Friday, August 31, 2018

So ... who should be the next James Bond?

Since it appears that Idris Elba won't be taking up the role of James Bond (he would've done a great job at it!) when Daniel Craig retires from it, here are a few other options:

Who would you prefer?

Tom Hiddleston (37 years old)
from: Westminster, United Kingdom

Thanks to his role as the villain-turned-hero-turned-villain-turned-hero as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hiddleston has become a very recognizable name and even more recognizable face.

Despite his Marvel success, he hasn't necessarily had that breakout movie yet. Kong: Skull Island was good, but the movie didn't break any records.

Taking up the iconic role of James Bond would be a nice counterbalance to one of Marvel's best and most well-developed villains, especially if he won't be in any more Marvel movies.

Hiddleston would be a fine choice to replace the 50-year-old Daniel Craig.

The only thing is: if there are concerns about Idris Elba (45-years-old) playing James Bond, I worry that Hiddleston would be too old as well.

John Boyega (26 years years old)
from: Peckham, London, United Kingdom

He already has Star Wars to his name, but I'm assuming that role will wrap up after the next Star Wars movie --- whether Disney wants it to or not (fans may make that decision for them).

But James Bond is very different than his Star Wars role.

His Star Wars character is probably more comedy than serious and athletic.

I don't know if he'd be up for any physical stunts, but that's what stunt men are for, right?

I'd like to see a more serious John Boyega as James Bond -- with the British accent. I don't doubt that he'd do a good job.

Daniel Radcliffe (29 years old)
from: London, United Kingdom

I haven't seen Radcliffe in a movie since Harry Potter and I didn't watch any of the later Harry Potter movies, so it's been a LONG time since I've seen a movie of his.

I know he's been acting (on stage, too?), though.

Let's look at the benefits of him in this role:
  -  He's got name recognition.
  -  Harry Potter was obviously a different character than James Bond, so you don't have to worry about audiences complaining about him being the same character.
  -  He's maybe not your typical choice for the role.

Now some downsides ...
  -  He's not necessarily physically intimidating.

And, that's all I've got.  I don't know...  I'd give him a shot.

Henry Cavill (35 years old)
from: Saint Helier, Jersey (not New Jersey, but Jersey in the Channel Islands ... in other words, he's British)

He may be too big of a name and too ingrained in people's minds as Superman, but Henry Cavill could do well in this role.

I don't think it'd be too similar to the Man of Steel. He did a great job mixing in action and comedy in Man from U.N.C.L.E.. I haven't seen the latest Mission Impossible, but I heard he did very well in that role, too.

Acting in epsionage movies? Yeah, he can probably handle that.

Does he have the physicality for the stunts? Absolutely. Without question.

I'd say he's a strong contender (get it? LOL).

Daniel Kaluuya (29 years old)
from: London, United Kingdom

Daniel Kaluuya is probably the least well-known on this list, but he has major box office success behind him already with his role in The Black Panther.

He seemed to do well enough in that movie, though I don't know that he got to really display his acting chops.

James Bond would definitely allow him a path to success even more than his somewhat minor character in the Marvel universe.

I don't know if he has the acting ability to take over such an iconic role, but sometimes sink or swim is the best option.

If he tests well, give him a shot.  The unknowns sometimes do the best when it comes to taking on major characters in franchises.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (41 years old)
from: Forest Gate, London, United Kingdom

He'd be a good choice as well, but he's the oldest person on this list. Plus, he'll likely have a Marvel commitment or two coming up with Dr. Strange movies down the road and Baron Mordo being one of Dr. Strange's main enemies.

A Dr. Strange movie would be far less physical than a James Bond movie.  I'm not sure if Chiwetel is athletic enough to handle the Bond stunts.

It seems he's more of an actor's actor -- one who is in dramas and focuses on acting rather than stunts.  Then again, like I said regarding John Boyega and Daniel Radcliffe -- that's what stunt doubles are for.

Gotta' keep them gainfully employed!

Tom Hardy (40 years old ... turns 41 on Sept. 15)
from: Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom

A bit on the older side, but Tom Hardy would certainly provide an exciting James Bond. He's not who I would consider a traditional James Bond. I'd be excited to see what Hardy could bring to the role and infuse into the character.

