a Quick Movie Review : Joker

Alright. Here we go. Just saw the film and going to jot some thoughts down (note: though I’m finally posting this about a month after writing this).

No editor.

One time viewing.

Yes SPOILER ALERT

3

2

1


There’s a dance to the film, Joker.

Get it? Those of you who’ve seen the film?

A dance?

tenor.gif

Was that parallel a bit obnoxious?

That ultimately, even though you “get it”, the decisions made still feel a bit derivative and slightly awkward?

It’s as if I’m self-aware but not self-aware enough to see the big picture of what I’m doing.  Not able to see truly outside of myself.

And, obviously, that’s essentially what the movie felt like to me.

It reminded me of that ice cream shop in town.

They had weird flavors like pickle and jalapeno.

The idea was that they had goofy flavors.

The result was that they closed in a year.

So the question becomes clear:

What flavor did JOKER want to be?

As an acting piece for Joaquin Phoenix, it’s wonderful.

As a character piece as a film, it’s alright. But because it’s still ultimately tied to a comic book character, it ends up feeling forced and cheesy because it’s inevitably trying to explain and establish a well-known character.

There was an elegant dance that Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of the Joker character did that this film couldn’t. There was an understanding of give-and-take in Nolan’s vision and also an understanding of the film he was creating (and also a better understanding of the character and the appeals of the character. But that’s for another time).  There was a sense of relief to the breath of fresh air that Nolan’s writing brought that this film did quite the opposite of.

It shoved down my throat it’s own “cleverness” behind the “purposefully” blatant imagery and narrative until I chocked on it and died.

It believed that it exculpated itself by being self-evident that it’s the audience’s job to get the film.

We got it just fine. But it’s as if you imagined your highly promoted rated R rating was going to only be viewed by a bunch of ninth graders.

That Looney Tunes like ending was just the kick in my liver even though the film was, with all intent and purpose, going for my nuts. And as I’m groaning in pain on the ground—puking—the film didn’t even know why that kick worked. And it doesn’t care. It’s just happy that it did. It has faith that my nuts are right around my ribcage.

The thing is, even if we understand why we’re given every explanation for every quirk this famous comic book character has, that doesn’t mean it’s any less cliche or felt any less lazy and ridiculous.

Oh, he has a mental condition so he’s forced to laugh. I got it. 

Oh, he had a terrible parent and childhood. Of course, what self-respecting villain doesn’t. Check.

Oh, everything went wrong for him with his life choices until he became the villain. Right. Manifest that destiny, my friend. Check.

Ah, the whole plot seeming almost comically tragic is the point. How clever. That’s the joke. As if the tone of the film was any different, it’d be a black comedy.

WE GOT IT. HA.

But dare I say that the actual joke is that the film might have been cleverer, braver, and just better had it just gone strictly that route of being a comedy instead? Turn the whole film into a Wes Anderson-esque film or a Coen Brothers-esque film as if we’re experiencing the world as this mad man is experiencing it.

Just let us actually laugh and feel terrible about it.

When the tone of the film expects us to take it seriously, it forces us to observe it and take it in with a lens and stomach fitting that tone. So the at times beyond non-sensical and lazy plot points feel less justified and feel more half-assed.

And that feeling has a poignant exclamation near the end of the film when Joker, the character, himself doesn’t seem to know what the hell he is.

Is he a tragic man haunted by the demons beyond his control?

Or is he suddenly a political representation of an oppressed economic class in our society?

Why did that become a thing? Why was that necessary?

You were doing so well of carrying on your various plot points with some consistency. That was one decent thing you were doing in your writing.

Sure. The whole economic inequality and social turbulence serve as a backdrop but the whole character of Joker felt like he was developing into someone who was a victim of it but not really part of its evolution nor revolution—at least not by choice.

He was developing as someone whose madness and downfall into darkness was a machination of his own inner chaos. That the poverty was just one of many items on the long, screwed up list of what made his life go wrong. Especially by the way he seems to see it until that point in the film. Unaware of the greater effect he had on the Gotham’s economic revolt and generally uncaring of the revolution beyond the fact that it put him on the news.

Keeping that would have kept the character of Joker as a self-absorbed mad men who was like a sponge to his own psychosis and that ultimately led to his downfall. Which is what the movie was setting up the whole time.

His rise to becoming the leader of the disgruntled parts of society seemed like it should have been purely coincidental, accidental, and tragically—and unintentionally—opportunistic.

As if he was Forrest Gump who had different kinds of mental problems.

But that gets all thrown out the window in his surprisingly lucid rant about social inequality during his meltdown.

Fine. In some sense, the film could be trying to show us that as the “Joker”, Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix) finally got the courage to speak his mind and stand up to/for society. That as the “Joker” he actually sees things clearer.

