Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the last film of phase 4 of the MCU (the last part of phase four is the Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special which is releasing next Friday) and it was a very strong way to close a rather very mixed phases. The first five minutes of the film alone is one of the best scenes Marvel has ever done, they really worked Chadwick Boseman’s passing into the story very respectfully and carefully which in the end gives plenty of incredibly strong moments. There’s a lot of character bits here this time around sort of like how Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 was more of a character piece, here it’s quite similar only that the themes are much more different. The themes here is loss and trying to cope with losing the people you looked up to most, the performances here absolutely compliment this well. Letitia Wright who plays Shuri is a very strong lead who really does a great job with her performance, Angela Bassett who plays Ramonda absolutely nails it she gives one of the best performances of the year and truly steals every single scene she’s in. Bassett has always been a powerhouse performer who really puts in so much passion in so many roles she’s in and here is no exception, Lupita Nyong’o who plays Nakia is really strong here as well, it’s great to see her character again after being absent for awhile and it’s also seeing that she gets a lot to do in the film. There’s tons of powerful moments with her character and gives a ton of development that’s quite investing. Finally there’s Tenoch Huerta who plays the villain of the film Namor, his character is refreshing to mainly due to actually having a well developed motive. He’s not the stereotypical “I want to take over the world” type of villain he actually has a short but very well done flashback scene that really develops his character and why he is doing certain actions and what’s the goal. All of this really blends together well that ends up creating some really emotional moments especially during the beginning and the very end of the film, the film does have it’s hiccups mostly with Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who are just sort of there, they do a decent enough job with what they are given but it’s really not anything special. The tone is drastically different from the other scenes and has the energy of a CSI episode when it comes to the scenes with the two. Dominique Thorne who plays Ironheart is decent enough here and has pretty okay introduction, but it’s not anything particularly great either. Unfortunately Ironheart isn’t all that interesting here and ends up being there mostly for comedic relief, however when Thorne is given some strong moments she does quite a great job. Lastly there’s plenty of action scenes that are really strong one in particular that really steals the show, the major thing that really separates Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from a lot of the other phase four projects is that there were actual themes and high stakes for the characters, there was a sense of loss where anything could happen. It was an investing film that actually studied the characters and gave them their flaws rather than just not show any at all. Overall Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is by far one of the better parts of phase four, outside of the few hiccups as mentioned this is a entertaining yet character moment filled film.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently in theaters.
Black Adam is a prime example of what people mean when they say they are having comic book movie fatigue, it’s a genre that’s been very successful over the last several years. The problem is a lot of studios see this as a money making opportunity rather than making good quality films. That’s where Black Adam comes in, while there are a few things to praise such as some of the action scenes actually being well done and the performances from Pierce Brosnan and Aidis Hodge who really do the best they can with such a limited script. Everything else is beat by beat comic book movie genre plot points, the ideas of Black Adam are interesting and does seem like the movie wanted to tackle more of the anti-hero parts of Black Adam but for whatever reason held back and actually felt very watered down. The characters are completely one note and if you were to take some of them out of the movie nothing would change, like the ideas of the movie I like the concept of the characters it’s just a shame we never get to learn about them. Cyclone (played by Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (played by Noah Centineo) seem like neat characters but they mostly just serve to be part of a team in this case “The Justice Society”. Doctor Fate (Brosnan) and Hawkman (Hodge) get a bit more development but not by much, it does seem like the movie was trying to explore more with their characters but halfway through just said “screw it”. Dwayne Johnson gives a fine enough performance as Black Adam, it’s truly nothing special as it is what you expect it to be, the villain is easily one of the most forgettable villains in these comic book movies and that’s truly saying something given how many forgettable villains have shown up in the last few years. Ishmael Gregor who becomes Sabbac (played by Marwan Kenzari) has no personality outside of being evil and wanting to destroy everything, finally there’s the writing that really just can be summed up by saying it’s been done better before. There’s such a lack of trying to go more than surface level with the movie’s ideas which in the end truly hurts the movie, it’s a shame because Jaume Collet-Serra is actually a very solid director who’s done some great work in the past such as The Shallows, House Of Wax (2005) Orphan and Run All Night. I’m sure this isn’t going to be the end for Black Adam and maybe in the future the character as well as the other characters will get far more development because this movie really didn’t do much.
