The new trailer for Black Panda: Wakanda Forever is here.
As you know, Chadwick Boseman died way too young and right at the moment when his success in the first BP movie meant sequels and other roles were a lock, propelling him into super-duper stardom.
But he’s still a super-duper star in the hearts of us fans and it looks like Marvel/Disney has found a way to honor him while carrying on. It looks like the women of Wakanda, BP’s mother, girlfriend, sister and bodyguard govern the kingdom in the wake of T’Challa’s death.
We do see those famous claws unleashed at the end of the film, so who dons the Black Panther mask? Theories: one of the women, perhaps his sister who, wouldn’t she be next in line for the throne? Then again it appears there is a birth so maybe flash forward to the future where that child becomes an adult and takes over.
I always gave props to the original because despite being a comic book movie, it tackled serious issues and unlike most comic book movies, the stakes were pretty high. Most other comic flicks, characters are blown up only for someone to invent a magic device that puts them back together or something, but in this franchise, there were actual consequences to bad actions.
This comes at a time when Marvel needs it. The Eternals? Stink-a-roo. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse? OK, but it was the first Marvel movie I waited till it was on streaming and I’m not rushing out to see Thor: Love and Thunder either. I’d see this in the theater though.
Hey 3.5 readers. Do you know that somewhere out there, there’s a world where this blog has 3.5 million readers?
Anything is possible in the multiverse.
BQB here with a review of the MCU’s latest.
At the end of Avengers: Endgame, I thought Marvel had written themselves into a corner. Iron-Man is dead. Captain America old, etc, etc. But now that the MCU has fully head-on embraced multiverse theory as reality, anything is possible.
In short, Iron-Man can come back as Iron-Woman, Iron-Dog, Iron-Clown, Iron-Mime, Iron-Anyone or Anything or more likely, just another actor playing the Iron Dude. All theory on my part but I suspect this is where Marvel is going, so as the longtime actors of this franchise commit the cardinal Hollywood sin of growing old or gasp, demanding more money, Marvel can just yank a different version of the same hero from another dimension.
Also removes the necessity for reboots. We always hate reboots where our beloved story stops and restarts anew, right? The story can just continue forever and ever now.
Admittedly, that didn’t happen in this movie but I think that’s where the franchise is headed. And multiverse theory, in this movie, allowed for an awesome character to join in despite his movies never working (John Krakinski as Mr. Fantastic) or to bring a character owned by one studio to a movie made by another studio (Sir Patrick Steward stops by as Professor X despite dying in Logan because um, he’s probably Professor X from another universe.)
The plot? It is terribly confusing and convoluted, but as far as I can tell, multiverse traveler America Chavez (Xochitil Gomez) is protected by an alternate Dr. Strange when he is ganked by incoming monsters who want America for her mysterious multiverse traversing powers. In our world, she seeks out assistance from our Dr. Strange, who in turn asks for fellow magic wielder Wanda Maximoff for assistance. Alas, she double crosses our favorite sorcerer because she wants America’s power so she can travel to a world where her kids from Wandavision are alive so she can be their mom again. That’s the long and short of it and there’s a lot of special effects and magic fights and so on.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It wasn’t the best MCU movie and sadly, it’s the first MCU film that I waited until it was on streaming to see. A bit confusing. Also plotholes like how did America get her power? But fun and a sign of where the MCU is going. It does feel like we are in Marvel’s scraping the bottom of the barrel phase but if they handle this multiverse stuff well it’s possible that 100 years from now, this story could still be going on, just younger versions of our heroes being yanked from another dimension whenever our favorite actors age out. Don’t let your boss watch this movie lest he or she find a younger alternate version of you to replace you at work for less money.
I finally got to see it, 3.5 readers and it is the best Spiderman movie ever made.
BQB here with a review of the latest film about our friendly neighborhood webslinger.
Don’t get me wrong. All the Spidey films have heart and the first two installments of the Tobey Maguire version really did bring superhero films into the modern era. Without them, I doubt you’d have the Avengerfest of today. The Andrew Garfield films were fun though I think maybe they just came too close on the heels of the Tobey films and the world wasn’t ready for a reboot just yet.
The past two Tom Holland films were epic, owing in large part to the Avengers-verse that Marvel has created. When a rich, backstory filled structure has been built, it isn’t that hard for a new Spidey to come in and sling his way into the 2020s with great gusto.
