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Critics fall for Wakanda and the entire ‘Black Panther’ cast

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There’s a new king in town and his name is T’Challa. Marvel’s Black Panther won’t open in theaters for another two weeks, but the reviews are in.

As Mashable’s Angie Han wrote, this feels like more than a regular movie, whether because of widespread love for the character or audiences’ craving for nonwhite representation on screen.

A few years ago – and even now – this would have been any easy job to botch, but director Ryan Coogler and his formidable cast delivered.

As of this writing, Black Panther is currently rocking a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 48 reviews.

For more on what critics thought of Black Panther (spoiler-free), read on.

The women of Wakanda (especially Shuri) rule

Kendra James, Shondaland:

Having three women working together without conflict (and all dark skinned with nary a loose curl or straight hair in sight) in a blockbuster film is still a novelty in 2018. Coogler forces his audience to, for the first time in the MCU, acknowledge the power of Black women. There is Nakia (Nyong’o), a spy who considers it her mission in life to surreptitiously help the disenfranchised on the continent. T’Challa’s sister, Shuri (Wright), is a teenage genius who leads the country’s scientific endeavors. She’s also Marvel’s first true style icon, and should have an Ivy Park line created in her honor immediately. As General Okoye, Gurira is the actual personification of #Goals; a woman who stands firm in her beliefs, is a primary adviser to the king and his mother (Angela Bassett), and who could definitely take out Black Widow even on her worst day.

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

Shuri is a revelation. Wright steals every scene with her bright smile and perfect comedic timing. From a brazen middle finger to a sense of fashion and confidence in the face of imminent danger, Shuri is an inspiration for all. I cannot fully express the joy of seeing a smart, carefree, nonsexualized young black woman on the big screen…There isn’t a Black Widow sex symbol here, or a Pepper Potts standing in the wings. The women of Black Panther are vital to Wakanda’s success.

Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds:

She steals damn near every scene in the film, and I’m 110% confident that audiences will walk away talking about Shuri long after the film ends. I’m also confident that Wright would be able to hold a Shuri Black Panther solo movie on her own.  Let’s remember that in comic book canon (during the Reginald Hudlin run), Shuri takes on the Black Panther mantle and becomes ruler of Wakanda. It would only make sense to bring in a Shuri movie at this point. I also would like to add that the focus on her being the smartest person in the universe is strong here, and many characters in the Marvel universe—including Tony Stark himself—have a lot to learn from Shuri’s technology and skills.

A milestone for representation

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

In showing the legacy of Wakanda, which is filled with wealth and knowledge, and juxtaposing it with the hardships that black youths faced in Oakland, Coogler establishes a conversation around the dichotomy of being African-American versus African…Black Panther seeks to find a middle ground between these two worlds: a world where black Americans aren’t left out of the cultural celebration of their West African roots, and where greedy people don’t have an opportunity to consume Wakanda. By focusing on the citizens of Wakanda and their disagreements on how to manage the country’s future, Coogler creates a sense of harmonic anarchy.

Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds:

it’s afro-futuristic and Blackity-black as hell.  It’s everything I’ve ever desired in a live-action version of this popular superhero and yet so much more. Quite frankly, the experience is indescribable. I left the theater wanting to see this movie at least 10 more times. I already know that Black Panther‘s weight in gold at the box office will be in repeat viewings, because we just won’t want this cinematic experience to end.

Marc Bernardin, Nerdist:

The film does deal head-on with issues of race, subjugation, and oppression in ways both heartbreaking and hilarious. At one point, a young black boy in a rundown apartment in Oakland, California (Coogler’s hometown), dismisses the idea of Wakanda itself: What good is “a kid in Oakland, running around believing in fairy tales”? Coogler answers that question with the film itself: Here is a fairy tale for children who rarely get them, and never like this. What’s more, the final coda is as direct an address to the xenophobia at home in our current administration as that which you’ll find in any film this year, let alone a giant Marvel movie.

Kendra James, Shondaland:

The 31-year-old director has just three feature films under his belt — “Fruitvale Station” (2013), “Creed” (2015), and “Black Panther”— but these three films (which all feature astounding performances by Jordan) share a similar point of view: that the black experience is nuanced and it is varied. We are parents. We span socio-economic statuses. We live with disabilities. We might live delightfully ordinary lives, or we might be superheroes. But no matter where we fall in life, we’re still affected by the lasting (and ongoing) effects that whiteness has had on black people everywhere.
It’s imperative to understand the point of view Coogler brings to “Black Panther,” as it is the scaffolding T’Challa (the Black Panther’s secret identity, played by Boseman) and the rest of Wakanda stand on.

Magical world building

Joelle Monique, Polygon:

With everyone lined up, it’s easy to see that Ruth E. Carter deserves an Oscar for her costume design. Her use of colors is masterful; the palette is distinctly African, and so striking as to make me long for the days of Technicolor.
Wakanda is the African dream. Unsullied by colonization, it is the most technically advanced civilization in the world. It looks like the most technically advanced place in the world, too.
All of Wakanda is constructed in harmony with the natural features of the land. Production designer Hannah Beachler has created some of the most unique sci-fi spaces in recent memory.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

Buoyed by its groovy women and Afrofuturist flourishes, Wakanda itself is finally the movie’s strength, its rallying cry and state of mind. Early on, a white character carelessly describes it as “a third world country — textiles, shepherds, cool outfits.” Part of the joke, which the movie wittily engages, is that Wakanda certainly fits that profile except that its shepherds patrol the border with techno-wizardry, and its textiles and costumes dazzle because of the country’s secret vibranium sauce. More critically, having never been conquered, Wakanda has evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of both colonialism and postcolonialism.

