film, women

Black Panther – Review

(Thought I’d try something a little different)

Marvel Studios introduced the character in Captain America: Civil War where T’Challa, prince of the African nation Wakanda appears as a force of relative antagonism. The movie Black Panther expands on the character, and the presence of Wakanda to tell a story which is only tangential to the ongoing consistency of the film universe.

But, Matt, you ask, do I need to harvest your nerd-infused brain meats to understand or enjoy it?

No, you don’t.

It’s a mixture of genres, but the overall look and discipline of the film is consistent and lends itself to an entertaining and exciting piece of film.

Thematically, it deals with the legacies of fathers being passed down to their offspring, the ideas of nationalism and identity, all wreathed in a knowing sense of humour, gorgeous visuals and some great performances.

Chadwick Bozeman, as T’Challa/Black Panther is charismatic, vulnerable yet heroic and carries the film alongside a great supporting cast. He has a gentle strength and nobility, alongside a physical presence which is sourced in a clear idea of the character.

I’m not precious about the adaptation of characters from one medium to another, and even my nerd Fu doesn’t tingle when films omit certain characteristics to make a film accessible to an audience outside of those who know what a long box is. Yet here we get a version who feels new and authentic.

So, why go see it?

It looks gorgeous, with a unique sense of styles, a colour palette and costumes which combine traditional African styles with a science fiction setting.

The performances are great. Notable stand outs are Michael B Jordan as the antagonist Eric Killmonger who has a wounded swagger which makes him compelling to watch. He was in The Wire, which adds to my theory of how any Wire alumni bring an extra charge to whatever film they’re in. I wasn’t in The Wire but I appropriate a similar level of awesome in my self.

He’s also an antagonist who embodies an important part of story structure, in they believe themselves a hero, and his motivation feels authentic and considered although he doesn’t get enough screen time.

Danai Gurira is fantastic, bold, distinct and carries a lot of the film’s internal plotting whilst also delivering kinetic action sequences which are balletic and evocative. Lupita Nyongo, Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett all work parallel to portray capable, beautiful characters who move the story forwards through action and intention. It’s a relief to see no characters are useful idiots and they have dialogue and action sequences which count as highlights in the movie.

Go see it, either as an interest in a film which generated some divisive publicity or because you’re a completist nerd like me who enjoys and learns from a multiple tier approach and consistency which is educational for a writer. Also it has lasers, ship battles, men with shirts off who’ve never seen a bloody carb in their lives, and armour plated rhinos.

Let me know if you like this, or want to disagree with me in the comments.

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film, Uncategorized

Star Wars – The Force Awakens (contains fake spoilers for amusement)

I like to support new, independent cinema so yesterday I demonstrated that by seeing the new, avant garde film from cinema’s enfant terrible J J Abrams called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

So when Disney brought the rights, I held a moment of caution. However, that was misplaced as we all forget that above all else, Disney seek to entertain. Not mission statements, not polemics that should have you running into the streets to start the revolution. Two hours of solid, aesthetically pleasing grand entertainment that make you forget about this world and visit another one.

It was a trip backwards, a curation of what was best about the original trilogy and it’s ‘future is past’ aesthetic. Beautifully filmed, great dialogue and a sense of the epic about it. A respect for the audience who are walking encyclopedias as well as those who aren’t but want to see a good movie. ┬áStar Wars is not science fiction, it is science fantasy, it is Saturday Morning Cartoons wedded to chambara and western morality plays. Good guys and bad guys. It has the best soundtrack in film (John Williams’ score is so moving, and the new one is fantastic), it survived three anodyne toy commercial movies that should have broken it’s potential entirely. It is not a franchise prone to sabotage unlike The Matrix, which fucked itself in it’s second movie.

I’m not going to post details because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but I thought I would make up some spoilers instead.

PLEASE NOTE NONE OF THESE ARE REAL

  1.  The ewok orgy was disturbing.
  2. Jar Jar being the big bad behind the First Order was a surprise.
  3. The musical duet between Miley Cyrus and the Sarlaac was oddly touching.

See it or not. It understood itself as few movies do, all white teeth and bright eyes, spectacle and instant friendships, a child’s morality but so earnest and heartfelt that you buy in entirely or don’t. When Han Solo turned up, looked at Chewbacca and said ‘we’re home.’ my eyes prickled with tears and I nodded to myself in the dark of the cinema.

The old man was right. We are.

UPDATE:

OK, so after a month, some issues came to mind that have soured my experience of it. It felt a little bit too smooth for my liking. A touch too anodyne compared to the original trilogy especially when it came to the idea that Rey feels a bit too perfect compared to Luke. His earnest, farmboy naivete is part of his appeal, and ties into the hero journey, the mythic cycle that came direct from Joseph Campbell. Still, it’s a kid’s film and now that the nostalgia has faded, I liked it less than I thought. In the same way that McDonalds tastes pretty good and then you feel bloated and crampy later.

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