But that still feels like an injustice to what the narrative was building towards.

And why is anyone in this universe taking Joker/Arthur seriously? How did the film justify that? Y’all were just laughing at this failed comedian days ago, brought him onto a talk show to mock him, and now after he commits a few murders on TV after going on a middle-schooler rant about societal injustice he suddenly inspires enough people to become the defacto figurehead and spark a revolt?

We’re just supposed to go, “yeah that’s how screwed up Gotham is”?

The pill is just too damn big, Morpheus. At least lubricate it first or give us a glass of water.

Again, this is probably due to the tone the film sets for itself that it’s asking for a higher standard from its audience than it’s ready to take on.

At this point, I should mention that I sound like I hated the film but I actually enjoyed a lot of it. The film is not without its merits.

I actually appreciated the poetic nature of Batman being born on the same day as the Joker. They built that up surprisingly well even when Bruce was a very minor character. To those who don’t know what Batman’s origin story is, the scene might have even been more poignant as they could see it as a boy losing his parents instead of seeing it as a famous comic book hero being born.

It was impressive that we got to see the full arc to the story of Thomas Wayne and those who are unfamiliar with the Batman lore could still appreciate the character for what he was in the film.

The way they balanced all the story arcs felt generally quite organic. That part of the writing was generally solid.

Not to mention, as I’m sure everyone has heard by now, there are breathtaking and captivating scenes and cinematography.

And Joaquin Phoenix did what Jared Leto wanted to do. Joaquin’s Joker felt so right as a version of the Joker and yet also added such meaningful flair of his own that his performance was as memorable as Heath Ledger’s performance in Christopher Nolan’s film. Unlike Jared Leto’s performance that felt like a teenager trying to do what he thinks makes the Joker cool and neat.

Leto’s performance felt like a parody of Ledger’s performance.

Phoenix’s performance felt like theater. It just felt like we were witnessing some good-ass acting and we were absorbed by it.

It’s unfortunate that this is another DC film that gets bogged down by not understanding its own tone and by trying to do too much without the finesse to pull it off.

But it’s also the second DC film that felt like a proper film experience (the other being Wonder Woman). However, I realized as I was watching it that I had a different opinion of the film if I was thinking of it as a Batman fan instead of just being a filmgoer. That review will be coming in the near future.

Thanks for reading you beautiful monsters.

Remember to eat your vegetables and Epstein didn’t kill himself.

jokersmile.gif

7.2 / 10



ARAMIRU OUT

Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1 Audiobook is still available! (Why would it not be)

Purchase it HERE

If you liked what you’ve read, make sure to click SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru

Quickie – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

This is a Quickie.

Where I spill my thoughts almost right after seeing a film. Unedited, unresearched, and undeniably a bit lazy.

 

MV5BZjFiMGUzMTAtNDAwMC00ZjRhLTk0OTUtMmJiMzM5ZmVjODQxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a movie where I was so impressed and fascinated by the characters, the lore, the actors, and… still be so disappointed by it.

The movie is incredibly frustrating because it feels like they had everything to make a great movie except for having a decent screenplay.

In fact, the plot (perhaps also the fault of the director or the editor) was such a mess during the second act and the third act that it completely ruined the film for me because the story just became incoherent.

It’s like a really bad episode of Scooby-Doo with wizards, melodrama, with a hint of daytime soap opera.

Full disclosure:

Am I the biggest fan of Harry Potter?

No. I just grew up with it. Forced to read the first one to learn English. Then enjoyed the rest as I got older with my friends.

But I shouldn’t have to be a Potterhead or even a lore-buff to enjoy a film. And to be frank, I’m not sure how even the most fervent fans could call this a decent movie when they are actually honest with themselves.

There are parts of this movie that are just factually bad. Poor editing, forced exposition, nonsensical plot points, literal plot devices, throwaway fan service characters, and etc.

Maybe the problem was that the movie just wasn’t long enough at little over 2 hours. The movie feels like a supercut of a miniseries. It feels like it never had enough time to fully tell us the story. Characters are underdeveloped… or suddenly overdeveloped. During the third act of the film, there are terrible jump cuts and sequence of events that just makes the movie feels like its riddled with plot holes at best and movie just realizing the mess it’s in and not giving a flying witch’s f@#$ at worst.

That Asian character (I purposefully do not mention her name in kind with how much the film valued her) does nothing but look sad. She just walks around with the aura of teenage-Evanescence-depression and fannnnnserrrrvice.

Y’all thought her turning into a snake was a bad thing?

Y’all too sensitive.

