Catch Up Reviews

2018, Uncategorized

I’ve missed a couple of months recently, and the truth is I’ve found it hard to find time to sit down and write reviews. There are a couple of reasons behind this. One of them is moving house. Apparently that’s quite stressful. The other one is my new job. The great thing is my new job allows me to do tons of writing, all film related, which is fantastic, and has for awhile obviously taken prominence. Not that I’ve stopped going to the cinema though, oh no. Now that I’m getting more of a balance back in my life I’m able to get  back to reviewing films. Yay! 

As I mentioned, I haven’t stopped going to the cinema. It felt like it would be a shame if my opinions on those films got lost to time, like tears in the rain. Yes, I do value my opinion that much. So I thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of mini reviews on the films I should have reviewed. Enjoy…

Ant-Man and The Wasp

Another enjoyable entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The problem was it couldn’t help but feel a bit light weight after Infinity War. Meant as a palette cleanse, it all felt a little too disposable. I loved Evangeline Lily as The Wasp, but felt here arc was a little wasted, so much more could have been done. Funny in places, the jokes did start to feel repetitive, and there were lapses within the inner logic of the movie. 


The Predator 

Shane Black didn’t reinvent the wheel with this one. What he did do though was deliver everything you would want from a movie about an alien game hunter. It’s not a great movie, it’s not that well made. The editing is all of the place, and it doesn’t make a huge heap of sense. It is incredibly fun though. There are some great characters, stellar jokes, and gratuitous violence. All in all, a good time at the movies. 


First Man

This is not a film about the achievements of man. It does not bask in the glory of space travel. It’s much more personal than that. It’s a story about a man who had to travel to the moon so that he could come back home. It’s a study on grief, and the different ways humans deal with it. What surprised me was just how moving this film was. It owes a huge amount of debt to The Right Stuff, an influence on Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, of which First Man shares a lot of DNA with. They would make a hell of a double bill together. 



Michael Myers is back. Again. Jamie Lee Curtis is back. Again. She’s dealing with PTSD after the events of the original movie, and he’s back trying to kill her. Again.  Yes, we’ve seen this before, but Halloween acts as a course correction for the series. Pretending that nothing past the first movie happened, this takes Halloween back to its roots. It’s brutal, scary, and fun. It’s not a perfect movie, but will reward fans of the series whilst serving as a great entry point for those new to the series. 


A Star Is Born

Filled with fantastic performances from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, this remake of a remake is better than it had any right to be. It’s Coopers first film behind the camera, and he does a great job. The performance scenes are incredibly realistic, with the use of real venues and audiences paying off. The songs are great too, with Lady Gaga’s fantastic voice really selling the believability of the story. It’s poorly paced though, and could do with losing a good 30 minutes. I found it strange how little I was moved by the end of the film, which is a sure sign that something wasn’t quite working. 


Crazy Rich Asians 

I’m not a fan of romantic comedies. Generic. Boring. Fluff. I loved Crazy Rich Asians. It’s an incredibly well made comedy, with a likeable cast, and characters you can’t help but root for. This is all played against a spectacular backdrop, with an insight into a world and culture that was completely new to me. It’s charming, funny, and moving. I can’t recommend it highly enough. 


The Nun

I really like The Conjuring  movies. The movies focusing on The Warrens. The spin-offs so far have been a little underwhelming. The Nun is just the wrong side of boring.  It has one good jump scare which has been completely spoiled by the trailer. The lead actors a likeable enough, but there is such a whiff of unoriginality here. It’s all a bit The Exorcist, but without anything that makes that movie work. These films just end up so superficial, that they really aren’t about anything at all. I mean, you have a priest and a Nun in training and not once does anything here make them question their faith. It’s just characters going through the motion of the plot so they can get to the end of the film. 


The Meg

I wanted this to be so crazy bad I’m a way that makes the whole film ridiculous and fun. The film ends up being both bad and ridiculous,  but as if no one told the film makers that was the film they were making. Instead they try to make a serious movie which is part Jurassic Park, part Jaws. That’s not what people want from this movie. They want to see a giant fucking shark being punched in the face by Jason Statham. There was a point in the movie, probably the most serious, emotional conversation in the whole thing, and it was all I could do to not burst out laughing. It’s just awful. I was promised a movie where Jason Statham chases a giant shark across the high seas. It took an hour to set that up. It should have been a fun dumb movie. It ended up being dumb, boring, and bad. 