Following Mysterio’s big reveal that Spiderman is Peter Parker in the last film, the anonymity jig is up for Peter (Holland), and his partners in crime, girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon). Their lives are ruined under intense public scrutiny as the wall crawler and anyone who assisted him is raked over the coals by media blabbermouth J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons).
When Pete seeks the assistance of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the great wizard agrees to help with a spell that will make everyone forget that Pete is Spidey, but Pete’s own blabbermouth during the incantation causes the spell to go awry and well, the rest is movie making history.
Magic makes worlds collide and those older Spiderman movies? Turns out they weren’t just movies. They were alternate worlds. The multi-verse is real, with infinite versions of you, me, Spiderman and his foes.
Truly a Herculean effort that required cooperation between different studios and different actors of various incarnations of the franchise. Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, The Lizard, and Sandman team up to unleash chaos in our current world and it’s up to Team 3-Pete, Holland, Garfield and Maguire (three Spideys, no waiting) to save the day while Willem Defoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Thomas Haden Church, and Rhys Ivans reprise their villainous roles. Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau return as Aunt May and Happy Hogan.
At almost 2 and a half hours, it’s the longest Spiderman movie ever made, though there’s so much going on you’d hardly notice it. It’s quite ambitious with a lot of moving parts, my only criticism is it feels like there might be a few plot holes but honestly, I couldn’t tell you if these are really plot holes of if it’s just something I didn’t quite get on a first viewing with everything moving so quickly.
It’s definitely a movie we all needed, what with the pandemic scaring movie buffs out of theaters, closing theaters, and causing Hollywood to shut down or delay production of big time flicks. Personally, this is the longest I’ve gone without checking out a superhero movie, because a) I literally was unable to buy a ticket at my local theater for the first month because every time I tried they were all sold out online and b) alas, my local theater closed down because it couldn’t stay afloat in the pandemic, which means I just won’t be able to see movies as much as I used to. Is that a good or bad thing? I don’t know.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy, and proof that people will go to the movie theater if a film is awesome enough. Hang in there Hollywood, keep making those blockbusters and try to help theaters stay alive any way you can.
SIDENOTE: 40, 30 and 20 something Spidermen all on one screen. Where has the time gone? Memories, like the corners of my webbed up mind…
DOUBLE SIDENOTE: Kudos to this movie for thinking of a new way to rehash old(er) characters. The problem all superhero reboots and sequels suffer from is we’ve already seen the story before. We don’t need to see Pete get bitten by the radioactive spider again. We don’t need to see Norman Osborne go nuts and become G-Gob. Sure, younger actors can take on these characters but it usually just feels like a rehash of something that has already been done. With the spell gone awry plot device, we can immediately return to our old Spidey baddy faves without having to re-tell the stories we already know.
TRIPLE SIDENOTE: I know the Academy hates comic book movies but I wonder, given the fact this film put butts into theater seats in record numbers at a time when theaters are closing and people are avoiding social gatherings might not have merited some Oscar consideration. If theaters do go the way of the Dodo, I truly fear we will see a stark decline in the quality of moviemaking overall and we need films like this to save the industry.
Time to assemble the Lethal Protectors, 3.5 readers.
This movie is:
It’s rare that dumb movies are fun. Usually, they just stay dumb. This one, like its predecessor is about Venom, an alien symbiote that fused with reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Together, they are a crime fighting duo with Eddie using his research skills to find out the dirt on the baddies and Venom, well…he beats them into submission and then eats them because like a zombie, he needs to feed on brains. Overall, they’re a dastardly Dexter-like duo. They need to kill. Left to his own devices, Venom would kill and eat anyone, but Eddie is the conscience that demands he only eat those who really, really deserve it.
In this go around, “The Lethal Protectors” as Venom calls them in 1980s action sitcom fashion, fight off Carnage, an alien symbiote attached to Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a serial killer who has it in for Eddie on account of how our intrepid journalist exposed his crimes and put him on death row.
It all culminates in the ultimate grudge match. Good and bad symbiotes. Who will win?
Yeah, I know. It all sounds horribly stupid and yet, it’s a good time. Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams are such serious, gravitas carrying, Oscar caliber actors that it is surreal to see them let their hair down in this flick that really is among the dumbest of comic book premises. I mean, it’s not Howard the Duck dumb but still, it is pretty dumb. Venom’s scary yet King’s English style, perfectly precise voice where he says serious yet unintentionally hilarious things sells the film.
