Movie Review: Yesterday

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My attraction toward films with musical overtones continues. The movie Yesterday, which released last weekend, is not a music biopic. Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, Yesterday features music from a particular genre and time period, without focusing on the stories behind the artists.

After seeing several previews, I was intrigued by the film’s premise. What if everyone in the world forgot who the Beatles were, except for one man? I deliberately avoided reading anything about the storyline. Instead, I got myself to the theater as soon as I could, to see how this fantastical story turned out.

Movie Review Yesterday Title Meme

Yesterday Cast

This film dips into multiple genres including comedy, musical, romance and fantasy. It stars Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ed Sheeran, Meera Syal and Kate McKinnon. Yesterday, directed by Danny Boyle, carries a PG-13 rating for mild suggestive content and language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Movie Review Yesterday Jack Performing

What If No One Knew Who the Beatles Were?

Jack Malik (Patel) is following his passion. Since junior high school, when he won a talent contest, Jack has pursued his dream of making it in the music industry. His childhood friend, Ellie (James), manages his would be career. She sets up gigs and encourages Jack to keep going, even when he feels like giving up.

However, to Jack it seems that his dreams are nothing but wisps of smoke that are rapidly fading away.

The night that he calls it quits, after a poor turnout for a performance, something magical happens. On the way home, Jack is hit by a bus during a brief but bizarre power outage that affects the entire planet.

He quickly realizes, after leaving the hospital, that no one knows who the Beatles are. Strumming his new guitar, and singing a few lines of Yesterday, Jack is astonished when his friends enthuse over the new piece he’s written. When he tries to give credit for the song to its rightful owners, his friends look confused.

Google searches come up empty when he looks for info about John, Paul, George and Ringo. Somehow the band and its legendary collection of songs have not just disappeared, they’ve never existed.

Movie Review Yesterday Ed Sheeran

Capitalizing on a Golden Opportunity

The Beatles may not exist, however the lyrics and melodies to the songs remain in Jack’s head. He begins to perform songs that are familiar only to him. The once struggling musician suddenly finds himself receiving the appreciation and attention he long sought.

From his own parents (Syal and Bhaskar) to singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran (Sheeran) to his pushy new manager from the US, Debra Hammer (McKinnon), Jack becomes a big deal. As he frantically jots down all the Beatles’ lyrics that he can recall, recording contracts are offered and performances booked.

Jack pulls together enough Beatles songs for his first album. He upgrades his appearance, at Debra’s insistence. His parents express surprise and pride over his new found popularity. And after a heart wrenching talk with Ellie, Jack leaves her and heads out with his friend Rocky (Fry) on a whirlwind world tour to promote the upcoming musical release.

It’s everything Jack dreamed about and hoped for in his career….or is it?

Movie Review Yesterday

My Thoughts on Yesterday

I loved this sweet and funny film. This is a movie to sit back and simply enjoy. There aren’t any stories about how the Beatles’ songs came to be or glimpses into the Fab Four’s personal lives. No, this is a story that explores a world where the Beatles never formed as a band and where no one knows the songs “Let it Be” or “Yesterday”.  No one, that is, except Jack.

Himesh Patel portrays Jack beautifully. A newcomer to films, Himesh brings a fresh sound to familiar tunes in an earnest and somewhat understated way. He sings beautifully and really does play the guitar and piano during the movie.

I can feel Jack’s discouragement as gig after gig produces less than satisfactory results. Anyone who has ever worked hard to manifest dreams can identify with Jack’s angst and feelings of inadequacy as his way to fame seems blocked.

And, it is understandable how such an enormous opportunity to realize those dreams cannot be ignored.

The question during the movie shifts from Is it wrong to take credit for someone else’s work? to Should such an incredible collection of music disappear forever? Those are great questions to grapple with.

Movie Review Yesterday

What is the Cost of a Dream?

Ultimately, Jack must decide what his responsibilities are, to himself, to his friends, to the world…and to a group of musicians that no one is aware of.

With 17 songs from the Beatles and some surprising twists in the film, Yesterday is fun to watch…and listen to. Humor and tenderness are sprinkled liberally throughout the story and several great lines of script appeared to be directed at me.

I took to heart Ellie’s words to Jack, when he threatened to quit music and get a teaching job. She reminded him that any energy he devoted to teaching took away from the energy he had to create songs and music. I love that reminder that what we focus on matters, and energy flows where our attention goes.

Beatles fan, romantic comedy fan or fantasy fan…Yesterday delivers.

Yesterday Movie Poster

Pick up the amazing Yesterday movie soundtrack by clicking on the photo below:

 


 

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Movie Review: Rocketman

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While still enjoying the film Bohemian Rhapsody at the theater, the preview of an upcoming movie intrigued me as well.

Another music biopic, Rocketman tells singer Elton John’s story. Every time I saw the preview, I felt drawn to this powerful film.

Movie Review Rocketman

 Rocketman Cast

Rocketman stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman carries an R rating for moderate language, the portrayal of drug and alcohol use and moderate sexuality. It has a run time of 2 hours and 1 minute.

The Early Years

The film alternates between the present day, where Elton John (Egerton) appears to be in a group counseling session, and the past. The story is woven together as the present day singer recounts his childhood and rise to stardom.

Born Reginald Dwight, Reggie (Illesley) is a quiet child raised by troubled parents. His mostly absent father, Stanley (Mackintosh), passes his appreciation of music on to his young son. However, he cannot connect with Reggie emotionally. In fact, he refuses to hug his son or express love in any way.

Reggie’s mother Sheila (Howard) is cold, distant and as hungry as her son, for love. She seeks affection outside her home, which ultimately destroys the marriage. The real champion in the lonely boy’s life is his grandmother (Jones). When Reggie shows musical talent, she encourages him to play the piano and to pursue his passion.

Reggie’s desire to play and sing leads him to the Royal Academy of Music. As he enters his teen years (Connor), he begins performing in local pubs and forms a band called Bluesology.

Movie Review Rocketman

Movie Review Rocketman

Elton John is Born

As a young adult, Reggie and Bluesology are hired as a backup band for an American jazz band touring England. One of the singers gives the serious young man advice, to become famous: change his name, write his own songs, “kill” the old Reggie and become the person he is meant to be.

