Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Black Panther Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Leech Woman Review

I had to choose this poster because it basically spoils the entire movie. It’s a fairly short adventure though so it is pretty hard to not spoil the first part. I’m sure that the trailers did as well since in theory, the second half would be treated as the selling point. It’s a tough call though because I felt like the first half lasted long enough where you could treat it as its own story. I was actually wondering where the film was going to go with this, but once the mud scene happened, it was clear that the movie was still ready to kick it into high gear. It’s definitely better than I was expecting even if it’s still not ready for the big leagues.

The film starts off with a doctor and his wife having some troubles. They don’t get along at all and are ready for a divorce. Paul and June nearly seal the deal, but then an old lady named Malla shows up. She explains that her people have a way to reverse aging and make you young again. There are side effects, but it will make Paul rich so he is eager to learn more. She invites the couple to come to her village and then leaves. Paul quickly pretends to be nice to June again so he can use her as a guinea pig on this new formula. He can’t try it on himself of course since he doesn’t know if it’s safe yet. They go along to the village and are told that they will die there. June is given the opportunity to try the serum though so she gives it a whirl. Unfortunately, the effects only last for a single day so it’s good for a night of fun, but that’s about it. June isn’t satisfied and she wants a true romance since she never got along with Paul, but will she be able to keep on murdering people every day while keeping it a secret from the fiance that she stole from another girl? Only time will tell!

There are definitely some problems with this title from the get go. The main issue is the drama between June and Paul. There is really no purpose to it and June looks terrible throughout the whole ordeal. So, they have been married for over 10 years, but June claims that he never liked her. She likes him though so she puts up with it, but has clearly had a terrible time of it. She has resorted to being a regular drinker. Then, Paul pretends to be nice to her for one day and she is suddenly willing to stick around until he betrays her again. It was definitely a very poor relationship plot and didn’t add anything to the movie. I definitely didn’t care for June and she never recovered from the opening. Going after someone who already had a fiancee was definitely iffy as well although it is certainly the guy’s fault as well.

Paul is quite bad as well. He just wants money and strings June along for his own personal ambitions. Luckily, he is also not that intelligent and basically tells June his plan of leaving her to the Indians to be murdered while he escapes. She very reasonably decides that this is not a very good plan for her so she decides to pull a little trick on him. We’ve also got the random guy who was hired for 5000. He seemed like a good character at first although he was also flirting a little with June and since she was still was a little iffy. He shows his true colors by the end though and suddenly becomes just another villain. I like how he quickly switched his tune once he was in the mud, but he probably should have realized what was coming next.

Another really bad character was the fiancee. He falls in love with someone after only seeing her for 5 minutes and is instantly willing to play the field as he tries to hang out with the new girl while not telling his current one. Naturally, this doesn’t go well and he handles the situation terribly. I was kind of hoping that June would take him out after she had her fun, but ultimately it wasn’t in the cards. Still, it was a good way to make that character as unlikable as possible. He was beyond saving at that point. I did like his girl friend though. She made sure to keep reminding June to back off and when that didn’t work, she quickly grabbed her gun. Unfortunately, she forgot that a gun is meant to keep opponents at bay and you shouldn’t use it in a hand to hand fight. That was just plain sloppy and had a lot of plot hax there.

I didn’t really care for Malla. She talked tough for a while and did help to destroy some of the main characters, but why was she here? Unless she can see the future or has some kind of telepathy, I don’t see why she would go to see Paul in the first place. She is also treated as the ruler of her village as she can murder people for no reason and calls the shots so why didn’t she just stay there. Also, turning young just to mess around with everyone for a full day is a pretty sad goal. I would have preferred a better villain.

I do think that the film did a decent job of switching the tone from part 1 to part 2. Part 2 suddenly became your standard horror film as June picks people off one by one while the first act was more of a Jungle film like the recent fake monster film that I reviewed. It’s hard to say which part was better. Maybe the second half, but they both weren’t bad. There was a quick scene of animal violence in part 1, which was unfortunate and all of the romance throughout the film was definitely pretty bad. You can’t have a good romance with unlikable characters after all, that will be a losing formula no matter how you slice it.

It’s also a little hard to believe that June can defeat all of the foes that she did. She was an old lady at one point, but is still able to overpower a crook who was choking her. June took way too long to make her move as well. Since she was planning to destroy him from the start, she could have handled the situation in a safer manner. She was also surprisingly sloppy after a while. Leaving her calling card on the corpse was pretty iffy and then just leaving a dead body in the closet where anyone could just open up and find it? Granted, the latter example is not quite as bad since she had little time. I can accept throwing the body in the closet, but leaving her card was sad.

I do like how quickly the cops acted though. They showed up out of nowhere and at first I was wondering how they could have possibly put the pieces together. They are definitely good at their jobs and even had the warrant ready so they did everything by the books. Definitely the best characters by default. I would definitely have liked to have seen them more as it’s always nice to see them talk tough to the crooks.

I have to quickly mention The Ring here. June has a ring which can destroy any guy with a quick shot to the neck. You don’t even have to apply that much pressure as June KOs someone while he had leverage and she was an old lady. You basically just have to tap it to the neck and it is game over. I guess the reasoning is that the fang it was made of is incredibly sharp, but it is still a real stretch. Definitely a handy weapon to have on deck though and it is the real MVP of this film. June probably wouldn’t have lasted too long without it.

Overall, The Leech Woman was better than I expected. I still won’t call it a very good film or anything like that, but it’s not downright bad either. I think it’s safely in the middle and it is certainly watchable while even having a little replay value. I’d actually recommend checking this out to an extent if you’ve ever wanted to see a really old woman take down a bunch of people on her own. I suppose age doesn’t matter when you have a one hit KO ring. I still don’t buy the fact that it works so well, but it’s just one of those things I guess. One thing about the plot that still doesn’t make sense though is an early scene. Paul and friends arrive at Africa and see a lot of dead bodies along with Malla’s cane. At first I thought that she transformed and destroyed them, but apparently another tribe got them…but the tribe was Malla’s tribe. Either they have two factions of she was kidnapped during the journey and then her crew came to save her. I dunno, it didn’t make any sense to me, but maybe it’ll click when you watch it. If so readers, let me know how that situation really went down!

Overall 5/10