Adding to the dumbness is that Venom, as a concept, is originally a Spiderman villain, an alien symbiote that took the form of an evil version of Spidey’s suit. For reasons above my brain capacity, Spidey couldn’t be mentioned in the first film (different studios own different characters or whatever) but apparently that got ironed out as our favorite webslinger is mentioned in this one.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I did feel like I wasted a bit of my life watching it, but the laughs were worth it.
Wow. Color me shocked, 3.5 readers. I think Marvel has its very first flop on its hands.
BQB here with a review of The Eternals.
At the outset, I think this movie suffers from the same problem as The Fantastic Four. Too many characters without enough time to explain who they are and what they are doing. At least with the Fab 4 there are only four but here there are like a dozen so throughout the movie you’re like, “Wait? Who is that again? Whoa! Who is that?”
The plot? A race of immortal beings was sent to Earth thousands of years ago, tasked with saving humanity from the deviants – i.e. giant space monsters who like to eat humans. They have been given strict instructions to keep a low profile and blend in and under no circumstances can they interfere with the affairs of man, thus explaining why they never helped the Avengers battle this villain or that one and so on. For some reason, they are allowed to help humans with technological advances but they have to take a powder when humans use that tech to slaughter each other because humans will never learn how to be good unless they first make the mistake of being bad.
So, alright. A movie about immortal beings who spend eternity in the shadows, doing illuminati stuff to advance the world. Sounds interesting but then, um…I don’t know. There’s um….some frigging giant space man in space that they talk to and they start fighting each other over whether they should save the humans from themselves and um I get confused but I think the giant space man who I guess is their boss intends to blow up the planet and harvest it for its energy or some such nonsense and the immortals have to decide if they should save the humans from their space man boss and OW! I think I had a brain aneurysm from thinking too much.
Seriously. Holy shit. Therein lies the rub. Comic book movies shouldn’t require anyone to think this much. I’m not saying there isn’t room for thinking, but when I need to bring a flowchart and a slide rule into the theater just to keep track of who everyone is and what they are doing, blech. Fahgeddaboudit.
It has its moments. Kumail Nanjiani brings needed levity as an immortal who is in love with himself, having spent the past 100 years as a Bollywood movie star.
But then again, it has its strange moments…like, for example, why is Angelina Jolie, the hottest woman in the world, relegated to a bit part? I guess because she’s playing the hottest immortal but still. Kinda feels like this movie might be beneath her.
STATUS: Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this but this is the first Marvel film I’m going to rank as…NOT SHELF WORTHY! To quote The Critic, “It stinks.” It really does. There are moments toward the end where it teases a forthcoming sequel and this is the first time when I’m like, “Nah. That’s OK. Don’t bother.” It’s also the first Marvel film that I wouldn’t bother watching again when it hits streaming.
I mean, there’s a lot of visual beauty to it and it’s very epic as it takes us through thousands of years, showing us what the immortals did through various periods of human history but um…honestly the plot is so convoluted I’m still not sure what it’s about.
We’ve entered Marvel’s scraping the bottom of the barrel phase. No more Captain America, Iron Man, Thor or Hulk. Now it’s those characters that only the real hardcore deep diving nerds know about. Shang Chi kicked it off and was pretty decent but I’m not sure where Marvel goes from here because if the Eternals are part of the big ensemble that will eventually be recruited to fight off the next big bad…I mean, I’m not going to pay to sleep through another movie so…
Post Endgame, it felt like Marvel might have hit a bit of a slump, story wise. SPOILER ALERT, certain big characters were written out of the narrative (Iron Man died, Captain America traveled back in time, lived his life in his time period, then got super old, Black Widow died.)
And while it’s not impossible in a comic book-verse to bring back the deceased (Black Widow came back in her titular movie via a prequel, Loki came back in a Disney Plus show via an uber complicated, I still don’t understand plot involving time travel and the multi-verse) it looks like Marvel’s lesser knowns, like Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange and company will be carrying the franchise’s water for a while.
(Yes, I know this is where comic book nerds throw a shoe at my head and tell me Captain Marvel and Dr. Strange aren’t lesser knowns but I mean, to the general, non-comic reading public at large?)
Long story short, Marvel flew this one under the radar. Not a ton of promotion unlike their others. Not a lot of hype. I thought by the trailer I see a couple months ago it was going to be good and low and behold, I was not disappointed.
The plot? Awkafina! I kid, but seriously, she serves as a tres adorbs plot device. Shaun (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) have been friends since junior high school and now as young adults, they act a lot like a couple though they have yet to admit it.
