1. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Release: May 1, 2015
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader
Director: Joss Whedon (Serenity, Marvel’s The Avengers)
When Tony Stark tries to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it’s up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
Waiting for the sequel to one of the biggest grossing movies in history is always painful. Until then, Marvel is serving up little bits here and there to make it easier. Starting with the leaked teaser trailer and now the 2nd official full length trailer, we are getting just enough eye candy to make us want more. One of the best things about these Marvel releases is the slow release of new heroes and villains from the comic book universe. With their summer announcement of a string of new Marvel projects, we know Avengers: Age of Ultron is the platform to launch the Black Panther story-line which is closely tied to Captain America and Iron Man comic book. Along with the Hulk Buster armor being shown off in the new trailer, there isn’t much about this movie I don’t want to see!
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
Release: May 15, 2015
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz
Director: George Miller (Mad Max, Mad Max 2 :The Road Warrior)
An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken and everyone is fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world, two rebels on the run might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman who believes her only path to survival is making it across the desert back to her homeland.
Why I Want To See It:
There are few movies you can call an honest unique experience.
In 1979 I saw the first Mad Max and felt I had peeked into a possible dystopian future that was ugly as hell. Mel Gibson starred in the original where he went from cop to concrete killer. You saw his family killed and him going ape shit in a movie that looked like Smokey and the Bandit meets a 70’s spaghetti western. Every car in the movie was a modified muscle car and the director enjoyed crashing every single one of them.
By Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior in 1981, it was clear George Miller had the money to take his vision to the next level. With a post-apocalyptic setting of constant road wars for scarce gasoline, the movie was pure eye candy. Big guns, mohawks, hockey masks, and Mel Gibson looking crazy as hell running with a band of misfits.
In 1985 Gibson and Miller tried it again, this time with co-director George Oglivie and icon Tina Turner, who had a hit with “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” Add a PG-13 rating into the mix and this one truly felt like the commercialization of the franchise.
Now Miller is back, resurrecting Mad Max from 25 years of post-production limbo, and casting Tom Hardy in the title role. The buzz around the movie, shot 3 years ago, is that it’s so filled with wall to wall action and those iconic George Miller visuals that Hardy barely utters 20 lines in the entire flick. Less talking and more eye-popping action sounds great to me. You can tell by the trailer that he has spent his time mastering every frame. Looks like 3D IMAX is the only way to see Mad Max: Fury Road.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Release: December 18, 2015
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o,Andy Serkis, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver
Director: J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Trek : Into Darkness)
Synopsis: Warning Spoilers: No word on the official plot-line of this movie yet, but rumors surface everyday. The latest is that the film takes place 30 years after the last one in the mist of war between Imperial and Rebel forces. Luke Skywalker is in hiding and new characters start to develop Jedi powers that they can’t control without Skywalker’s help.
Why I Want To See It:
JJ Abrams did well rebooting the Star Trek franchise,so you would hope he can apply those skills to improve on the next 3 movies in the Star Wars pipeline. I’m hoping for a more Empire Strikes Back feel that brings some serious weight to the universe. I really hope JJ Abrams stays away from the kid friendly killer characters (Jar Jar Binks anyone?) The tone of this film is supposed to be darker than any movie in the Star Wars series yet.
John Boyega (Attack The Block) is reportedly playing a Storm Trooper effected by the force who defects, landing him on the infamous desert planet Tatooine. The Sith /Cyborg character seen in the trailer with the sword shaped light saber is rumored to be played by Adam Driver (Girls). At this point I’m dying to see anything in a Star Wars movie that is close to the Star Wars in the video games and books. Both offer a whole universe of stories that take place in a grittier version of the world George Lucas built.
4. Straight Outta Compton
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge,Paul Giamatti
The group NWA emerges from the streets of Compton, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes pop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Growing up in NYC there was a time when all you heard was NYC hip-hop. One of the first groups to break that trend for good was NWA. With no radio play and just word of mouth on the streets Cube, Eazy, Dre, Ren and Yella became known as those crazy ass niggas from LA. Hopefully this movie gives us a glimpse behind the scenes and a better picture of how this super group came together. Matt Alvarez and Tomica Woods-Wright are producing. Will Packer and Scott Bernstein are exec producing. With direct involvement from Ice Cube and Dr Dre, One can only hope we get some unique stories that shed light on everything from the LA riots to Eazy E’s death.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci
With the secret services under threat, a cryptic message sends James Bond in search of a secret and sinister organization.
Chadwick Boseman Forever!!
It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)
Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.
Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.
Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”
If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.
R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.
The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right
Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.
Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.
Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.
Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.
At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.
The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.
Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again
Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.
Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.
You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.
Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.
Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.
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