Tag Archives: Chadwick Boseman

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Blu Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers: Endgame Review

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Tilda Swindon, Dave Bautista, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen, Tessa Thompson, Benedict Wong

The major downside to catching Avengers: Endgame in theatres was the risk of subjecting my bladder to irreparable damage. In my younger days, simply holding-it for three hours was no big challenge. Back in college, I even once participated in a drinking challenge where we’d see who could go the longest without relieving ourselves. I didn’t win, but did manage to make it almost four hours.

Those were different times and Endgame is a different type of epic. We’ve all sat through three-hour films before, but thanks to the Infinity War’s open-ended resolution and plethora of unanswered questions – not-to-mention a year’s worth of fan theories and speculation – taking a bathroom break would risk missing a key scene, plot twist or revelation. I’ll give the Russo Brothers credit for one thing: Every scene in Endgame feels vital at the time, making it a tough movie to walk away from, even for a moment.

At the showing my family and I attended, not a single theatregoer got up to leave once the film started. Afterwards, the continuous sound of flushing toilets echoed throughout the lobby for five straight minutes. I, for one, made the mistake of buying a soda before the movie, which I began the regret around the 90 minute mark. By the third act, my screaming bladder made it a challenge to fully immerse myself the film’s numerous emotional payoffs.

So despite being a fitting, larger-than-life capper to Marvel’s 22-film story arc, Endgame ultimately plays better at home, at least for those of us not endowed with iron bladders. In addition to reacquainting myself with the story thus-far by revisiting Infinity War beforehand, seeing Endgame a second time – able to hit pause when nature called – was far more enjoyable.

While I still loathe the practice of stretching a single story across multiple movies, Endgame justifies its existence – and length – due to the sheer number of characters, story threads and loose ends to tie in a manner that meets expectations of legions of MCU fans. A taunting task, to be sure, which Endgame manages to pull off. The film remembers its past while acknowledging the future, and is well-aware of the finality its title suggests (for the story arc and some major characters). In that respect, Endgame pushes all the right emotional buttons.

But unlike the original Star Wars trilogy’s most iconic moments, Endgame meets expectations without really ever exceeding them. As viewers, we already have a laundry list of plot points awaiting explanation, questions to be answered and characters’ odds of living or dying. All those boxes are checked-off – often magnificently, sometimes poignantly – but there aren’t any revelations as jaw-dropping as learning who Luke’s father is. And even at three hours, there are simply too many characters for everyone to get adequate screen time (some don’t even appear until the climax). Fans of certain characters will inevitably be disappointed by what amounts to a cameo.

However, those are minor quips. Endgame is ultimately a slam-bang crescendo to this massive franchise, the likes of which we won’t likely see again for a long time. While sweeping and epic in scope, it’s still filled with the smaller, character-driven moments that have always made the MCU engaging (something DC is just now figuring out). I’ve personally never met anyone disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure they’re out there, but maybe their bladders were simply too full to enjoy it the first time.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Avengers Infinity War

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay by), Stephen McFeely (screenplay by) 
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong

The dust has settled, the hype has died down, the fanboys have scrutinised every frame and Avengers: Infinity War has already raked in $2 billion worldwide. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, look beyond the spectacle and obligatory fan-service to assess what is still essentially half a movie (though it’s still a lot better than Age of Ultron). 

I’ve always been pretty dubious over the practice of dividing a single story into two or more separate films. I understood Quentin Tarantino’s motives behind Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 because they were stylistically different. But two Breaking Dawns, two Mockingjays and three freaking Hobbits were just greedy, cynical cash-grabs calculated to prey on fans whose commitment to their beloved franchises gave them no choice but to open their wallets one more time than necessary.

But after seeing Infinity War twice now (once in theatres with everyone else, the second time for this Blu-ray review), I have to grudgingly concede that the decision to make it two movies might be justified (I’ll reserve a final verdict until next year). As it stands, this film has an unenviable task: Include nearly every major MCU character, work them into the film without regulating anyone to a gratuitous cameo while still moving the new story forward (“new” is relative, though…longtime fans have been aware of this coming war for years). 

For the most part, the film is successful, mainly because Marvel has done a pretty masterful job of laying the groundwork during the past decade of MCU movies. So when Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) engages in verbal chest-thumping with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the story doesn’t need to spend time establishing their personalities the way a stand-alone film must. Speaking of which, the film’s best moments are when these iconic characters are meeting each other for the first time. Those involving one-or-more of the Guardians of the Galaxy are predictably the funniest, and sometimes surprisingly moving.

The downside, of course, is that anyone not fully up-to-speed with the doings in the MCU will be completely lost. Sure, they could (mostly) follow the story, maybe even a few of the subplots, but will have absolutely no emotional stake in any of these characters. And there’s no other film in the MCU that depends more on the audience’s investment in its characters than Infinity War (especially during the final act).

