Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a entertaining yet strong character piece film about loss.

Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.

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.

8/10 B+

R.I.P.D. Rise Of The Damned…so this exists.

Recruited by the R.I.P.D., a resurrected sheriff returns to Earth to save humanity from a gateway to hell.

Like I said In my review for Blade Of The 47 Ronin who honestly asked for this? R.I.P.D is yet another movie from 2013 where it was a critically and financial failure, the moment it came out audiences already moved on and it was quickly forgotten about. To be absolutely fair a sequel was announced a little after the movie released so I guess rather than cancel it they turned into a prequel which I’m assuming because Ryan Reynolds or Jeff Bridges didn’t want to return (rightfully so), R.I.P.D.: Rise Of The Damned is ultimately a terrible western movie with horrible acting, writing, action scenes and costumes. It’s absolutely painful to sit through and the characters are very poorly written. If you thought the characters from the first movie were horribly written wait until you take a gander at these ones, the humor is once again not funny there’s just no personality to the movie at all and is nothing but short of a horrible idea that somehow didn’t get left in the concept stage. I genuinely have no idea what on earth they were trying to go for here, if it was to make a prequel to R.I.P.D. they definitely failed to do that as it fails to really tell the backstory in a compelling way, if they wanted to make some western movie well they got some elements right but not in a way that’s any good. I mean sure we get to learn about Roy who was played by Jeff Bridges in the first movie and is played by Jeffery Donovan in this one. But much like in the other movie Roy isn’t interesting, heck I would argue Roy is less interesting in this one mainly due to him being a very typical western movie cliche hero in this one. In the first movie at least they tried to give him some personality (Jeff Bridges made the performance at least a bit unintentionally funny) with this movie you get nothing but a dreadfully told backstory that you are going to forget about 15 minutes after you watch it.

R.I.P.D.: Rise Of The Damned is available on all VOD platforms.

Disgrace To Cinema F

The Lair is another misfire from Neil Marshall.

When Royal Air Force pilot Lt. Kate Sinclair is shot down over Afghanistan, she finds refuge in an abandoned underground bunker where deadly man-made biological weapons — half human, half alien — are awakened.

In case Hellboy and The Reckoning weren’t proof enough that the glory days of Neil Marshall are over than The Lair just confirms it. While The Lair isn’t as bad as the two previous mentioned movies it’s still a horrible addition to Marshall’s career. It’s pretty much if you took any sci-fi movie where a bunch of creatures attack from the last 10 years and did absolutely nothing new with it, the acting and writing are beyond abysmal and like in The Reckoning there’s a few so bad it’s hilarious moments but not enough to save this movie. Even the actions scenes and creature designs are very poor, I get this was on a low budget but a lot of it was very uninspired a huge disappointment due to knowing how capable Marshall is as a director and his creativity. Which is probably the main point I’m trying to get across here, the creativity is just no longer in his movies, The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Centurion had so much creativity, atmosphere and character to them that were and still are really great (The Descent being one of my favorite horror films of all time) the same can’t be said for The Lair, it’s a terrible sci-fi monster movie that is very disposable that you will quickly forget about after watching.

The Lair is available on all VOD platforms.

1/10 F

Blade Of The 47 Ronin is somehow worse than the first movie.

Ancient Japanese Ronin warriors, set 300 years after 47 Ronin, in a modern-day world where Samurai clans exist in complete secrecy.

I’m not even sure where to begin with Blade Of The 47 Ronin, I’m sure the first question on everybody’s mind is “how on earth did 47 Ronin one of the biggest critical and finical failures of 2013 get a sequel?” To recap 47 Ronin released at the tip end of 2013 with little to no advertising and was attempting to be a fictionalized account of the forty seven ronin an actual group of real samurai under Daimyo Asano Naganori in 18th century Japan. A neat premise but very poor execution that had some okay action scenes and for whatever reason had Keanu Reeves involved, it was a largely forgotten about movie that nobody really thought of until last week when the sequel came out. Blade Of The 47 Ronin takes place 300 years after the first movie and has very little connection with the first movie, this one really ends up being more of a below average samurai movie that while like the first movie actually have some okay action scenes especially considering the budget of the movie. There really isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done before, the cast at least seems to connect with each other really well and for the script they are given they don’t do a horrible job, but the problem stems from being a beat by bear story. It’s another one of those “this certain person is the only who can defeat so and so now they have to find their true power.” It’s a lot of seen it and done it way better, if you took away 47 Ronin away from the title you would think this was just some terrible samurai movie. Much like the previous movie the characters are very poorly written who are given one or two personality traits and that’s it, lastly the movie is lacking in identity at least with the first movie you can actually point to what the movie is and what it was trying to do, with this one all you can really say is that it’s a bad samurai movie with a few decent moments. Blade Of The 47 Ronin much like it’s predecessor is going to be largely forgotten about, it makes complete and total sense on why this was quietly shoved on to Netflix.

Blade Of The 47 Ronin is available on Netflix.

2/10 F

Black Adam comic book movie fatigue at it’s worst.

In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.

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.

Black Adam is currently in theaters.

4/10 D+

Werewolf By Night is a fun Universal Monster movie throwback and breath of fresh air for the MCU.