Inspired, Reggie adopts the name Elton John. He shares a few early songs with a studio, receiving moderate praise and interest. He acquires a manager who partners him with songwriter Bernie Taupin (Bell). The two become best friends and collaborators. Bernie writes song lyrics while Elton produces the melodies.

Their song, Your Song, lands them a performance at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Elton overcomes a major case of the nerves to give an exceptional performance that ignites the audience and captures the attention of manager John Reid (Madden).

Movie Review Rocketman

Movie Review Rocketman

The Rise and Fall of a Rocketman

As Elton attempts to shed his old persona, and become a showman, his manager John shifts from showing romantic interest in the performer to openly manipulating him.

Once again denied the love that he craves, Elton throws himself into his performances. His costumes become more and more outlandish, to the delight of his audiences. In front of a crowd Elton is all smiles and brilliant show. Behind the scenes, his pain and loneliness drive him to drugs, alcohol and anger.

His long time friend and musical partner leaves. Elton truly finds himself alone and depressed, in the midst of incredible fame, and fortune, and people who want from him but have nothing to offer in return.

The past and the present day at last align, as Elton concludes his story. Realizing his life is spiraling downward, he walks away from a sold out concert and seeks help.

Can his career survive, he wonders, if he is sober and clean and more…ordinary?

Movie Review Rocketman

My Thoughts on Rocketman

Rocketman is a beautiful, clever musical, skillfully weaving Elton’s songs throughout the movie. They tell his story in illuminating ways, showing snapshots of who he was at different times in his life.

I’ve long been a fan of Elton John. His songs are an integral part of my storyline. Hearing them I can recount the events in my own life as his tunes topped the charts. I know his songs. However, the film taught me a great deal that I did not know about the man.

Elton’s story is overshadowed with sadness. It’s difficult for me to understand how love can be withheld from a child. In my heart it feels so wrong. And yet, it is possible that Elton’s early years birthed more than an extraordinary performer who wowed audiences. His pain gave incredible depth to his music. He truly is a musical genius. And although I teared up many times during this film, I experienced a deep appreciation for the way that he endured as he sought to be who he is.

The end credits are worth staying for. Actual photos and text tell the rest of Elton’s story, bringing us to the actual present day.

The tagline for Rocketman is an apt one.

“The only way to tell his story is to live his fantasy.”

What a moving way to get to know the heart of this man.

Movie Review Rocketman

 

Click photo below to order soundtrack.


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Movie Review: Avengers Endgame

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This is a SPOILER FREE review.

After waiting a year, to see what happened in the aftermath of the snap in Avengers Infinity War, I joined a record number of people this weekend, to see Avengers Endgame.

My sister Linda joined me. We arrived at the theater an hour before showtime, and good thing we did. The line of eager Avenger fans stretched around the interior of the lobby, by the time the doors to our theater room opened. We watched this epic film with a lively and responsive crowd.

Highly anticipated, Avengers Endgame broke box office records this weekend. I understand that. This movie, number 22 in the series, is the conclusion to a story that began with Iron Man in 2008.

Captivated by Iron Man 11 years ago, and then the rest of the movies in the Marvel Universe, I’ve followed this story as it’s unfolded, film by film. How exciting to be present for the endgame.

The studio kept the storyline a closely guarded secret, so that movie goers could experience the film without preformed opinions. I appreciated that. To honor their intention, this review reveals very little about the plot and certainly nothing about the ending.

Movie Review Avengers Endgame

Avengers Endgame Cast and Crew

This sci-fi, adventure film has a large ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson and Karen Gillan. Josh Brolin, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel provide voice work.

There are many other actors involved in the movie and poignant cameos. For a full list, go HERE.

Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo returned to direct. Avengers Endgame carries a PG-13 rating, for mild language, moderate violence and sequences of intense action, and has a run time of 3 hours and 1 minute. Realistically, by the time you watch the previews and stay through the end credits, you’ve invested more like 3 hours and 30 minutes in this film.

As the start time grew closer, there was an exodus to the nearby restrooms. No one wanted to leave during the movie!

Movie Review Avengers Endgame

Life After the Snap

Endgame begins 22 days after the highly emotional ending portrayed in Infinity War. Using the Infinity Stones set within the gauntlet, Thanos (voiced by Brolin) snapped his fingers and half of the population, across the universe, dissolved away. Family and friends were separated in the snap. More than half of the Avengers disappeared too.

After the snap, the remaining heroes gather together:  Captain America (Evans), Black Widow (Johansson), Rocket the Raccoon (voiced by Cooper) and War Machine (Cheadle). Iron Man (Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Gillan) are rescued by Captain Marvel (Larson), after being stranded in space, and returned to Earth.

From various locations throughout the galaxy, the stragglers appear: Thor (Hemsworth), Hulk ( Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Renner) and Ant-Man (Rudd). It’s a somber group that gathers. The world has changed. The universe has changed. A sense of failure hangs over each Avenger. However, determination fuels their plans.

Black Widow, who also goes by the name Natasha, states the Avengers’ intention well.

“Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everybody who’s not in this room.”

This group, united by purpose and ingenuity and various abilities, goes all in to undo what Thanos has done and bring back those they have lost.

Movie Review Avengers Endgame

Movie Review Avengers Endgame

My Reactions to Avengers Endgame

This movie did not disappoint.

I avoided reading anything about the film or storyline, prior to watching the movie, and you should too. Additionally, it feels right not to share any more about the plot, than what I have. This is a movie that needs to be experienced, on the big screen in a darkened theater. There the real world slips away and the story unfolds scene by scene.

As one who has watched the films leading to this conclusion, I felt all the powerful emotions that accompany an ending. It’s a grand finale though, and thoroughly satisfying.

I loved being part of the crowd that watched with me. People cheered and laughed and clapped. They cried as well, for all their own reasons. At the end we all applauded again, together, and then sat quietly through the credits.

Marvel is well known for including additional scenes during the end credits, typically at the midway point and then at the very end. Not so for Avengers Endgame. However, for the ardent fan there is reason enough to stay. I enjoyed the mid credit extras, and I’m still thinking about the audio clip at the very end.

I found it a fitting final moment.

The Endgame

Well done, all those involved in this monumental story. I’ve learned about courage, sacrifice, acceptance, love and being exactly who I am meant to be.

And so ends Phase III in the Marvel Universe. I can’t wait to see what happens next in Phase IV. Every ending signals a new beginning.

