Black Panther – DeaconsDen Reaction

The first time we meet T’Challa, it’s during the events of Captain America: Civil War. Now we are given our first cinematic experience of Wakanda and all its lore, culture and citizenship.

If you’ve been reading my reviews (and I appreciate it), you’ve become accustomed to my review format. This time however, I want to forgo my usual style and just write my feelings because it’s the only way I’ll properly get out what I’m thinking.

Black Panther is amazing.

Yes. That’s the short of it. Why? Why did I find this amazing? I found it amazing due to being a perfect storm of characters, culture, sociopolitical themes, acting and action. Ryan Coogler ups his ante as a director from the already fantastic Creed. Here he brings Wakanda to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and just may have crafted its best installment.

The film is a tapestry and I’m not just talking about the beautiful costumes designed for it. In his first solo outing T’Challa confronts an enemy who may not be wrong in his motivations. He also faces his nation’s past, present and future. Such a burden for a new king.

This conflict however is not just played out in the plot, it’s brought to life within the characters of the story. Prior to release we’ve seen these epic character posters:

Every single tagline for each of the characters is accurate. And they come to fruition during the film. The story of an isolationist country facing what role it should take in the days to come is layered and textured. Everyone has their own motivations that want the best, but maybe they aren’t what is best. T’Challa, Nakia, Shuri, Okoye, W’Kabi (who of all characters I really seemed to vibe with his dilemma), M’Baku, and Erik all have a vision for Wakanda that may be right, but might not be. I found this to be quite relatable to the world today.

Black Panther is a statement on culture, history and responsibilities. One that needs to be seen. I loved this film. For anyone who thinks superhero films don’t handle these type of themes, this is why we need these films to show these type of themes.

And even though I haven’t formally reviewed it, here’s my rating.

Final Rating: 4/4

Oh, and here’s a picture of Shuri being awesome because she is.

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Proud Mary – DeaconsDen Review

Taraji P. Henson is Mary. She’s an assassin for a crime family who’s orphaned as a result of her actions in this action crime thriller.

I was very interested in seeing Proud Mary. It appeared to be an action thriller with a stylish flourish and I typically love movies like that. It looked similar to the film Smokin Aces, which coincidentally also stars Henson. However, there’s nothing in Proud Mary aside from an enjoyable performance by Taraji to elevate it beyond standard action fare.

The crux of the story is Mary taking in young Danny, played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston. While this is supposed to give some depth to Mary, the script never goes beyond surface level guilt. It’s a shame because Henson is a great actress and the film does nothing to take advantage of her and allowing her to express any nuance to her character.

The film’s action sequences are decent, but not outstanding. I did really enjoy the final shootout where we really get to see Mary do what she does best. It’s a little disappointing that we don’t get many moments like that during the film, but for a runtime of 88 minutes, it doesn’t waste too much of your time and it has good pacing. It also doesn’t do much to take full advantage of its supporting cast either. We have stalwarts like Danny Glover and Margaret Avery as well as Billy Brown from tv’s How to Get Away with Murder. Yet they are never utilized in a fashion beyond roles we’ve all seen before in a movie we’ve all seen before.

Proud Mary should have been something that should have been huge for Taraji P. Henson. Possible sequel huge. She does her absolute best, but sadly the film surrounding her is a shell made up of all things we’ve seen and heard before. I actually hope she can pull strings to get producer duties and bring this character back with a better script. I personally feel shes deserves it.

Final Rating: 2/4

The Cloverfield Paradox – DeaconsDen Review

Imagine the surprise that went through the world of film when it was announced during Super Bowl LII that the third installment of the Cloverfield franchise would make its debut on Netflix after the game. Many people who weren’t interested in the game wanted it to be over so they could watch it. I was one of them. Side note about the game if you don’t follow American Football, my Philadelphia Eagles won 41-33. Fly Eagles Fly! Anyway, I’m a huge fan of the 2008 original and 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, which you can read my review of that film. How does this surprise installment fit?

Unfortunately, The Cloverfield Paradox is quite inferior to its predecessors. It’s a shame because the film has an idea that it starts to explore, but it never quite holds onto to explore that premise and in the process become a standard, run of the mill, science fiction horror film that we’ve seen many times before. One reason I think that this film doesn’t work for me is because in the prior films there was a good marriage between the concept presented (monster movie, claustrophobic thriller) and the characters that gave the viewer someone to connect with. If it’s the crew of friends trying to escape New York or Mary Elizabeth Winestead’s Michelle trying escape from John Goodman’s psychotic Howard, we had something to connect to. In Paradox, you really don’t get anything like that from the main crew of this ship. They’re just there and because the film also abandoned its concept you end up abandoning any investment in their story as well.

I can understand why The Cloverfield Paradox was sent to Netflix. It’s a disappointingly average entry into a franchise that I’ve grown to look forward to. The thing is, I could accept the lack of developed characters if they hell true to exploring the concept further, or vice versa. Sadly, it’s a jack and master of no trades.

Final Rating. 2/4