One day, their seemingly normal lives are upended when Shaun is attacked by a band of kick-ass baddies with mad kung-fu skills. When he breaks out some skills of his own and defeats them with ease, Katy becomes that character many movies have, the one the audience follows down the rabbit hole as all the rules of this new world are explained.
Turns out Shaun is really Shang-Chi and has hidden a secret life from his BFF/Possible GF for years. His father is the legendary Wenwu, an immortal figure who, with the aid of his super awesome ten rings, has secretly run the world for over a thousand years. Together, Shang and Katy must travel to China, confront Shang’s old man, save the world and yadda, yadda, yadda. I won’t spoil the rest.
There are some pretty great martial arts fight scenes, special effects, and tie-ins to the Avenger-verse that surprisingly hit the mark and aren’t clunky (i.e. they are good and not like the TV shows where someone will pretend that Thor just walked by and sorry you missed him.)
Overall, I do think Iron Man and Captain America were the two big draws of the Avengers films (though Spiderman is doing yeoman’s work as of late) but with Shang-Chi, Marvel is succeeding in breathing new, exciting life to the lesser knowns. Keep in mind as of 2008, the general non-comic reading public was only semi-familiar with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (everyone knew the Hulk) but they were built into powerhouses with rich back stories. For Shang-Chi, this was a great first shot across the bow and I have a hunch the next one could totally be a summer blockbuster that will put a lot of butts in seats (assuming the pandemic is over by then and we aren’t on the sigma variant or the epsilon variant or the woobie doobie variant or whatever.)
Bonus points for Awkwafina. I think she’s great in everything she does and is a prime example of how social media has given rise to a lot of stars who may never have had their chance to shine without this new technology. (Google her “My Vag” song for uproarious laughter even if you are a decade late to the party on that one.) To the film’s credit, they did’t make her outrageously wacky here, but still capitalized on the humor that would ensue if one day you discovered your BFF was secretly hiding a double life as a kung-fu master.
Just wanted to give a quick shout out to this fun flick I watched on Netflix last night. I saw it years ago and its sad how quickly the time has passed and of course, the things I didn’t notice or realize then that I do today.
What if I told you there was a movie featuring some of the biggest stars today in their bright eyed, bushy tailed youth? Here, you’ve got Chris Evans about a year before he became Captain America. Idris Elba before he became Thor’s BFF Heimdahl. Zoe Saldana before she became Gamora of Guardians of the Galaxy fame. Jeffrey Dean Morgan before he picked up Neegan’s bat in The Walking Dead.
In short, you’ve got some very young looking actors before they reached the heights of comic book movie fame, ironically in a comic book movie. Though it’s not very comic booky in that there are no capes or spandex, it is based on a comic. It’s about a squad of U.S. military, double-crossed and left for dead in Bolivia, forced to take on one last mission to save the world, promised that their names will be cleared and lives restored if they are successful.
Bonus points for Jason Patric who chews scenery as a villainy who positively exudes villainy (he freely shoots members of his entourage in public for making the slightest, most trivial mistakes) and his henchman, a brown haired young Holt McCallany, before he found his groove as gray haired FBI agent Bill Tench in Netflix’s Mindhunter.
It was a fun walk down memory lane and though I knew most of these actors at the time, it’s wild to think about how far they’ve all come in the decade since this movie. Sad there may never be a sequel because to get them all on the same set now would cost boku buckaroos.
Also, it’s short and sweet, about an hour and a half run time. They do a lot with a little and the action never stops.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Where does the time go? Watch on Netflix.
Russian spies! Explosions! Boris and Natasha accents!
BQB here with a review of the latest Marvel movie, Black Widow.
It’s funny, I forgot to mention in my Major Grom interview that it would have been better if the characters who dubbed the English lines over that film had spoken in bad Russian accents. It was odd to see characters running around Russia speaking American English, whereas if they had just spoken like Count Dracula, my American ears would have been like, “Oh, OK! Now I can get into this!”
Well, don’t worry because the accents are here…except for Scar Jo. I guess it would be a lot to ask her to keep up a Russian accent for so many films. But I digress.
Anyway…so after a year and four months of not going to the movie theater, I finally ventured out and saw this one…in a theater…with a bag of popcorn…and miracle of miracles…I didn’t die…yet…for all I know someone might have sneezed the Delta Variant on me while I wasn’t looking, but oh well, I suppose you can lock yourself up from all the world’s ills and live forever, but then again, if you do that, you will have never truly lived.