Y’know what I’m offended by? Just badly written characters that end up being an accessory. Accessory to the plot. Accessory to the future plans of the filmmakers and the studio. It’s just a little ironic that she’s an Asian character that feels as if she was added to make the cast even more diverse but as the only real Asian representation, she’s essentially the handbag to the white male.

Again, I don’t think it’s a racial issue but a poor writing issue. And just a bit exasperated by the fact that movie was very much attempting to be diverse and feeling that it’s failing an aspect of that in the most ironic way of deducing a particular race and gender combination to what it tends to be in film and TV.

It’s a bit sad that I have to clarify that.

MV5BNzIxZjk1YjEtY2YyNC00ZGZmLThhYjYtYzhmNDI5MTUzNjZjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_
Claudia Kim was definitely not wasted at all in this film.

And the worst part of it all?

Again.

I feel like this could have been a spectacular adventure of a film.

The film starts like a modern action flick with Grindelwald bustin’ out.

Grindelwald is a compelling villain at his core. His ideas present some natural questions and problems we all had with the series.

Newt is a great protagonist that also balances well with Grindelwald and the world around him.

I found Jacob and Queenie’s dilemma compelling (and disappointed that after the setup of their plot, the script essentially puts them on autopilot).

But there’s no real pay off to any of this.

And for the great “mystery” the film was building up?

It ends with a “Scooby-Doo” moment where everything just told. With a bunch of super convenient plot devices (some of them literal devices and some of them out of nowhere) that tries to explain overly complicated tangled web of scenarios.

I just…

*sigh*

Look, I was really enjoying the movie for the first 10~15 min of it so it was just that much more disappointing when the rest of it sucked so much.

I give it:

3.5/10

It felt like a screenwriter for films, not TV miniseries or a novelist, should have written this.

A case of perhaps a lawyer who shouldn’t have defended himself. I have no doubts that if Ms. J. K. Rowling could be a fantastic screenwriter eventually as she is an incredible storyteller.

But, for me, undoubtedly, even with all of its other problems, nothing really broke the film as much as the screenplay did.

Dumb.jpg
Very split about how Dumbledore developed in this film. Jude Law was great.

ARAMIRU OUT

Oh.

My Audiobook is coming out soon.

Be on the lookout for that announcement. 

If you liked what you’ve read, make sure to click SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru

Quick Review: Rampage

Rampage

Look.

It’s a summer flick that came out in spring.

There’s the Rock making jokes about his muscle, a giant monkey, a giant flying wolf, and a giant crocodile.

I hope I don’t need a spoiler warning for this one.

What could I possibly spoil?

Not only has it been *insert number of months/weeks/days since movie release here* since I’m a lazy writer, but also it’s a movie based on a 1980s arcade game that didn’t have a plot other than basically those three above causing a ra—… havoc across America.

That’s basically the entire plot.

Animals got big and they decided to go smash, smash, smash. And the American treasure, The Rock, has to save the day.

3630750300_f1cd14cdc3_b.jpg
You can smile like this too if you had his work ethic.

Trying to go any deeper or even explaining the plot of this film is doing it a disservice.

And why are you going to go see Rampage for some clever plot? You need to accept that if you go watch this film with an analytical mindset, trying to break down all of its components to judge its merits by some aristocratic standards of cinema, you’ll come out of the theaters dumber.

You boob. 

There’s a monkey giving the middle finger, more blood and gore than I expected from a PG-13 movie, and surprisingly fun jump scares.

The jokes are low brow and predictable but I still found them amusing (and pleasantly surprised there wasn’t a poop throwing scene. I fully expected it from this film).

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is playing a token-Texan Negan.

There’s the guy (Jake Lacy) who was in the last few seasons of The Office and it seems like he’s just not giving a damn about being part of this film. Actually, no one seems like they’re giving even half of an effort except the American treasure, The Rock.

Dwayne_Johnson_2,_2013.jpg

Respect.

Seriously. He seems like an awesome guy.

Anyways.

In short, it’s a dumb film with some really well-done moments that if you were to see those moments by themselves in isolation, you might be tricked to believing that its a better quality movie than it actually is.

In some sense, I guess it’s respectable effort given the source material…

rampage-1
Source Material

…and probably the best film adaptation of a video game I’ve ever seen…

Wow. I just depressed myself a little.

Umm.

Yeah.

Go see this film for a mindless fun. Just sit back, sip on your soda, and enjoy. It’ll be as worthwhile as spending that 25 cents back in the day to play the arcade game at the bowling alley.

Except this time you’ve spent 20 dollars and 2 hours of your life.

I’m going to go look through the list of film adaptations of video games to see if I can cure myself of this depression.