If Venom had come out in 2005 it would have been seen as the natural continuation of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man series. Lucky for us, we’ve had a decade of fantastic super-hero movies which have  really pushed the genre forward. It just seems like no one making Venom has seen any of those films. Tom Hardy is great, and the moments where Eddie Brock are bickering are great. The film excels when it unleashes it’s dark sense of humour. The action sequences are pretty well done too. It’s just a shame the film takes so long to get anywhere, and wastes its time with unnecessary sub plots which aren’t paid off. It’s by no means a bad film, and I left the cinema thinking I’d quite happily go and see a sequel, but there is plenty of work to be done. 



I loved this movie. It’s funny, suspenseful, emotional, and scary. Spike Lee sets his stall out early with Alec Baldwin playing a racist Doctor, creating a video about white supremacy. It’s clear the parallels Lee is trying to draw. The cast are all fantastic, in particular John David Washington in the lead role of Ron Stallworth. The film is both shocking and provocative, but also incredibly entertaining, but it does its job. When a racist cop is caught being misogynistic and racist on a wire tape, he is immediately fired, with someone declaring that the good old wire trick, it always works. You can’t help but think how the last guy got caught on tape didn’t get fired, he got elected president. 


Christopher Robin

A gentle, but affecting film. It starts off incredibly strong, and ends well, but the middle does drag an awful lot. I enjoyed the way the characters of Winnie The Pooh has been reimagined, and Ewan McGregor does a great job. It’s a film with its heart in the right place, it just has some serious pacing issues. It at times feels more like a nostalgia trip for grown ups rather than a children’s film, but it does include some quite childish moments, you can’t help but wonder who this film is actually meant for. There are moments in which the film clearly hints towards mental health, but then there are also sequences of Ewan McGregor playing with leaves in the woods. It’s all a bit disjointed. 


A Simple Favour

Pitched as Gone Girl with more laughs. This was supposed to be a more serious outing from comedy director Paul Feig. Sadly, this is very much a case of style over substance. It’s nowhere near intricately plotted enough. It’s reveals come across as damp squibs, and Anna Kendrick does her best to make the jokes land, but this film just isn’t clever enough. If it wasn’t for the starry cast, this would have been a TV movie, or a soap plot in the 90’s. As a mystery movie, it’s not interesting. As a thriller, it’s boring. It’s not funny enough to be called a comedy. It’s just all a bit bland. It needed to go deeper, to go darker to truly resonate. 


Well that’s it. I’m all up to date now, and hopefully should be back with more regular reviews. Please check out my latest review on The Nutcracker and The Four Realms

Avengers: Infinity War

2018, Uncategorized

*I have tried my best to avoid spoilers In is review, but would recommend seeing the film first before reading if you want to go in knowing nothing*

Dir. Anthony and Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Benedict Wong, Anthony Mackie, Karen Gillan, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, and Pom Klementief.

Well, this is it. The beginning of the end. It’s a journey that started 10 years ago with Iron Man, and has since grown into the box office behemoth that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve seen Earth’s mightiest heroes team up in Avengers, we’ve been to space for some cosmic adventures in Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor, and most recently we’ve been invited into the amazing world of Wakanda in Black Panther. Here, they all combine to take on their biggest foe to date, Thanos. The big bad that has been drip fed through the whole series. We know that we still have Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Captain Marvel to come before Avengers 4 brings phase three of the MCU to a close, but this feels monumental nonetheless. Going into the movie it felt like the stakes had never been higher, as there was a real sense that anything could happen. We had entered the end game.

Infinity War follows Thanos. An 8ft, ripped, purple alien born on Titan. Thanos is hell bent on balancing the universe. To him, this means invading planets and killing half of the population residing on them. His ultimate goal is to kill half the universe, and to do this he needs to collect together the infinity stones. 6 stones from the beginning of the universe which when united together give the holder unlimited power. Two of these Infinity stones are on Earth. One is the time stone which is in the possession of a Doctor Strange, and the other is the mind stone which is nestled in Vision’s forehead. Thanos sends his most trusted minions to Earth to retrieve these two stones, whilst he sets out in the universe to find the others. Standing in Thanos’ way are the Avengers, last seen fighting each other in Captain America: Civil War, the Guardians of The Galaxy, Spider-man, Doctor Strange, and the people of Wakanda.