Movie Review Avengers Endgame

If you need a refresher before watching Avengers Endgame, you can rent Avengers Infinity War.

 

 

 

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Movie Review: Five Feet Apart

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My granddaughter Aubrey spent the night with me Saturday. We enjoyed girl time coloring, watching Netflix and chatting. Sunday morning, when asked what she wanted to do before returning home, Aubrey suggested a movie at the theater.

I loved that idea! Aubrey and I share an appreciation for movies. We enjoy the entertainment aspect, however we also perceive the deeper messages within each film. I allowed my granddaughter to select the movie.

This 10 year old now prefers live action films over animation, a sure sign she is nearing her teens. And her matinee choice certainly demonstrated that. After scanning a couple of reviews, Aubrey chose the teen romance, Five Feet Apart.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Cast

This drama romance stars Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse, Moises Arias, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Claire Forlani, Emily Baldoni and Gary Weeks. Directed by Justin Baldoni, Five Feet Apart is based on the book by the same title, written by Mikki Daughtry, Rachel Lippincott and Tobias Iaconis. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for mature themes and mild language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart Storyline

Stella (Richardson) enjoys being with her friends and creating videos to share on social media. She seems to be a typical teenage girl. However, Stella has cystic fibrosis, a genetic life threatening condition that makes breathing difficult and requires frequent stays in the hospital.

Stella’s best friend, Poe (Arias) also has CF. The two met in the hospital as children. They encourage each other through the daily routines, meds and procedures, and both are on the wait list for lung transplants.

Nurse Barb (Gregory) watches over her CF patients with the fierceness of a mother and the compassion of one who has cared for many sick children over the years.

Spending so much time in the hospital, it is perhaps inevitable that Stella creates deep friendships with other CF kids…and that she falls in love with a young man who shares her disease.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Will Meets Stella

Will (Sprouse) not only has cystic fibrosis, he carries a bacterial infection in his lungs that makes him ineligible for a lung transplant. During his hospital stay he undergoes experimental treatments in an attempt to clear the bacteria from his lungs. Charming and artistic, Will covers feelings of hopelessness and resignation with humor and nonchalance. He is intrigued by Stella, who long ago took charge of her own health routines and meds schedule. Will gets to know Stella by watching all of her online videos that detail what life with CF is like.

Stella, however, is initially unimpressed with Will. His lack of interest in improving his health baffles and then frustrates her. With Poe working as a mediator between them, Will and Stella gradually become friends. As Stella creates a strict health schedule for Will, and joins him via facetime chats for treatments, their friendship deepens into something more.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

Five Feet Apart

Cystic fibrosis patients must observe very strict rules of engagement with each other. The infection in one patient’s lungs can make another CF patient very sick or even cause death. Precautions are necessary. The patients can be around family or healthy friends. However, when in the presence of another CF individual each person must wear gloves, a mask and remain six feet apart at all times.

Because of that rule, Stella and Poe have never hugged or touched each other during their long friendship. As Will and Stella develop feelings for each other they long to hold hands, embrace or share a kiss. Nurse Barb goes on alert when she realizes the teens have fallen in love. She vows not to lose a patient on her watch, and strongly discourages the relationship.

But the teens have experienced enough loss in their short lives. Will’s father left when his infant son was diagnosed with CF. His mother (Forlani) uses all the resources she has to help her son survive. And yet she is emotionally cool and distant, perhaps as a protective measure.

Stella’s mother (Baldoni) and father (Weeks) suffered the heartbreak of losing another daughter, not through cystic fibrosis but because of a tragic accident. That loss and Stella’s illness strains their marriage to the breaking point. They have recently divorced.

Grieving her sister still, and her parents’ breakup, Stella decides life has robbed her of enough. It’s time to take something back. She and Will shorten the distance between them to five feet…five feet apart as determined by a pool stick. Keeping their growing relationship hidden from their parents and Nurse Barb, Stella and Will share their thoughts and feelings about life, illness and death. And they discover that when life keeps you apart, you fight for every inch.

Movie Review Five Feet Apart

My Thoughts on Five Feet Apart

This is a sweet, tender movie that deals with very difficult subjects. I’m glad Aubrey selected this film and that we watched it together. Parts of it are heart wrenching as the characters deal with typical teenage angst plus the heaviness of a serious, life robbing disease.

Five Feet Apart is, over all, an uplifting and hopeful film, with occasional challenges added that create edginess and concern about the outcome. After watching the film, I read that cystic fibrosis patient Claire Wineland worked as a consultant on the film, coaching the young actors in their roles. Richardson, Sprouse and Arias give authentic and moving portrayals of CF patients, thanks to Claire. Sadly, she died in September 2018, suffering a stroke after a successful lung transplant.

While there are moments of hilarity and joy, this is a movie that tugs on the heart emotionally. Aubrey told me after the credits rolled that only two films have made her cry. One was A Dog’s Life. The second film is Five Feet Apart. A few years ago, I would have avoided a movie like this one. Allowing my heart to feel strong emotions and my eyes to fill with sympathetic tears was good for me.

Conversations Around the Movie

In the car I took the opportunity to discuss the film and its themes of life, death, illness, friendship and love with my granddaughter. Aubrey shared her thoughts openly and beautifully and asked questions about cystic fibrosis. We discussed the importance of living life to the fullest, now, and enjoying every moment. And we talked about big topics such as gratitude, anger, sacrifice and acceptance.

Movies are what one makes them to be. They offer entertainment, for sure. And for the open heart and mind, they offer so much more. Aubrey and I left the theater with fresh appreciation for life and love and hope.

Order the book that the move is based upon, by clicking on the photo below:

 

 

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Movie Review: Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel released as the 21st film offered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The superhero movies are all based on characters that appear in Marvel Comics. This body of work, which began in 2007 and has 10 more films in production, is the highest grossing film franchise of all time.

I’ve seen every film, with the exception of Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is on my watch list. I love superhero movies, having immersed myself in Marvel and DC comics as a young girl. Watching these larger than life characters on the big screen delights the child in me.

My sister Linda and I caught Captain Marvel yesterday, during a matinee showing.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel Cast

This action adventure film stars Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg and Akira Akbar. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck share directing credit. Captain Marvel carries a PG-13 rating, for mild language and intense action scenes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

From Kree to Earth

In 1995, on the Kree Empire planet of Hala, Starforce member Vers (Larson) awakes from a nightmare. The recurring dream involves watching an older woman shot.

