Tag Archives: black panther

Daily Discussion with BQB – The Oscars Add Best Popular Film Category

You know, 3.5 readers, I’m actually old enough to recall when it wasn’t entirely impossible for a popular film to also be an Oscar film.  Sure, even when I was younger, the Oscars were known for pretentious snobbery, but movies like “Braveheart” or “The Departed” were well received by the public as well as having Oscar potential.

This is new category is laden with tacit admissions: 1) They’re admitting the films they nominate are basically just high falutin’ tripe 2) they’ll never, ever give the gold to a comic book movie.

You might forget that “The Dark Knight” was nominated for Best Picture in 2008 and funny, it was added to Netflix recently.  I rewatched it over the weekend and was struck at how relevant it is  – how longstanding evil can’t be defeated without great sacrifice, how sometimes defeating evil requires a man to get down into the muck, how there has to be darkness before there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, plus the immortal debate over whether or not all men are corruptible given the right circumstances.

Didn’t win.  Had an asshole dressed as a bat.

My guess as to why are they doing this? 1) Back in the day, people would actually become fans of a film and would watch the Oscars to see if their favorite movie wins.  Why, I recall people openly debating which films were the best…because they’d seen them.

No one saw the films this past year and if they did, the convo would be, “What, you think the film about the deaf woman who fucks a fish monster is better than the film about the grad student who statutorily rapes his employer’s teenage son?  How dare you?!”

Second, there is a movement in all walks of life for minorities to be treated equally everywhere and that should be no different in film.  So…the issue is that Oscar films usually deal with heavy subjects, so if a movie featuring black people wins, the black people are usually portrayed as slaves, or downtrodden, poor, caught in an oppressive system…and it’s not that I’m saying those films aren’t important but…

…oh well the hell.  They’re probably doing this because they want “Black Panther” to win an Oscar but they can’t bring themselves to give a gold statue for best picture to a movie about superheroes, even if the movie was able to use sci fi and comic book elements that a) appeal to young people and b) do a better job of explaining the historical arguments of how to obtain civil rights for African Americans.

Honestly, an argument could be made that BP deserves Best Pic outright and this could be Oscar night’s one chance to say hey, we aren’t snooty, we gave it to a super hero film.

But they just can’t do it.

Besides the Black Panther argument, black people (well, I don’t mean to speak for them so if I have any black readers feel free to educate me but I think I’m right)…they don’t ALWAYS want to watch TV and see black people as either slaves or downtrodden people.  Sometimes they want to see black people living life, having fun, going on adventures and so on.  To that end, a movie like “Girls Trip” might take home some gold.

Aside from the “Oscars So White” issue, I think the Academy is wrestling with its view that popular and/or comic booky/action/comedy/horror or fun or blockbuster popcorn films are taking on more and more social issues.  “Captain America: Winter Soldier” for example looked into whether we are sacrificing our right to privacy by putting so much of our lives onto the Internet – data for the government to mine and use and abuse.

I know the Academy prefers their precious, snooty little films about Cold War fish fucking but it wouldn’t hurt them to just give the award to a super hero movie one time…especially one like BP with a lot of cultural significance…and then they could go on to give the film to a snooty fish fucking film next year.

In the early 2000s, they gave the gold to one of the LOTR films, a popular, high grossing film, and then went on to give it to snooty films in following years.

What say you, 3.5 readers?

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Movie Review – Black Panther (2018)

Mother of God, 3.5 readers.  Look what some rapscallion posted on Twitter:

Shameless plug: if you follow @bookshelfbattle you can read snarky commentary like that all the time.

And now, on to Wakanda!

Short version – Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (or at least their dueling philosophies on black empowerment) were put into superhero form and left to duke it out.

Longer version – Wakanda has long existed as a hidden utopia of technological greatness, all made possible to large reserves of vibranium, the magic, do-everything metal that makes Captain America’s shield so awesome.

At the core of Wakandan politics is a central question – should Wakanda remain hidden from the world, hoarding its technological secrets to ensure the country’s continued survival, or should it reach out and arm oppressed people of African descent all over the world?

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), newly crowned king, takes the former position.  Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) a Wakandan-American with a desire to challenge T’Challa’s claim on the throne, takes the latter.  The stakes are high as whoever holds the throne is able to claim the power of being “the black panther” i.e. the superhero with amazing abilities that can be wielded for good or evil, depending on who is wielding them.

No superhero is complete without his entourage or “Scooby Gang” as Buffy used to call them.  T’Challa’s feisty younger sister Shuri serves as her brother’s James Bond-style “Q” or master of technology, coming up with all sorts of fun and interesting gadgets for the king to use in his war against evil.

Danai Gurira (“Walking Dead” fans know here as the samurai sword wielding Michonne) gets her long overdue big screen debut as T’Challa’s general, Okoye while Lupita Nyong-o is the big cat’s love interest.  Angela Basset rounds out the royal family as T’Challa’s mother.

Meanwhile, Andy Serkis, long relegated to behind the scenes work where his movements are recorded to create CGI characters like “Lord of the Rings'” Gollum hams it up big time as Killmonger’s partner-in-crime/internationally evil weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue.  I got the impression that Andy was waiting a long time to become a real life character and thus enjoyed every minute of it.

Martin Freeman connects the film to the ongoing Avengers plot line as Agent Ross.  Ross is loyal to America while T’Challa’s allegiance is to Wakanda, so somehow they have to set aside their differences to engage in some buddy cop shenanigans.