 

Expected: 2 / 10

Got: 4 / 10

 



 

4dx
No. No, you’re not. You’re in a cheap imitation of an amusement park ride that’s imitating an experience in a movie. You’re in a derivative of a derivative. Might as well spin around in your office chair and say you’re in a tornado. Have your office friends throw stuff at you for a more authentic experience than 4DX. You’re welcome.

Wait.

I’m not done yet.

Just don’t do the 4DX.

Just why? Why does this exist as the means to save the theaters?

Do kids really enjoy this?

The 4DX experience preview was better than the actual experience watching the film.

Water spray smelled funny.

Air blow was annoying.

The seat shook and tilted too much that it turned from fun to a road trip across the Rockies on a Daewoo Tico.

AND I KNOW. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who enjoy it very much and I seem like a guy who finds shaking canes at dead cats and being charmingly anachronistically racist as my idea for fun.

a. s. aramiru.jpg
Hi. A. S. Aramiru revealed.

But as it is now, 4DX is a gimmick and films haven’t found a way to properly incorporate this technology to actually enhance the experience.

It’s just distracting.

I felt like I was sitting on a lap of a Russian circus strongman as he rocked me and shook me around while watching the film.

I see potential with the technology purely based on its preview experience but have doubts any studio will invest the effort and money necessary to synchronize film experience with the 4DX experience.

Prove me wrong, Hollywood. Or Bollywood.

 

Expected: Nothing

Got: F***ed



 

ARAMIRU CAN’T SMELL NOTHIN’ CAUSE OF ALLERGIES!

If you liked what you’ve read, make sure to click SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru

a Quick Review: Avengers: Infinity War

avengers-infinity-war-et00073462-02-04-2018-09-21-43

It’s great.

Go see it.

I’ll keep the first part of this completely spoiler-free as it’s necessary for this film. It’s that integral to the experience and it’s not an experience that should be meddled with if you’re a fan of the series. However, it’s also a type of film (and perhaps speaks for my liking of it) that even any praise or criticism may sort of being a spoiler for those who truly want a genuine experience with all of its integrity intact.

I will note, however, that I have no idea how this film will be for those who haven’t watched many, if any, of the other Marvel films.

But if you have any inclination towards watching this film, stop reading, watching any reviews—such as this one—any interviews, any previews, etc., and just…

…go see it. Now.

This is probably not only my personal favorite of the Marvel films but also simply the best one yet. The writing and presentation of the film surpass the films of the past so superbly that the film may set a new standard too high for the next, inevitable, collaboration Marvel film.

I won’t be posting any pics from the film in this entry because that in and of itself would be doing a disservice to those who are thinking of seeing this film.

The tone is almost perfect with just the right balance of humor and gravity. It’s the near-perfect execution of what most of the Marvel films wanted to accomplish in the past. And it’s everything Justice League wanted to be and wished it could be.

 

pjimage9.jpg
Dark colors and frowns mean we’re serious.

 

It’s a writing marvel (no pun intended) regarding how meticulously and masterfully the writers wove together all the different characters and narratives.

The film is visually stunning and audacious. There are moments where you feel like you’re completely watching a different genre of film. There hasn’t been a Marvel film yet that could inspire such visual sense of awe.

Musical scores are complex and perfectly captures the valiant but seemingly futile efforts by the heroes, the bittersweet moment of the small victories, and the most complicated emotions portrayed yet by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So.

If you’re a fan of Marvel films in any sense—hardcore or casual—do yourself a favor and watch this film. If you’re a fan of writing, I’d recommend watching all the Marvel films and then watching this one to truly appreciate how deftly the writers wove the tales together, bring to life the flavors of each franchise, and still make it as much of an organic movie experience as this film was.

Go buy the tickets now. It’s worth it.

avengers-infinity-war-movie

Is this the greatest film ever made or even in the Top 50?

No.

And it’s not trying to be. But Marvel has shown that it’s best at what it does and squishes any hope DC films had of having their own entity in this space.

You want humor? You got it.

You want serious? You got it.

You want dark? You got it.

You want heart? You’ll choke on it.

This may be the only Marvel film so far that I’d consider seeing again in theaters. Perhaps, on the IMAX this time around. Maybe even give 4DX ago again if there’s a version available.

[ 8.5 / 10 ]

Click SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW to  Keep Up With the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru


SPOILERS REVIEW AHEAD


We will keep it short here.

One of the best aspects of the film is obviously how the film’s narrative can be seen in two different ways. It’s the story about the Avengers and/or it’s a story also about Thanos. In fact, the movie begins with Thanos and ends with him.