Troubled, Vers works through her unsettled state by sparring with her mentor and commander, Yon-Rogg (Law). He warns her that she must learn to control her emotions, as they trigger her extraordinary abilities. Vers later meets with an artificial intelligence called the Supreme Intelligence (Bening), who also urges her to keep her emotions in check. The Supreme Intelligence sends Vers on her first mission, to rescue an undercover spy.

The rescue attempt goes awry and Vers is abducted by the Skrull, a race of shapeshifters who are at war with the Kree. Talos (Mendelsohn), a Skrull leader, interrogates Vers, sorting through her memories. He focuses in on the nightmares and the woman who is fatally shot.

Angered, Vers surges energy through her bound hands, breaking free. She easily overpowers every Skrull on the ship and escapes on a pod, falling toward Planet Earth. Vers’ pod disintegrates as it enters the atmosphere, and she plummets, falling through the roof of a Blockbuster Video Store.

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Gregg) investigate. They quickly learn there’s more to the case than a woman breaking into a store. The Skrull, who can appear as anyone they see, arrive on Earth as well.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

Movie Review Captain Marvel

Who is Vers?

Pursued by Talos, Vers teams up with Fury to discover why Earth is targeted by the Skrull. Vers learns she lived another life on Earth, that of a test pilot, Carol Danvers. She supposedly died six years earlier, while flying an experimental aircraft with a light speed engine. The person who designed the engine, Wendy Lawson (also Bening) is the woman from Vers’ nightmares.

Carol meets with her former best friend, Maria (Lynch), another test pilot. Maria and her spirited young daughter Monica (Akbar) help Carol piece together the fragments of her past. Talos tracks Fury and Carol to Maria’s house. Rather than attacking her, he tells Carol the rest of her story….and she remembers. The experimental aircraft, carrying her and Wendy, was shot down. Her commander, Yon-Rogg, killed Wendy.

Rather than allow the Kree to take the light speed engine, Carol destroyed the aircraft. The exploding energy core that powered the engine transformed Carol and wiped her memory. Her new name, Vers, came from her broken dog tag. Yon-Rogg took her back to Kree, telling Carol it was her home world.

Carol’s whole universe is upended. She remembers who she is…or was, rather, since she is a new being, with incredible power. The people who appeared as enemies are allies instead. And the one who trained her, mentored her, lied to her and used her. Both groups seek Wendy’s lab and a remarkable source of power hidden there. Carol must discover who she is now, where she belongs, and how to use the abilities she’s been given.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

My Thoughts About Captain Marvel

This film is an excellent installment in the BIG unfolding story in the Marvel Universe. I loved it. Captain Marvel, who never actually goes by that name, plays a key role in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame film that releases next month.

Carol’s story is a powerful one, and not just because she single handedly ended a long war between alien races. She is powerful because every time she gets knocked down, every time someone questions her abilities, she gets up. She gets up and proves her strength and capabilities to herself first, and then to others. Captain Marvel, with its strong and likable female lead, is a great movie to take young daughters and granddaughters to.

Jackson and Gregg are digitally de-aged in this film, to play their characters at the proper age…and it works. I enjoyed learning more about Nick Fury especially, including how he comes to wear an eye patch. And as with all Marvel films, there is ample humor scattered strategically throughout the storyline. Goose, a cat that Fury and Carol pick up, steals every scene she is in…and plays a small but significant role in the film.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

Ready for Avengers: Endgame

With Captain Marvel watched, and Ant-Man and the Wasp in the queue, I’m ready for the biggest film yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The last Avenger film, Infinity War, shocked audiences and left us all hanging. Theories and speculations abound about the upcoming film, however, I’m avoiding all that. Instead, I’ll be there in the theater when Endgame premieres, watching the conclusion to this 12 year long epic tale.

Stan Lee, the primary creative leader of the Marvel Universe, recently passed away. In each Marvel film, he plays a small part, a cameo role. He filmed his cameo in Captain Marvel before his death.

At the beginning of Marvel films, the opening sequence features various Avenger characters. For Captain Marvel, scenes of Stan’s past cameos replace the superheroes. The words THANK YOU STAN appear across the screen.

Thank you indeed, Stan Lee, for creating such an expansive universe, full of intriguing and inspiring characters. What a legacy you created.

Movie Review Captain Marvel

Check out my list of MCU films, in chronological order, story wise.

Catch Avengers: Infinity War HERE before Endgame releases in April.

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Movie Review: Vice

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Seeing Vice, the biopic featuring former Vice President Dick Cheney, completed Best Picture nominated films this week. I didn’t purposefully place this movie last. That’s the way it worked out with Regal’s viewing schedule. However, I admit this film appealed to me the least.

I’m not a political person. I say this with apologies to my grandson Dayan, who is a political science major at University of Missouri. There’s nothing wrong with political movies. They just aren’t anywhere near my favorite genre. Nonetheless, when I commit to watching all of the Best Picture films, I keep that intention even though it only matters to me.

As usual, I find that I learn from the movies I would not watch otherwise.

Movie Review Vice

Vice Cast

Vice stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, Tyler Perry and Jesse Plemons. Written and directed by Adam McKay, this historical drama carries an R rating, for moderate language and adult situations, and has a run time of 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Vice is nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Adams, Best Supporting Actor for Rockwell, Best Actor for Bale and Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, both for McKay.

Movie Review Vice

The Cheneys

Spanning four decades, Vice focuses on the life and political career of Dick Cheney (Bale) and his wife Lynne (Adams). As a young couple, Dick struggles to find his purpose in life. He drinks too much. He works menial jobs. After a second DUI charge, resulting in an overnight stay in jail, Lynne gives Dick “the” speech. “Get your life together…or I walk away.”

Fast forward a few years and Dick becomes a congressional intern for Donald Rumsfeld (Carell). The two become very close, working together on a variety of projects. Now a father to two daughters, Liz (Rabe) and Mary (Pill), Dick pursues a career that makes his wife proud.

Rumsfeld gets sent away, becoming an ambassador, due to conflicts with the Nixon administration. And then Watergate happens and Nixon is out. As one of the Republicans not involved in the scandal, Cheney promotes to Secretary of Defense, in the Gerard Ford White House, and then moves up to Chief of Staff.