On a dark and sombre night, a secret cabal of monster hunters emerge from the shadows and gather at the Bloodstone Temple following the death of their leader; the attendees are thrust into a mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic.

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.

Werewolf By Night is available on Disney+

8/10 B+

Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind brings new ideas to the series.

When Kano and Black Dragon mercenaries become determined to take over Earthrealm, undisciplined Kenshi seeks tutelage from retired Kuai Liang to stop Kano from decimating all of Earthrealm.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind is the third of the new animated Mortal Kombat movies (technically there is one that came out in 1995 but that is an entirely different movie). The previous two movies Scorpion’s Revenge and Battle Of The Realms were both very solid and accomplished what they were sent out to do, Snow Blind however takes it up a notch and actually does something quite different this time around….it’s not based around the tournament itself, instead it takes this Mad Max apocalyptic type atmosphere approach while also having a lot of the elements that make the series so great. The characters are actually pretty well written particularly Kenshi, Kuai and Kano (who is a fantastic villain) the action scenes are very entertaining and the writing is surprisingly very well written, it’s by far the most in depth it’s ever been in these movies thus far. There are a few hiccups such as some of villains who kind of just serve to hype up Kano and really get the Dragonball Z movie henchmen treatment, however Kabel and Tremor are a lot of fun and actually steal a few of the scenes they are in. The highlight of the film however is Kenshi and Kuai, the student and mentor chemistry is truly strong here and the two have some really strong character moments. Overall if you liked the last two movies you are going to really like this one, especially since it steers away from the Mortal Kombat formula and does a pretty solid job of bringing something new to the series. A fourth movie is set to release next year!

Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind is available on all VOD platforms.

8/10 B+

The Woman King is a breath of fresh air for blockbusters.

In the 1800s, a group of all-female warriors protects the African kingdom of Dahomey with skills and fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Faced with a new threat, Gen. Nanisca trains the next generation of recruits to fight against a foreign enemy that’s determined to destroy their way of life.

The Woman King is a breath of fresh air when it comes to blockbusters, the film is a lot like Gladiator and Braveheart mainly from it’s cinematography and how the film itself is presented. One of the main parts that completely sell this movie is the cast and their tremendous performances mainly Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega and Thuso Mbedu all of which deliver powerful and truly fantastic performances which each of them add to the film. Viola Davis is already a powerhouse actress but here she ups it notch and delivers one of the best of her career, theres a great nuance to her performance of playing a warrior as well as someone who has a ton of past trauma. The cinematography combined with the action scenes are masterfully crafted, there’s a lot of attention to detail when it comes to the action scenes. Adding depth to the battles as well as making the different settings compliment each battle, there’s also a strong atmosphere that once again compliments and blends itself into the film beautifully. You also have Gina Prince-Bythewood’s direction which like the rest of the film compliments it really well, between the characters and the very well written script there’s so much to Bythewood’s direction that completely makes the film. Overall The Woman King is quite fantastic, it’s a huge film that is masterfully made and has some of this year’s best performances.

The Woman King is available in theaters.

10/10 A+

Lou is another forgettable Netflix action thriller.

A young girl is kidnapped during a powerful storm. Her mother joins forces with her mysterious neighbour to set off in pursuit of the kidnapper. Their journey will test their limits and expose the dark secrets of their past.

What a surprise another Netflix action thriller that’s very forgettable, it’s a shame because there is at least some decent parts about this one. Allison Janney is actually pretty great as one of the main leads, her character is quite interesting it’s just a shame there isn’t a whole lot of development until the last half. Jurnee Smollett and Logan Marshall-Green are also pretty solid here as well plus there’s some actually decent action scenes that are quite entertaining. Outside of all of that there really isn’t much else here, a lot of it is beat by beat action thriller plot lines and is way too predictable for it’s own good. The writing offers interesting ideas during the first half of the movie but never expands on them as the movie goes on, I guess Lou is a fine enough time waster but at that point why even bother when there’s better films in the genre?

Lou is available on Netflix.

4/10 D+

Samaritan is a generic superhero story.

A young boy learns that a superhero who was thought to have gone missing after an epic battle twenty years ago may in fact still be around.

I was actually pretty excited for Samaritan despite the plot reading exactly like a generic superhero story, I wanted to see how Julius Avery (director of Overlord and Son Of A Gun) would tackle the superhero genre. Unfortunately the movie itself is a very generic one, the story of a kid unexpectedly meeting a superhero has been done numerous times before and it’s not any different here. Javon Walton at least gives a fun performance that gives the movie spirit and Sylvester Stallone is really solid here as he usually is, the few action scenes that there are not bad but not anything to write home about. Had this movie come out several years ago like in the 90s there would be a lot more leeway, the main issues here are mostly the villains who are very one note and for half the movie barely do anything. Then you have the writing which I’ve said before is written in the most generic way possible, the movie hits a lot of the typical superhero movie beats that have been done far better elsewhere. There’s some decent moments with Stallone and Walton who bond over the course of the movie which leads to some great moments, but a lot Samaritan is very forgettable and sort of sits among such a crowded genre. Overall Samaritan isn’t bad, there’s definitely some heart and the acting is at least solid. But it’s not enough to really standout.

Samaritan is available on Amazon Prime Video.

5/10 C