, something happens that makes drives them apart, but they come back together stronger than before to take out the monsters. Both of them are solid if normal.

The movie is decent, with some nice visuals, fancy fighting with slick armor designs. The creatures are shown fully, and while it could look better, they’re alright. That’s about it. It’s a fun watch, but you’ve probably seen everything it has to offer done before, and probably in a more compelling manner. I do like that only certain characters know english. Otherwise, they’ll mainly speak Chinese. I do like the one soldier William befriends despite being unable to communicate with each other.

The Gifted

A take on the mutants and the X-gene. This is based on the X-men comics, but no X-men show up. For some reason or another, they’ve disappeared and designated a group known as the Mutant Underground to help mutants. Of course the Mutant Underground is being hunted by Sentinel Services. And their troubles just got a whole lot more with the arrival of the Struckers.

For those that know the world of Marvel comics, the name Strucker should raise an eyebrow or two. For those that don’t you’ll get some Strucker information through the show. Things kick off when the youngest Strucker child, Andy, develops mutant powers, forcing the entire family to go on the run. As it turned out, his older sister, Lauren, also has powers. Their father is a lawyer that prosecutes mutants, and their mother is a nurse. I like that the father immediately drops everything to help his family. There’s no choice about it at all. He knows what he needs to do, and he just happens to know about the Mutant Underground.

Like most works of the X-men, the show tackles what it’s like to be different and have people hate a person, sometimes justified, sometimes not. Overall, there’s not a clear solution, and the show works to show that. A lot of mutants do have a harsh life, and others are working to create a new world for mutants.

The dynamic between characters is really well done here. There’s drama, but people work things out like adults and move past it. Most of the time, at least. I didn’t find anyone overly annoying, though Andy is the one that complains the most. It’s understandable, though. He has powers that no one wants him to use all while being hunted down by Sentinel Services. The Strucker family is all pretty great, actually. They find ways to make both parents useful despite neither of them having powers. The Struckers never feel like they don’t belong in the show.

The struggle between the Mutant Underground and Sentinel Services gets more complicated as other players are brought into the mix. I’ll not spoil things too much, but the show isn’t afraid to dive deeper into the X-men world. And they do their best to show off powers, too.

While most of the time the mutants are trying to keep a low profile, they’ll start with the abilities if they have to, and it looks pretty good. I’m hoping for more powers next season, and better uses of them. I especially want Blink to use her powers more. Sure, in season 1, she’s still new at it and practicing, but I want to see her go to, like, Days of Future Past levels of skilled at some point in the series. I think the show chooses their mutants well that showcases both powers and physical mutations.

I am liking what’s being put out by the Gifted and am looking forward to more.25

The Punisher

The shoutiest of the “heroes.” And I put “heroes” in quotes because the Punisher isn’t really a hero. Sure, he’s taking out bad guys, but he’s way over the top violent, angry and dangerous. And it makes for quite a ride.

The Punisher is about Frank Castle, a former marine on a revenge mission on the people that killed his dead family. He thought he was done, but there’s much more to it than that, so he’s back, punishing again. This show is pretty violent, both with close quarters combat and gun combat. Expect a lot of blood, but it’s the Punisher. He does well in that tone.

I like the way they portray Frank. He’s sort of quiet, to the point, but he’s not brooding. He’s just guarded, but there are times when he’s happy, maybe even genuinely. And when Frank starts fighting, that’s when the rage happens, and it well done.

The other characters in the show are all fun to watch. There’s Micro, Frank’s partner. They start off rocky, but they develop into a great friendship that’s not sappy. It’s all business, but they can let their guards down around each other. Micro’s family is also pretty great. I found those scenes a great break of pace from the show, and I really like Frank’s interaction with them, too.

On the law enforcement side, there’s Madani, who is also trying to stop the same people Frank is. Of course, she’s also going after Frank since he’s the Punisher. She’s alright. I enjoy her more when she has another character to bounce off of, and she gets to interact with quite a lot of interesting people.

Another side is the veteran’s suffering from PTSD side. It’s prominent in the show. While it’s not apparent how the story connects to the overall plot in the beginning, I think it still added to the tone and feel. They want to put out real problems that veterans are facing, and I think it does a good job. The characters there are interesting and tragic.

Speaking on the veteran’s group, it does go into a problem with the show. The beginning feels really slow. I feel it’s about episode 6 before things really come together. Because early on, it’s a bit of Frank doing stuff. Then there’s the veteran’s group, which Frank isn’t a part of, so it feel like another story entirely. And it takes two whole episodes before Frank and Micro even begin to work together. After that, though, things start falling into place at a much better pace.

I really enjoy the Punisher. It’s violent, it has a lot of heart and good moments, too. It’s not all about darkness and punishing people. And I like that, while the show points out some issues with society and how veterans are treated, it doesn’t really put forth a solid answer. It’s a complicated topic for certain.