*NEW* BLACK PANTHER REVIEW *NEW*

Not in my top 3 Marvel but a good watch all the same.

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider (Michael B. Jordan) who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Overhyped, maybe? Overrated . . . Now that’s pushing it.

As much as I commended Tom Holland’s scene stealing Spidey cameo in Captain America: Civil War, there was another actor I was looking forward to getting the full feature treatment.

And that was Chadwick Boseman.

He was brilliant. A charismatic presence that managed to make that seemingly silly cat costume look bad ass.

I loved how director Ryan Coogler and co introduced the team and explored T’Challa’s origins without making it seem like another origin movie. The dynamic set and a brief history of the mysterious Wakanda providing a context. No messing about.

Unfortunately not being a comic book fan, I didn’t realise the real source of T’Challa’s powers.

It skimmed over the events of Civil War for those who might not be as keen with their Marvel movies (But then why would you be watching this one?). Quickly establishing what T’Challa has been up to.

The cultural element certainly made this stand out or else BP would have been like any other Marvel film. The other world visuals were like something out of The Lion King.

Breathtaking. That GIF really doesn’t do it justice. The futuristic cityscape of Wakanda was a feast for the eyes. Rachel Morrison’s cinematography was sublime. Aided by an impressive soundtrack featuring the likes of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd.

I really couldn’t fault the cast.

I have to commend the women in the film. Lupita Nyong’o was excellent as Nakia. An activist desperate to save the world and not fall into tradition, despite her feelings for the prince. She had great chemistry with Boseman and made that inevitable romance much more bearable.

Leticia Wright (Humans) was entertaining as the excitable techy sis. Her initial encounters with her brother were a little too cheesy BUT she won me over. Especially when she got to play with all her new toys.

The gadgets were impressive. From BP’s ultra-strong body armour to the virtual controlled car simulation that delivered some action packed set pieces.

Angela Bassett’s turn as Ramonda left little to be desired. Anyone could have played her. BUT she was nowhere near as disappointing as Forest Whitaker’s contribution to the mix. Just when I thought his supporting turn in Rogue One was bad . . . Sheesh.

Michionne from The Walking Dead was the scene stealer for me. Dania Gurira was brilliant. Her fight sequences packed a punch and her stern demeanour delivered the odd chuckle as T’Challa’s long suffering bodyguard Okoye.

The best Marvel villain?

Not for me. But Michael B. Jordan was a domineering presence (Seriously the dude was hench) and you did feel for his anguish once we learned a little more of his backstory. He even managed to make a ridiculous name like Killmonger seem menacing.

He chewed up every scene he was in. A worthy adversary to the newly appointed King.

I was disappointed at Daniel Kaluuya’s small role. I expected the Get Out star to have more of a presence. The Oscar nominee did his best BUT it just wasn’t enough.

I was more impressed with Andy Serkis. He lapped up the role with aplomb. A total maniac with his South African accent pinned down. Martin Freeman didn’t do too badly but I felt his part was a cameo that overstayed its welcome. The longer he stayed, the more awkward he stuck out.

BUT thankfully there was one inevitable gratuitous cameo that will never overstay its welcome. Hint, hint.

It was engaging, action packed and full of heart BUT by the closing act, the CGI felt as rushed as the finale. After all the build-up, things seemed to run out of steam and got a little chaotic.

From the hype, I expected a little more. Now don’t get me wrong, it was still exhilarating to watch BUT I couldn’t help but laugh when Mecha rhinos erupted into the already overcrowded battlefield. The effects got a little messy with the eclectic mix of colours clashing and things coming to a ridiculous close.

Marvel have mastered a winning formula; a perfect balance of humour, action and character and despite BP’s stumbles, it was still a solid entry and I look forward to more adventures in Wakanda.

It goes without saying (BUT I’m saying it anyway); please stay for the credits. There are TWO teasers if people are hungry for some Infinity War teasers.

3/5

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*NEW* GET OUT REVIEW *NEW*

GET OUT and watch this!

A young African-American (Daniel Kaluuya) man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) mysterious family estate.

Clever, witty and tense. A real treat.

I knew this had taken some serious money in the States. BUT as we’ve learned from the Fast and Furious franchise, big money doesn’t mean good movies.

When I heard that this was directed by the guy who made Keanu. My thoughts were mixed to say the least. The trailers originally did nothing for me BUT I couldn’t escape the crazy hype train.

Thank God, I caved in to the Twitterverse. One of the better ones. A suspenseful suburban horror with a surprisingly talented and underrated cast.

I’ve followed Kaluuya in the British circuit for some time (The BBC3 drama The Fades and Johnny English: Reborn). I was happy to see the chap get a leading role. He delivered a stellar turn.

It was eerie and unsettling from the get go. The tension bubbling away.

What should have been just a simple ‘Meet the Parents’ trip turned into something so much more. Even the drive up to the estate was riddled with racial tension.

Director Jordan Peele tackled the race row perfectly. Most notably when Chris was asked to present his ID to a police officer. Despite only being the passenger.

