“It’s not hype—it’s real” long live the King. #BlackPanther

Marvel Studios “Black Panther,” is the story of T’Challa, a young African prince who takes on the mantle of King and Super Hero, and the centuries’ old legacy that comes with it.

First introduced by Marvel Comics the groundbreaking Black Panther character made its first appearance in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1” Issue 52, published in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It’s important to note that the ownership and creation of Black Panther are by White men. However, most notably there were multiple new “Black Panther” publications from the likes of filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and author/journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed T’Challa/Black Panther introducing him to a massive fan base in “Captain America: Civil War,” the record-breaking hit film that pitted the Avengers against one another.  

Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place as King. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. 

It’s not hype. It’s real. “Black Panther” broke the chains of mediocrity. The rich history of the fantastical world of Wakanda is brought to life, stitching in the spiritual, the mystical and the technological influences in the “country’s” culture. The story anchors in the real world with strong, complicated but relatable characters to allow the audiences to take in a tangible, yet remarkable experience.

Chadwick Boseman’s Wakandan King is a superhero with a complicated past and uncertain future, and an identity that matters. He’s flawed therefore he’s believable. 

Under Coogler’s sturdy direction the nuances and details of the “Black Panther” storyline are impeccable. Structure firmly in place there isn’t a stereotype on the screen. It’s simple: it’s a game changer. Where the large majority of films made by white males are celebrated for their mediocrity the bar of true excellence in storytelling has been mounted, high, above the sky. To come close to claim what Coogler has achieved would require a spaceship to even attempt to claim the “throne.”

What makes “Black Panther” so explosive is that the story takes a look at “black self-hatred” and the crimes we commit against each other.  We are not innocent of our situation and if we don’t own up to this fact then we are doomed and should not really complain about the hell we created.  I mean if “we” bring the gasoline, and “we” light the fire, why should we be screaming “help me”?  There are no excuses for bad behavior and the consequences will bring a “superhero” to their knees. 

This film is unabashedly political and highlights the power of Black women as very capable heroes with wisdom and a fearlessness never before seen on the screen. 

Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o’s character is Nakia a War Dog, a Wakandan spy often embedded in countries outside of Wakanda to observe and report back. She must decide whether she should be guided by her duty to her nation or her feelings for T’Challa. 

Playing a Marvel villain Erik Killmonger is Michael B. Jordan who brings such devious levels of unbridled pain that this actor actually manages to bring “sympathy” for the “devil”.

Okoye (Danai Gurai) is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan Special Forces. She is the best fighter in Wakanda and she is fiercely loyal to the throne. 

W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya Academy Award® nominated for “Get Out” ) is the head of security for the Border Tribe who live on the borders of Wakanda and serve as the first line of defense for the country. To outsiders, they appear to be what people would “expect” of a small African nation—but the truth is they are some of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda, intent on protecting the secrets of their nation at all costs. 

Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s quick-witted little sister and tech wizard. The second-in-line for the throne behind her brother and is the smartest person in Wakanda—the top scientist and the innovator behind the Black Panther’s updated suits and technology.

“It’s hard for a good man to be king,” one of the best lines uttered in this film. How true, how true.  

“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett, Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. 

Directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay he wrote with Joe Robert Cole. The “Black Panther” creative brain trust includes frequent Coogler collaborators: director of photography Rachel Morrison, ASC, production designer Hannah Beachler, editor Michael P. Shawver and composer Ludwig Göransson; along with editor Debbie Berman, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, makeup designer Joel Harlow, visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Baumann, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick.     

"Black Panther" opens February 16, 2018.

Justice League (3/4): Review with SPOILERS | DC fans can rejoice, it's their answer to Marvel's Avengers, almost!

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Justice League has been the dream DC fans since Avengers' success. With DC's Justice League releasing this Friday, that dream is about to become reality. The anticipation and excitement of comic book fans, movie fans and even non-fans is even higher for this film, since the success of DC's Wonder Woman this summer. The film was kind of a reboot, setting up a new (possible) tone for DC universe. And with Avenger's director Joss Whedon joining the team, the expectations became even higher. The good news is, the film does not completely disappoint. The bad news, it's still fully not what you may expect.

It does not have the same dark tones as 2 previous films (Man of Steel & Batman v Superman). It's funnier, slicker and sightly campier. It tries too hard to play some social justice angles, but for most part it has a decent story, with good execution. The multiple, heroes and multiple characters work, even with their own storylines, setting up followup films. All the actors are brilliant, writing is slick, action is entertaining, comedy is funny and has enough for all comic book & movie fans to rejoice and enjoy.

To summarize, Justice League, does justice to its fans. But does leave more to desire. 