I'll probably have to settle for his roles as Bane and Venom, though.

If Venom does well, he may have a few Spider-Man universe sequels in store for his future filming schedule.

I'd like to see him take that Venom role and run with it.

Of course, the other option would be: picking someone unknown.

That's what I suggested with Wonder Woman back in January 2013 and it worked extremely well. Kudos to whoever found Gal Gadot and had her audition! She was a great choice.

Hopefully the same happens for James Bond. That franchise is a good one and I'd like to see it get a little boost after Craig takes his leave.

Related Content:
The Black Panther - reviewed.
The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.
Actors who have had multiple super hero roles
My most anticipated movies of 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Avengers: Infinity War - reviewed.

What an action-packed movie this was, huh?!

Marvel and Disney have been working toward this for years and it really did come of as massive team-up movie.

I really liked how they kept the feel of the individual characters while telling the overall story of Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Gauntlet.

The story was pretty straightforward though they really made Thanos out to be a more dynamic character than just a power-hungry villain.

The backstory of Titan made him almost human — just misunderstood. Still a bad dude but you could see where he was coming from and where he went wrong.

Oh, and let's talk about his costuming.  I was very skeptical when I saw the trailer and he didn't have his battle gear on or his helmet.  He does adorn that at certain parts of the movie and I got used to seeing the movie version very quickly.

It was a quick adjustment if you're used to the traditional comic book version, so good on Marvel for making that decision on the costuming and doing it successfully.

The best thing about this entire movie was absolutely the various interactions between characters that don’t normally interact.

Here are some of my favorites:

Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Spider-Man

The snarky comments and pop culture references between these three characters was amazing. Despite not being a well-oiled machine at all, they had camaraderie by the end of the movie.

They were a great pairing to forward a major -- almost subplot -- of this movie.

This movie reminded me of some of the Star Wars movies, the way they had multiple situations going on at the same time, while still maintaining focus on the end goal.

These three actors portray their characters so well and made for some memorable moments.  Hopefully there’s more of this trio in Marvel’s future.

Even if it's just in Avengers 4, I want more of this trio. Or cameos in upcoming movies? I'm not picky.  I'll take what I can.

Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy (specifically with Star-Lord Peter Quill)

Oh my God!  Where do I even start with these interactions?

The ... let’s call it ‘muscle measuring contest’ ... was hilarious!

The Guardians calling Quill out on his obvious shortcomings against Thor was even more hilarious!  This 5 minuets (or however long it was) of interaction was great

It was so well written but the acting was awesome.  Chris Hemsworth has some great comedic abilities.  We all know that Chris Pratt excels in that area, too.  The two Chris' were awesome together.

I don't know that we'll see any future interactions between them, but what a treat for fans to get the bit we got in Infinity War.

Teenage Groot and the rest of the Guardians

Groot, no longer a baby, was hilarious in this movie! His angsty, troublesome teen years were on full display here.

In a movie where deaths do occur, you need some fun moments to lighten the mood. Groot did that on almost all of his scenes.

I like how that character -- as minor as it is -- progresses throughout the movies.

In Guardians of the Galaxy you see a underestimated fighter who maintains his demeanor in tough spots.

He was selfless enough to sacrifice himself for his team.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 shows a baby Groot -- innocent and oblivious to his surroundings more often than not.

Infinity War has an entirely different side of Groot.  Just as parents go through different stages with their kids, the Guardians team is going through the same growing pains with teenage Groot.

What makes Marvel movies so good is the creative character development.  They don't rinse, wash, repeat.

That's very much appreciated as a fan and moviegoer.

The Black Widow and Okoye

If you want to see two tough chicks fighting a tough alien chick, then Infinity War is the movie for you. Their interactions weren’t too long-lasting but the Widow and Okoye fighting alongside each other was pretty cool.

We saw a small glimpse of them interacting -- in the form a staredown --- in Civil War.  This time around they were doing battle alongside each other.  Unfortunately the Widow's impact in this movie was probably the least impressive of all.  I didn't walk away remembering any particular scene where she was really impressive or had a good one-liner.

