Tag Archives: marvel

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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TV Review – The Punisher

Guns, guns, and more guns.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s “The Punisher.”

When I was a kid, it was common for nerds to gravitate towards more realistic super heroes.  Batman was popular because he was a human without any supernatural powers.

Nerds in the know knew that as cool as the Caped Crusader was, Frank Castle aka “The Punisher” was the more (perhaps the most) realistic superhero.  Arguably, advanced wealth, and the ability to train all day, travel the world to learn new techniques, fund new technologies and figure out how to subdue criminals with non-lethal bat kicks only to hang them forty stories up in the air by a bat rope hooked to one end of a gargoyle with the other end to their underpants is pretty damn spectacular.

In short, it’s unlikely you’ll ever obtain Bruce Wayne’s wealth and if you did, it’s unlikely you’d be able to develop the science defying goodies he wields.

The Punisher, on the other hand, has one super power (of sorts.)  He’s extremely pissed off over the death of his family, leading to an eternal “I don’t give a f%%k” attitude.

Batman might knock out a crook with a batarang.  The Punisher will just buy an epic shit ton of guns off the black market and blow the crooks away.

I remember as a kid wondering why super heroes always go to elaborate lengths to save villains and bring them in safe and sound only for the criminal to escape and wreak havoc again.  Whoever invented “The Punisher” realized that clearly, the only way to stop a criminal from being evil again is to dispense with some hot lead justice.

I mean, for all the blowback Batman got for being a vigilante acting outside the law, the Dark Knight at least left the crooks tied up for the cops to arrest and the justice system to put on trial.  If you were an alleged criminal, you at least had a chance to go before the judge and argue that Batman got the wrong guy.  The Punisher has no checks and balances system.  If it turns out he ganked the wrong dude, the wrong dude remains dead.

Anyway, enough of that nerdery.  After three film versions, Netflix seems to have captured the essence of this fan favorite.  Jon Bernthal (fans of “The Walking Dead” know him as Shane) plays the ultimate sullen, sad-sack tough guy.  We are spared a detailed origin story, though newbs are spoon fed just enough of what they need to know about what drove Frank to become a gun toting one-man crime stopper.

In this version, it’s been six months since Frank took out the crew who killed his wife and daughter.  Somehow he thought that would be enough for him to move on be he can’t.  There’s a hole inside him and it can only be filled with dead bad guys.

Batman sends his baddies to Arkham.  Superman gives his baddies a stern talking to.  Spider-Man gums up evildoers in a web but Frank…Frank just shoots them.  That’s it.

After “Agents of Shield” I lost hope for a good Marvel TV show, but this series has renewed it.  Good show, Netflix.  Good show.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Does Frank even count as a superhero?  Discuss in the comments.





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Daily Discussion with BQB – The Accusations Against Stan Lee

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

When I was a kid, I made an effort to start an autograph collection.  I wrote to celebrities, usually to like the network they worked on, the company they worked for, and wrote polite little letters asking for an autograph.

I got a lot of form letters back telling me politely to pound sand…but I also got…a photo signed by the one and only Stan Lee. (Not gonna lie, I have debated for years whether he signed it or if it was a photo with the signature already printed on it, but either way, it was a better response than what I’d received from anyone else.

It made me happy because I used to watch the “Spider-Man” cartoon on Saturday mornings, narrated in his cool voice.

Sigh.  Excelsior, true believers.

He’s denied the accusations through his lawyers.  I think I’ll wait and see how the story develops before I say anything.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Thor Cultural Appropriation?

Sigh.  I don’t want to be a wet blanket, especially because I love Marvel movies and Thor is the best of the solo hero standalone flicks.

But…yep, there was an ancient Norse religion.  Odinism.  Asatru.  Call it what you will, but just as the Romans had Apollo and the Greeks had Zeus, so too did the Scandinavians of old have Odin, Thor, Loki and Hela.

Thor was a God worshipped by many.  So I mean, yeah, if Marvel were to create a new hero called “The Amazing Jesus” and have him fight the Hulk and run around with Capt. America and Spiderman, people would be upset.

But Odinism was replaced by Christianity. I don’t know the whole history but my limited understanding is that the Romans took over Europe.  The Europeans were forest dwelling tree people and ironically, were considered savage barbarians by the Romans.

Eventually the Roman Empire converted from its multi-God system to Christianity, becoming the Holy Roman Empire and Christianity spread throughout Europe.

So I don’t know…there have been movies about the Gods of old and they are interesting but its just interesting how history plays out.  Some religions remain and it would be offensive to have superhero movies about them.  Others can turn the Gods of religions into cartoon characters.

I have some Scandinavian blood in me but I mean, it doesn’t bother me.  If I were a full blooded Asatru worshipping Thor lover though, yeah, I feel like I’d be sad to see Thor being a caricature.

Oh well.  Just a random thought.  Again, I’m not saying dump Thor.  Of all the Avengers, he has the best storyline, probably because it was written by ancient Norwegians and not Marvel.

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Movie Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Strap on your web slinger, true believer.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

BQB here with a review of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

I’m just going to say it, 3.5 readers.  This is the best movie ever made about America’s favorite wall crawler.  The first two Tobey Maguire films were great.  The first Andrew Garlfield one was decent but this one blew me away.

In this incarnation, a very young, inexperienced Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is fresh off his big mission helping Tony Stark fight a rogue Captain America.  Months have passed and Stark has named Peter his “intern.”  Peter hopes this means another awesome mission is coming his way but alas, Stark thinks Peter is too young.  He has a point.  At a mere fifteen years old (and being played by an actor around that age), this is the youngest Spidey we’ve seen on film.