Cheney researches the legal theory called the Unitary Executive Theory, which states, simply put, that anything the president does is legal because he or she is the president. Carter wins the next election, and Cheney is out of a job.

Movie Review Vice

Running Mate

Back home in Wyoming, Dick runs for Congress. However, during his campaign, he experiences his first heart attack. Lynne campaigns on his behalf, and ultimately, Dick wins.

After Bush’s presidency, Cheney considers running for president. His numbers are low however. And his younger daughter, Mary, has come out as gay. Rather than risk his supportive relationship with her, Cheney opts out of running. Instead, he becomes the CEO of Halliburton, choosing involvement in the corporate world for many years, until George W. Bush (Rockwell) calls him.

Initially, Dick refuses the role of vice president, to GW Bush’s president. Lynne cautions her husband, calling the vice presidency a “nothing job”. Talking to George later, Dick asks for more than a typical vice president role. He wants to oversee major departments. And he wants his daughter Mary off limits. George agrees.

After a close race in the 2000 election, George Bush and Dick Cheney win the White House.

Movie Review Vice

The White House Years

Once settled in, Dick has total oversight, including receiving intelligence briefings before the President. He gets tax breaks for the wealthy and places key personnel throughout the administration.

Tragedy strikes the United States on 9/11. Cheney makes decisions during that time that no other vice president has ever made. Post 9/11 Cheney and Rumsfeld focus in on Iraq and Sadaam Hussein, even though Colin Powell (Perry) wants to gather information on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Eventually the American people are convinced Saddam needs to be stopped. The war in Iraq begins.

Throughout these years, Cheney quietly moves forward, with the tenacity of a bull. The war doesn’t go as expected. ISIS comes into existence. War crimes are uncovered. Donald Rumsfeld takes the heat and is removed from office. And Dick Cheney’s heart gives out, literally, over and over again.

Finally, told there is no hope for recovery, Cheney faces death unless a heart donor can be found. In a bizarre twist in the film, one comes available.

The film concludes with an interview with Dick Cheney, in which the character breaks the fourth wall in the movie and looks directly at the audience. After being asked to defend his practices while in office, Cheney replies that he is fine with judgment and incrimination. He did what needed to be done so that our loved ones could sleep at night. We chose him. He did what we asked.

Movie Review Vice

My Thoughts on Vice

The characterizations of these familiar politicians is amazing in this film. Christian Bale is unrecognizable, after gaining 40 pounds for the role, shaving his head and bleaching his eyebrows. He portrays Cheney so well that I forgot, frequently, that the man on the screen was not the former vice president. I’m reminded of Gary Oldham’s turn as Winston Churchill last year in Darkest Hour.

Amy Adams is marvelous as Lynne Cheney, who is a powerful person as well. All of the actors were carefully chosen for the roles they stepped into, and that care is very evident.

In a unique role, Jesse Plemons serves as narrator. The camera cuts to him between scenes as he explains what’s going on. His connection to Cheney is revealed, in a surprising way, near the end of the movie.

Movie Review VicePerry and Carell as Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively.

My take aways from Vice are these:

It’s not just the one who holds power that influences events. It’s who has control. And sometimes the quietest among us are doing the most to create major shifts.

Vice is another film that is difficult to classify. Is it humor or drama, satire or smear? Perhaps it’s a character study of Dick Cheney. Or perhaps it’s more a commentary on the American people. I wrote at the beginning of this post that I am not a political person. At the end of Vice, I recognized the detriment in holding that belief. If these events in Vice happened, and fact checking shows that some of the scenes are creditable and some are not, then it is on me to be more aware, more involved.

It’s on all of us.

Vice opens up my awareness. It makes me want to study who people say they are and what their actions show about them, in the political arena. Vice possesses the potential to sharply divide people. But what if its true intention is to wake us up?

Working for Donald Rumsfeld, young Dick Cheney asks him, sincerely,

“What do we believe in?”

It’s a great question for Vice to leave me with. What do I believe in?

Movie Review Vice

It’s Oscar Time!

I’m minutes away from the 91st Academy Awards. Curried lentils are bubbling in the slow cooker. Vegan snickerdoodle cookies and a hot cup of herbal tea await. I’ll be blogging through the awards show and post a second late post tonight.

Here are all my reviews, for the eight Best Picture Nominated films:

Download or rent Vice on Amazon Prime Video HERE or purchase the DVD

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Movie Review: The Favourite

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One look at the title of this film, The Favourite, and you know by the spelling of the second word that this story is connected to England. This Best Picture nominated movie is based upon the brief and somewhat obscure reign of Queen Anne, of England.

My mother, an avid history buff, accompanied me to this second to the last movie, during Oscar week.

Movie Review The Favourite

The Favourite Cast

This biographical drama, with comedic overtones, stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicolas Hoult, James Smith and Mark Gatiss. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite carries an R rating, for language and sexuality, and has a run time of 1 hour and 59 minutes.

The Favourite is nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Colman, Best Supporting Actress for Stone and Weisz and Best Director for Lanthimos.

Movie Review The Favourite

Queen Anne of England

It’s early in the 18th century, and England nears the end of a war with France. The reigning monarch, Queen Anne (Colman) is frail in body and mind and fraught with anxieties.

The government is divided, with Robert Harley (Hoult) and Sidney Godolphin (Smith) leading the opposing parties. Their grappling for control wearies the Queen, who relies on her companion for support and guidance. Sarah (Weisz) and Anne grew up as childhood friends. As the queen’s health declines, she depends more and more on Sarah to attend crucial meetings and carry out royal duties.

Sarah Churchill is intelligent, in a cunning way, and very much in alignment with Godolphin, who supports continued war with France. Her husband, John, Duke of Marlborough (Gatiss), leads the troops as the war winds down.

Movie Review The Favourite

Abigail Arrives

Sarah’s status with the Queen shifts when Abigail (Stone) arrives. Abigail is Sarah’s cousin. Her life took a downturn years ago, leaving her destitute, fallen in society, and seeking employment. Although she begins as a scullery maid in the castle, Abigail quickly works her way into the Queen’s favour. Anne suffers horribly from gout. When inflammation creates swelling, sores and tremendous pain, Abigail applies a soothing herbal poultice.

Abigail’s new position as the Queen’s personal assistant alarms Sarah, and the competition between the women begins. Sneaking into Queen Anne’s bedchamber one night, Abigail makes a shocking discovery. Sarah and the Queen are clandestine lovers.