Even without the burden of character exposition, bringing them all together convincingly takes a considerable amount of time (which Infinity War does by presenting three concurrent subplots). Could the rising action leading to its epic climax have been trimmed-up a bit? Absolutely. Infinity War is occasionally meandering and apocalyptic battles are so standard in this franchise that simply making them longer doesn’t necessarily make them grander. However, the story doesn’t feel gratuitously padded just to squeeze-out two movies. Casual viewers may be impatiently checking their watches after ninety minutes, but it goes without saying that anyone who loves these characters won’t want it to end. 

But end it does, with whopper of a cliffhanger that’s more Empire Strikes Back than An Unexpected Journey. In other words, the story may be incomplete, but not the experience. And if all 18 of the previous entries in the MCU can be considered converging roads leading up to this moment, then perhaps two movies is justified. I guess we’ll all know for sure next year.

Until then, because of its size, scope, references to past events and plethora of Easter eggs, Infinity War makes better repeated viewing at home than the usual superhero film. Nobody but the most dedicated fanboys would be capable of catching everything the first time. On a related note, I’m sort-of surprised at how light this Blu-ray is on supplemental material. The featurettes are entertaining, but mostly promotional and pretty short compared to those included on many other Disney/Marvel releases. 

Black Panther (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

BLACK PANTHER

Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o

I’ve long been an admirer of Ryan Coogler. The man is a supremely talented writer, director and his collaborative efforts with Michael B Jordan usually come with a guarantee of brilliance. Mix this with my love of all things MCU related and you should have a match made in heaven.

Black Panther has been lavished with praise from all quarters and is tearing it up at the box office just about everywhere. What did I make of it the film though? I’ve seen it twice now and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a hugely enjoyable watch. I still don’t think it’s a flawless piece of cinema mind. It has a few little, niggling issues which I’ll get into in due course.

It’s set almost immediately after the events of the magnificent Captain America: Civil War in which, of course, the former king of Wakanda, T’Chaka is killed. This leaves T’Challa bestowed with the power of the Black Panther and he must return to his home immediately to be ushered in as the new king. And that’s precisely what happens, but not before a very cool opening, animated scene outlaying the history of the country, the different tribes within it and so on. This scene, incidently, is narrated in the style of a bed prime story by N’Jobu, the brother of T’Chaka and is interconnected to the villain of the film later on in a way that I thought was very intelligent.

You see there’s a flashback to 1992 in Oakland after this, where the previously mentioned N’Jobu (stationed there as a spy) is outed for conspiring with Ulysses Klaue to arm black communities outside Wakanda with Vibranium. He’s then killed by his own brother, leaving his young son orphaned in a strange land. The true importance of this killing and abandonment on the story and it’s characters isn’t felt until 20 odd years later and around the mid way point of the film, but suffice to say it’s a hugely significant moment.

Back to the present day and like I mentioned, T’Challa heads back to his homeland for the hastily arranged coronation ceremony. Accompanied by the trusted badass Okore (Danai Gurira), he performs a quickfire extraction operation in Nigeria on the way, to bring his ex-lover and spy, Nakia (Lupita Nyongo’o) home for his big day. Now, I have to say that it’s such a cool moment when the ship finally bursts through the holographic barrier giving us the first sight of the frankly incredible Wakanda. The city with its gleaming, high rise buildings, winding monorail and an amazing juxtaposition of the old and new is a real treat for the eyes as most things are in this film.

We meet two main figures upon their arrival, those being, Zuri (Forest Whittaker), a spiritual adviser to the king (who just so happens to be hiding a major secret) and Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s younger sister, who is insanely intelligent and the provider of much of the cool gadgets and technology Black Panther uses. Both of these characters have their own significantly large roles to play as the plot progresses.

But I digress, the ceremony gets underway, in the most stunning of settings and T’Challa is challenged by M’Baku of the mountain tribes. The fight is fairly fierce, quick fire but our man prevails, successfully getting him to yield in the process and so he’s declared king of Wakanda. Well, for now at least anyway. He then sets his sights on capturing and ending the travails of the permanent thorn in the side that is Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). He does this via a short hop to Korea. We see Klaue in a short little heist scene beforehand incidentally, alongside the, at this point, unnamed Michael B Jordan character.

Klaue is apprehended temporarily before the shit hits the fan in an escape spearheaded by Erik. During this Martin Freeman’s Everett K Ross character, a CIA agent takes a bullet in the mayhem of Klaue’s escape. Now, until this point, probably around a third of the way in, Klaue was clearly the antagonist of the film. But shortly after his breakout he’s unceremoniously discarded by the now revealed true villain Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) and things really pick up pace wise after this. Not that the film was slow beforehand because it wasn’t but there was just something lacking.