She-Hulk is the eighth Disney+ and MCU series….and it’s by far the absolute worst one. But before that let’s get the positives out of the way because they are very straightforward, for starters Tatiana Maslany is very solid as She-Hulk, that’s mainly due to her just being a really strong actress who can work with any sort of script. She’s hands down the best part of the entire series it’s just such a shame she wasn’t given a better show or script, episode eight is the highlight by far. While it’s not perfect it’s the only episode where the humor genuinely worked, plus having Charlie Cox back as Daredevil was pretty neat, he also gives a solid performance. The chemistry between Cox and Maslany while short is actually really charming and very entertaining. As for the rest of the show it’s a complete and total mess, if you thought the Marvel humor was terrible in previous shows or movies then you are going to have a dreadful time here, outside of a joke every once in awhile a lot of the humor really comes off as obnoxious. There’s a lot of fourth wall breaking humor that at this point way too many films and TV shows have done, I get that the source material has a lot of fourth wall breaking humor. The problem is the writing doesn’t do it in creative ways, in fact it quite honestly gets progressively worse as the series goes on. Heck the final episode ends up being this whole “this series was meant to be bad!” type of thing which again had the writing actually been investing or knew what it wanted to say that could have worked. Then you have the other characters who are just sort of there Jameela Jamil, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Roth and Ginger Gonzaga are fine enough but they are really not given a whole lot to do outside of unfunny lines. There really isn’t anything else to say here which is unfortunate because a She-Hulk show could have easily work had the writing been a lot more focused and actually attempted with the humor.
Werewolf By Night is hands down one of the best installments to come out of Phase Four in the MCU, for starters everything from the tone, style, characters heck even writing is a night and day difference from the rest of the MCU and I mean that in a good way. The special itself is only 52 minutes long yet still manages to flesh out it’s characters pretty well, Laura Donnelly and Gael García Bernal are both highlights who give really strong performances that completely make the special shine, the use of black and white combined with the throwback elements of the Universal Monster movies is truly fantastic. There’s some quite clever style and writing tricks that the writers and Michael Giacchino use. The film is very well crafted with so much attention to detail included, it helps that the special actually feels like one of the Universal monster films. It shows that everyone involved did their homework rather than create a cheap copy of the films.
Batman and Superman: Battle Of The Super Sons is the sixth installment of the Tomorrowverse, this one is pretty straightforward, it focuses on the sons of Batman and Superman Johnathan Kent and Damian Wayne. As far as characters go this one does a fine enough job, the father and son bond of Clark and Johnathan is genuinely really sweet and makes for some corny yet genuinely funny humor. So at the very least the movie has heart, where it lacks is mostly an interesting villain and story wise. The villain is Starro the conqueror which I do like the concept of but it’s just another “people are brainwashed” type scenario. The voice cast are quite great as well, Laura Bailey and Jack Dylan Grazer being the standouts who add quite a lot to their characters. Story wise this is again very straightforward which isn’t necessarily bad it just does a lot what you expect it to, it plays out like how a Saturday morning action cartoon show would. However the team up of Damien and Johnathan is genuinely charming and a lot of fun, which by far makes this movie worth a watch.
Batman and Superman: Battle Of The Super Sons releases on VOD Platforms October 18th
To say the MCU Phase Four has been divisive would be the understatement of the year, while there have been some really installments that I would actually go as far to say are some of the best of the MCU such as Doctor Strange: And The Multiverse Of Madness, Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home, there are also ones that completely missed the mark (Black Widow and Eternals) or had a ton of great ideas but settled on playing safe or were just hindered by the 6 episode format (looking at you Moon Knight even though I gave it a 7/10).
