The first Black Panther movie was a critical and box office beast. But, more so, it was a cultural phenomenon. It showed that a movie with that many Black actors, actresses and people on the other side of the camera could be a viable crossover success and it fueled more than a few other opportunities for more diversity in the Hollywood blockbuster world. It was already a massive undertaking for director Ryan Coogler and crew, to take on the challenge of trying to continue a series that has so much weight to it and live up to the expectations of fans and those deeply affected by it’s impact. Then after tragedy struck and the lead actor,, Chadwick Boseman passed The film had his shadow looming over it to contend with also. How do you replace him? Do you replace him? Will the movie as good? How do you outdo one of Marvel’s best villains in Killmonger? With so many questions everyone was ready for some answers
The newest chapter in one of Marvel’s most praised films center’s around the world dealing with the sudden death of T’Challa from a mysterious disease. This piece of the story is art imitating the real life of Boseman as very few knew of his private fight with cancer which led to his passing. With the King now, dead and the world now aware of the precious resource of vibranium metal and all of its power we have politicians doing what they are known to do; trying to figure out how to get their hands on the resources of other countries for their benefit. We see a group of mercenaries breaking into a Wakandan facility to steal vibranium and being stopped by Wakandas chief protectors, The Dora Milaje. These mercenaries are brought before a council of representatives from various countries and the now Queen of Wakanda, Ramonda. With these new threats to Wakandas’ safety and secrets the political intrigue that is prevalent in the comic pages of Black Panther is more of a factor in this film. The mad scramble by the World to find and exploit vibranium takes the search in to the deep seas. This is how we introduce Namor into the storyline. As his up to now, unknown people of Talokan have vibranium as well, he is not so keen to have people in the oceans searching as it’ll lead to the world finding his people as well. Namor says to Shuri, something to the effect of “people have been exploiting people like us for resources for centuries.” He wants to protect his people much like Wakanda did before opening itself up to the world but, is willing to kill to do so like Killmonger in the previous film. This helps slot Namor into line with the”He’s got a valid point” villains that tend to be more interesting than the generic evil-to-be evil villains we usually get from Marvel movies. I did enjoy the choice of actor Tenoch Huerta as the underwater villain. He adds even more diversity to a cast of talented minority actors. The Mexican actor helps give Namor a new Mayan background for his origin and honestly I believe it adds gravity to his reasoning for wanting to get rid of those who may expose his people to the world as he would know how this story has played out through history.
The acting in this one is some of the best I’ve ever seen in the superhero genre, period. Tenoch Huerta as Namor is forceful and ruthless but, able to show grace and tenderness when around his people and it helps make you feel something other than disdain for the”bad guy” Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda gets far more lines this time around and is impactful during her screen time but, the accent is a bit shaky at times. Not, After Earth, Will and Jaden Smith bad but, not the strongest aspect of her character for sure. Shuri (Leticia Wright) does get to open up and bit more and gets to show more than her snarky side this time out as she grieves her brother and her own weakness. Danai Gurira as Okoye is as good as before but, not much is new in her portrayal of the character. M’Baku is now an ardent ally of the Wakandan people and an advisor to the throne. He’s a bit more light hearted but still as tough as before. Trevor Noah as the AI for Wakandas tech gets way more lines and funny moments this time out too.
One of my primary complaints of the initial film was the crap final fight being too FX heavy and taking me out of the film. This I feel was addressed (because I’m quite certain Ryan Coogler takes my opinions to heart) as the fights in general seemed to be better handled to keep you engaged throughout. The final confrontation in this one was far better than T’Challa vs Killmonger. Still, using VFX but, not focusing on it for massive periods helped ground the shots in relative reality. The film itself is better than the first overall, in acting but, slightly weaker in story. The villain is as strong as Killmonger which keeps with a great tradition I hope continues in the next part in the series. This film is truly one of Marvel’s best. In story, acting, and introducing new characters (Namor and RiRi Willaims). This movie was fitting and loving done tribute to Chadwick Boseman and afantastic way to move the MCU and the Black Panther series in to the future.I know I said this one is better than the last and I gave that one a 5 out of 5 but, hindsight and all that a revised review I give the first film a 3.5 and give Wakanda Forever a 4.5 out of 5.
