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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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.

Star Wars, The Last Jedi

Hmm, I have a lot of say about this movie, but most of that is going to be spoilery. I’ll start off with the non-spoiler thoughts, of course.

This movie does differentiate itself from the previous films. It’s more low-key, I think. Yes, there’s still giant space battles and light saber action, of course. Plus, there’s a planet that fits really well into the prequel trilogy, and I say that as a good thing since the prequel trilogy has some great locations. But overall, things feel more small scale and close.

The characters are all split up, which I didn’t like. They work well together, so it was a bit sad not to get much of that for most of the movie. Even in The Empire Strikes Back, only Luke was split up. Here, Rey, Finn and Poe are all doing separate things. But I like them fine. They do a decent job.

Kylo Ren, though. He drives this film. He feels like the most changed over the course of the film, or the most developed. I’m uncertain of which. He has some great scenes in TLJ.

Luke is interesting here. You know, for him, I’ll not say much. Find out for yourself.

The other characters are mostly there. Admiral Holdo is a new character. I sort of liked her and was sort of annoyed by her at the same time. I’ll get into it in the spoiler section. Rose is a character that gets paired with Finn for his mission. I liked her a lot, actually. She seems a good contrast with Finn, and they work together well.

For casual fans, this movie has the space battles, the light saber action, the romp through the new and fun planet. It’s entertaining all around. There is more humor and quips in this movie, some of which doesn’t work. But I don’t think it got distraction. And the new animals are cute and will sell lots of toys.

Alright, onto the spoiler section.

There are so many stupid decisions in this film! Okay, so here’s what’s happening. The last few rebellion ships are running away from the First Order. They are running out of fuel, can’t escape because they are being tracked, so they’re just heading along in a straight line while the First Order chases them. Alright, that’s fine. General Leia gets put out of commission for a while, meaning Admiral Holdo needs to take over.

She is presented as Shady and comes into conflict with Poe. For some reason, maybe her being the boss and Poe being recently demoted, she doesn’t tell him the plan. That leads to Poe making a new plan with Finn and Rose to try and disable the tracking. The result is a plot, that, while I enjoyed, turned out to be less than useful to the overall story. Just a bit of communication would have solved a lot of problems!

The First Order decides to follow along waiting for the rebellion to run out of fuel. Not how space works, but I’ll go with it. Sure, they were pretty confident that it would work. But they could have easily called in some other ships to block the front of the rebellion and ended it. That part didn’t bug my as much since I didn’t have that thought while watching the film. It would be tactical to do, but didn’t seem necessary.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes on with Luke and Rey that I won’t talk much about. Lots of force lessons and Luke being curmudgeonly.

Then there’s Snoke. He feels so wasted in this film. We learn nothing about him at all or about how the First Order has any of the things they have. Sure, that wasn’t important in the original trilogy where the Emperor was just the Emperor and the Empire had a lot of cool stuff. But Luke, Leia and Han fixed that! So I want explanations of where these new guys came from! But we don’t get any. They are just frustratingly there. It seems they have no interest in providing answers, either.

So, that’s The Last Jedi. A fun film that logically doesn’t hold up well and leaves things unexplained that should be. I had fun watching it. The scenes and locations were cool, but it could have a much stronger plot.

Second thoughts. After thinking about it some more, I have come to the conclusion that the movie is fine if episodes 4, 5 and 6 didn’t exist. But since they do, this movie practically invalidates any actions that have happened there. That’s my largest problem with it.

Murder on the Orient Express

A classy investigation on a cool train. What more could I want? Let me say some stuff not about the movie first. One, I have not read the book. Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t read, though I do know about the ending already. Two, I am inclined to like this movie because I really enjoy a great train setting. You set a movie mostly on a train, especially an awesome one like the Orient Express, and I want to see it.

So how does this murder mystery stack up? It stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Piorot, famed detective. And I really liked him in the role. The movie starts off showing a bit about Hercule, both his intellect, deductive skill and his compulsive tendencies. It was cute and fun. Though Hercule does come off all-knowing at times. I think the issue is the movie length. There’s not enough time to show a proper investigation, so sometimes he says where he got his information in quick sentences and then moves on. I really liked watching Hercule work. He’s smart, but he’s not overly condenscending. Just a bit.

After that, the movie takes a bit before it gets to the actual murder part. I think the front of the movie was paced too slow and the back paced too fast. There are a lot of scenes setting up the other characters on board the Orient Express before we even get boarded. I think the only one that’s needed is Bouc’s. What we saw of everyone else really had little to do with their character later. We could have established them as Poirot was getting to know them for the investigation.

Then, later on in the movie, things sort of just start falling into place withou much changing. When I saw changing, I mean, it’s not like Poirot found a new awesome piece of evidence or did some super sleuthing. Things sort of just happened.

In between, though, that part was great. First off, the train is gorgeous to look at and really evokes a great feeling. From the exterior style to the interior fineries, it just sets up the mood so well. I want to go on a train like that someday.

Anyway, moving on from the train, the investigation and interview parts were really well done. The characters all felt good to watch on screen, though due to being so many of them, they didn’t stand out that much. Josh Gad did do a great job, though. That’s what I was talking about earlier, instead of random scenes of the passengers, we should get more of them on the train, where all of the important action is. But as a whole, they all worked well.

I liked the movie. It had great style with a protagonist that is smart without being too snarky. The time period gives everything a refined, elegant feel. They captured that part well. The beginning and end could use some pacing changes, but it’s a solid murder mystery.