Red flags were raised as soon as the couple crossed the Armitages’ threshold. African-American servants loitering around at every corner. A beautiful country mansion stuck in a backwards country in a backwards time.

There was a strange atmosphere to the piece that kept me on tenterhooks. Even the over friendly family conversations unsettled me. Something just didn’t quite add up.

“I love Tiger and Barack”

I couldn’t believe how much The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford had aged. The last movie I saw him in featured an unpleasant death sequence with a mermaid. Cabin in the Woods, anyone?

He played the sickly sweet father-in-law-to-be Dean Armitage with aplomb.

To be honest, I was impressed with the whole cast. From Stephen Root’s (Office Space) suspicious blind gallery owner to Caleb Landry-Jones’ highly unsavoury Jeremy. They all played their parts perfectly.

I actually jumped a couple of times. One sequence came out of nowhere. Just a simple dream sequence, one little noise . . . and BAM! Woe is me BUT it worked.

Peele unintentionally delivered one of the most iconic shots that has stuck in the back of my head. Triggering an unexpected meme trend and bringing a whole new meaning to the Running Man.

The questions piling. The strange white party parading young African-American men as fashion accessories. The relentless satire; “Black is in fashion”. Crazy.

The hypnosis sequences between Chris and Missy (Catherine Keener – Into the Wild) did drag in places and slackened the pace. BUT I was still transfixed as Chris desperately tried to fight against the trippy waves of ‘The Sunken Place’.

LilRel Howery played the comic relief as Rod, Chris’ conspiracy theory mad best friend. He was hilarious BUT I felt his schtick overstayed its welcome. Especially when he continued to carry on preaching about sex slaves. It killed off the tension for me.

BUT I could relate to his frustration as the police laughed him off. The only one fearing the worst for Chris.

Get Out definitely felt like a film of two halves. Peele transformed this seemingly hynoptic and slow burning suburban satire into a tense and (bloody brutal) body shock horror.

I won’t spoil too much BUT there were a few surprises along the way.

The one thing I always hated with these seemingly trashy horror premises was how stupid the main character was. I would always scream at them for doing such stupid things, “Don’t go down there!”, “Don’t split up” and my personal favourite, “Don’t trust that person!”.

Not this time. I was completely caught up in this, wondering how Chris was going to (Pardon the pun) get out of this situation. I was rooting for the guy. Leaving a brutal, nail biting finale that had me on the edge of my seat.

The clever splicing of genres may have got a little heavy handed BUT I cannot recommend this enough. A film worthy of your time.

3.5/5

*NEW* SICARIO REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stand out performances redeem an overhyped and underwhelming thriller.

An idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

After a gripping and brutal opening sequence involving a botched raid, the film seemed to meander along. Thankfully, Blunt was superb and really carried the film as she delved into the murky underbelly of Juarez.

The first hour was far too slow for my liking. BUT I was still intrigued to see where it was going. The cryptic conversations and stone walled pallor of Josh Brolin created an air of mystery and suspense. BUT I needed more. It didn’t help that a good portion of what was happening was very disjointed and confusing.

Luckily the introduction of Del Toro’s Alejandro spiced things up. He was brilliant. BUT after a while, Johann Johannson’s brooding soundtrack and Del Toro’s blank staring soon got on my nerves. I constantly questioned his motives and general relevance, to be honest.

Blunt’s frustration personified mine perfectly. Del Toro’s warning to her was a nice little indication of things to come. “Nothing will make sense to your American ears and you will doubt everything we do”. So I kept my griping to a minimum. Waiting for answers or a big twist to redeem this surprisingly patchy affair.

The sweeping shots of a downtrodden Juarez were a sight to see. Captured perfectly with Roger Deakins’ cinematography. A gritty underworld. The rifle fire riddling across the night sky like fireworks was a nice touch.

It was great to see Daniel Kaluuya from Psychoville in this. He delivered an impeccable accent and a sterling supporting turn. An impressive transition for the BBC Three star. I was also happy to see Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice finally getting a movie role. Shame, it was such a weak one.

Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) was completely wasted in his role. His character felt unnecessary and nothing more than a catalyst to spark some much needed action.

After all the slow burning build up, cryptic mumbling and waiting, I expected this to go out with a bang. It delivered a finale of sorts. The closing act was tense, atmospheric and nail biting. The answers finally revealed as we unearthed Alejandro’s true agenda.

The only problem was that after all the mystery, I really hoped it wasn’t going to be so predictable. The twist. Well, if you could it call it that. I saw it coming a mile away. Maybe I’ve seen too many thrillers of this genre to be surprised. For all the confusion, I was hoping that there would be more to unveil. BUT alas, it was not to be.

What didn’t help was that as Del Toro took the centre stage, it was at the expense of Blunt’s character who was pushed into the background. She was far too passive and really didn’t know what was going. It was disappointing that someone we had followed for two hours wasn’t really in the final moments.

If not for a tense stand off with Del Toro, her character would have gone out with a whimper. Which sums up my impression of the film.

At its best, tense, nail-biting and suspenseful. At its worst, patchy, overlong and dull. From the director of Prisoners? Thriller of the year? I expected so much more.

3/5