Movie review: Black Panther

Movie reviews


Welcome to the review of the newest and, arguably, the most important Marvel movie! This is Black Panther!

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

As usual, before I start, my previous MCU reviews are here: Guardians 1 and 2, Avengers 2, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor 3.


Black Panther was written by the director of the film Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole. I thought that the duo did a stellar job with the script. I’m not going to talk about the plot in detail, so as to keep this review spoiler free, other than to stay that a lot of narrative things happen in this film and a couple of them are quite unexpected. There are also a few of meaningful deaths (that might silence MCU critics who say that nobody ever dies in this universe). What I’m going to discuss more elaborately are the brilliant and multiple thematical concepts of Black Panther.

Just on the surface representational level, this film was a game changer. Black characters were elevated from the roles of the supporting friend/the funny sidekick/the one-scene cameo and were brought to the forefront. It’s also refreshing to see fictional black characters rather than real-life rebel slaves or civil rights activists (those smaller biographical movies are important too, but diversity in the blockbuster field is key as well). Also, even though this movie told a fictional story about fictional characters, it honored and paid homage to a lot of its real-world equivalents/inspirations, which raised a question for me: why haven’t we seen pictures about real, past or current, African tribes that were not documentaries???

Anyways, more on Black Panther paying homage to certain real-world ideas/events. I absolutely loved how the movie honored the connection that Africans have with their ancestors (and how in touch with their spirituality they are) as well their connection with nature (healing herbs, animals as deities). It was also great for the movie to acknowledge the violence within African culture (both the inner to the culture and the one coming from the west). Most importantly, it was just so amazing to see the Afrofuturism ideas on screen, which connected modernity with the traditional side of the culture. Scholars have been racking their brains about how to develop Africa without Westernizing it! Well, just do what Black Panther did: connect the two things rather than make one negate the other!

As the movie’s main character was a sovereign of a country, Black Panther also had some political commentary, mostly about a single country’s relation and obligation to the world. It also explored the well-known idea of the sins of the father reflecting of the children but in a royal context.  The film also had some fascinating things to say about communities, tribes or one’s ‘people’. How do we define that category? Do we draw lines based on race? Ethnicity? Nationality? Culture? Common beliefs and ideals? One of the central conflicts in the film was based on the fact that the villain and the hero of the story had different answers to that question. Speaking of the villain, Killmonger might be Marvel’s best one yet because he wasn’t just a villain but a character in his own right, whose goals were radical yet valid. The viewer could definitely understand his frustrations and reasons for his thinking.


Ryan Coogler (of Creedand Fruitvale Station) did an amazing job with Black Panther. He realized the visuals of Afrofuturism so well (with the help of production design, of course). The sets were brilliant and the costumes – absolutely impeccable and so cool as well! The action was really great too: fast-paced, intense, and meaningful for the plot. The pacing was also great!  The much-celebrated music of the movie was great (so it has been celebrated for a reason). I wanted to hear even more if it!


Black Panther assembled a stellar cast, led by Chadwick Boseman (Civil War) in a role that he was born to play. I’d love to see his involvement in the MCU leading to more non-biographical roles for him (cause I have seen him in quite a few biopics). Coogler’s collaborator Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four) played the villain and fully embodied the role, both physically and emotionally. I absolutely loved his character’s Americanized look too. An absolute scene stealer was Letitia Wright as the tech (and actual) princess. I loved her portrayal as a tech genius who was super excited about her creations and I also loved all her outfits and amazing sense of humor (bit cringe-y at times but so relatable). Lupita Nyong’o (The Jungle Book, The Force Awakens) also had a great role in the film – really loved seeing her in a big picture in person (not as in Star Wars, in motion capture).

Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira played an incredible role of the leader of Dora Milaje (who were all so amazing), while the breakout star of last year Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) also had an interesting role to play (I loved how his character’s cape-like looking thing was also a shield). Winston Duke played a fun and multifaceted character too. Some more seasoned talent was also spotlighted: Angela Bassett was great as the mother of the king, while Forest Whitaker (Southpaw, Arrival, Rogue One) was perfect as an elderly statesman. Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis (War For The Planet of The Apes, The Last Jedi) also reprised their earlier roles in the MCU and were great. Freeman was a lovable CIA agent (not a word I’d use to describe a CIA agent, but, oh well), while Serkis was super crazy as one the villains of the film but it was really nice to see him in a non-motion capture performance.