It’s a bold and creative way of establishing a villain that’s been only hinted throughout all the previous films over the years. Arguably, he’s earned the space of having his own film given the presence he’s had looming in the shadows of all the films in the past. He’s the most intriguing and humanized villain MCU has had yet and there are moments where the audience can genuinely connect with the Mad Titan.

My only concern going forward is that the writing has put them in such a hole that they may not be able to dig themselves out of it without some copout or cheesy solution to all these problems.

AKA most likely Magic + Time Stone. But given how impressively they accomplished a film of this magnitude, the writing team deserves our faith in them.

 

doctor-strange-1-1.jpg
“Thanos! I’ve come to bargain!” It was cheesy in his own film as well.

 

While there were other few problems I think the script had regarding forced action scenes, action scenes that didn’t make sense within the logic of the film’s universe, characters acting not like themselves but acting based on what the plot demands, and etc. But these are, ultimately, pedantic problems given what the film has accomplished.

I’ll personally be very sad to see it all end next year. I can’t imagine the next phases of Marvel Cinematic Universe having the same amount of wonder and grandiosity.

Nerd Talk

  • Alright, we understand Thanos is the Mad Titan, but why does he actually think his ideas make sense? It becomes established that he was some sort of a figure in an advanced society that people would actually listen and ostracize him for being mad (or he was that crazy homeless guy). If you suddenly take away half the population from a planet, more than likely their societies will collapse. I guess technically that’s okay with his logic?
  • How does Thanos maintain the economy of his armada? Are there no single galactic police patrol What was Thanos’ plans after succeeding? Watching the Sunsets and then doing what his army?
  • I was truly hoping to not see a post credit scene with this one. It cheapens the wholeness of the experience. Especially by the fact that the post-credit scene was a hint to the next film in the franchise, and thus, sort of taking away the feeling of encased experience of an enclosed storyline.
  • Where’s Nova or the Nova Corp?
  • So did Captain America get an upgrade? How is he strong enough to handle Thanos’s heralds? How is he strong enough to hold back Thanos with the freakin’ Infinity Gauntlet?
  • I’m a sucker for those “good guy finally showed up moments” and was absolutely giddy like a child when Cap finally showed up.
  • So did Vision get a nerf? Are we just going to accept that the weapons… uh… blocks (?) intangibility? Can’t vision download all the fighting techniques around the world? And isn’t he supposed to have enhanced strength or whatever? And the laser beams?
  • Why is opening the barrier at Wakanda and bottlenecking the swarm a good idea to prevent the alien dogs from going around them? Why can’t the dogs just run around them once they make it in? They were seeming an endless swarm. And aren’t they worried about other threats that may potentially get in? What if they’re just overrun? No one tested these dogs in a fight. Does Wakanda not afford some sort of a drone that can watch the perimeter? Have some sensors? They have forcefields on a cape for heaven’s sake. What about those future jets they had to provide cover fire? What about some tanks? Wtf Wakanda? #WakandaForever
  • Thor had the worst of them all in this film. It’s heartbreaking seeing this film shortly after viewing Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Only weeks after his lesson, Thor proved that he is indeed a God of Hammers. Or hammer-axe in this case.
  • How’re Groot’s branches so strong anyways?
  • Why didn’t Thor take out the big threats right away after he joined the fight at Wakanda? Why the hell did he think it’s alright to let the rolly-tanks go all about and the heralds fight normal human beings?
  • Okay. I know we’re taught to aim for the torso. But is there a reason why Thor didn’t really have a concern about the gauntlet? It seems like he definitely could have at least stopped the snap. Are we just all supposed to accept these heroes let their emotions get the best of them?
  • Conveniently the original Avengers surviving is convenient.
  • Also, Thanos really underutilized the Reality stone after showing us exactly how powerful that stone was.
  • The scene with Gamora’s death was surprisingly emotional and did an incredible job of allowing the audience to finally connect with Thanos a bit on a human level. Even the cruelty of his actions added to his humanity. Arguably, the humanization begins when Gamora and Thanos begin to interact.
  • I’m okay with Red Skull the Soul Stone keeper. It’s a very comic book moment.
  • The scene with Nebula’s torture is a lot more gruesome than I anticipated from these films.
  • I wonder if they’ll ever add the Sentry as a storyline for the older audience. Most likely for Netflix or something. But not sure how they could portray him without movie budget.
  • Doctor Strange’s banter with Tony Stark was worth waiting for.
  • Peter Quill was more annoying than endearing in this film. The fact that he possibly ruined (or followed) Dr. Strange’s plan was a bit infuriating as it seemed too obvious it was going to happen and felt a bit forced. We’re coerced to understand humans act very erratically when they hear their loved ones die. We get it. But I could also see Peter help to get the gauntlet off sooner to beat Thanos with it.
  • What the f— was Thanos doing for 2 years? What grand schemes? He just brute forced this whole shebang. And it becomes established in the films that he had his armada for quite a long time. The gauntlet was also made not too long before this film since it had to have happened during Ragnarok.
  • Loki’s death, while setting quite the tone for the film, felt a bit forced.
  • He’s probably coming back to life.
  • On that note, some of the jokes in the film were too on the nose.
  • Dr. Strange really underperformed the fight against Ebony Maw.
  • Dr. Strange was very anime against Thanos.
  • Thanos dropping the moon was one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen in these films.
  • Iron Man’s new suit was very anime. How far we’ve come from Iron Man 1.
  • It was really hard to keep up with the names of the Black Order.
  • I ended up just calling them heralds, to those of you who were wondering, because Thanos is basically acting as Galactus of this universe so far.
  • Finally, the film essentially broke itself when it established that portals can indeed cut off limbs.