Movie Review The Favourite

Who is the Favourite?

As political strife heats up, Queen Anne finds herself caught between opposing parties, and between equally opposing women. Sarah continues to urge the Queen toward war. Abigail, who aligns with Harley and peace with France, appears more sympathetic and helpful toward the Queen.

Both women know that being Queen Anne’s favourite brings power and prestige and wealth. For Abigail, it even brings an arranged marriage that will restore her place in society.

As the Queen’s health continues to deteriorate, and her mood plummets, Abigail and Sarah vie for the coveted title of Favourite. And there can only be one.

Movie Review The Favourite

My Thoughts on The Favourite

I attend the Best Picture nominated films with as little foreknowledge as possible. That way, I experience the movie and the story with a fresh perspective and no expectations. I’ve seen many historical films about England’s queens and kings, however, I knew very little about this particular monarch.

The Favourite is unique, in that it includes rich complex characters, an abundance of humor, and modern elements including clever camera work and music that is often jarring. Perhaps the best classification for this movie is dark comedy with historical overtones!

Queen Anne is the central figure and the movie revolves around her. She alternates between being reasonable and competent, and lost and child-like, wailing with despair. Her despondency and fragility is better understood when it is revealed that the 17 rabbits she keeps as pets in her bedchamber represent the children she lost. Losing one child fractures the soul. Imagine what losing 17 does.

And although he is not mentioned in the movie, the Queen had recently lost her spouse as well. With no surviving children, Anne is the last monarch of the House of Stuart.

Olivia Colman deserves her Oscar nomination. Her portrayal is nuanced and compelling to watch. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are equally captivating in their roles. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see The Favourite, before tomorrow night’s Academy Awards.

Movie Review The Favourite

One More Best Picture Movie to Review

I watched Vice tonight, completing the list of films. Watch for that review tomorrow.

Here are the nominees. Click the links for the reviews.

Rent The Favourite on Amazon Prime Video HERE.

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Movie Review: Green Book

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I’m grateful that Joplin’s Regal Theater brings in the Best Picture nominated films, so that people like me can catch each movie ahead of the Academy Awards. I discovered this week of special showings last year and anticipated the event this year. Using my MoviePass card, and points racked up on my Regal Crown Club card, means free passes all week.

Having already seen four of the eight nominees, it’s been relatively easy to pick up the remaining four. A couple of days ago, I caught the matinee viewing of Green Book.

Movie Review Green Book

Green Book Cast

This comdy/drama, based on a true friendship, stars Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen, Linda Cardellini, Dimiter D. Marinov and Mike Hatton. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the screenplay was written by Nick Vallelonga, Farrelly and Brian Currie. The biographical movie carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes, smoking and moderate language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Green Book is nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor for Mortensen, Best Supporting Actor for Ali, Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing.

Movie Review Green Book

Tony Meets Dr. Shirley

In New York City, in 1962, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Mortensen) works successfully as a doorman and bouncer at the Copacabana Nightclub. The club, however, closes for two months for renovations, leaving Tony without work during that time.

With his wife Dolores (Cardellini) and two young sons to support, Tony hustles for any work he can find, including engaging in a hot dog eating contest at a local restaurant. As he struggles to find a genuine yet short term job, he’s asked to interview for a driving position with Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala).

Arriving at the address, Tony discovers the doctor lives in an apartment above Carnegie Hall. And the man is not a medical doctor. He’s a gifted musician…a classically trained pianist. The Don Shirley Trio has an eight week tour, traveling from the midwest to the deep south, and Dr. Shirley requires a driver who can also handle trouble, if encountered.

Although initially the two men don’t connect well, Dr. Shirley hires Tony, after checking in with Tony’s wife.  Eight weeks is a long time to be away from home. She gives her approval, as long as Tony is home by Christmas Eve.

Movie Review Green Book

On Tour

The record company Dr. Shirley is associated with provides two cars, one for Oleg (Marinov) and George (Hatton), the cellist and bassist in the trio. Tony drives the second car, with Dr. Shirley riding in the back. As they prepare to leave, a rep with the record company hands Tony a green book.

The Green Book, also called “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, was published from 1936 to 1966. The guide helped African American travelers find lodging, restaurants and other businesses that would serve them. Initially published to cover the southern regions of the US, the book eventually included most of North America, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The two men find their equilibrium together, as they drive. Dr. Shirley…Don…is reserved, highly educated and prefers quiet and solitude. Tony is outgoing, talkative and never passes up an opportunity to eat. During the first few days, as they get acquainted, they often annoy and perplex each other.

However, listening to The Don Shirley Trio, on the initial tour stops, Tony recognizes genius. He comes to appreciate the incredible gifts that Don possesses. And Don Shirley sees that Tony is an open, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of man, with a good heart.

Stopping for lunch one day, Don watches as Tony struggles to write a letter to his wife, Dolores. Don asks if he can help. He dictates romantic, poetic words for Tony to write down. Back home, Tony’s letters become a bit of sensation, as Dolores reads each one aloud to gathered family members.

Movie Review Green Book

The Deep South

The Trio is well received by audiences, everywhere they go. However, as the group travels deeper into the south, attitudes shift. The hotels for Don become seedier and seedier. More and more businesses refuse to serve him. And although the venues where Don performs are packed and the crowds applaud heartily, the owners of those grand houses and nightclubs treat him differently when he’s not performing. He’s not allowed to eat in the main dining room, or he’s asked to use an outdoors toilet or he’s given a janitor’s closet for a dressing room.

Horrified, Tony observes these unjust actions and narrow mindsets.  He itches to react in the way he knows best…with his fists. Dr. Shirley tells him,

“You never win with violence. You only win when you maintain your dignity.”

As the tour draws to a close, the group arrives at the last venue. When Don is treated with grave disrespect, Tony declares “Enough!”. But if the trio walks out and doesn’t do the show, Tony doesn’t get the last half of his much needed pay. If they stay, however, it’s another show in which Don must smile politely, remain silent, and pretend it’s all okay.

Whatever they decide….they must decide together.

Movie Review Green Book

My Thoughts on Green Book

This was another “based on a true story” film that absolutely pierced my heart. Both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali gave outstanding performances, worthy of their Oscar nominations.