I’ll say it up front. It’s good. The movie is a prequel that should have been a sequel. I mean, for Christ’s sake, they gave Ant Man two movies before they gave Black Widow one. It sort of feels like an afterthought, i.e. now that Marvel ended the Avengers films, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Loki gets a show. Falcon and the Winter Soldier get a show. Holy crap, even Loki gets a show. But Black Widow was never bottom of the barrel material. She was ready for primetime all along.
The plot? In the 90s, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz appear to be a typical couple, parents of two daughters living in Suburbia. As it turns out, they are spies, posing in the states so as to get their hands on U.S. tech, and once the mission is done, they return their lives as covert spies, Melina as the Iron Maiden and Harbour as the Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America.
The daughters, quite horrifically, are sold out. Young Natasha aka Black Widow was old enough to know she was just posing as an American kid for spying purposes, but wanted the idyllic American life to continue. Sadly, Yelena was so young she thought she actually the spies were her parents and was heartbroken to discover they weren’t.
The years pass. The “Red Room” program begins, led by the evil Dreykov, aptly portrayed by Ray Winstone, who honestly, is pretty decent as comic book villains go. While other MCU villains rely on gadgets and costumes and powers, Dreykov relies on espionage combined with an army of abandoned young girls turned Black Widows, or brainwashed assassins who murder and destroy on his command. Oh, and his top baddy is The Taskmasker, a masked evildoer capable of copying an opponent’s fighting style and using it against them.
Long story short, Yelena, now a Black Widow herself, discovers a chemical that can break her fellow widows free of Dreykov’s mind control, but she must team up with Scar Jo’s Natasha as, well as Red Guardian and Iron Maiden…in order to take Dreykov down and set the widows free.
Overall, a fun time and Florence Pugh steals the show, the bratty little sister who constantly mocks Natasha’s alleged posery (What is this stance you do where you land on your feet and grab the floor? What is that all about?)
My main criticism is I thought Natash and Yelena forgive their faux parents way too easily. I guess you could make the argument that they live in a rough world where parental figures selling them out are the least of their worries…not that this isn’t something to worry about but, you know, you have to prioritize when bad guys are literally trying to explode you every five minutes. But ultimately, Guardian and Maiden were the only Mom and Dad these kids knew…they’re just forgiven too easily for abandoning their parental roles and turning them over to the evil Red Room program…but then if they didn’t you wouldn’t have a movie.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I have to be honest, I always was a big fan of movie theaters. I have stayed away a long time out of COVID fears, plus it didn’t feel like Hollywood really put out anything worth while, opting to save their best stuff for post Covid days. But Black Widow got me back to the theater, even though I could have rented it on Disney Plus.
I’ll be honest, there were days in the past where I almost went to the theater to see anything, literally anything, just for something to do. But now…I mean…will I go to the theater to see something like Space Jam? I hate to admit it but in the past, on a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do, I might have (OK I would have) but now…I mean yeah, if they’re letting me see it on TV now, I’ll watch Space Jam at home and only the big movies like Black Widow will get me to buy a ticket.)
BQB here. Just wanted to share this video that’s been making the rounds. A bunch of kids at an Arizona high school did an Avengers themed dance routine and I have to say, it’s pretty on point. Everything is so detailed that they had to have spent a ton of time on this. The songs are keyed into the characters, they do battles, there weren’t any screw ups as far as I can tell, I mean, these kids could go pro.
Spiderman’s taking his show on the road, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review.
I think the overall success of the new Spiderman franchise is that they dove us into the action without bogging us down with another origin story. By now, these superhero movies have been done to death so we know who they are and where they come from. We don’t need to see baby Superman crash on the farm again. We don’t need to see Batman’s parents get shot. We don’t need to see Spidey’s uncle get shot. We know.
By trusting the viewers know, the movies can delve into further action and that is what’s done here. Peter Parker is going on a summer class trip to Europe, hoping to get a break from saving the world and all the woe that comes with it. Alas, Nick Fury tracks him down and wants him to carve out some time from his sightseeing schedule to help Mysterio fight elementals – giant monsters made out of earth, wind, fire and other 1970s bands. Or were the 1960s? I think 70s. I don’t know.
The movie integrates itself into the post Avengers: Endgame well, but my fear is that (SPOILER ALERT) Endgame offed a lot of key characters, so where the whole franchise goes from here without them is uncertain.
If I go deeper, I’ll give the movie away but suffice to say, I think this incarnation of the web slinger is a model for others to follow. We don’t need the origin story anymore. Just dive in.