The scale of this movie is huge. It’s ambition is unmatched in the modern day blockbuster. Just looking at the cast list alone is enough to make the jaw drop. Fittingly the Russo brothers decided to film Infinity War entirely on IMAX cameras, and I was lucky enough to see it on an IMAX screen. It truly is mesmerising. Thanos looks huge on screen, and the size adds an extra bit of weight to the action unfolding in front of you. This is event cinema, and considering we get about three MCU movies a year, that is quite a feat. For the film to work, the stakes had to feel real, and for the stakes to feel real the audience had to believe in Thanos. We’ve seen glimpses of him before in Post-credit scenes and GOTG, but these fleeting appearances never gave across the sense that this was a villain to be reckoned with, so it was a bold move when writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely declared that he was to be the main character for Infinity War, even bolder considering that he is entirely CGI. The character is so richly written though, and Josh Brolin plays him so brilliantly, he easily owns the movie. From the opening sequence he is imbued with a sense of weight and gravitas which has previously been lacking, setting up the darkest MCU movie thus far.

Infinity War could have ended up as a complete mess, or just a collection of five minute scenes that give each character their due, but doesn’t hold together as a film. The fact that the fine balance has been expertly walked between story and character is testament to the skills of both the writers and directors. It’s a far from simple plot, with many strands, but it all works, and every character is given their moment to shine. The character interaction is spot on too. It’s rumoured that James Gunn came on to write all the dialogue for the Guardians, and if that’s true, it’s a smart decision and works fantastically. These characters feel like the characters you know and love from their separate movies, and finds joy in watching them interact. If this is the darkest MCU movie, it still remains laugh out loud funny. It’s smart as well that the original avengers get their own little teams to lead, without spoiling it, Thor, Cap, and Iron Man are mostly kept separate, each leading their own story thread. It means that we aren’t watching a rerun of what’s come before, they are mostly with characters they’ve not met before which keeps it fresh. Best is watching Chris Pratt’s Star Lord, trying to macho it up against Thor.

If this is the biggest MCU movie in terms of characters, it’s all the biggest I terms of spectacle. The action is stunning. It’s worth the extra to see it in IMAX, or the biggest screen you can find. The Russo’s continue to manage to make the action dynamic, funny, and ingenious whilst including some great character beats. They get the escalation right too, for a film which breaks into fights almost every 20 minutes, by the time you get to the climatic battle, it still feels big, and manages to hit the emotional beats hard. I felt like the climax of Black Panther was a little underwhelming, and it seems they may have been holding it back a little for the climax of this film. If the film does go in directions that you don’t always expect, and it’s a long watch, it is also completely satisfying. I walked out of the screening numb, I’m going to have to see it again just to completely absorb it.

Infinity War delivers in spades. If this is part one of the end. I can’t wait for Part Two. There are so many ways in which this film could have been rubbish, but it’s just not. If you don’t like previous MCU movies this isn’t for you, if you like the MCU you’re going to love it. There are more spoilerific discussions to come, but for now, it’s a towering achievement. I loved it.


The Road To Infinity War – Ranking The MCU


Its almost here. Avengers: Infinity War is released in the U.K. on Wednesday 25th April. I’ve already got my IMAX ticket booked. I generally only see two films a year in IMAX, and try to save it for big event movies, and Infinity War is as big as it gets. It’s also the first Marvel movie to be shot entirely on IMAX. Originally billed as a two parter, the second movie is now only known as Untitled Avengers Movie. The two movies are still connected, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo have stressed that they will both feel like their own complete movie, whilst the title is under wraps to not spoil any of Infinity War’s surprises. Although only marking the end of Marvel’s Phase Three of their cinematic universe, these movies represent the end of an era. There’s a sense that the previous 18 movies, all sheperded to the screen by producer Kevin Feige, have been leading up to this, and that afterwards it will be a fresh start, with many of the main actors contracts coming to an end. Marvel will carry on afterwards, but it’s unlikely we will be seeing Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, or Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man again. Of course this is partly speculation, and when Disney rock up to each stars repspective mansions with a garbage truck full of cash, they might all sign another 6 picture deal. For now though, this seems as close to an ending as we are going to get in Kevin Feige’s 18 movie story. It’s been an unprecedented run, and one which has seen every other studio attempt to create their own cinematic universe to varying degrees of success, but none have come close to Marvel. So, on the eve of Infinity War I thought I would rank the previous 18 movies from worst to best. As always, this list is highly subjective, and only represents my opinions at this moment in time. If you do have differing opinions be sure to let me know by commenting. Enjoy.


