Black Panther and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Ryan Coogler
It’s time once again for the Marvel Money Machine to give us all yet another excuse to give Disney ten more dollars of our hard earned cash to people with super powers in profoundly silly costumes punch each other between humorous quips and callbacks to previous films! The sooner we declare Marvel release dates to be national holidays the better off we’ll all be (who DOESN’T like getting a Friday off!?), but until then the film critics must continue to go to the multiplexes, sit for two and a half hours as the lights and sounds dazzle our senses, and then tell you what you already know; namely that these are still good and that you’ll spend your money on it no matter what! Now as cynical as this never ending cycle of unimaginable profits can seem, it STILL manages to keep its head above water at least with critics by having that one thing that many other blockbuster franchises DON’T have. What was it? Oh right! Talent. With pretty much every one of these films, Disney went the extra mile of hiring talented and sought after filmmakers to play around with their billion dollar toys, and so far we’ve had a near perfect success rate! Okay, Jon Favreau didn’t QUITE capture lightening in a bottle twice with Iron Man 2 and there was the whole Ant-Man debacle with Edgar Wright, but for the most part they’ve had a good eye for picking out talent; especially considering they got Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed fame to start his blockbuster career with them. Will this be a monumental addition to an already astronomically successful franchise, or… well okay, there’s no chance this is gonna be BAD, but will it be… MEDIOCRE!? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins not long after Captain America: Civil War (so… presumably BEFORE Spider-Man Homecoming?) where T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is returning home to Wakanda to be crowned king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani). Here, we all the important people in his life including his mother (Angela Bassett), his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his top general and most dependable ass kicker Okoye (Danai Gurira), and an accomplished spy for the Wakandan military Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Anyway, we spend some time with T’Challa as he’s getting used to the heavy burden bestowed upon him, but he doesn’t have much time to adjust as Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) from all the way back in Age of Ultron has resurfaced and is still on Wakanda’s shit list for stealing Vibranium like twenty years ago. With this chance at capturing one of Wakanda’s greatest enemies, T’Challa suits up to take the mantel of Black Panther once more and even takes Okoye and Nakia for backup. Things don’t go quite as planned however as the CIA operative from Civil War, Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is onto Klaue as well, and Klaue seems to be working with a guy that REALLY has a grudge against Wakanda and is known simply as Killmonger (Michael B Jordan). Can T’Challa unravel the mysteries before him, and will he like the answers that he finds? What are these ruthless villains planning that could endanger Wakanda and the rest of the world with it? How exactly does he breathe in that thing if it doesn’t even have a mouth hole!?
Captain America: Civil War and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
The Marvel money machine has deigned to appease the masses with the next chapter in their long running story about people in tights (or robo-tights) that STILL manages to be more character driven and exquisitely crafted than any number of big blockbusters that have tried to challenge Marvel to their title as king of the cinematic landscape (*cough* Batman v Superman *cough*). Now we have another entry in the Captain America series which actually looks like an Avengers movie more than anything else. Does Marvel once again show us what makes the Captain America movies so unique within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or has the whole enterprise gotten too massive to tell a simple story about one man throwing his mighty shield? Let’s find out!!
The main thrust of the narrative in this movie is the Avengers having the whole “collateral damage” thing come back to bite them in the ass. It’s been building up for a while, but when an operation in Nigeria goes south after the bad guy blows himself up and the blast is redirected by Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) into a nearby building and killing eleven people in the process, it seems that the world powers have no choice but to step in. Of course, the guy had stolen a biological weapon that could have killed THOUSANDS but no one wants to bring that up apparently. Anyway, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) seems to be in a bad place right now and the guilt over his actions in the last ten or so movies are starting to eat away at him, so when the US government and the UN come to the Avengers with some international regulations, he jumps at the opportunity to get them all on board. The biggest opponent to this new form of oversight though is Captain America (Chris Evans) who sees the writing on the wall and the possibility of those checking their power using that for nefarious ends. Things only get worse when a UN meeting in Vienna about the new Avenger regulations (known as the Sokovia Accords) gets bombed as part of a terrorist attack and the only suspect is Bucky Barnes The Winter Solider (Sebastian Stan) who if you recall from the second Captain America movie escaped his captors and has been laying low ever since. Not only is everyone and their grandma after this guy, but Captain America is the only one convinced that he could not have done it which makes it that much harder to keep the government, the other Avengers, and a new super hero Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) off of his back. Can he clear Bucky’s name before the world leaders put a bullet in both their heads? Who really DID bomb the UN meeting? Will he be able to convince his fellow Avengers as well as Tony that the Sokovia Accords will lead to more harm than good? Most importantly, how many cameos are they gonna squeeze into this!?
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Well Our Brand is Crisis didn’t do much for everyone involved, but I’m SURE it will work better when you do it with Tina Fey! What, that’s not enough? Okay… let’s make it war film too!! Movies about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (especially comedies) are not easy endeavors for anyone to undertake, but we have gotten some good films along the way such as The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Messenger, and Brothers just to name a few. With this being somewhat of biopic of a journalist who spent several years in the country, it definitely has an interesting premise and a good excuse to get a strong message across as it’s from the point of view of someone whose job it is to find answers and tell the world about what’s really going on. Will this be a successful mix between a talented comedian and a topical subject, or is this a mash up that was not meant to be? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of Kim Baker (Tina Fey) who works for a news organization and volunteers to go to Afghanistan as a war correspondent as she’s found herself in a rut in her life. When she gets to Afghanistan (Kabul specifically) she meets a colorful cast of journos, photographers, and other personal that she will be sharing a home with for the next couple of years as she slowly grows to appreciate the country for what it has to offer and starts to grow accustom to the risks and dangers of being a reporter in this environment. Her newfound friends include a guide Fahim Ahmadza (Christopher Abbott), the only other female journalist (at least the only one we see) at the place that Kim is staying named Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and a Scottish photographer named Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) who quickly grows attached to the new member of their little club. Along the way, she’ll have to deal with the US military, primarily through General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), and with the a high ranking official in the Afghani government Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) in order to get the stories she needs to keep the war relevant to the news organization she works for and to keep her from being reassigned to another desk job. Will she be able to hack it as a journalist in this country that doesn’t look too kindly on Western intervention? Will she find what she’s looking for in the Middle East, or will she get sucked into this world and lose touch with what’s waiting for her back home? This isn’t going to be TOO offensive, right?