***SPOILERS***

After the events of Batman v Superman, Superman is gone. The world is left in darkness and despair, causing the arrival of a new dark entity, Steppenwolf (this is your typical mega super bad-entity) and his army of Parademons. He wants to enslave the entire world, and he needs 3 cubes, called Mother Boxes (yep, there's always magical cubes involved) for that, which are hidden in Themyscira, Atlantis and somewhere on Earth. Batman has sensed this arrival, and is trying to put a team together, with the help of his new ally, Wonder Woman. His first potential recruit is Aquaman, who's not interested in being part of this, and wants to continue living his loner life on a small Island. Second is the "fast guy" Barry Allen (he's not called The Flash yet), who's a friendless young teenager, a super fan of batman, and super excited to be part of any team (your typical young teenager, who's excited to play with big boys, aka the new Spiderman). Third is half man, half machine - Cyborg, who's trying to understand his new existence, and find a purpose.

After the first box gets snatched away from Amzonians, Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince reaches out to Batman. She tries to persuade Cyborg to join the team, but he's not ready. Even after initial denials, both Cyborg and Aquaman (who also loses the second box from Atlantis) reluctantly join the team. But this new team's first encounter with Steppenwolf makes them realize that they are not really ready for this fight.

Batman suggests that they use the third cube to bring Superman back to life. Even though most other team members to do not agree to the plan, they decide to go along and give it a shot. The plan works, bringing Superman back to life, but he cannot remember much, and starts a fight with the team, assuming them to be his enemies. Superman leaves when Lois arrives, and takes her back to Smallville. The bad news - In this fight, they lose the third box to Steppenwolf as well. Steppenwolf has all the boxes, to destroy the world, and finish his evil plans!

Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and Barry locate the Steppenwolf, to fight him off and recover the boxes. In a grand battle at a nuclear plant location in Eastern Europe, every one seems lost and not capable of standing against Steppenwolf, until Superman arrives. The fight takes a turn as the Justice League is brought together, and fights together like a team!

Here's the breakdown of good, and not-so-good.

The good:

  • The tone of the film is definitely different from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is a relief. It's closer to Wonder Woman, and definitely has Joss Whedon's mark on it. It has comedy, humor and some campy fun tone. But it's still a very Zack Snyder film, with it's dark moments.
  • Ben Affleck proves again, that he's a good choice for Batman. It sucks that he's almost ready to drop the mantle, and move on. Hopefully we get one BATMAN solo film with just him.
  • Gal Gadot is back as the wonderful Wonder Woman. Not much needed to be said. She rocks!
  • Ray Fisher as Cyborg is an unexpected treat. He really brings the complexity of the character, and plays an important role in the film. 
  • Jason Momoa is truly digging the role of Aquaman. He's charming, he's hot, he's funny AF and he's just amazing. Let's hope his solo film can carry that tone.
  • Even though there's already a FLASH on small screen, who's beloved, Ezra Miller's Barry Allen (he's not called THE FLASH yet) is quite good. He does remind you of the new Spiderman from Captain America: Civil War, but it works. He's excited, he's childish, he's naive, but he's truly FUN!
  • The chemistry between Batman and Wonder Woman is impressive. Hopefully we see them in more films together!
  • There is some interesting social commentary in the film. From immigration, to racism, to several other HOT social topics.
  • The opening scene with Superman is quite a treat, better than Superman in 2 previous films, honestly!
  • Great action sequences. It's a joy to watch our favorite Superheroes fight together. The dream of all DC fans, has come true!
  • Even better is the Superman's battle with rest of the team. That battle just rocks. Superman against Justice League (kinda!).
  • And even cuter, is the Superman's race with Flash. Yes, that's mid credit, so don't miss it!
  • And do not miss post credit scene with Lex Luthor and Slade Wilson. Yep, it's pretty cool!!
  • Additional mentions:
    • Amber Heard's Meera is really cool. Can't wait to see more!
    • Jeremy Irons is a good Alfred. Yes, he is!
    • Joe Morton as Dr Silas Stone, Cyborg's father. Just wonderful!
    • Ciaran his voice for Steppenwolf. Better than James Spader as Ultron.

Not so good:

  • Henry Cavill's Superman still seems stuck in the tone of previous films. It's slightly better, but it's still not the Superman we have grown to love. Will it ever be?
  • Lois is mostly wasted. The emotional drama between Clark and Lois is just not very convincing.
  • Steppenwolf is not as menacing as you may expect it to be. He doesn't even look great. That's the best they could do. WTF?
  • For some fans, the characters may not be developed enough, since we haven't seen all their solo films or know much about them. Specially Cyborg and Aquaman.
  • The film seems to try too hard to make some social commentary. Some of it doesn't really fit with the tone of the film overall.
  • We don't see result of the race between Superman and The Flash. Why??
  • Why waste J.K. Simmons like that? He's such a great actor, and has almost nothing to do.

***SPOILERS END***

Overall, it's an enjoyable film, with great cast, good direction, amazing visuals and many of our favorite superheroes together on the big screen. And it works! Let's just hope that this is a sign of DC on a new path, and it continues in the right direction. And like Justice League, the upcoming films do justice to its fans.

Despicable Me 3 (3/4) | Same old minions, Gru and team, that we love!

The minions are back for 4th time! Oh, and Gru & others are back too. And this time Gru has a twin-brother as well, very smartly called Dru. All your other favorite voices are also back. But again. minions are back. It's pretty apparent that "Despicable Me" aka DM, has become "De Minions". The fart, they mumble, they run, fall, do tricks etc etc etc, and they are lot of fun!