The single one-liner that she did have wasn't that well written so nobody around me during the 3 times I saw this movie didn't laugh out loud, even though the producers left some pacing after the one-liner for audiences to react to it.

It's high time that Black Widow got her own movie.  She could excel properly in a full-on feature film.

Captain America and The Black Panther

Just as their female counterparts teamed up, Cap and Black Panther did, too.

At one point, as they were running into battle it seemed as though they were almost racing. Nothing like a friendly 'anything you can do I can do better' rivalry in the midst of battle.

Everything involving Black Panther and Captain America was kept mostly serious in this movie.

There were a few lighter moments, but it was pretty serious with them overall.

Neither one of them really stole any scenes.  They were almost filler in this story, but I'm sure they'll have bigger roles in the future.

Plus, both of them have already had entire movies based around their characters, so it's nice to see some of the other characters get some shine in these big ensemble movies.

It was fun to see these two major characters briefly do battle in Civil War and even more fun to see them battle together in Infinity War.

The Scarlet Witch and Vision (and their romance)

Who says you can’t take your girlfriend to a Marvel movie and get her feeling romantic after?
Okay, so it’s no Notebook romance but their relationship actually plays a pivotal part in the story.

Not sure where everything will go from here but the romance that was hinted at in Civil War went full force in Avengers, part 3.

I wasn't necessarily feeling a lot of chemistry in Civil War.  The romance felt a little contrived, but the writers did well with making it more important and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany actually do have some good chemistry together.

It felt real in this movie and that's important, especially considering the important role they had in the movie.

There's one scene -- and you'll know which one I'm talking about -- where Olsen's emotions carry the scene.  She may be a Marvel movie star, but this young Olsen sibling has some impressive acting chops!

The Falcon, Wong, War Machine, etc.

There were several other characters who showed up in this movie, of course.

Hulk and Bruce Banner are both involved in this story.

The Falcon and War Machine had a couple of nice team-up moments.

Dr. Strange's buddy, Wong, has a nice bit of screen time.  Cap's buddy, The Winter Soldier, gets in on the action, too (as was foreshadowed at the end of The Black Panther).

Pepper Potts made her return!  Gwyneth Paltrow didn't add that much to this movie, but she's a big part of Iron Man's life and it felt strange when she didn't even have bit parts in some previous movies.

Mantis continues being laugh-out-loud funny.  Rocket and Drax had some great moments as well.

Nebula has a large role in the movie.  Considering I thought she may have been written off after Guardians of the Galaxy, this character has staying power.  I think there's still a lot of character development that could be done with that character.

There were even a couple of other characters: one new one and one surprise return.

I'm amazed that the writers were able to make this story work without making any character feel completely unimportant.  I'm sure it's extremely difficult to divide up screen time in situations like this.

Stan Lee, of course, has a cameo.

Noticeably missing from this chapter in the MCU: HawkeyeAnt-Man, The Wasp, Baron Mordo, and The Valkyrie.  I'm kind of OK with that because I'm hoping they show up in Avengers 4 (or future movies).

Those characters are too good to not get involved in these crossover, team-up movies!

If you're wondering where Nick Fury was, here's a hint: let the credits roll. :)

None of these characters are likely to get their own individual movies, so it's always nice when the writers use these characters in some good material.

Lastly, Thanos’ interaction with just about everyone

From Gamora to all of the Guardians to Loki and another well-known villain (don’t want to spoil that part for the handful of people who may read this and haven’t seen it yet).

Thanos was the character Marvel has been building to for 10 or more movies. It makes sense that they’d focus on him in this movie.

This was pretty much 'the Thanos movie,' but it didn't feel like it.  Just as certain Star Wars movies focused on Darth Vader, but still told an overall story, Infinity War progressed the Marvel Cinematic Universe plan.  It properly fully introduced Thanos for the first time and made everyone realize (very quickly) that he's a big deal.

One of my favorite aspects about this movie is that it truly did feel like a gigantic team-up movie.  At certain parts you felt like you were watching a Guardians movie.  Then you transitioned into The Black Panther.  No, wait.  It's an Iron Man movie.  Nevermind, it's a Dr. Strange movie!

The scenes that involved the individual characters and team-ups felt like you were seeing universes collide and mash-up.