18. The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk (2008) Hulk


There is no doubt in my mind that this is the worst movie in the MCU. It’s not that the movie is completely terrible, actually I think it has a lot of redeemable features, it’s that it feels so inconsequential. When I first introduced my other, and frankly better half to the Marvel universe, I actually left this movie out. You just have to give a brief synopsis of what The Hulk is, and that’s it, they’re set for the rest of the 16 movie run. I did enjoy the first 30 minutes of the movie, and Edward Norton does a good job, but Mark Ruffalo has nailed it since. The rest of the film is just forgettable, middling blockbuster rubbish. The post-credits sequence is worth watching though, as it’s the first crossover between movies in the MCU with Robert Downey Jr. talking to William Hurt’s General Ross at a bar. Hurt’s General Ross was also bought back for Civil War, so there is hope that some of the better elements of this film could be cherry picked and enfolded into the rest of the MCU.


17. Thor: The Dark World


Thor: The Dark World is arguably Marvel showing all their bad habits. After the runaway success of the first Avengers movie, this one feels more like a stop gap until Age Of Ultron. Gone was the fish out of water comedy from the first movie in favour of something darker, and all together more boring. It did nothing to develop Thor as a character or to expand the world he inhabits. It also featured one of the blandest villains the MCU has ever produced. Worth a watch because of the introduction of The Aerher, or the reality stone, but for little else. They also squandered Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki, a breakout from Avengers, and was the first time I started to question whether Marvel did have a plan for this universe.


16. Iron Man 2


Iron Man 2 is a tough one to place. It does a lot of groundwork for what is to come, but also shows that in the early days Marvel didn’t get everything right, and have thankfully learnt from their mistakes. Jon Favreau returned to direct, and it had, surprisingly, Justin Theroux on Screenplay duties. There are great elements in the movie, the Monaco Grand Prix sequence being one of them, but it just didn’t hang together as a whole. Sam Rockwell is also fantastic, but given little screen time as Marvel had other things on their mind. Those other things were laying the foundation for Avengers, this meant that plot threads which seemed to go nowhere were introduced, like Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Phil Coulson, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D. These are all important bits of exposition for the MCU, but left Iron Man 2 unsatisfactory as a standalone movie.


15. Doctor Strange


Part of me feels a little bad putting Doctor Strange so far down on this list, but it’s the only Marvel film I haven’t been drawn back to re-watching. I own all the currently released Blu-Rays, and this one is still in its wrapping. It’s not a bad film by any means. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast, the visuals are fantastic, and director Scott Derrickson creates an interesting finale by cleverly subverting expectations. The problem is the story, it’s a generic origin story that came at a time when audiences had already seen so many. It’s a well made film, but it’s a film that’s hard to love. Of course, if in the future Marvel go down the route of a multiverse, than this film has paved the way for those stories, and it also introduced us to both magic, and the time stone.


14. Avengers: Age Of Ultron


Age Of Ultron is a mix bag of Marvel at their best, and at their worst. It can’t be understated how much expectation was on this movie either. When the first Avengers movie came out, nobody knew what to expect. It was a gamble. Iron Man had set the box office alight, but Captain America and Thor weren’t runaway hits, so when Avengers broke the $1 billion dollar mark, the anticipation for the next team up was at fever pitch. There ar elements of this film that I love. The opening sequence is pure comic book joy, and it’s always fun to watch the character interactions. The problem was that it was supposed to be the big event but felt too much like treading water. Joss Whedon had his hands tied with trying to set up too much for future movies. Marvel have since loosened the reigns with their directors, but this felt like a movie where nothing really happened. Ultron was a disappointment as well, James Spader did good voice work, which helped elevate an otherwise forgettable villain.


13. Thor


Thor comes from an era where Marvel were still finding their feet. I would argue that it’s not until recently that Marvel have really nailed the tone of a Thor movie, not to say that this movie isn’t enjoyable. Kenneth Branagh does great work in the directors chair, bringing a Shakespearean tone to comic book genre. There’s great world building in th  creation of Asgard, and the cast are universally fantastic. It’s probably the most laughable of all the Marvel premises, but they pull it off well. By placing the action on Earth, and introducing Thor in a fish out of water story, it enabled Chris Hemsworth to be able to play it completely straight, whilst mining the ridiculousness of the situation for laughs, and not coming across as too po-faced.


12. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2


Guardians Of The Galaxy have so far been the most self-contained movies in the MCU. That’s all about to change though, as Infinity War is promising the team up of The Guardians with The Avenegrs. It’s not all been smooth sailing though, as this film shows. At times it felt like too much of a re-tread of the first films greatest hits, whilst  the excursion to Ego almost derailed the entire film, becoming too meandering and venturing into boring territory. It still had plenty of laughs though, and the soundtrack was still great. It also operates on a much more emotional level than the rest of the MCU, and the emotional whollop that this film packs will guarantee that there isn’t a dry eye in the house.


11. Ant-Man


I feel like this is the point in the list where my focus starts to shift, it gets harder from  here as I’m now choosing which film I like more, rather than which film I like less. The last seven movies all have things I dislike, whereas from here I generally really enjoyed the films without reservations. Ant-Man follows on from The Winter Soldier where Marvel started crafting indiviual identities for their movies, and moved away from Comic Book Movie as a genre, and made genre movies with comic book characters. Ant-Man is a heist movie, just where the heist revolves around the protagonist having a suit that can shrink him to the size of an ant. Rumoured as a troubled production, it showed no signs of this on the screen. Paul Rudd was great, and there were some ingenious uses of the shrinking technology. Ant-Man fighting Yellow Jacket to The Cure’s Plainsong is still one of my favourite moments in the MCU.


10. Iron Man 3


Iron Man 3 marks the point where Marvel started to take over the cinematic landscape. After the runaway success of Avengers, it was only fitting that the man who started it all would be the one to kick off Phase Two. By bringing in writer/director Shane Black, we were given a more complex Tony Stark, and some great buddy comedy moments with Downey Jr. and Cheadle playing excellently off each other. Some people hated the Mandarin twist, but I loved it and thought it worked well in the universe that the Iron Man films had established. It’s a hard line to walk, balancing what makes an Avengers film, and what makes an Iron Man film. Whilst it does take some time for Iron Man to actually appear, it did allow for a deeper exploration of character, which gives Stark’s actions in films like Civil War more resonance.


9. Captain America: The First Avenger


It’s funny how some films get better with age. Captain America: The First Avenger is definitely one. At the time some felt it was too camp, but I’ve always really enjoyed it.  The way in which director Joe Johnson subverts the iconography which could have made Captain America cheesy into a parody of propaganda is great. The casting of Chris a Evans is only matched by RDJ as Iron Man, in the way the actor seems to have inhabited the character, and made him his own. Although it didn’t seem like it at the time Cap’s first outing has become the lynchpin of the MCU; the introduction of the Tesseract leading straight into Avengers, and with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely being the most consistent MCU writers. They went on to write Winter Soldier, Civil War, and are on screenwriting duties for Infinity War and Avengers 4. This consistency enabled them to build Cap a proper story arc, and provides the truest throughline for the MCU. The call back in Civil War of the line “I can do this all day” only happens with the same writers, and if Captaim America is going to die, I bet it will be in a self sacrifice along the lines of Steve Rogers jumping on a dud grenade.


8. Thor: Ragnarok


If you had told me this time last year that I would be putting a Thor movie in my top ten, I would have laughed at you, but such is the magic of the work Taika Waititi has done on this movie. It’s the first time we’ve seen Marvel hand over the reigns completely to one directors vision, and we get an acid-tinged comedic trip of a movie. The visuals are stunning, the jokes are hilarious, and Chris Hemsworth finally owns the role, proving his ability as a comedic actor. Not everything lands; Cate Blanchett looks fantastic and does her best, but her villain Hela is underused. The comedy does also hamper some other scenes By undercutting their importance. If you’re a fan of the previous Thor movies there are some key elements which are perhaps discarded too casually.


7. Spider-Man: Homecoming


If his cameo in Civil War got you excited, Homecoming was the Spider-Man movie you had been waiting for. Tom Holland did something that no other actor had previously achieved, which was to nail both the role of Spider-Man and Peter Parker. His performance elevates this movie above what had come before. It also used the MCU as a smart way to avoid telling another origin story, we all know how Spider-Man got his powers, but by inserting Tony Stark we still got the father figure which is key to Peter Parker’s motivations. Director Jon Watts used the John Hughes formula to create a fun and enjoyable diversion from the main MCU story, capitalising on all the elements which make Spider-Man a fan favourite.