Not willing to rest on his laurels and take the time to hone his skills (as Stark advises), Peter seeks action and finds it in the form of the Vulture, Michael Keaton as a contractor who is screwed out of a contract to clean up they city after an Avenger vs. aliens fight and decides to use the alien technology he finds for nefarious purposes instead.

The movie moves fast, putting Peter in all sorts of trouble, ranging from a rescue mission at the Washington monument to a showdown on the Staten Island ferry.  Throughout this whole ordeal, Peter tries to balance out his social life, trying to score babes at parties, building lego sets with buddy Ned, competing in the Academic Decathlon and bringing dream girl Liz to the Homecoming dance.  The film brings just enough high school drama so you realize what pressures a teenage hero is under without turning the whole thing into American Pie with tights.

Overall, Disney/Marvel has spent nine years building an extensive cinematic universe, filled with its own backstory and folklore.  This film is the ultimate payoff.  Because so much has been built already, we can dive right into the action and be spared the origin story that’s been drilled into us so many times before.  There’s no need for us to see Peter cry as he realizes he failed to save Uncle Ben.  Been there.  Done that.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.  Check it out, 3.5 readers.

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Universal’s Dark Universe Series

Hey 3.5 readers.

Did you all hear about this?  I did not until I caught the Mummy today.  Check out my review if you haven’t already.

Apparently, Universal is trying to bring its treasure trove of monster flicks back into the modern age, kicking it off with “The Mummy” with Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bride of Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera, the Wolfman and so on  to come later.

One can only assume they’re trying to compete with Disney’s Marvel universe and Warner Brothers attempt to recreate the Disney/Marvel success with their Justice League films.

Do you think “Dark Universe” will be a hit for Universal?  Will other studios try to cash in on the expanded universe phenomenon?

My one caveat might be that while Marvel and DC appeal to kids, i.e., the viewers that will most likely nag their parents into buying Marvel and DC merchandise, I’m not sure there’s a huge market for a Mummy lunch box.  Then again, maybe Universal can pave the way for cinematic universe films for a more sophisticated audience.  The Mummy was actually a good, solid first installment.  It didn’t knock my socks off but it didn’t disappoint me either.  It left me curious as to what Universal has in store for us next.

Discuss, 3.5 readers.

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Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

I am Groot.  I am Groot?  I am Groot!

What’s up, 3.5 Groots?  BQB here with a review of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.

The Guardians are back and better than ever in this, the 15th film in the Marvel cinematic universe.  Can you believe it, 3.5 readers?  Fifteen interconnected films in nine years and that’s just the Disney side of things.  Other studios are still putting out Marvel’s other works, like X-Men.

This go-around, the galaxy’s most jerk-tactic heroes are back and better than ever.  When Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) engages in some epic schmuckery, he puts the Guardians on the bad side of a vengeful high priestess, causing the gang to go on an intergalactic adventure to yes, once again, save the galaxy.

Along the way, Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt) meets up with his long lost father, Ego (Kurt Russell).  Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Yondu (Michael Rooker) all return.

Meanwhile, Vin Diesel comes back as the voice of the one, the only. Baby Groot.  Yes, he’s a tiny tree and he steals the show.

I love this franchise.  It’s space opera with a sense of humor.  Outside of Star Wars and Star Trek, this series is one of few, if any, modern attempts to do this genre right.  Action, humor, heart – it’s got it all.

One thing that surprised me.  “Shit” is said – a lot.  The word “douchebag” is thrown around freely and oh yeah, there’s a scene with robot hookers.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love all that shit.  I mean, shit, I’ve been waiting my whole life for some scientist to get up off his lazy ass and invent me a robot hooker.

I’m just surprised that Disney is dipping its toe into these waters.  The film goes right to the edge of PG-13, hovers its toe just over the line only to quickly pull it back.

Somewhere in a musty boardroom in Disney HQ, I can picture a group of nerdy writers figuring out just the right formula necessary to make these films edgy without causing Walt Disney’s frozen head to spin around in its freezing chamber.

God, I do love a good Walt Disney frozen head joke.

It’s a brave new world of filmmaking, I suppose.  Disney realizes there are adults who grew up loving cartoonish movies that push the envelope, so Guardians is their way of appealing to them.

I’m mildly worried that parents might look at the talking raccoon and the cute little tree and think it’s cool to take a little kid to this film.  And while it’s nowhere near as risqué as the Fox/Marvel Deadpool collaboration, I personally would follow that PG-13 guideline.

Let me put it this way:  it’s nowhere close, at all, whatsoever, to being the dirtiest film ever made.  In the great history of cinema, it’s pretty tame.  However, it might be the dirtiest film Disney has ever made, and for a company that spews wholesomeness out of every orifice, that’s saying something.

Teenagers will be fine.  Kids might end up warped.  Don’t worry about the adults who are into this sort of film.  They became warped a long time ago and it is too late for them now.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.  The Summer movie season is here!











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Movie Trailer – Thor: Ragnarok

Hey 3.5 readers.

The trailer for Thor: Ragnarok is out and it’s pretty fantastic.  The use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song (“I come from the land of the ice and snow…”) is pretty effective.

What say you, 3.5?

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Deadpool 2 Teaser Trailer – No Good Deed

Hey 3.5 readers.

Ryan Reynolds has released a teaser trailer for Deadpool 2 and it’s every bit as funny as you’d hoped:

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In lighter news…

Captain America: Civil War is on Netflix if you bitches want to check that out.

I’m sorry I called you bitches.  I meant it in a playful manner like “Hey, what’s up, my bitches?”

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