It is the third installment in the Despicable Me film series, and the sequel to Despicable Me 2 (2013). Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and co-directed by Eric Guillon,[6] the film is written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and stars the voices of Steve Carell in a dual role, Kristen Wiig, and Trey Parker. It tells story of Gru discovering he has a twin-brother Dru, who wants to push him back to being  super villain. Unwillingly, he has to partner with his brother to bring down a new supervillain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who grows up to become obsessed with the character he played in the '80s and is bent on world domination. And then ether's minions, disappointed by Gru's lack of interest in being a villain. They leave him. But do they?Old story? Maybe. Family story? Maybe.

What's good:

  • The voice cast is good, the animation is crisp.
  • Trey Parker as the evil Balthazar is damn good!
  • Steve Carrell's Drummer is quite interesting.
  • There are tons of jokes, many land well.
  • Minions are back!

What's not-so-good

  • Lot of vice talent is wasted. Like Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate etc.
  • Many jokes don't land. Guess, it happens in comedies. Or the jokes are too childish. )Kids would get a laugh)
  • Rehash of everything we have seen. Nothing special.
  • More minions. Do we really need that? (Yes!)

If you like Minions, or you have kids that like minions, or like silly fun movies. Go ahead and watch this. Otherwise, not really necessary.

THE BIG SICK (4/4) - Just amazing, MUST WATCH!

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THE BIG SICK is a movie produced by the comic genius Judd Apatow (and Barry Mendel). His movies are usually about this nerdy guy, who falls for a hot girl and cuteness, romance and comedy ensues - a romantic comedy. With Kumail Najiani being that nerd, who also happens to be a comedian in real life, it seems like it may be the same formula. Only this time, the nerd happens to be brown and muslim. That already sounds daring and interesting enough. Right?

But there's a lot more to this film. This film has a soul and theme that's very relevant and important in these times. A film that (almost) normalizes being brown, and being muslim. A love story, that's honest, truthful, scary and deeply touching. In more than one ways. Topped with some brilliant humor (written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon) and some amazing performances (Nanjiani, Zoe KazanHolly HunterRay RomanoAdeel Akhtar and Anupam Kher in his 500th film), this film becomes a stand out film of the year. No wonder it's been buzzing since Sundance earlier this year. And now you have an opportunity to watch it at your nearest cinema, starting tomorrow.

So let's break it down. What's good...

  • The film is really funny, and emotional, and romantic. It's a true romantic dram-edy. And really FUNNY!
  • Kumail Nanjiani rocks being a sweet, cute & funny nerd. Is he really like that? Maybe. But he plays the part of Kumail wonderfully. (Oh wait, he's playing himself. Hmmm...)
  • The cast is phenomenal. Zoe Kazan is awesome. Anupam Kher and Zenobia Sheriff as parents are just perfect. Zenobia makes a daunting, strict mom. Adeel as the typical pakistani brother is cool!
  • Ray Romano (I didn't recognize him for a minute, or more) and Holly Hunter are seen like never before. As the loving parents of Emily, who fall in love with her ex-boyfriend, as she lays in coma; they bring so much emotion & love along with great humor. It's amazing to watch them.
  • It tackles the issue of race and cross-cultural tensions with quite an honest sensitivity. The cultural dilemma of the man (Kumail), his family and even the other parents is quite well portrayed.
  • If you are brown or desi (south asian), you will feel that the subject is handled well from their standpoint as well. It kinda shows the pain and suffering they go through.
  • A lot of diversity. Well, it is a story of brown muslim man. But that brings lots of wonderful brown actors on screen. Adeel Akhtar, Shenaz Treasurywala, Zenobia Shroff, and Anupam Kher in his 500th film. And lots of brown girls playing "candidates".
  • Another film about comedian's trying to make it. All you comics, and comic lovers. Go for this!
  • It's also a story of hope, dreams and following your dreams. An all-in-one buffet!

And what's not-so-good

  • You may find some stereotypes, and may find them annoying or offensive. But I can tell you as a brown person, it's nothing bad.
  • Anupam Kher doesn't get to do more. He's a brilliant actor. Hollywood needs to learn to use him better. PLEASE!
  • Another film about comedian's trying to make it. Haven't we had enough?
  • Although the point of view of south-asian family is shown, it could have been explored more. But I guess the film is not about that.
  • I am not in it!!!.. I mean, seriously. How many brown people movies are there? how did I miss it? :(

So... If you don't like good comedy, with feelings/emotions and more, you may want to think about it. But if you like good movies, check it out NOW!

SYNOPSIS: Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Hunter and Romano) who he's never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart. THE BIG SICK is directed by Michael Showalter (Hello My Name Is Doris), written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, and produced by Judd Apatow (TrainwreckThis Is 40) and Barry Mendel (TrainwreckThe Royal Tenenbaums).

Directed by: Michael Showalter
Written by: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Produced by: Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Aidy Bryant and Anupam Kher

Official Site: www.TheBigSickmovie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebigsickmovie/
Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/thebigsickmovie/
Hashtag: #TheBigSick