Post-credits/End-credits (bit spoiler-y)

While Black Panther was mostly divorced from the MCU (it didn’t have many Easter Eggs that I could notice except of course the Stan Lee cameo), it did have a neat after-credits scene, where a fan-favorite from Civil War (‘White Wolf’) was defrosted. He seemed to be doing well in Wakanda.

The mid-credits scene was closely related to this picture and had a nice message of peaceful communication. It sounded a tiny bit naive but I can’t really fault hope.

In short, Black Panther was both a great Marvel comic book movie and a sophisticated game-changer in terms of representation for the whole context of modern cinema.

Rate: 4.8/5

Trailer: Black Panther trailer



Movie review: Creed + a look back

Movie reviews


Welcome to another review of the Oscar season! This time, we are talking about the 7th entry into the Rocky franchise – the spin-off/sequel Creed!

IMDb summary: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

2015 has already had one boxing movie – Jake Gyllenhaal’s Southpaw. However, Creed, being a sequel to the Rocky franchise, received much more attention: it earned more money and got a few awards’ nominations, while Southpaw lacked both.

Before seeing Southpaw, I knew nothing about boxing (still do not know that much) or sports movies, however, I watched all of the 6 Rocky films in a span of 2 days before going to see Creed. I have also watched a lot of other sports movies during the Christmas break like McFarland USA, Million Dollar Arm and Concussion, so I am no longer a newcomer to the genre of sports dramas. Nevertheless, Creed managed to surprise me and exceeded all my expectations – it wasn’t just a great sports movie, it was simply an amazing film.

A look-back

As I have mentioned before, I have seen all of the Rocky films. It is not essential to watch them before seeing Creed, because that film stands on its own, however, your enjoyment will definitely be improved if you are able to catch all the references and callbacks to the previous films.

Rocky franchise has always had so much heart because these films were made by people who actually cared about the story. Sylvester Stallone basically created Rocky for himself and used this character as a building block for his entire career. While nowadays, some of the scenes (mostly the romantic ones) from the first few films look a bit cheesy, the overall story/arc of all the films is timeless. Rocky is also one of the best characters of cinema because he is the everyday-est everyday guy that anyone can relate to or identify with. He is also one of the truly nicest characters – he is never cocky and always good-hearted, even when he finally succeeds in boxing.

Other characters of the franchise are also worth mentioning. Personally, I really disliked Paulie – he was such a whiny brat. I also had mixed feelings about Adriana – I really liked her in a few films and hated in others. However, my favorite character of the series (not counting Rocky) was Apollo Creed, so I was very pleased that his legacy is continued in Creed and future sequels. I really liked Rocky’s and Creed’s friendship, so that’s why the 3rd film is my favorite. I also enjoy Rocky 3, because that film contains a few scenes of Rocky training in the pool and for me as a swimmer that just seals the deal.

The Rocky franchise also has really exciting fighting scenes that make the viewer feel like he/she is in the ring. Rocky films are also famous for their training montages, which are not only amazing to watch but are great examples of spectacular film-making and editing. These montages are usually followed by great theme songs. Eye of the Tiger is the most famous one, though, the one that I enjoy the most is Hearts on Fire.

Rocky 5 is my least favorite film of the franchise and it is also the film that showcases Rocky in a trainer’s position. I was worried that Creed would also suffer from the same problem, since Rocky is once again training someone else and not fighting. However,  Creed was really smart when dealing with this problem – the creators just wrote a side storyline for Rocky which not only made him even more interesting of characters but tied that storyline into the main plot-line and the main idea of the film (more on this later).

Awards Rocky vs Creed

Rocky won 3 Academy Words back in the 49th Oscars – best editing, director, and picture. Creed has only received one nomination – best supporting actor for Stallone and lots of critics are predicting that he will surely win since Stallone has already picked up a Golden Globe and a Critic’s Choice Award. I think he definitely deserves it not only for his amazing emotional performance in Creed but for his whole life’s work of being Rocky.

