Black Panther Review

Black Panther is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it is taking the world by storm! It has already made more in its first 4 day weekend than Justice League made in its entire run! Holy cow! It is also one of the most highly praised superhero film ever with a 97% on

So is it worthy of such results?

Yes, for the most part I would say that it is. With Black Panther you have a thoughtful, extremely well cast comic book movie that feels different and fresh. In much the same way director Ryan Coogler injected energy into the Rocky franchise with Creed, he has done  with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Black Panther.  It isn’t as funny as Thor Ragnarok, which I prefer but it feels unique and engaging.

The best part about Black Panther is the characters. We were introduced to T’Challa (Black Panther) in Captain America Civil War but here we see him as a young, insecure ruler who is just discovering the burden and secrets his father had to shoulder as king. His father has chosen to protect the beautifully realized kingdom of Wakanda from the rest of the world. They have an asset called vibranium (which if we remember in Age of Ultron Ulysses Klaue was after and we see him again played by Andy Serkis) If this vibranium gets into the wrong hands will cause great destruction, so it makes sense why they want to hide it away from the world.

However, the Wakandans are still using the vibranium to develop new and powerful technology.  This is mostly led by T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright who is adorable in the role).There is also a powerful flower that grants strength to whomever earns the mantle of leadership.

Unfortunately for T’Challa conflict comes into Wakanda in the form of Michael B Jordan’s N’Jadaka or Erik ‘Kilmonger’ Stevens. He has a different philosophy of leadership. He believes that Wakanda is a disgrace for hiding from the world and failing to help those who are suffering with their wealth, technology and vibranium. It’s a totally valid point of view that makes the conflict between the two interesting. It kind of reminded me of the conflict between Koba and Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Kilmonger has a point of view.  The problem is he takes it to a hateful place of wanting to conquer others and not just help the despondent. This always makes for an interesting villain when the kernel of their motives is true but they take it to a dark place. It then becomes interesting to see how the various members of Wakanda respond to Kilmonger’s leadership and philosophy. Some remain loyal to country and some loyal to T’Challa. That to me was fascinating.

Like I said earlier, the casting for this film was amazing. I loved Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B Jordan as Kilmonger (so hot), and Daniel Kaluuya (from Get Out) as W’Kabi who has an interesting character arc. The women were all awesome. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia is the love interest, Letitia Wright as brainack Shuri, Angela Basset as T’Challa’s mother Ramonda and many more. I would love to see a whole movie about the main 3 ladies of Wakanda!

Some people have complained about the cgi and the action. Honestly, just like with Wonder Woman, I could care less. If the characters are good that’s what matters to me. I was absorbed and entertained so much that it didn’t bother me.

My only real problem with the film is there is a section in the middle where Black Panther is gone and that’s where things began to drag a bit. I really missed T’Challa and his interactions with the women, Kilmonger and others. It began to feel a little exposition heavy in those moments.

If they had tightened things up a little bit and added a touch more humor than I would have it in my top 5 Marvel movies. As it is, I have it solidly in my top 10.

Black Panther is on the violent side for a Marvel movie so I would not recommend it for kids under 8. But for older kids go and then talk to them about the themes of the movie and what they think good leadership does. Do you hide away and protect your people or do you open yourself up to others in order to serve? It’s an interesting question from a darn good comic book movie!

Overall Grade- A-

Creed Review

creed3You guys might not know that I love boxing. I do more MMA but I really love punching out  my angst and frustration!

boxing RachelSo I was perhaps more excited to see Creed than you might initially guess.

If you don’t know Creed is the newest entry in the Rocky series (the 7th film to be exact). In this film we focus on Apollo Creed’s son Adonis or Don and his boxing journey.  Apollo died before Don was born and his Mother left him an orphan.

The wife of Apollo played by Phylicia Rashad adopts Don and tries to keep him away from boxing but he feels the drive to compete in the ring.  He’s had a tough life and feels because he was the product of an affair he was a mistake.

creed2Don goes to Philadelphia to meet Rocky still played by Sylvester Stallone and convinces him to help him train as a boxer and for the big fight.

All of these elements could and probably should have been tired and formulaic but in the hands of director Ryan Coogler it is such an entertaining film.  Michael B Jordan redeems himself from Fantastic 4 and is terrific as Don who is a sincere but wounded young man.

creedSylvester Stallone is fantastic as Rocky.  I don’t want to give any spoilers away but the character arc he takes is raw, vulnerable and moving.  I cried on multiple occasions.  I honestly think he should be considered for best supporting actor.  It’s a great performance.

creed44Director Ryan Coogler gives the film a surprisingly indy feel for such a mainstream franchise.  The single take feel of the final fight in particular is such a great watch.  I also loved how unpredictable the final fight was.  I really didn’t know who was going to win or how it was going to play out.

At their heart Rocky movies have always been about relationships and this is between Rocky and Don and I found it very sweet and compelling.  Without sounding corny they both kind of rescue each other.

The only real flaw I had in the film was the girlfriend Tessa Thompson I thought was kind of forgettable and I didn’t see much chemistry between her and Jordan.

But that’s about it.  Creed is the kind of movie that if you like this kind of thing you will love it.  If you don’t usually it still might win you over.

It’s such an entertaining film.

Overall Grade- A

My youtube review