Posts Tagged ‘Michael B. Jordan’

The Wakanda Usurper

Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, John Kani

Marvel successfully diversifies its Avengers universe with an inventive self-sustaining Black Panther film. The Black Panther aka T’Challa who becomes king of the technologically advanced yet exclusive central African kingdom of Wakanda after his father T’Chaka played by South Africa’s John Kani is killed in an assassination.

Creed director, Ryan Coogler assembles an all-star cast for Black Panther including Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as Black Panther’s love interest, the beautiful and noble Nakia as well as Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) as Zuri along with Angela Bassett as Black Panther’s regal mother and Queen of Wakanda, Ramonda.

Black Panther has to fight off the likes of a crazy South African mercenary Ulysses Klaue dubiously played with a terrible accent by Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) attempting to steal smuggled vibranium from Wakanda at a buying exchange in Busan, South Korea, a scene in the film which is both brilliantly shot and innovatively orchestrated with a virtual reality car chase sequence.

Back on African soil, T’Challa soon realizes that the real enemy is the American born Erik Killmonger wonderfully played by Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four). With the able assistance of his cheeky sister Shuri fantastically played by British-Guyanese star Letitia Wright, Black Panther manages to fight Killmonger in a noble duel about the paternal claim to be the future King of Wakanda.

Director Ryan Coogler ingenuously incorporates lots of African tribalism and cool technology into Black Panther however he does take the superhero genre too seriously by unashamedly politicizing it. This is the Avengers after all, which Spiderman has just joined. Superhero movies are meant to be pure escapism, which is precisely why director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnorak was such a refreshingly funny movie.

What remains to be seen is how effectively Black Panther will be blended into the mainstream Avengers films with the new Avengers: Infinity War opening soon. Chadwick Boseman is not as convincing as the main hero, Black Panther as his counterpart Michael B. Jordan who relishes playing the ruthless villain.

Lupita Nyong’o holds her own and kicks some butt in Black Panther as does rising star Letitia Wright who is an actress to watch out for. Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown has a minor role while Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) is suitably untrustworthy as Black Panther’s best friend and Wakanda protector W’Kabi.

Whether the much hyped Black Panther’s initial success in African cinemas is translated commercially to international audiences globally remains to be seen, yet the effort and rejuvenation of the highly anticipated Black superhero genre is applauded and provides starring roles for a host of African-American stars who have been clamouring for their own identifiable superhero film.

Marvel fans that enjoyed Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers franchise will certainly appreciate Black Panther, despite some uneven performances. At least now there is a guaranteed diversity of fans attending Comic-Con especially since its coming to Johannesburg in late 2018.

For all its vibrant celebrations of African culture, Black Panther gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

 

Zero Superheros

Fantastic Four

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Director: Josh Trank

Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

The reboot of Fantastic Four featuring the extras of House of Cards and the stars of That Awkward Moment could have been so much better. Director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is stilted, vaguely unimaginative and not even remotely thrilling considering all the acting talent he had at his disposal.

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Miles Teller who was so brilliant in the Oscar winning film Whiplash holds his own as does Kate Mara, but Jamie Bell star of The Eagle and Billy Eliot and last seen in Lars von Triers Nymphomaniac Volume II is lost in this comic book reboot. Frankly Jamie Bell’s unique acting talent is unfortunately wasted.

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Michael B. Jordan as the rebellious Johnny Storm is remarkably better and definitely on the verge of superstardom after his hilarious performance along with Miles Teller and Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment.

Unlike the original more comic Fantastic Four (2005) which clearly did not take itself too seriously, this version is darker more sombre and in parts tries unsuccessfully to emulate Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight Rises.

In this version of Fantastic Four, the superheroes and the actors playing them do not take their powers or their characters seriously enough and that is no fault of the talent involved but rather of a tawdry script, bad directing and general narrative arc which suddenly seems to end too quickly, with a finale that appears rushed and clumsy.

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Unlike the phenomenally clever Antman, which taps into a far broader humour and the Avengers universe, The Fantastic Four seems to be lost which is a pity considering the actors involved. Kate Mara was so exceptional in the Netflix series House of Cards but then again she was acting opposite Kevin Spacey.

Even Dr Doom played by Toby Kebbell is not villainous enough and his main motive for sucking the earth into an intergalactic vortex is not sufficiently illustrated beyond pure jealousy for Susan, played by Kate Mara who is infatuated with Reed Richards, the chief scientist, played by Teller, who continuously looks slightly confused in this role.

Fantastic Four is not a brilliant film, and should actually not have been remade as the original colourful films including the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer was zany and entertaining, everything that this cinematic reincarnation lacks. Not Recommend Viewing despite the initial part of the film showing promise. Unfortunately these superhero’s have zero appeal in a market saturated with reboots and reinventions of comic book films.

 

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