Viggo gained 20 pounds for the role. I admire actors who go to such lengths to get into character. And Mahershala’s portrayal of a gifted yet carefully restrained musician was spot on…and heart touching.

There are fun touches in this film. Nick Vallelonga, who co-wrote the screenplay, is Tony’s actual son. Nick appears in the film, as do several other actual family members, which lends authenticity to the characters.

What I love most about Green Book is the relationship between Tony and Don. They come from such different backgrounds. Their perspectives about the world differ, as do their experiences of the world. Yet they respect and genuinely like each other, sharing a friendship rather than an employer/employee relationship.

And how important their friendship becomes. In a world that struggles with segregation and inequality, they offer the best of themselves, to each other and to anyone open enough to receive. I grieved and teared up over Don’s mistreatment. I cheered for the deep friendship and mutual respect between Tony and Don.

Epilogue

During the credits, photos popped up of the real Dr. Don Shirley and Tony Lip Vallelonga. My research shows that the two completed a year long tour together, before Dr. Shirley headed to Europe. He continued to offer his musical gifts to all.

Tony returned to the Copacabana. Later he became an actor, appearing in several Martin Scorsese films and cast as a regular on The Sopranos television series.

The two men remained close friends for the rest of their lives. They both died in 2013, three months apart.

Movie Review Green Book

The Best Picture Nominated Films

If you’ve missed any other my other reviews, here are the films I’ve seen so far. I’ll have a review up tomorrow, for The Favourite. And I’ll see Vice tomorrow evening. Watch for that review on Sunday, ahead of the 91st Academy Awards.

You can pre-order Green Book on Blu-Ray and DVD   ahead of its March 19 release date, or rent on  Amazon Prime Video.

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

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The countdown for the Academy Awards continues this week. Next up for review, on the Best Picture nominated list, is the biopic BlacKkKlansman. I have the delightful challenge of watching the final four films before Sunday’s award show broadcast. As a movie buff, it is a challenge I am enjoying.

Bear with me as the blog becomes a movie review blog for the next few days. I hope you will enjoy my insights on these extraordinary films.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman Cast

BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Robert John Burke, Corey Hawkins, Jasper Paakkonen, Ryan Eggold and Harry Belafonte. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the crime drama is based upon the book Black Klansman, written by Ron Stallworth. The film carries an R rating, for language, moderate violence and scenes of injustice. It has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Driver, Original Score, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

First Black Police Officer in Colorado Springs

In the 1970s Ron Stallworth (Washington) becomes the first African American police officer, with the Colorado Springs, Colorado police department. Chafing at his entry level position, in the filing room, Stallworth convinces Chief Bridges (Burke) that he’s ready for more action.

The police chief sends Ron out on his first assignment as an undercover cop at a local Black Panther rally. Wired, and instructed to get a feel for what the group intends to do, Ron sits in on the meeting. Detective Flip Zimmerman (Driver) listens in from an unmarked car. A known activist, Kwame Ture (Hawkins), is scheduled to speak. At the rally, Ron meets Patrice (Harrier), president of the Black Student Union at the college. Ron listens, intrigued by Ture’s passionate words, and impressed with Patrice’s devotion.

Later Ron and Patrice meet for a drink. Off duty, but keeping his cover, Ron doesn’t tell Patrice that he is a cop, even when she recounts a disturbing experience from earlier in the evening. Driving Ture back to his hotel room, the car is pulled over and the occupants are harassed by a couple of officers.

After hearing Ron’s report, Chief Bridges declines to look further into the Black Panthers. The newly promoted officer is sent to the intelligence office, to answer phones and record leads. Not one to sit and do nothing, Ron makes a phone call that launches a risky undercover investigation.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Infiltrating the KKK

After seeing a recruitment ad in the local paper, Ron calls the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK. Speaking to Klan chapter president, Walter Breachway (Eggold), Ron poses as a white man, interested in joining the organization. Impressed by Ron’s Aryan rhetoric, the two arrange a meeting.

Ron realizes he can’t attend the meeting. However, Detective Flip Zimmerman can! Because Ron erred, using his own name, Flip becomes Ron Stallworth. He meets with Breachway and another Klan member, Felix (Paakkonen). Felix is immediately suspicious of Flip. He suspects the new recruit is Jewish and pelts Flip with questions.

Ultimately, Flip is accepted into the Klu Klux Klan. Flip and Ron coordinate an in depth investigation. Ron handles all phone calls, including frequent info gathering chats with the Grand Wizard of the Klan, David Duke (Grace). Flip attends all local Klan meetings, always wired, while Ron stalks the group from a distance, taking photos and listening in.

Meanwhile, Ron continues to see Patrice. She is disturbed by the number of Klan flyers being distributed in the neighborhoods.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Induction into the Klan

Flip receives his KKK membership card. For his induction, the Grand Wizard himself is traveling to Colorado, to attend. Duke is impressed with the young man, due to the lengthy phone calls they’ve had. In a wry turn of events, Ron receives the security detail for Duke.

Tension mounts in the community. Duke arrives to lead the induction of new members. Patrice gathers students to hear guest speaker Jerome Turner (Belafonte) speak of sad injustices from his youth. Ron warns Patrice that there are rumors of a planned KKK attack. He begs her to cancel a student march, revealing at last that he is a cop. Infuriated, she sends Ron away.

And a couple of Klan members intend great harm, secreting away a bomb while they wait for an opportunity. Will Flip’s cover be blown before the investigation is completed? And can Ron and Flip prevent the violence that is threatened?

Movie Review B;acKkKlansman

My Thoughts on BlacKkKlansman

This intriguing film pulled a range of emotions from me. Abundant humor sprinkled throughout the movie lightens a very heavy subject, without taking away from the seriousness of justice and equal rights for everyone. I loved the camaraderie between Ron and Flip. Both become acutely aware of racial injustice and work together to make changes. And both men uphold honor and the desire to protect, as police officers.

I’m always drawn to films based on true stories. The events portrayed in the movie actually happened. However, the true name of Ron’s undercover partner has never been revealed. Flip existed…in Ron’s book he’s referred to as Chuck…but nothing is known about who he is and where he is now.