Quick Review: Black Panther

180206094343-01-black-panther-movie-exlarge-169

With Avengers: The Infinity Wars just right around the corner, I finally managed to see Black Panther.

And it was… alright.

Apparently, the fad is to consider anyone who didn’t thoroughly enjoy this film to be a racist.

Oh shit.

I also didn’t enjoy Django Unchained that much either.

But I really, really like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and that’s my childhood. Does that help or not help my case?

fresh.gif
haters gonna hate

At best, I’d give the film a 6.5 – 7/10.

I’d like to view it again sometime and reassess my review but I’ve found it hard to enjoy most of these Marvel films on the second viewing.

So far I’ve only enjoyed rewatching: Iron Man 1, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and surprisingly Iron Man 3: The Christmas Special.

I should probably talk about Thor: Ragnarok as well as it’s a glaring example of Marvel deciding to just streamline all of their films’ narratives to the tone of a bastard child birthed from a drunken coitus between Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.

(I wrote a quick review of it that I don’t think I ever published. But for those who are wondering, I’d give that film a 7.5/10)

Black Panther.

Right.

Back to the subject at hand.

Though the aforementioned wasn’t the case with the Black Panther, the film suffered from other issues that are surprisingly found more in the Marvel’s Netflix franchises than their cinematic cash printing machines.

Let’s dive in.

As usual, these are just based on quick notes I made while watching the film. There may be some errors or some things I missed as I was watching the movie.

And to clarify, “Quick Review” alludes to not the length of the review but more of the essence of review. It’s just me going on a rant about the film after having seen it once without any further research. If I wanted to write a more proper review, I’d watch the film, at the very least, twice. This is a more organized version of the rant my friends would have to put up with for the blog readers.

There will obviously be SPOILERS AHEAD


The Narrative.

They did a decent enough job of catching people up to the mindset of T’challa (Black Panther) for those who might not have seen Captain America: Civil War or just had forgotten what brought T’challa into the pantheon of heroes in the first place.

Not only that, but they also gave us the emotional and historical stake to the character that gave us a fresh perspective to not only T’challa but the events that surrounded his involvement in the Civil War and rounding out quickly who the Wakandans are. It was a quick and somewhat organic expansion to the lore required for us to appreciate Black Panther uniquely for who he is as a character and what the film’s unique place in Marvel Cinematic Universe is.

There’s an almost immediate “Lion King meets laser-pew-pew” vibe not because it’s happening in Africa and felines are involved, but the majestic scores that remind you of Disney’s animated films along with a deep voice of a father narrating to a son… happening in Africa.

Well.

Anywho.

Oddly enough, as mentioned, the film ended up feeling like a stitched up episodes of a Netflix series than a standalone film. There’s just too many plot lines hurrying to ripen or simply presents itself self-evidently ripened before the film’s 135 minutes run out.

I found it hard to care about a lot of the characters and a lot of what’s happening when it’s just whizzing all over the screen and I’m being force fed how to feel and care about them.

It’s not as if I haven’t enjoyed more complicated films before with varying characters and plotlines all happening at once (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Magnolia) but because the film is ultimately about T’Challa (and also should have had more about Killmonger) it can’t seem to find the proper grasp on who and what to focus on and how to develop them.

The script doesn’t feel like it was done justice by being on the silver screen.

The film even committed the same trope and downfall of many of the Marvel series on Netflix these days of abruptly changing the antagonist and spending the little time the story has left trying to build up the new villain.

That’s not a twist, Marvel. It’s just a lazy or a greedy writing.

luke_cage_mahershala_ali_cottonmouth_2
Or with the case of Luke Cage, pure ROBBERY.

We all knew Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was going to be the main villain of the film. However, the film didn’t build up the character well enough to justify us caring about his rise and fall. All of which literally happened within the 3rd act.