You know 3.5 readers, one thing I always notice about a super hyped movie is that it is always a let down if the movie doesn’t live up to it.  This film does.  I noticed a lot of African Americans at the theater wearing traditional garb so I imagine there’s a lot of pride in seeing the first black Marvel superhero on screen.

I mean, there was Falcon (Anthony Mackie) but he’s really Captain America’s sidekick and hasn’t been given his own movie yet.  And there’s Blade (Wesley Snipes) who had a whole trilogy but he’s not an Avenger and his powers are more occult/vampire related whereas the Avengers’ powers usually have less scary origins.

However you slice it, Black Panther is the first blockbuster super hero and he’s raking it in at the box office.  Further, as the Marvel cinematic universe enters its tenth year, the cat is breathing new life into the franchise.  While the older characters we’ve grown used to are a lot of fun, we’ve gotten used to their story lines and new additions like this one will keep interest going into the future.

Special effects wise, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.  Typically, I don’t like it when movies put a certain brand of car into the film as an advertisement, but there’s a pretty cool chase scene in which a Lexus is driven in an unusual way.  I’ll let you watch it rather than spoil it.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

So an elderly patriot, his elderly friend with a metal arm, a guy who can fly, a rich guy in a metal suit, his war hero friend in a metal suit, a prince in a cat suit, a witch with mind control powers, a British living robot, a kid who was bitten by a radioactive spider, a Russian assassin, a dude who’s handy with a bow and arrow, and a man who can make himself the size of an ant walk into a bar…

AND THEN THEY FIGHT!

BQB here with a review of the long awaited Captain America: Civil War.

Don’t go to war over the SPOILERS that you’ll be reading if you scroll down any further.

Can’t we all just get along?

Apparently not.  It’s been a rough year for superhero friendships.

Why, back in March Batman and Superman played their own game of Rock’em Sock’em robots and the more I think about it, the more I realize what a stinker of a turd that flick was.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. What the shit, man? What the shit indeed.

Luckily, unlike DC and Warner Brothers, the fine folks at Marvel and Disney refused to serve us up a stinky turdburger.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot, but suffice to say all of those buildings the Avengers inadvertently smashed up during their battles with various aliens, robots, and/or assorted evil buttholes have finally caught up with them.

The general public has had it with all the collateral damage and they demand that “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” submit to UN oversight.

Iron Man is for it. The Avengers have too much power and the public will only trust them if they’re being watched.  Perhaps it is their power that is causing evildoers to challenge them in the first place.

Captain America is against it. Collateral damage will happen during war, no matter who they answer to.  Blame the bad guys who start the wars, not those who are trying to stop them. He fears submission to a political body will allow politics to intervene in the Avengers’ missions and ultimately, the plan is little more than an exercise in assigning blame when things go wrong.

In the middle of it all, a mysterious enemy frames Cap’s best pal Bucky “the Winter Soldier” Barnes, and it turns into a slug fest between the man in the red metal suit and the man in the star spangled pajamas.

Old favorites like Spiderman, Ant Man, Scarlett Witch, War Machine, the Vision, Falcon etc. come into play.

Newly introduced to the screen are Crossbones and Black Panther, each with their own modus operandi.

Alas, Thor and the Incredible Hulk sit this one out. Boo.

Perhaps when the film has been out longer, I’ll opine more on this next subject but for now, if you’re a deep thinker like yours truly, you might start to wonder if the whole film isn’t one being allegory to the plight the U.S. has faced over terrorism since 9/11.

In other words, half the country is like Iron Man. Let’s take a step back and try to play nice with everyone.

Half the country is like Captain America. F them they blew us up. If they get mad at us for blowing them up then they should have thought of that before they blew us up and collateral damage is the fault of the people who blew us up.

Both arguments have their pros and cons.  Sadly, just like Cap and Iron Man, Americans used to be a bit friendlier to one another prior to the turn of the millennium.

Now you don’t have to look much further than your Facebook feed during an election year to see people who should be buddies trading the verbal equivalent of Iron Man’s hand blasters and Captain America’s frisbee shield throws at one another.

Let’s try to get along people because we’re all we have, after all.

And besides, isn’t all this infighting what the aliens, or the robots or the bad guys in funny costumes (or in real life, the terrorists) wanted all along?

Am I thinking too much? Don’t worry. The movie doesn’t require you to think that much if you don’t want to. You can just sit back and watch all the pretty colors and scary explosions if you prefer.

There are times when there are so many characters on screen that it is hard to pay attention to what’s going on with everyone. There’s the rub with these multiple hero plots. Sometimes everyone gets so much time there isn’t enough for everyone on an individual level.

Even so, Marvel/Disney crafted an intricate, satisfying plot with a multitude of heroes whereas DC/Warner Brothers only had to deal with three heroes (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) and in the end, delivered us a big juicy crap sandwich.

Damn it. Batman vs. Superman really sucked, didn’t it?

Spiderman’s addition to the team is adorable.  Black Panther shines as the latest hero.

And I’m not sure how they did it, perhaps with a combo of makeup and CGI, but there are scenes with a young Tony Stark that bring us a Robert Downey Jr. who looks a lot like he did in his Saturday Night Live days.

Not to keep dumping on Batman vs. Superman (because to dump on a dump would be redundant) but Marvel/DC took their time, built up all the characters, developed their back stories, made us care about them, and this movie is a pay off for anyone who’s invested their time in the franchise.

DC’s challenge was that there have already been so many Batman and Superman movies to begin with. Fine, but there still could have been a better plot leading up to the Man of Steel’s battle royale with the Dark Knight.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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