Writing and Story

Ryan Coogler was the person that came up with the whole idea of Creed. He was the one who convinced Stallone to come back to the franchise and to continue it. Coogler then also co-wrote the script with his friend Aaron Covington. Both of them are kinda new to Hollywood. The only previous feature film on Coogler’s resume is Fruitvale Station (he both wrote and directed it) also starring Michael B.Jordan.

I believe that both Coogler and Covington did a really nice job with the script. They paid respect to the lore of the franchise with all the references and callbacks to the previous films as well as reinvigorated it with fresh storylines and new characters. One of my favorite scenes was the dialogue between Rocky and Adonis in the jail cell when Creed finally broke down. I also loved Rocky’s side story. It felt so unfair that an athlete, who has suffered a lot in a ring, can now possibly be defeated by an illness. I also felt bad for Rocky because he did not deserve this, being such a nice guy in general. This story-line also touched me on a personal level, as I have lost a few close relatives to cancer. Finally, the idea ‘I fight, you fight’ just totally destroyed me emotionally in the best way possible.


Ryan Coogler also directed the picture and did a very good job. That’s why Marvel/Disney snatched him up for Black Panther. I loved the visuals in the scene where Adonis is punching the air by the screen, which is showing the video of Rocky’s and Apollo’s fight. I also really liked the long takes and around/circle type of filming of the fight scenes. This type of cinematography differed a lot from the jump-cuts of the previous Rocky films’ fight scenes.


The movie had a great ensemble cast, consisting of both old and new faces. I will only briefly mention a couple of them.

  • Michael B. Jordan as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson Creed – Jordan was amazing in the role. The physical transition that he went through is also worth a separate round of applause. He is definitely a wonderful actor and I hope that Creed will turn into a separate franchise on its own because I do want to spend more time with his character. I have seen only a few of Jordan’s films (to be truthful, he has not been in that many films), sadly one of them being Fantastic Four. While that movie was awful, I do think that Jordan was really good as Johnny Storm. He also has a comedic side – watch him in That Awkward Moment – a really nice comedy (and that is coming from someone who hates comedies most of the time). I still need to see Jordan’s and Coogler’s Fruitvale Station – I am sure that it will be amazing. I am also thinking about checking out 2012’s Chronicle.
  • Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. Stallone was really good in this role back in 1976 and he is still a great Rocky 40 years later. He is one of the most likable actor ever. The last movies that I have seen him in were The Expendables trilogy (he came up with the idea of that franchise as well). Now I just need to re-watch all the Rambos
  • Tessa Thompson as Bianca –  she was a really great love interest for Jordan’s Adonis as well as just a great character on her own. I haven’t seen many of her films, though, she did appear in last year’s Selma

In short, Creed was a great comeback for the Rocky franchise as well as just a great movie in general. The storyline was both emotional and interesting, the acting – wonderful and the boxing scenes were nostalgia-inducing but still fresh and exciting.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Creed trailer


Movie review: Fantastic Four

Movie reviews


So, the time has come to review the last comic book movie of this summer and probably the most disappointing one. Let’s go meet the not so fantastic Fantastic Four.

To begin with, Fantastic Four is actually the first comic book that I have ever read. I also loved the animated series when I was a kid. Even though comic books were not popular in Eastern Europe when I was little, everybody seemed to know who the Fantastic Four were. Lastly, back then I even thought that the 2005 and 2007 movie editions were not that bad. Of course, I changed my mind when I re-watched them only recently. Because of that,  I had really high hopes for the reboot. I was hoping that they would get it right this time or that I at least would like it with only a singular watch. Let’s be real – a lot of movie crumble on a closer inspection. But this one doesn’t even need a closer look to come across as really really bad. Let’s get on with my angry rant.

IMDb summary: Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

To begin with, this movie is based on the Ultimate version of the Fantastic Four, so the origin story is a bit different. Also, the movie tries to make the story as realistic as possible by relying on scientific explanations. I was really excited that they decided to adapt the Ultimate version because I always enjoy seeing something fresh and unique. Moreover, science fiction has been one of my favorite genre of films since childhood, so I was down for some extraordinary science mambo-jumbo. The thing I wasn’t down for – the Fox studios getting my hopes up after the X-Men Days of Future Past (review) and then crushing my trust in them completely once more. Deadpool please be good. I am begging you.