To make us care, the film attached emotional social issues and connected backbones of other characters’ emotional stakes to Killmonger. But Killmonger himself never had the chance to truly realize himself as a character. Which is a shame because he had such an amazing actor and backstory to work with. The character was just carried by the actor’s charisma.

What bothered me a bit is that the film seemed to be unknowingly forcing it upon us to suddenly care about Killmonger by saying… look, all these issues we face as Americans? He’s the sudden embodiment of all that.

You don’t care? Then you don’t care about these issues.

Maybe that’s too much but, hot damn, the last line Killmonger gives before he kills himself. It’s a complex social issue forcibly latching itself onto the film as a ‘justified’ metaphor. But the film ends up posing more questions and debatable notions than it does answering them–both within and beyond the 4th wall.

Killmonger just becomes a mouthpiece for the social commentary that the film wants to get across… but it doesn’t entirely feel like he’s earned it other than us being told us that he has the characteristics of the downtrodden colored individual in an oppressed society.

But we’ll get back to him later.

(And I understand why Captain America isn’t present in the film to avoid the ‘white savior’ narrative, but it’d have been nice to know where he was during all this. I guess we’ll find out in Avengers: Infinity War)


The Politics.

There’s no real getting around that the minorities in the US have gotten the short-end of the stick throughout the nation’s history.

For the black community, that history is filled with not only the short-end but also the bloodied blunt end.

Killmonger himself is a child who grew up in poverty… but through hard work and dedication got himself through a university, grad school at MIT, and became a Navy SEAL ….again, from a background of, at worst, an orphan and at best most likely in a single-mother family.

(It’s never made clear what happened to Killmonger’s mom. I guess for all we know she could have remarried a rich guy and Killmonger was actually pretty well off living a hipster life while assuming he knows what it’s like to be a poor black person in America. But that ruins the character so we’ll assume that he grew up in poverty because that’s what the film strongly suggests)

His achievements are goddamn amazing.

…And sort of works against his own political ideologies and opinions that black people are somehow hopelessly oppressed and need violence to have their fair shake in the world.

…And kind of makes you wonder why he believed the best way to support black communities is through use of force when obviously with the right motivation and resources they can get through whatever obstacles the skin of their color may pose. I guess the idea is that black people shouldn’t have to be in a position to struggle at all.

It’s almost as if Killmonger has a racist belief that black communities cannot advance without resorting to violence. That, as he implies, black people cannot be at the top of the racial/social hierarchy without a violent revolution.

And what about other oppressed minority groups? If they want to be better, then follow Killmonger’s ways? I guess my problem is that the character feels ultimately confused within the writing and not as part of the writing.

(I should also mention at this point all minority groups suffered pretty heavily in the US. This isn’t to marginalize the suffering endured by the black community, but to not marginalize anyone’s suffering. And if we broaden our scale globally, the conversation becomes a lot more depressing and maddening)

People may jump in here and say, “THAT’S WHY HE’S THE VILLIAN AND T’CHALLA IS THE PROTAGONIST”

Fair enough, but, again, it’s muddled by the fact that how the characters are approaching this topic, their backgrounds, and their given motivations.

T’Challa is an outsider looking in on these social issues even though he’s never faced them because he’s from a better place. Killmonger presented as the embodiment of all the social ailments. One believes in allowing others to solve their own problems. The other believes that if you have the power, you should solve their problems.

And I guess as the movie points out, their goals were not just about the US but around the world.

Okay.

But that doesn’t make the problems any easier.

Now we have to discuss national sovereignty, moral relativity, paternalism, and etc.

In the end, the movie’s answer seems to be that of heavy paternalism: “if one place is superior to others, then it’s their moral duty to help those lesser nations.”

Given what criteria are they better? How can they help?

Who knows!

Let’s just chew on that a bit Americans.

President-George-W.-Bush-Mission-Accomplished
I probably won’t ever get this political again. Especially on a “Quickie”. As it’s borderline hypocritical.

It’s a like chewing a mint, a ginseng, and juicy fruit together.

But I guess we can just fall back on the lazy excuse of “It’s a Marvel movie.” or accept that everything I’m ranting about was obviously planned.

Fine. So be it.

(Part of me screaming: then don’t bring up sensitive and complex topics WHILE seemingly trying to present them in an authentic and digested way)


Korea.

We’re going to take a slight, lighter-hearted detour.

Let’s unwind a bit from these heated topics and introduce from the far left-field a possibly unexpected topic that may generate more flames against me.

So.

Here’s a little secret about me.

I know a little Korean.

Not a Korean Peter Dinklage but know the language well enough to know that the Korean being spoken in the film was horrible.