Thor: Love and Thunder is truly baffling the way it came out, there was so much here that should have absolutely worked but didn’t for several reasons. I’ll start with what I liked, Natalie Portman who returns as Jane Foster and becomes The Mighty Thor is truly fantastic here. Like in the first Thor films she really captures Jane Foster quite well and absolutely tries her best with the bare bones script she is given, what hurts her character is she isn’t explored nearly enough which is quite odd considering this was supposed to be a huge part of the film. Christian Bale who plays Gorr (or The God Slayer) also gives a strong performance but is the very definition of underutilized, Gorr as a character is very interesting and has a backstory that could have been quite emotional and actually powerful as well. The problem is Gorr is not given enough screentime to make that work, plus his backstory itself is nowhere near as explored as it should have been, Bale goes all out with the role which is just another huge reminder of how good of an actor Bale is. There’s a few fun action scenes here and there but a lot of it feels very empty that goes completely off the rails towards the end in all the wrong ways. Lastly there’s Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie who for some reason gets put into the backseat and just becomes some sidekick, when she does get time to shine she’s really great but Thompson and her character deserved far better than this.
Now for what it is completely wrong with this movie and that’s mostly due to three major things that completely break it. The first being the jokes, while I do understand the criticism of Thor Raganrock having jokes in it at least they worked to an extent and were at least controlled on a tight leash, the jokes in Thor: Love and Thunder are the complete opposite the first half of the movie is filled to the brim of jokes that are painfully unfunny. Even resorting to the screaming goat meme which is from 2012 (went viral in 2013), the first time it might have gotten a chuckle but the film kept doing it over and over again. The biggest problem here is the movie tries to juggle between jokes and serious moments, there’s some okay setups for some emotional scenes but are hindered by poorly written jokes that feel like they should be in an entirely different movie. The second major issue is the writing which can be pretty much summed up as being the definition of bare bones, characters who could be interesting have no character development, plot lines are introduced and abandoned with a snap of a finger and writing that completely prohibits any emotion or depth. Lastly there’s what I hinted at the beginning of this review, this another case of Phase Four having a ton of great ideas but completely wasting them. Particularly with Gorr and Jane Foster, there were many ideas about them that are interesting the movie just completely fails to do anything with them and if the movie does do then it’s barely anything at all, Thor finding out who he really is could be interesting but once again that’s only mentioned a few times throughout the movie but is quickly abandoned. Overall Thor: Love And Thunder is a huge missed opportunity that should have absolutely worked, it’s honestly quite baffling how wrong this went and is just massively disappointing overall.
So Morbius is finally released after numerous delays and there’s a whole lot to unpack here…and not in a good way. Morbius is another one of Sony’s Spider-Man universe films like Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, for what it’s worth Venom has so sort of grown on me, I still think it’s terrible but there are plenty of so bad it’s hilarious moments to be had. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is flawed but I genuinely liked it mostly because I found it to be far more successful than the first movie in terms of what it wants to be. Morbius however is a complete and total mess from start to finish, the only positive I can give it is Matt Smith who tried his absolute hardest to make the movie entertaining, plus Matt Smith is just one of those actors where no matter how garbage a movie is he will always be a positive. So Jared Leto plays Dr. Michael Morbius who has a rare blood disorder so he tries to find a cure for himself and his life long friend Milo played by Matt Smith. Once he finds the cure it seems to work at first before he becomes the vampire Morbius. So right off the bat (pun absolutely intended) Jared Leto gives yet another terrible performance, I see what they tried to go for here but it just didn’t work at all, Leto isn’t one of those actors who can make a monotone performance into something interesting, the whole blood plot line would be really interesting to follow if the movie slowed down and took a breath plus if the editing wasn’t atrocious. I get the movie is only an hour and 44 minutes long but that’s the problem it feels incredibly rushed almost like an abridged version of Morbius or if someone wrote this as if it was an essay on sparksnote, the side characters serve little to no purpose and are given barely anything to do. Martine Bancroft’s (Adria Arjona) only purpose is to be a love interest for Morbius, Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris) is basically a mentor figure to Morbius if you can even call him that, Agent Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) is given very little to do outside of being a generic law enforcement character and lastly Agent Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) is basically the comedic relief law enforcement character. Which to be fair Al Madrigal is by far the best of the supporting cast mainly because he actually gives this movie some sort of life, as I said earlier Matt Smith is the only good part about this mess, there’s scenes where he just does his own thing. I also found Milo to be a far more interesting character than Morbius who strangely got more development as well. Morbius also tries to include some horror elements one scene in particular but that falls flat mainly due to it being really nothing special at all, in fact pretty much any given horror film has done that scene far better. The writing by Matt Sazama (The Last Witch Hunter, God’s Of Egypt, Power Rangers (2017) and Dracula Untold) and Burk Sharpless (wrote the same films as Sazama minus The Last Witch Hunter) is atrocious there’s a lot of “jokes” in this movie that are so weirdly put in and the movie wants you to take them seriously as well. The writing feels both way too much yet so little at the same time, it over complicates a simple plot that could have been investing if the layout wasn’t so atrocious. Overall Morbius is a complete and total disaster, it doesn’t have the entertainment value that the Venom movies had and it ironically feels like it was rushed despite being delayed so many times.
