Black Panther (2018)

Different films inspire different reactions (shocking, I know). That instant gut feeling you have no conscious control over, that just enters your head when you leave a film. Sometimes it’s “that was good”, sometimes it’s “that ending was a real letdown”, my reaction to this can be summed up in just one word:

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Finally! FINALLY, we get a black lead in a mainstream comic book movie of extremely high quality. FINALLY, Marvel has a “personal connection to the hero” villain that really works (and isn’t Loki). FINALLY, a Marvel movie has a great soundtrack, as opposed to a great compilation album. Similar to Wonder Woman last year, this film NEEDED to succeed, and it needed to do so unquestionably. If this was anything less than a massive success then it would have been deemed a failure, and people would have said “well this just proves no films should ever have a black lead”. Thankfully it’s a massive hit, unarguably so.

There’s a reason this film has been a hit: it’s really really good. The script is sound, the characters are all fully formed, there’s none of that “but that character is just a stereotype”, even the minor characters have arcs and motivations. The villain, in particular, is superb. Fantastically written, and blessed with one of the best performances of the year so far (and considering that this is when the “Oscar movies” are released in UK that says a lot). His motivations make sense, you can see why he’s doing what he does. Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis also do well in their roles of Tolkein White Guys.

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With Moonlight, Get Out, and now this, there seems to be a real renaissance for mainstream, critically acclaimed black cinema. I usually dislike that term as it tends to just mean “films where the main character is black”. These films are different though, they explore concepts and issues which are specifically black, they’re films where if the main characters weren’t black the stories would be completely different. It helps that this has been brilliantly researched. There are countless nods to African culture throughout, some obvious (the clothing and jewellery), some really subtle (the hair). Yup, even the hair tells a f*cking story in this, EVERYTHING has been meticulously planned and executed.

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I wasn’t joking about the hair

One disappointment is that it doesn’t really continue the overall MCU story arc they have going on. If this film came out earlier this wouldn’t be an issue at all, but this is the final film before Infinity War. Actually, they’ve completely screwed up the order of this phase. It should have been:

  1. Civil War
  2. Guardians Of The Galaxy
  3. Black Panther
  4. Doctor Strange
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Thor: Ragnarok

This way it slowly sets up the background arc of Thanos gradually becoming a threat, then you have the comedic calm of Spider-Man working as a breather before the chaotic storm of Infinity War. It also introduces the idea of magic later on, which cuts out a lot of “why doesn’t this guy help?”. Also, Guardians would make a great contrast if it came after Civil War. You’d have the story of a team falling apart, and then one about a team gradually getting bigger. This also meant that the fact the soul stone wasn’t in Black Panther isn’t as disappointing to audiences as it is at the moment. It also means the ending of Thor has an actual “holy shit, things are going to get serious really quickly”. As opposed to now, where it’s “holy shit, things are going to get serious in the film after the next one”. See, this film was so good one of the only things I can criticise is the running order of the series. It’s like criticising an album by saying the songs should have been in a different order. Go see this film, then buy it when it comes out.

2017 In Film: Part 3 (The Pretty Good)

Okay, this one’s harder to define. A lot of the ones in this are very, very, good films. They just weren’t for me. They’re films which I admire, but don’t really feel anything for. One’s I’m very glad I’ve seen, but I don’t need to see again. As usual these have been decided by a group of people broken down by age and money (i.e. me, because nobody is more broken down by age and money than me)

Catfight

A shockingly visceral film, not just in terms of the fights, but also in terms of the story and the tone. The punches in the narrative hit just as hard as the actual punches (of which there are many). A film I first saw on Netflix, and very glad for that as I don’t think I would have liked it at all if I saw it at the cinema.

+The pacing and the way they tell the story is sublime.

-Only really has one major idea.

Dunkirk

One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. This is the one I think I’ll get the most flack for putting in here. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a VERY good film. But I had the same problem with this I had with Interstellar, I was never really pulled into it. It was so cinematic that I was constantly aware I was watching a movie, I never really lost myself in it completely. As such it was hard for me to be 100% invested in it.

+Pretty much everything. Is a fantastic watch.

-Doesn’t really connect emotionally.

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This guy, this guy is going places. AMAZING performance.

Going In Style

A tale of two films in terms of directing. The opening section is really weirdly shot in terms of colour, kind of ugly. But once the story gets going and the heist gets going, it starts to look a lot better. The main performances are good, but Joey King, who plays Michael Caine’s granddaughter is really good in the short amount of time she’s given. Logical story, but sadly one that doesn’t have the guts to stick the knife in emotionally when it should.

+Joey King. Her performance in this almost makes up for Wish Upon. Almost.

-Plays it safe far too often.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are.

+The Flash. That character is so well done in this. I’ve never watched the show, and I’m not a big comic reader so I don’t know much about him, but if he’s like he is in this film, I love him.

-DC really suck at doing compelling villains. And pacing. Also, it’s overshadowed by everybody being excited about Infinity War.

Kong: Skull Island

I went into this with low expectations. I was thinking “but I’ve already seen everything, how can spectacle cinema work in this day and age? And you showed too much Kong in the trailer, you idiots, you ruined everything I hate you, I wish I’d never been born!”. Looking back at it, that may have been an overreaction. The film was, well it was solid. It showed that spectacle can still work in a post Avatar world. It’s not a “I must buy this film immediately”, kind of film, but if it’s on TV at some point, grab a couple of mates, get some beers in, and leave your brain at the door. Of the non-Marvel films that attempt to set up a cinematic universe, this is one of the best (although that is damning with faint praise).

+There’s a fantastically brutal scene where people walk through the island and a giant spiders leg pierces someone through the throat. Deliciously brutal and sets up that this film won’t shy away from destruction.

-Very little substance to it. Also, bits of it were so obviously made with the intention of being viewed in 3D, so when you watch it in 2D you’re kind of disappointed.

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Moonlight

Oh wait, forget what I said about Dunkirk. This is the one that I’ll get shit for. Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it. This deserves all the accolades it received, was a phenomenal piece of cinema, and one that everyone does need to see at least once.

+The story is a deeply personal one, and if you don’t connect with it in some way then you may be dead inside.

-I felt there was a lot left out between the years we saw that never really got into which personally I would have loved to see. I’m not going to say this about many films, but this could have been improved by being A LOT longer. It had so much to say in such a relatively short time that it didn’t say all it needed to.

Rough Night

A film that really earns it’s R-Rating. Also has the second most random Bo Burnham appearance I’ve seen in film this year.

+Very very funny.

-Kate McKinnon’s Australian accent slips more than a pensioner walking on ice.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Very well made. The scene near the end on the canals is a particular highlight. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson have really good chemistry, I think this is the first time they’ve worked together but I hope it’s not the last.

+Does what it needs to, very very well.

-Tries so hard to appear adult, it occasionally comes off as juvenile.

The Limehouse Golem

Incredibly British, with a stunning twist. The film equivalent of a murder mystery book. I’d be very surprised if this was anybody’s favourite film, but I’d also be surprised if anyone actively hated it. In fact, it’s hard to feel anything too strong about it. It’s like an odd mix between a BBC miniseries and a Telltale Game, but not quite as good as either.

+Does a great job of sucking you into the world. Almost immediately you feel like a spectator for it unfolding. Also, you actually want to find out what happens. You’re not sitting there thinking “just get to the end and let me know”, you allow yourse’f to observe and wonder.

-Not quite memorable enough to be worthwhile.

How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.