Marc Bernardin, Nerdist:

It’s as if everyone enlisted to bring the project to life understood the magnitude of what Black Panther, the first comic-based studio movie with a black hero at the center since 1998’s Blade, would represent. The chance to fill every corner of their fictional Wakanda with the same level of craft and detail usually reserved for British-star-studded period pieces. An opportunity to tell a story about black lives, which matter and are not defined by their pain but, instead, by their glory. An answer to a culture’s question, “When will it be our time in the sun?”

Kendra James, Shondaland:

“Black Panther” is so masterfully shot that its many-hued black actors almost seem to glow. This is how you light melanin. With the help of costume designer Ruth Carter (who must certainly be in contention for an Oscar nomination in 2019 for her work here) and hair department head Camille Friend, director Ryan Coogler has created one of the most visually interesting displays of blackness on screen. “Black Panther” mixes several aesthetics from the African continent (influences came from the Masai, Suri, Ndebele, and Bosotho peoples, among others), and while some may consider it an imperfect display or too much of a melange, the wide-ranging display of black people is astounding.

Black Panther hits theaters nationwide Feb. 16.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/06/black-panther-review-roundup/

New Movie Reviews

Apostle review exhilarating Netflix horror is a wild, gory surprise

Charmaine Blake

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Gareth Evans, director of The Raid, shocks and confounds with an ultra-violent tale of a mad prophet that transforms into something entirely unexpected

“Apostle, director Gareth Evans first feature-length effort since his pair of The Raid action films achieved instant underground infamy, is that rarest of treats: a horror movie that starts out as one thing, and finishes having mutated into another.

Exhilarating to watch and tricky to write about, similar to such films as The Box and the more recent Annihilation, going beyond surprising its audience with mere twists, instead shaking its own constructed reality off its axis. A full shift occurs not just in tone, with suspense boiling over into scalding insanity, but in the narrative mode, as the established set of unspoken rules governing the universe get violently upended. As soon as the viewer believes theyve got a grip on what sort of horror story theyre in for, Evans demonstrates that in the chaotic universe contained within his camera, anything can happen. And just about everything does; Evanss maximalist more-is-more ethic piles on one Grand Guignol spectacle after another, building to an operatic, hallucinatory climax that leaves our puny reason behind for a metaphysical nirvana. Polarizing yet undeniably fascinating, the bait-and-switch horror film lures its viewer into a false sense of terrified security before pouncing in an anything-goes frenzy, and Evanss latest is a prime specimen.

For the first hour, hed like you to believe youve wandered into a particularly reverent Wicker Man homage, and he makes the legwork of setting…………………………..”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/oct/10/apostle-review-gareth-evans-exhilarating-netflix-horror-is-a-wild-gory-surprise

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New Movie Reviews

Overlord Movie Review

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Overlord makes no bones about what it is – this is an A-list budgeted movie with a B-movie heart. It knows exactly what it wants to do, and takes itself seriously (even when the movie commits to how goofy it can get). One wink or nudge to its audience, and the balloon gets popped, and to its credit, Overlord never once does that, which makes it much more fun and exciting. The movie throws us straight into it from the opening titles, reminiscent of all those great war films of old, and sprints to the finish line for most of its running time.  Overlord also embraces every war movie cliche like a mom to her kids at Thanksgiving, but we don’t mind.  The characters, with few exceptions, are straight out of the playbook for these kinds of things, but the actors are having such a good time that it becomes infectious.

Why does Overlord work as well as it does? For one thing, director Julius Avery shoots this thing like he’s being chased.  The opening action sequence riffs off of every recent war movie from the past twenty years, but Avery keeps it exciting and intense………………..”

Read more at:  http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/features/985975-fantastic-fest-2018-overlord-review#F7U5wpd3gTUti0K8.99

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New Movie Reviews

Ryan Gosling’s ‘First Man’ is an Awe-inspiring Space Spectacle

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Ryan Gosling, Corey Stoll, and Lukas Haas in Damien Chazelle’s First Man.

Image: Warner Bros.

“First Man is a big film about the small things that went into an enormous event.

It’s no spoiler that the climax here is Neil Armstrong’s 1969 walk on the moon. For the first 90 minutes, though, First Man holds back on the inherent drama of that premise.

It follows Neil (Ryan Gosling) as he makes his way through the NASA ranks, and at home as he mourns the death of his young daughter. It spends time on a bunch of promising missions that go nowhere, and on complex questions the engineers will have to solve. There’s some action sprinkled in there, and a few precious moments of euphoria. Mostly, it’s sweating the small stuff.

That choice is puzzling at first, even frustrating: We know the guy gets to the moon, so let’s get on with it already! Why are we wasting time with all this minutiae?

But those tedious concerns and disappointing dead ends are exactly the point. First Man is about work, and more specifically about the enormous amount of work (and luck) that goes into an achievement as momentous as the moon landing. It demands patience, but it gave back what I put into it several times over.

A rocket takes off in First Man.

Image: Warner Bros.

Director Damien Chazelle keeps his eye on the unromantic details that usually get glossed over in retellings of historical events. Literally: Much of this movie is composed of shots of dials, switches, and the top half of Gosling’s face……………………..”

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/first-man-movie-review/

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