6/ BLACK PANTHER. DIR: RYAN COOGLER.
Black Panther could easily have been just another political film. Like Wonder Woman – a film that had a great, positive message and theme about women in the film industry, and nothing else. I was afraid that that was all Black Panther would have – a great theme about black actors and crew members in the film industry – but it had more than that. It had strong direction. Excellent performances. Fun action. And the best villain in a superhero film since Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Black Panther’s motive is good, it’s made a great success by the fact that it’s a very good film. Admittedly I didn’t think very highly of Black Panther when I first saw it – it felt like just another Marvel film. But as I looked back, I found myself liking it more and more. Okay I still think that 96% on Rotten Tomatoes is a little too generous, but still. Most of this comes down to Chadwick Boseman as our hero and Michael B Jordan as our villain. Perfection is the only word I can use to describe them, and everyone else in this film. Under the keen eye of Coogler, an exceptionally talented director, the film works exactly where it needs to.
As for issues, it’s probably a little too long. The story is also very messy. It feels like two films in one – a spy thriller where the Panther is up against a very entertaining Andy Serkis, and then Jordan’s coupe of Wakanda. They don’t gel as well as you’d hope, but it’s no deal breaker. Wakanda is one of the best fantasy worlds of recent memory, which makes it a shame when the film devolves into just another fantasy battle. And the CG is awful. It’s like a late 90’s sci-fi film at times. But what’s good is so good that you can ignore it for the most part. It’s a fun film with a great motive, I’m not disappointed that it’s destroyed box-office records. Then again what doesn’t these days?
5/ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. DIR: JAMES GUNN.
Yet another one I wasn’t too fond of on my first viewing. After seeing multiple times though, my opinion quickly changed. It’s great to see that Marvel are just letting James Gunn do his own thing with this series. They are both different from the rest of the series, both in visuals and writing. It’s very easy to separate them from the rest of the MCU – I almost don’t count them with the rest of the series. They’ve been described as the new Star Wars films. I can agree on the effect of them being sci-fi films with fun action, interesting and fun characters in a world that feels real and lived in. But the two series otherwise are so very different.
Everyone is perfectly cast. Chris Pratt is excellent as Star Lord – his father being played by Kurt Russell is an excellent choice. The characters are interesting and full of charisma. The Guardians are easily my favourite team of any Marvel film. Even the new members of the team – Mantis and returning characters Nebula and Yondu – are interesting, fun and completely likeable. It’s Yondu who steals the show here. Not only does Michael Rooker give us an exceptional performance, but the character is developed to be a far better character than anyone expected to see. He changed from that cool guy with the arrow into s sympathetic father figure.
The effects and make-up are amazing and are well designed. The action is fun. I love the imagery – one moment that sticks out to me is when the villain, Ego, is growing a physical body, starting with a skeleton, then developing organs, muscle and then skin. The humour is on point. The visuals and humour being better in this film than the last. But its story is messier, and I’m not fond of what they do with Drax here. He obnoxiously laughs a little too much for me to enjoy. This is why I don’t rate it as highly as the original, but it’s more that worth the watch. The soundtrack alone is reason enough to recommend it.