And no, I’m not talking about Ms. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance speaking Korean. She did an admirable job.

I’m talking about the supposed Koreans in the film.

None of them seem to be fluent speakers. Their Korean sounded really silly. Even many of the background speakers sounded wrong most of the time.

26b76c6b26dd8c77aae7518b400e7040
He knows why his picture is here.

And if you ever go to Korea and go to one of them public markets and find non-native Korean speaking ajooma (middle-aged women) working there, I’ll personally PayPal you $50 (limited to 1 person).

What’s the big deal?

Alright.

If it’s a little off, I wouldn’t mind. But it’s literally butchered language coming across as a native speaking the language natively in the native setting.

Even The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise that got so, so much wrong regarding the authenticity of historical aspects of the film got the look and the sound of the film correctly enough that people weren’t taken out of the film if they were familiar with the Japanese culture and language (minus weird trees).

What’s the excuse of not getting Korean right for the sake of authenticity with this film?

  1. Money? It’s a Marvel film.
  2. Availability? Is it really that hard to find some Koreans that can speak few lines fluently in LA? Or Korea?

So what are the reasons to just not care?

  1. They don’t think Koreans or people who understand Korean would care or notice.
  2. They just don’t care.

I honestly can’t think any other substantial reasons. As harsh as those reasons sound, they just seem ‘fair’ as it is.

If it’s a movie that’s trying to celebrate minorities on the big screen (which is why I assume they also chose an Asian location for no real reason other than also to possibly reach out to that demographic), why not make sure they do all of them at least the minimal justice?

Is that too much?

Is it because it’s called Black Panther and not Global Panther?

Yeah, I went there.

captain
The hero we need but not the one we deserve.

Killmonger.

tl-horizontal_main

Whew, finally more about the art behind the film.

Look.

One of my biggest draw to this film was the fact that Michael B. Jordan was going to be involved. When I found out he was the main villain, I was all in.

And while I thought some of his performances on this film were excellent as usual, most of it felt too exaggerated and muddled…

…and tragically, I felt like it wasn’t Michael’s fault. It felt like because of how they had to edit the film, his performance didn’t really get to come to life or was portrayed with a bad ‘light’.

It’s also not his fault that his character seemed rushed for development in the 3rd act of the film.

It’s also not his fault that his dialogues seemed a bit dead and trite through the 2nd act. He did amazing with what he had to work with.

It’s also not his fault that his character sort of didn’t make sense and collapsed on itself a bit. Wouldn’t Killmonger have been more interesting if the script decided to have a little more courage and presented him as a legitimate counter-balance to T’Challa? It’s not as if no foreign interaction policy has never been done before in history. There’s plenty of examples to use and personify.

It might be a little bit of his fault that his swagger walk got a bit too much near the end.


Worldbuilding.

Minor points that might be answered in the later films.

Wakanda seems… way too advanced. It seems close to Guardians of the Galaxy level advanced. I wouldn’t have been surprised if T’Challa started playing his claws like a flute and giant lion robot came out from the mountains.

Hero_voltron_pose1NewMid-1.png
The only thing that’s missing from the Wakanda’s arsenal. Or is it?

Like what the hell’s going on in this isolated country’s R&D department?

How do you go from tribes uncovering a meteorite into a nation refining a near-indestructible material, turning that material into a power source, and then also developing that material into medical apparatuses… while cutting yourself off from the rest of the world?

Does Tony know anything about this?

How the hell does he not?

How the hell does Tony not suspect anything about Wakanda and the Vibranium?

Where the hell were Tony’s Iron Man bots that we saw in Spiderman when someone like Klaw is involved? We know he’s on Tony’s radar from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

maxresdefault.jpg
He was busy having a spiritual experience.

What about the new SHIELD?

How can this theater sell fresh wood-fired pizza when there’s no wood-fired oven in sight?

These are the questions that we may never get answers to.


Conclusion.

Overall, while Black Panther is probably better than some of the other Marvel films, it wasn’t the best nor was it very memorable.

It felt like a better done, Thor 1.

While I enjoyed the soundtrack, at times it seemed too… animatedly-dramatic? And overused.

But I do have to admit that it’s great seeing this sort of mainstream film featuring mostly minority cast–and also blowing up the box office while at it.

Next review will be regarding American treasure Dwayne Johnson’s new masterpiece, Rampage.

rampage-dwayne-johnson-ralph-george-lizzie

Teaser: …In an odd way, I actually kind of liked it.

ARAMIRU GONE LIKE THE CAP’N WHILE SHIT’S HITTING THE FAN


Keep Up With the Updates!
Twitter: @ASAramiru
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ASAramiru