I can’t comment on how obvious the answer was because I already knew it, so I knew what to watch for. But I enjoyed it all the same.

Justice League

Justice League, the gathering of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe. I really had fun and enjoyed this movie. There are things I want to change and things that could be better, but overall, I liked it. The movie is more humerous and brighter than the other films, including Wonder Woman. It has more jokes and quips. For the most part, they work well.

In this film, Batman must gather the known heroes of the world to stop an impending invasion. The beginning starts a bit rough. It suffers from a similar problem to a lot of other DC movies in that it tries to do too much. This movie introduces the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. The beginning jumps around a lot between the members of the league, and not all that in a way that’s cohesive. Throw in some flashbacks and other scenes, and the first part of the movie is pretty choppy.

After the league comes together, though, it gets better and more focused. They must stop Steppenwolf, a conqueror from another world, and they must do it together. All members of the league has great interactions with each other. I liked Flash and Cyborg, Batman and Wonder Woman, and Aquaman making his remarks. They all work together really well and each one has a little story they go through. Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s are particularly important to the plot.

Unfortunately, Aquaman feels the most unfinished out of the plots. They mainly told us what drove him and why he’s helping out instead of showing it. He just seems to be there to fill out the members rather than being an important part of the team. If anyone needs their own movie before the Justice League, it’s him.

Steppenwold was pretty generic villain, though. He mostly said the same things, but he was threatening and had some cool fight scenes with the league. We know too little about him for him to be interesting, so he’s more of an action piece. The final action piece also showed off everyone really well. They all had a chance to shine and pull off some cool moves.

I liked the Flash. He’s the comic relief of the team, and I found him enjoyable. The others were also great to watch. Overall, I had a lot of fun in the movie. Could it have been better? Yeah. I’ll go into my thoughts on how to change things in the spoiler section.

Oh, here’s the spoiler section.

Superman is back and alive. I liked that his return is something actively sought out by the rest, in particular Batman. And the scene right after he comes back is awesome. My favorite part has to be Flash’s ‘Oh crap’ face when he realizes Superman can follow him while he’s in super speed.

Alright, so what would I change? Well, if I could change more than one movie, I would give Flash and Aquaman their own films first. Flash was alright in the movie. He went through some development from start to finish. Aquaman, though, I mentioned before, needed more development, something that didn’t have enough time in Justice League.

I would keep Cyborg’s introduction in Justice League, though, but have his origins be more shown. His origins are connected to the mother box, the important things the villain is trying to collect in the film! Why wouldn’t you want to show that entirely.

And start out the movie more with Batman being a detective and figuring out an invasion is happening. As it was in the movie, we start off towards the end of the investigation. It doesn’t properly ground Steppenwolf’s invasion at all.

Maybe open with the investigation. Mix in some Cyborg and the mother box. Get Diana’s story about Steppenwolf and the cool flashback scene. Then get the league together. I think that would work. Keep the tone of the movie.

The final action scene was fine if not a bit generic by this point. But the gathering of the heroes worked well, individually and as a group. The league is fun together.

Thor: Ragnarok

The third installment of the Thor movies. I enjoyed the first one. The second one is alright. The third one, they shook things up, big time. For one, Earth has almost no factor in here, which means no Jane, Darcy and the professor. I enjoyed Darcy a lot and am sad she’s not in the movie, but the new characters in Thor: Ragnarok are great.

This time around, the movie is a lot more similar in tone to Guardians of the Galaxy, both in terms of style, humor and setting. Thor doesn’t speak as bombastic and old-style as he did before. He’s also on a space adventure in an alien planet with space ship action.

The style really works for Thor. It’s coloful, wild and fun to watch. The action in the movie is fun and shows off just how powerful Thor can be. The new character of Valkyrie is a good addition. She’s rough and hurting from a past that causes her to drink too much, but she comes around to help Thor out.

Skurge I particularly enjoyed. Not sure why, but he’s my favorite new character. He’s not the standard henchmen for the bad guy, and I really liked seeing him change throughout the film.

The Grandmaster is pretty much Jeff Goldblum. I can see that if Jeff Goldblum became the dictator of a planet, it would be just like that. He’s enjoyable whenever he’s on screen.

Now, onto the main villain, Hela. She is cool and awesome. I think she’s a good villain and actually adds emotional context to previous Thor movies. I’m not going to say too much about her, but she is fun and threatening, what I want in a villain for this type of movie.

What suffers a bit is the pacing. I felt that things went too fast. None of the moments that should have impact had any because it moved by too fast. I’m not going to spoiler it, but I didn’t feel emotionally sad during the film despite sad things happening. And there are some things that happen that are supposed to be emotional, they just don’t land.

Thor Ragnarok is a joy the whole way through, though. And Skurge, man, he’s great. He might not seem that way through the film, but he’s great.

Some spoiler thoughts.

Well, not much of a spoiler due to trailers, but Hulk is in this! The relationship between Hulk and Thor is pretty good, and it’s different from the relationship between Hulk and Banner. Thor really hashes things out between both of them, and that part works well. It’s probably things they wanted to do for a Hulk movie, but as they aren’t doing Hulk movies, it fits in fine here.

Loki is always fun to watch and this film even more so. He’s not as threatening anymore, but I don’t mind.

Also, the Doctor Strange cameo is pretty fun. Wow, Doctor Strange has gotten boss since his movie.