Erik makes his way to Wakanda and challenges T’Challa. A brutal battle then plays out and the king is rather easily seen off. This scene honestly reminded me of the way Bane broke Batman in the Dark Knight Rises. It was painful just watching it. Killmonger takes to the throne and desires to utilise Wakanda’s immeasurable technological power to help disenfranchised black communities worldwide. This is the raison D’etre of the character and one of the main themes explored by the film in general. Wakanda until that point had chosen to remain secretive, keeping its wealth and power to itself whilst many struggled against oppression.

Now, I’m not sure if Coogler meant for the disappearance and implied death of T’Challa to be more impactful than it was but it mirrored the arc that Caesar had in Dawn of the Planet of Apes and that film handled it so much better for me. Never at any point did I ever doubt he would live and return. It did allow the film to travel to M’Baku’s ethereal throne room setting though so I wasn’t THAT bothered by it.

Of course, T’Challa does indeed return to the fray, setting up one final battle, in true Marvel style. I enjoyed this action packed finale. It featured multi-perspectives, Everett had a part of play, as did Shuri, Okore and Black Panther himself. The death of Killmonger was incredibly poignant with his line about N’Jobu telling him stories about Wakanda as a boy marrying in perfectly with that little opener.

He was very much in the vain of a Roy Batty villain and he’s arguably the most complicated and best villain we’ve seen to date in a Marvel film. Much of that’s down to Michael B Jordan who I can’t praise enough. I think the guy is just oozing with talent that shines through in every film he’s a part of. A sizeable part of it is also down to the journey he had and how relatable the character was too. His ethos and desire to help liberate the oppressed minority isn’t a very villainous cause. Perfectly summed up by his line “Two billion people all over the world who look like us whose lives are much harder, and Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all,” “Where was Wakanda?” His story was a tragedy.

Indeed he manages to change Black Panthers mind on Wakanda’s continuing secrecy, as that potentially monumental post credits scene proves.

In terms of other noteworthy performances. I could probably spend a good 10 minutes talking about them alone. Chadwick Boseman was outstanding as T’Challa. He imbued the character with raw power, athleticism and real emotion. His accent is so good it would fool me into believeing he was actually from the African continent. Speaking of accents, hats off to Andy Serkis. I love this man as an actor and I was delighted to see him in a non-mo cap role. He looked cool, had a convincing South African accent and I was bitterly disappointed he was killed off.

Lupita Nyongo’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Forest Whitaker were all absolutely superb too. Lupita speaks for herself. Gurira was a incredible in some of the action sequences. Gliding about the screen delivering beatings. Anybody that’s watched the Walking Dead will know what she’s capable of. Shuri had such an upbeat, cheeky and infectious personality that lit up every scene she was in. That’s all down to Wright. Zuri was kind of a tragic character too. He had to live with the death of his friend and his role in it for 20 odd years and it was a great performance from Whitaker who disappointed in Rogue One.

The overwhelmingly majority of this film I did love. The visuals were stunning, every element of them too. The CGI was masterful, none more so in the films two trips to the ancestral realm. The bluish to deep violet tones of the ethereal sky left me stunned by their beauty and added so much to the power and feeling of those scenes which were up there with some of the best in the film.

The costume designs and the attention detail in general was great too.

The score was very cool too. Ludwig Göransson did an outstanding job capturing an authentic African feel throughout. He immersed himself in the continent collaborating with artists and you can tell. It had a great blend of contemporary and classic stuff going on. Killmonger on the soundtrack probably perfectly typifies that. Ancestral Plane is probably my favourite through and Wakanda was up there too.

Now for my biggest gripe or gripes because there’s two in there. The story to me felt a little average. I couldn’t put my finger on why at first but then it dawned on me and it’s the handling of the villains. The first hour of the film doesn’t really have one. Klaue was portrayed as one, but he didn’t ever feel like a serious threat to our heroes. Sure he was involved in that great chase scene in Korea but that was it really. Then he was killed out of the blue. Why? I don’t know.

Killmonger absolutely should’ve been more prominent from the beginning, why he didn’t step forward until half way through the film is beyond me. Things improved dramatically when he did. Even then though, it really didn’t feel like T’Challa would be in any danger. The final battle was enjoyable enough but lacked the urgency I’ve grown accustomed to. This film was deliberately set on a smaller, more personal scale admittedly and it semi-worked when Black Panther was at odds with his fathers legacy, betrayal and his inner conflict. But not so much when it came to a big, bombastic battle.

In the end, I did enjoy Black Panther and that’s down to the unique setting, the much superior second half of the film and the excellent performances in the main. For a film of this stand.