As always before I start it must be said this is a SPOILER FREE review, I’ve been waiting for The Batman ever since it was announced, especially it was revealed that Robert Pattinson would be the new Batman. Pattinson has shown over the years how talented he really is so I was definitely interested to see how great he would do here. Especially when you bring Matt Reeves into the mix who previously finished the Planet Of The Apes trilogy with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and War for the Planet Of The Apes there’s bound to be something fantastic results. There’s a lot to talk about here so let’s start with the performances and characters, Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne and Batman is simply put brilliant casting, his portrayal of the iconic character just might be my favorite of any Batman film, he takes the character and does something completely different with the character. Although we don’t really get a whole lot of Bruce Wayne we still do learn a lot about him, we learn about his feelings towards Gotham, the pain he’s going through and his relationship with the other characters. Plus we learn a lot about his backstory, through Pattinson’s narration and through some of the other characters. What really makes Pattinson’s Batman work here is his acting and emotion he puts into the role, that’s complimented well by the atmosphere which I will get to in a bit. Zoë Kravitz is really strong as Catwoman, like Pattinson she takes her character and does something completely different, the same can be said with pretty much anyone in the film. Paul Dano as The Riddler is horrifying he’s a mixture of Jigsaw and the Zodiac Killer which absolutely works here. It brings a terrifying atmosphere to the film something that really caught me off guard, then there’s the rest of the cast Collin Farrell as The Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon and Andy Serkis as Alfred all of which did a fantastic job. When it comes to the worldbuilding of Gotham this film does the best job, The Batman (2022) doesn’t waste a single opportunity to explore and develop Gotham. We learn about it through Pattinson’s narration, the other characters and just by looking at it which leads to the cinematography. The cinematography tells a lot of the story without the writing having to do all of the work, it’s incredibly detailed in every single way possible there’s so much to look at in each scene. The atmosphere is dark but done a lot differently, The Batman goes for a horror/thriller type atmosphere which works, sure there’s a ton of action scenes but even then it still matches the atmosphere. The characters themselves and the atmosphere compliment each other really well, they both have this sense of rawness to them which I actually think is what makes these characters so effective. Especially The Riddler who they completely changed and gave such a disturbing type feel to his character. With Batman they gave him also a raw type of feel but one that feels like he has no idea how to help out, which goes well of the film taking place a few years into Wayne being The Batman. The direction from Matt Reeves is absolutely phenomenal, he brings so much talent and atmosphere to the film, he truly knows how to build a world and have each scene tell a lot more than what is being shown. The score from Michael Giacchino is booming, there’s one particular scene that especially highlights how much it stands out which I will not spoil because this scene was just that incredible! Overall The Batman is an absolute masterclass of talent, there is so much to this film and a whole lot that I am still thinking about (saw it on Tuesday.) despite the several Batman films The Batman brings so much new to the table, it takes an iconic character and brings several different ideas and elements to the table. Hands down the best film so far this year definitely check this one out.
Before I begin I will note that it will be next to impossible to talk about this movie without mentioning spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie yet I would recommend not reading this review.