Watching the movie, I also felt sorrow, shame, anger and finally hope. Several times I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. Racism is still very real, and it’s extremely difficult for me to understand how someone can hate another because of race or ethnicity. Some scenes were hard for me to watch in BlacKkKlansman. Injustice riles me and breaks my heart. The most moving sequence occurred as Jerome, played by Henry Belafonte, recounted horrific events from his childhood, while across town, the Klan watched an old black and white film depicting the very events he spoke about. I watched with tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat.

Spike Lee unapologetically offers a powerful, thought provoking film. I’m still thinking about it and feeling the weight of it…and longing for acceptance, equality and freedom for all.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Best Picture List with Reviews

Check out all of the Best Picture Nominated Films. Links are provided to the reviews I’ve written so far.

Watch BlacKkKlansman HERE on Amazon Prime, or purchase on Blu-Ray or DVD.

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you

 

Movie Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther released in theaters almost a year ago, to the day. My sister Linda and I saw it right after its February 16, 2018 premiere. So why, I’ve asked myself repeatedly, is there not a review for it posted on my blog? I loved this movie. How could I have NOT written a review for this Marvel Universe movie that is among the Best Picture nominated films this year?

I checked back through posts in February and March of 2018….for an answer. And I found the reason. Just after Black Panther released, I began a nine day movie marathon at my local theater, watching all of last year’s nominated films. I viewed the final movie just before the 2018 Academy Awards aired. And that is how this superhero flick slipped past me, review wise. During the nine days of movies, I saw 12 or 13 films, total, with Black Panther being one of those. I’m sure I intended to write up a review later and then just forgot that I had not produced one.

That’s easily rectified. This evening I watched Black Panther again, as a refresher before at last writing a review. I still love this film!

Movie Review Black Panther

Black Panther Cast

This action adventure film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther carries a PG-13 rating, for scenes of action and moderate violence, and has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Black Panther is nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Original Score, Best Song for “All the Stars”, Best Costumes and several technical categories.

Movie Review Black Panther

A Prince Becomes King

The film opens with Prince T’Challa (Boseman) learning that his father, King T’Chaka (Brown), has died. Okoye (Gurira), head of the all female fighting force in his country, escorts T’Challa back home to Wakanda. Along the way, they extract T’Challa’s former lover, Nakia (Nyong’o) from an undercover operation that she leads.

Wakanda formed centuries ago, when five warring African tribes squabbled over a meteorite that fell to earth. Made of an alien metal called vibranium, the meteor affects heart shaped herbs growing nearby. When one of the warriors eats the herb, he acquires superhuman abilities. He becomes the first Black Panther, uniting four of the tribes to form the nation of Wakanda. The people of Wakanda use the vibranium to develop highly advanced technology. Fearing people will seek to take what is theirs, the Wakandans isolate themselves from the world, even as they build an astounding city.

T’Challa returns home, reuniting with the former king’s most trusted friend, Zuri (Whitaker),  his mother, Queen Ramonda (Bassett) and sister, Princess Shuri (Wright). Though young, Shuri runs the nation’s technology department. At the kingship ceremony, T’Challa is challenged by the leader of the fifth tribe, the Jabari. M’Baku (Duke) is unsuccessful in overthrowing the prince. T’Challa becomes king and allows M’Baku to live and leave with his tribesmen.

Movie Review Black Panther

A Threat to Wakanda and the World

In London, black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) teams up with an ex US black ops soldier, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Jordan). Together they steal an ancient Wakandan weapon from a museum. Made of vibranium, Klaue intends to sell the axe to an unknown buyer. T’Challa, Okoye and Nakia wait at the rendezvous site in secret, having been tipped off by T’Challa’s longtime friend, W’Kabi (Kaluuya). W’Kabi lost his parents because of Klaue. He longs for revenge.

The deal goes wrong, when the buyer turns out to be undercover CIA agent Everett Ross (Freeman). The Wakandan axe is recovered. However, Ross is seriously wounded in the ensuing chase and fight. T’Challa and his escorts return to Wakanda with Ross, where Shuri uses her technology skills to save his life.

Meanwhile, Killmonger kills Klaue and journeys to Wakanda himself. Once there he reveals that he is Wakandan…the only son of Prince N’Jobu. Killmonger’s father was brother to the former king. While living  in the US with his young son,  N’Jobu dies by the King’s hand for selling vibranium as a weapon of war. King T’Chaka leaves the boy Erik orphaned, and alone.

Erik challenges T’Challa’s right to the throne and the two battle. T’Challa is wounded and thrown over a waterfall. Assuming he died, Erik becomes king, and the Black Panther. His intentions for Wakanda are less than honorable. His actions threaten the nation, and ultimately the world.

If ever Wakanda needed a good man, with a good heart as their king, it is now.

Movie Review Black Panther

My Thoughts on Black Panther

This is one of my favorite Marvel Universe films. I love the culture of Wakanda. For centuries the people have hidden who they are, to protect themselves and their technology. They fear what the wrong person could do with vibranium. However, the younger Wakandans realize that hiding their light, so to speak, their magnificent gifts, is not the best way to live. The desire to offer help to the world and to make a difference, changes long held beliefs and old perspectives.

Chadwick Boseman is wonderful as the good hearted King T’Challa. He transforms into the Black Panther for the purpose of saving lives, not to terrorize. Another favorite character, for me, is M’Baku, portrayed with humor and a deep sense of honor by Duke.

The storyline and characters tie in with the bigger Marvel Avengers story, which continues this spring with Avengers: End Game.

This is the first time the Academy has nominated a superhero type film for a Best Picture Oscar. Black Panther is a powerful movie with deeper messages. And it has done incredibly well, worldwide. I’m looking forward to seeing how it fares at the Oscars.

Movie Review Black PantherM’Baku, played by Winston Duke. 

Heading to the Oscars

As a reminder, here are the Best Picture nominated films. Click the links to read other reviews.

I have four films left to see this next week, as the Academy Awards air next Sunday night, February 24. This weekend I intend to mark The Favourite off my list and pick up the last three movies during the week.

I love movie award season. It makes my heart sing to see great films and interesting films and off the wall films, and all the people involved who labor to bring these works of art to the big screen, rewarded for creativity.

I’m cheering for Bohemian Rhapsody to capture the big award. However, there are several nominees, including Black Panther, that I’d be thrilled for if they took home the Oscar. I’ll be watching…with eager anticipation.

Movie Review Black Panther

Pick up Black Panther on DVD or rent through Amazon Prime HERE.

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.