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Eli Roth’s ‘Thanksgiving’: Sooo ungrateful
A year after a Black Friday sale riot that resulted in tragedy, the people of Plymouth Mass are terrorized when a killer dons the folkloric mask of the hometown hero John Carver (irony!) to take revenge!
So it’s right around turkey genocide day, and the kids of our high school are having a nice little standoff with the kids from a rival HS football team, or whatever it is, as we do in relatively small towns. The Wright-Mart, owned by town entrepreneur Thomas Wright (Rick Hoffman), is about to have its huge Black Friday sale, and though it’s only on the way to the party destination, our kidlings insist we have to stop at Wright-Mart and pick up some supplies.
Jessica Wright (Nell Verlaque) is our Final Girl, but here at the Wright-Mart sale riot she’s just a daddy’s girl who happens to have snuck her dumbass friends into an employee entrance early. Her friends Gabby (Addison Rae) and Yulia (Jenna Warren), and their jock boyfriends Scuba (Gabriel Davenport) and Evan (Tomaso Sanelli) are all gleefully razzing the getting-angrier folk outside the doors, right up until the moment the doors crack and flatten a poor security guard, setting off a riot of epic holiday proportions!
As was brought into uncomfortable spotlights both during and right after the pandemic, humanity as a whole can be some seriously destructive and selfish a*sholes. The riot at Wright-Mart that resulted in the death of the freaking store owner’s wife Amanda (Gina Gershon) and a few others, saw people beating each other with waffle iron boxes, trampling and rampaging whilst idiot Evan there just has to hop up on a register and film everything on his phone, frames the idiocy and carelessness of the mob mentality to a T. Director Eli Roth went by an over-the-top method to show the destruction of the riot, which is good because it reminds us to laugh at a scene which is, for some, a little too close to home.
Jess’s boyfriend Bobby (Jalen Thomas Brooks), formerly of the Golden Arm persuasion, up and disappears when it looks like the injury he sustained in the riot has crushed his pitching dreams. And it’s not weird or creepy at all yes, Jess has now taken up with the boring but very persistent nerd Ryan (Milo Manheim), but still hangs out with her former jock friends and their girlfriends, trying to make a blend. To top it all off, Jess’ dad has a new woman, the plastic-y and greedy Kathleen (Karen Cliché), who wants the Black Friday sales of Wright-Mart to continue merrily on.
Speaking of creepy, this year, a year after the Wright-Mart riot to be precise, masks with the supposed likeness of John Carver, the folkloric hero figure and purported progenitor of Thanksgiving around these parts, have begun circulating town. And of course, someone with a real hunger for revenge has taken it upon themselves to don a Carver mask and invite the catalysts of the Wright-Mart riot to a Thanksgiving feast they’ll never forget!
The good ole boy Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey) tries to keep up with the murderous shenanigans, but always seems a step behind when it comes to the Carver executions. First up is the Karen of your nightmares, Lizzie (Amanda Barker) the waitress at the local diner, who takes the whole half-off sale thing far too seriously. Then the cowardly security guard (Tim Dillon) and his brat of a cat, and a disastrous attempt at a trap laid for Carver during the annual Thanksgiving day parade results in more deaths at the hands of a killer clown (anybody else sees callbacks to Roth’s Clown in there too?), and the special VIP guests are late for a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings, served up by the Carver killer himself.
Giving homage to the likes of Craven’s Scream movies, and even the zany early Evil Dead films, Thanksgiving reminds us that our selfishness has long-lasting and even murderous consequences, and how the best of us can be twisted into the worst of humanity far too easily. Laugh out loud at the excessive gore and hilariously inventive death scenes, because it’s far too late to cry, and remember to be genuinely thankful for the blessings in your life, lest the Carver killer with an understandable motive invites you to your own feast!
Gobble down as much as you can stomach, of Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving in theaters now!
Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts: Love conquers all
After a very long war and a hard-won treaty of peace between the human kingdom and Ozmargo, the kingdom of beasts and demons, the 99th annual human sacrifice given in tribute to the beast kingdom is allowed to live and given the chance to become the royal consort, a human Queen for the beast kingdom.
A true Beauty and the Beast style romance, the show is gentle and firm, often giving us lovely pastels and light colors for the humans and their interactions, with stronger, more passionate colors besides black for the beasts and demons.
So, the King of Ozmargo, long may he reign in strength and virility, served with loyalty by the denizens of his kingdom (yeah right), has a Kaiju-sized secret – he is of mixed parentage, both beast and human, and cursed to suffer transformations to man-shape, and back to beast-king again. By no mere coincidence, the night of contemplation where the King goes into seclusion to hide his shape-change, is the same night the human sacrifice is given to him, ostensibly to perhaps eat or enjoy in some other way, indulging his bestial nature to the fullest. What isn’t spoken about, what almost none of the demon kingdom know, is that the unnamed King is of a far more tender nature than one might expect, and for years has been setting the human sacrifices free. (Which, given the poisonous miasma of Ozmargo and the general dislike of humans by the beasts of the Kingdom, may be a bit of a moot point – where could they escape to? Nevermind them, on with the romance!) All of that changed when the 99th sacrifice, the pretty little albino-looking human girl, Sariphi, was given to the King.
Sariphi is a shining example of what humanity could be given half the chance, loving and kind, loyal and humble, compassionate almost to a fault, and her ability to stay calm in the face of impending disaster only increases her value in the eyes of the bestial kingdom. None moreso than the King himself, especially when, after seeing him at his lowest in human form, and at his most enraged as the King of Beasts, Sariphi still loyally, stupidly, fully with all her heart, loves him. Hell, she loved the King of Ozmargo enough to give him a Name – Leonhart. And anyone who watches fantasy anime knows, giving a creature a Name is a big deal, especially if he happens to be royalty.
The rest of the Court harbors suspicions and old hatreds for humans, and now that Sariphi has been named as Leonhart’s acting-Consort-soon-to-be-Queen, the various beasts are taking it upon themselves to do whatever they can to convince the King otherwise. The King’s Chancellor Anubis especially seems to have it out for Sariphi, believing her most unworthy of the King’s affections, much less her own throne next to his. Anubis sets several challenges for Sariphi to complete to be worthy of even consideration for the Acting Consort title – hosting a very curmudgeonly Duke, rites of blessing for the unruly Princess of another kingdom, even forging peace talks between the neighboring human kingdom and Ozmargo, and goads her every step of the way with disparaging remarks and whispered poison in the Kings ear. After awhile, Anubis’ distrust gives way to a grudging respect for the tiny human girl who just won’t give in, and her apparent real, genuine love for the King.
Other friends and odd allies are made in Ozmargo by those who come into contact with Sariphi the most often – the tiny ball monsters Cy and Clops who were with her from pretty much the start; the fallen former Princess Amit of the lizardfolk who tends to Sariphi as her handmaiden and kind friend; the outcast hyena Lanteveldt who, far from being reviled for his beast subspecies by Sariphi, is instead made the Captain of her Royal Guard; and Captain of the Kings own Guard Jormungand, another lizardfolk whom Amit has a swooning after, who takes to Sariphi and her love for the King very well, for it mirrors his own.
The Kingdom of Ozmargo is proud and full of life, the beasts living within it just want to exist in peace and prosperity. Unfortunately the Kingdom is subject to troubles very similar to what humans experience far too often, but when a coup is attempted on Ozmargo and the denizens are being separated by subspecies – as in, a Bunny mother and an Amphibian father, and their fluffy green hybrid offspring are forcibly separated physically and by imposed old-fashioned caste system, the racism that runs rampant threatens to tear apart what’s left of Ozmargo unless Leonhart and his beloved Sariphi can stop it!
Full of love and hope in the face of potentially impossible adversity, Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts is an absolute wonder, and can be devoured with relish on Crunchyroll now!