Phase Four when it comes to film has been rough. Shang-Chi as I said in my review is an incredibly solid film up until the third act, Eternals was incredibly disappointing and Black Widow was just there. So I was really hoping Spider-Man No Way Home would come out and wow me…and that it most certainly did. So starting off let’s discuss characters and performances, Tom Holland as Spider-Man is still fantastic. He truly puts everything he has in this film and it delivers in every single way possible, Zendaya’s character Michelle gets far more development than she has in the other films which is something that I’m glad they did. Granted it was one of the more predictable aspects (not in a bad way) like of course she was going to get more development it’s the third Spider-Man film in the MCU. She completely grows as a character and doesn’t feel like she’s being shoved off to the sidelines, I really don’t have anything interesting to say about Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch once again does the role really well and doesn’t over stay the welcome. Finally let’s talk about the villains plus Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man and how they are used plus compliment this giant film. I’ll start with the one who got the least development which was The Lizard honestly he’s about the same as he was in The Amazing Spider-Man, there really isn’t a whole lot to his character and that was really to be expected. Next up is Electro and Sandman who I both feel are around the same level when it comes to development, for one thing Jamie Foxx is far better as Electro here than he was in Amazing Spider-Man 2. A nice reference to Sandman’s character growth in Spider-Man 3 is shown during a scene where he teams up with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to fight Electro (although he does become somewhat evil again but we will get to that.) Lastly there’s Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, Green Goblin and Doc Ock. Who all have an incredible amount of development, Alfred Molina once again is perfect as Doc Ock and although he isn’t a huge part of the film. I truly love what they did with his character, once again the film acts as a continuation to Spider-Man 2 with his character. He was a man corrupted by his inventions deep down he wasn’t demonic like the next character The Green Goblin. Willem Dafoe truly owns the role of The Green Goblin I truly can’t picture anyone else in the role, the film does such a good job showing how evil he really is and shows why he is the most threatening of the villains. He has all the villains besides Doc Ock go completely mad and attack, the strongest parts of the writing come in when Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield come in. Not only do we get to see both of them again but we get to hear how they are doing, what’s changed and so on. The film acts as a continuation to their stories, even the little conversations end up meaning quite a lot. One important rule when it comes to a team up sort of element is to never have one part of the certain team or character overshadow the other. And I feel No Way Home does a fantastic job of doing that, Tobey, Andrew and Tom’s version of Spider-Man feel equal one doesn’t feel far stronger than the other. The jokes in the film are actually quite fantastic, there was a lot of charm put into them that I can’t help but smile at. The ending is truly hard hitting and definitely one of the more emotional moments that have happened in the MCU thus far, it’s hard hitting change that has this sense of moving on from memories. Overall Spider-Man No Way Home is a huge celebration of Spider-Man it’s a fantastic film that’s hands down one of the best the MCU has to offer!
I’ve said in the past how much I don’t like Venom (2018) it felt like it was trying to take itself way too seriously a lot of the time plus it felt like one of those awful early 2000s super hero movies that were coming out of nowhere. The trailer for Venom Let There Be Carnage gave me hope that this would be a massive improvement over the first movie and luckily that was the case. First off this one knows exactly what it wants to be, it owns that it’s a comedy movie and almost never takes itself seriously and even when it does those moments aren’t bad at all. The director this time around is Andy Serkis who did quite solid job, there’s some actual character moments here that sure might not be anything spectacular but do feel like there is a little more to this one. Woody Harrelson as Carnage was really strong, It’s clear Harrelson is having a blast on set and it really shows in his performance. I do wish they could have went a little deeper with Carnage as a character but for what they went over and showed it was much better than expected. Tom Hardy as Venom this time around I thought was a lot better, Hardy actually sounds like he’s having a blast unlike in the last movie. The action scenes were actually not too bad, they aren’t anything to write home about but they are massively entertaining. Especially the scenes towards the end which are a great way to close the movie! Finally there’s the end credit scene which I won’t spoil that yes is pretty neat! Overall while there really isn’t that much to Venom Let There Be Carnage it is a huge improvement over the first movie that actually wants me to see a third movie!
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is available on all VOD Platforms!