Directing and Writing

The film is directed by Josh Trank and written by Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Trank himself. Although, it seems like Fox executives were also involved in the production a lot and their fingerprints are defintely showing. And when the money-driven studio gets in a way of the actual creators, nothing good ever happens.

The movie had tremendous potential and it wasted all of it. The story was okay during the first half, but the ending was terrible. The time jumps made zero sense. The dialogue was cheese and uninspiring as well as full of cliches. The only scene with some interesting dialogue was the one right before they decided to travel to the other dimension and were all drinking in the circle. The Neil Armstrong argument was the best line in the whole film. Sadly, it was short and lasted for just a minute. After that, you had to sit through 100 minutes of awfulness.

In addition, all the character were undeveloped, they never picked a clear main protagonist and tried to develop all of them, but just failed completely. It felt like the movie was missing half the scenes, which probably contained the backstory. Plus, the villain was the most awful of all the characters. They completely ruined Doctor Doom. Also, they didn’t include Sue Storm in the actual experiment that gave them powers but she still got hers anyway. You have one female character, only ONE, and you mess her story up? How is that even possible??

Moving on to the action scenes – there was only like 2 of them. One of them is okay, the other makes no sense. And the CGI…oh God. With the movie that cost this much money and is being made in 2015, you would expect at least the computer effect to look great, but they don’t. It looked like this film was made in the late 90s or early 2000s by some kid in a garage. Basically, it was a cheap looking animation. The only effects that looked quite good were the actual powers of the Fantastic Four. The Thing’s design was okay, but Johnny’s flaming body was the coolest one for me. However, Reed’s stretching abilities were enhanced by allowing him to change his appearance and that scene looked awful. Furthermore, when Sue Storm was flying in her force field bubble, you could clearly spot the places where the cables were attached to her back.


This movie had an extremely talented cast, who kinda lost their talent while filming. I’m guessing the terrible script made them loose all inspiration to perform.

  • Miles Teller as Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic. I am a huge Miles Teller fan. I praised him in a separate blog post. But here, he was not that great. He definitely portrayed the nerdy aspect of the character perfectly as well as was a great half-of-a-friendship with Ben, but he was awful as a team leader. His inspiring monologue was so corny and so bad.
  • Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm / Human Torch. I have no idea why the fans got angry when they changed the race of Johnny Storm. It looks like we are still living in the 19th century with all the racism and discrimination that is going on. I never look at a skin color of the character or an actor. I look at their work and the way they present themselves. I really loved Michael B. Jordan in That Awkward Moment and enjoyed his performance here. He was probably my favorite character and, to my mind, did the best job out of all of the cast.
  • Kate Mara as Susan “Sue” Storm / Invisible Woman. I have already complained about the creators decision to not include Sue in the actual experiment. Also, once again they made her into an unlikable and not fun mommy type character. It’s not the 1940s!! If you are changing the backstory and the personality of the character, change it for the better and not for worse.
  • Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm / Thing was quite good. He definitely portrayed the sadness and inner anger of the character well. However, he lacked developed and closure to his story like the others.
  • Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom / Doctor Doom……Don’t even want to talk about him. This was not Doctor Doom. He looked weird, his power were weirder and his intentions and actions – weirdest of it all.
  • Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm. Fox tried to turn the daddy Storm into Professor Xavier of the X-Men or Nick Furry of the MCU. Not surprisingly, Fox failed. Moreover, the supposedly inspiring monologues were terrible.
  • Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Harvey Allen. He was as suppose to be the unlikable antagonist of the Fantastic Four. However, since you didn’t really care for the heroes, you didn’t hate the anti-hero either. The government story-line and the militaristic ideas, introduced through this character, were interesting, but the movie never followed up on them.


This move didn’t even had a Stan Lee cameo. Seeing Stan always makes the movie better for me, but Fantastic Four didn’t even have that. The only reference which I’ve enjoyed was the Star Trek’s ‘Beam me up, Scotty‘, when the kid Reed Richards was talking about teleportation in the class. That, I though, was clever.

To sum up, the Fantastic Four film took itself way too seriously, it never found a clear direction or a tone. It was way to uneven and a few good performances and interesting lines only reminded us, how good the movie could have been but wasn’t. I don’t believe it will get a sequel. I’m hoping it won’t.

Rate: 2.5/5

Trailer: Fantastic Four trailer