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Marvel’s Black Panther

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T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.

Finally, the movie that everyone has been anticipating is here. Marvel Studio’s Black Panther. Everyone is picking out their Afro’s, ironing their Dashikis and, no lie, tonight I saw a woman dressed like she was going to a Nigerian wedding. This movie is bringing a lot of Black pride. The question is, does it live up to the hype? Yeah, it does.

At first I was a bit concerned with the direction the movie was headed in. It seemed to be telling a few tales, jumping around different timelines and scenes, but the early disjointedness eventually lined up to tell a very compelling story.

The look and feel of Wakanda was spectacular. The land, the technology, and the art was visual eye candy that merged a futuristic city with a land still tied to its roots. This was a major theme of the movie.

I did feel there weren’t enough actual Black Panther moments, but it didn’t hurt the movie at all. If you see a Spider-Man movie, you always wan’t more Spider-Man and less Peter Parker, but these characters were so engaging, seeing more Black Panther wasn’t as necessary.

As far as acting, this film had a great star-studded cast, but the definite standouts were Michael B. Jordan and Danai Gurira (Michonne from The Walking Dead). It’s rare to see Jordan playing the bad guy, but he owned the role of Killmonger and his radicalized agenda. Gurira brought a level of bad-assery I was not expecting and you can tell she put a lot of work into fleshing out Okoye, Black Panther’s number one bodyguard.

The one flaw I found with the film was the motion CGI. The Black Panther character, for example, at times came off too rendered and sometimes appeared to be anatomically distorted. The interaction with the environment at moments felt off, but it wasn’t overly distracting. The saving grace is that it’s a comic book movie so they can get away with more from that aspect. Luckily the acting was so good it pulled most of your attention away from these shortcomings.

I also like that there were several little nuggets, messages, and takeaways in the movie and it doesn’t whitewash the real-life history and struggles Black people have faced. It looks at it through several different lenses and leaves it open to honest discussion. This was a good addition to the MCU, and I look forward to seeing Black Panther kick ass throughout the next few movies!

Overall Grade: B+

Black Panther 
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Black Cinema
February 2018
Director: Ryan Coogler
Universal Pictures
2 hours 14 minutes
IMDB

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Daniel Ortiz Rants on: Hereditary

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After the matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

1529023353143When I originally saw the trailer for this film I knew what to expect. This wasn’t going to be the run-of-the-mill horror movie that would rely on underdeveloped characters and cheap jump scares. This was going to be a horror thriller that would deal with family trauma and absolute weirdness. I hate to pat myself on the back, but I was right!

Hereditary deals with the downward spiral of a family and their tumultuous experiences after the death of their grandmother. They all try to cope with past and present events in their own way which ends up driving them further into a bizarre rabbit hole.

A lot of people loved the movie, but I have to admit I was split. The first, and probably biggest problem I had with the film was the continuous slow pace. I truly appreciate a movie that’s a slow burn because I understand the necessity to build up characters and/or an environment to help fully grasp the context of the story, but this was a bit too slow. Even when something major would happen, I expected the pace to pick up a little, but often it went back into the comforts of the slow burn. I found too much of a gap between the development of the story and actually seeing something happen.

Image result for milly shapiro

I found too much of a gap between the development of the story and actually seeing something happen.

I will say there was some creepy and disturbing imagery in this film, and some things that transpired that I was actually shocked happened. I was completely caught off guard by a specific scene that I thought would be the catalyst for a very dark turn, and even though things did get bizarre, it did drag between these moments.

My favorite character was Charlie, the young teenager played by Milly Shapiro. She managed to tread the line between totally creepy kid, and someone that you actually felt sorry for. It was never exactly specified what was wrong with her, but it played an intricate part in her dichotomy.

Anything else I say will be diving too deep into the film so I will leave it at this.

Overall Grade: C+

I felt there were enough good elements for me not to hate it, but the slow movement was sometimes too damn cumbersome. Also, this movie will have you talking about it after. Most of it was piecing together some of the confusing symbolism, and the rest was trying to understand why certain things were being done. I feel that the general audience is going to enjoy those elements or are going to find it to be the most frustrating part of the movie. If you like the pace of Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist, you will love this. If you’re looking for The Conjuring or Annabelle, you probably won’t.

Hereditary
Mystery, Horror, Drama
June 2018
Director: Ari Aster
Palm star Media
2 hours 7 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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Wind River, A Netflix Hidden Gem

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“A veteran tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.”

This was a beast of a movie. I want to credit writer/director Taylor Sheridan for being one of the best up and coming Directors of the last five years. He directed my favorite movie of 2016, Sicario and the bank robbery thriller Hell or High Waterwhich also holds high acclaim. He captures raw and emotional grit and reality within the harshest environments in our hemisphere. He opts out of developing Hollywood-like characters and focuses on humanizing his personalities with deep emotional scars and sinful vulnerabilities that ground each individual in realism.

Wind River follows the same ambitions of humanization, revolved around the murder of a young Native American woman. It finds a way to be a simple crime story, but everything surrounding it is immersed in intrigue, deceit, and the pursuit of absolution.

Jeremy Renner plays a fish and wildlife tracker with some past regrets and is working diligently on this case to absolve himself of his iniquities. He does a fantastic job of expressing a special interest in using his environmental deciphering skills to figure out the events leading to the crime. Elizabeth Olsen plays an FBI agent out of her element who is extremely bright but has to overcome the odds of sexism on this reservation in order find the murderer.

The landscapes in the film are ironically beautiful and harsh at the same time. The snow-covered environment is breathtaking yet the story constantly reminds you about how brutal it can be.

Wind River is definitely a slow burn, but the way it comes to fruition is like a budding flower. I don’t want to spoil any part of the movie, but if you love a good murder mystery, Wind River puts together a highly competent story, great acting (especially from the Native American actors) and composes a tale of love, redemption, murder, and correction that will have you speaking about it long after the credits role.

Overall Grade: A-  

Was not disappointed at all by this film, and I suggest when you hear the name Taylor Sheridan, you do yourself a favor and enjoy his masterpieces.

Wind River
Crime, Drama, Mystery
August 2017
Director: Taylor Sheridan
Acadia Entertainment
1 hour 47 minutes
IMDB reference click here

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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One look at the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trailer and you know this is some next level animation. 

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