Marvel did an exceptional job keeping the characters in line how we're used to seeing them, even if they were out of their element and in a totally different environment than they are typically in.

And, finally, how about that ending?!?

I have a hunch how it’ll all end up but I bet Marvel throws some surprises into the next movie.

With the snap of the fingers, it was over.


Related Content:
The Black Panther - reviewed.
My most anticipated movies of 2018
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - reviewed.
Justice League - reviewed.
Wonder Woman - reviewed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Black Panther - reviewed.

I’ve been behind a bit in blogging so far in 2018 but I haven’t been behind in my movies.

I have been keeping up with the superhero movies — I’ve just neglected to blog about them. I’d say it’s about time for a Black Panther review, wouldn’t you?

First of all, I thought Captain America: Civil War was a great introduction for the character.

He showed an insane amount of humanity and morals when he not only didn’t take revenge on his father’s murderer but also by preventing the man from committing suicide.

That was one of the most powerful moments of that movie for me, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of the Panther in his first solo movie.

I saw the movie on a Saturday morning (something like 9:30 am from what I remember) and it was a full house. The theater was packed!

I can definitely appreciate the historic aspects of this movie: the first black superhero in a solo film (not as a sidekick), an almost entirely black cast, and a nod to Africa in the way Wakanda was depicted.

It’s hard not to let some of that impact this review. And it may impact the final rating. I’m not sure, honestly.

Let’s start with Wakanda though. What a unique place. It was very interesting to see the mix of African tribalism and modern (future, actually) technology mixed together.

It was also interesting to see a major theme of the movie being whether or not to keep Wakanda’s advances secret or to share the info to the world — and potentially make Wakanda a target by doing so.

I think that’s a theme that anyone with even a little bit of property can relate to. It goes back to kindergarten and sharing toys with other kids. Of course the implications in Wakanda sharing tech they could be weaponized is much more complex than children sharing toys.

The backstory with the Black Panther’s father and the Panther’s uncle was interesting. Again, it’s something people can relate to. Family doesn’t always get along and sometimes they commit crimes due to being so misguided in their good intentions.

That’s really what the situation boiled down to between The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) right up to the end of the movie.

Jordan almost stole the entire show as a very in-depth villain. He certainly wasn’t one-dimensional.

But Boseman’s portrayal of the always-do-the-right-thing Black Panther edged him out.

Talk about good casting!

I wasn’t expecting Killmonger to end up having any family tie-ins with the Panther. That was a nice twist.

Klaue (Andy Serkis) was back.  He was in Avengers: Age of Ultron way back in ... was it 2014 already?

Anyway, you could tell that Marvel had some things planned out because he made another appearance this time around.

Or maybe Marvel just writes their stories and goes back to study them.  Either way, I'm a fan of continuations and finished stories.  I hate when there are storylines left incomplete.  That's just sloppy.

Klaue certainly played a good villain once again, but he was also a one-dimensional villain.

He seemed like a typical bad guy, -- out to take control and destroy whatever has to be destroyed in the process.  A little maniacal, but pretty standard when it comes to superhero villains, so it was neat to see the story shift pretty dramatically near the middle of the movie in the way it did.

Killmonger taking the lead as the main protagonist was a great decision.

Zuri (Forest Whitaker) really played into the whole family dynamic as well. I wasn’t expecting the character to end the way it did.

He seemed to have a huge level of respect and a calming presence within that kingdom. Whitaker has a lengthy resume in Hollywood, but I haven't actually seen too many of his movies.

I remember Whitaker in Panic Room and Rogue One and thinking he was a decent actor, but he didn't have as big of a part in those movies.

He may have had the same amount of screen time, come to think of it. His role in this story -- in this movie -- felt bigger, though.

Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) was a pretty big get for the movie. The other actors were great but I’m happy any time superhero movies can get a veteran actor like Bassett. It just adds to the credibility of the movie. It’s not just ‘another super hero movie’ but, instead, a good, meaningful movie.

I’ve noticed that older actresses (former Academy Award winners, no less) have been signing onto those roles more often.

Nicole Kidman will portray Aquaman’s mother in Aquaman this December. Sally Field was Ant May in the two Amazing Spider-Man movies. Diane Lane plays Superman’s Mom in the DC Extended Universe, too.

It’s neat to see that happening more often these days. Anyway, back to the movie ...

Speaking of giving the movie credibility, how about Lupita Nyong’o? She won an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave back in 2014 and here she was acting her little heart out in The Black Panther.

I thought the acting was great, as it should be for an Academy Award winner.

She played a very independent-thinking woman: Nakia. She was also his love interest.

But there was conflict in the relationship. She didn’t want to sit on a thrown. She wanted to make a difference.

She was consistently trying to convince to Black Panther to share the resources of Wakanda with the world, particularly the worn out and rundown black communities.

I didn’t entirely agree with some of her stances as she came off as a bit of an idealist who probably would struggle with making some hard decisions when faced with serious conflict and danger.

I think Nakia’s heart is in the right place but she needs a bit of Black Panther’s practicality. I guess that balance is what makes them a good duo.

Shuri (Letitia Wright), The Black Panther’s sister, was a heck of a lot of fun! With Nakia being very serious and compassionate, the movie needed a little bit of humor and a lot of it came from the Panther’s book smart, wise-cracking little sister.

Shuri demonstrates advanced knowledge of science and technology while keeping a sense of humor about her.

She wasn’t a hand-to-hand combat fighter but used weapons (futuristic, of course) at her disposal during any action scenes she was involved in.

I assume it was nice for some of the brainiacs out there to see someone like that in a superhero movie. And, again, not just as a side character but as one of the central characters in the movie.

Speaking of strong females, my favorite in this movie had to be Okoye (Danai Garcia). She was a bad-ass, kick-ass lady! Not one you want to mess go with!

As captain of the royal guard, leading a slew of other Amazon-like female warriors, Okoye was loyal to the king at all times and at all costs.

The cost in this movie seemed to be her romance with W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya).  I was OK with that because I felt like the romance wasn't really great to begin with.

W'Kabi was the weakest character in the movie in terms of development.  His character and romance with Okoye just wasn’t there. It didn’t seem authentic at all.

He was a stereotypical one-dimensional character.

Thankfully Okoye made up for the lackluster romantic storyline they saddled her with.  Despite being so serious all the time, she added several comedic moments to the movie.

One thing I thought was a little too cheesy was Okoye and the lady warriors all siding with The Black Panther while W’Kabi and his male warriors so easily turned on their former king and friend.

Alliances aren’t split like that in real life.

But, yeah, I get that I was a cool visual and was good for females to be equals to men and all that.

Just a little too unrealistic, though.

M'Baku (Winston Duke) was definitely someone I didn’t want to mess with. He was a big, dominant individual. He worked well as a foe-turned-ally.

You saw some progression with him in this movie.  He started off as what seemed like a power-hungry individual, but it turns out he was just fighting for dominance.

When he was defeated he did bow out.  He didn't go about things the wrong way, despite obviously being upset by not becoming the King of Wakanda.

He's someone the Panther will want to maintain an alliance with. I could see W'Kabi having a more prominent role in any future films.

Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) was kind of a pointless character honestly. I mean, they did give him an important role in the plot at the end but it could’ve been fulfilled anyone.

He didn't necessarily have to be the one who fulfilled the role in the plot.  He just ended up being the character who was there to do it.

Ross was kind of the token white guy in this movie, which was maybe appropriate.

The character didn’t do much for me in Civil War and he didn’t do much for me in this movie either.

That’s not a knock on Freeman but his character. Freeman does a great job in BBC's Sherlock Holmes and was amazing in The Hobbit. He just wasn't needed in The Black Panther, though.

Overall, it was a good movie — beyond the groundbreaking aspects.

The ending was OK. It felt like a complete story.  It felt like part one of a series of stories.

I feel like a sequel has to include Killmonger, though.

He’s almost like Loki in the first Thor. Any sequels without him seem like they’d be lacking something.

It will be interesting to see where they go from here, especially given that future movies will be set after whatever else happens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Related Content:
My most anticipated movies of 2018
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - reviewed.
Justice League - reviewed.
Wonder Woman - reviewed.