6. Iron Man


The film that launched a cinematic universe. It’s hard to imagine now, but back in 2008 Iron Man was considered a b-list title. It was Marvel’s first movie as a studios, and they hadn’t been bought by Disney yet. Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t the star that Iron Man would make him, and it was considered a risk hiring him for the role. It came out the same year as The Dark Knight, but it was by taking these risks, and a more colourful approach which made it a run-away success. It still sets the high watermark for making a great origin story. It’s rumoured that the end tag which introduces the idea of The Avengers was only added after successful test screenings. Which is perhaps a note other studios need to take, you create a successful universe one good movie at a time, not by assuming that people will turn up. Jon Favreau also came of age as a blockbuster movie director with this film, and some of he choices he made were truly inspired and still echo through the MCU.


5. Avengers


To think that in the U.K. This was titled Avenger Assemble to avoid confusion with the long running TV show of the same name is almost laughable now, and is just evidence to how far this franchise has come. People forget how risky this movie was, how much of a feat it was to pull off a movie this ambitious, you only have to watch Age Of Ultron or Justice League to appreciate how well Joss Whedon captured lightning in a bottle. The logistics of this movie, and balancing characters who had never met before, all with their own mythology and back story must have been a nightmare, but Whedon pulled it off with a lightness of touch. Blending character moments with some stunning spectacle, and arming his characters with the best quips since Buffy, Avengers sent the MCU into the stratosphere, turning it into a true pop culture phenomenon.


4. Captain America: Civil War

Film Review Captain America Civil War

If you felt that Age Of Ultron felt a little to meandering, a lot of action but not a lot of forward momentum in terms of character arcs, Civil War was the film to reignite your faith in Marvel. The subtle cracks that appeared between the team in Age Of Ultron exploded open here. Some billed it as Avengers 2.5, but what makes this film really work is that it remains all the way through a Captain America film. It’s his relationships with Bucky and Tony that become the driving force and emotional centre for the movie, and the way that the themes of Winter a Soldier are carried forward here makes it the finest sequel to a marvel film so far. It also proved that the Russo brothers could handle juggling this many characters, whilst fantastically introducing audiences to Spider-Man and Black Panther. It’s a skill that will have come in handy when they directed Infinity War.


3. Black Panther


If Avengers was a pop culture phenomenon, then Black Panther is nothing short of a cultural movement. Already having grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, this film became a juggernaut. Marvel let director Ryan Coogler tell the story that he wanted to tell, and the result is the first Marvel movie which actually has something to say. It’s also the first movie in the MCU to have a black lead, shattering the notion that only white actors can sell movies. It works as both excellent popcorn entertainment, whilst still being socially relevant. Filled with instantly iconic moments, and characters, Black Panther is one of Marvel’s best standalone movies, and finds them pushing the MCU into a higher gear. It’s the last movie before Infinity War, and I couldn’t think of a better lead in.


2. Guardians Of The Galaxy


In terms of purely standalone Marvel movies, Guarians Of The Galaxy is the best. There are no ties to any of the past movies, and besides the inclusion of Thanos and the Infinity Stones, has no relation to other events in the MCU. If Iron Man and Avengers seemed like a risk, Guardians was a property that even comic book fans were surprised by. Add to the mix a director best known for b-movie schlock, the schlubby boyfriend from Parks and Recs as the male lead, a talking tree that only says ” I Am Groot”, and a wise cracking talking Racoon. Everyone was fully expecting Marvel to have their first flop. James Gunn had other plans though, injecting the film with the giddy excitement you had when first watching Star Wars, and matching it with one of the best soundtracks ever compiled. Chris Pratt buffed up, and cinema found its new Harrison Ford. It was simultaneously Marvels best adventure film, and its funniest. Gunn grounded it all with a whole load of heart, making it thee most emotionally engaging movie in the MCU.


1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier


My number one choice, after a lot of deliberation is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There are so many Marvel films that I love, but this is the one I keep coming back to. The first MCU movie to really break the comic book genre mouldy by staging the film as a modern day political thriller. It was the introduction of Anthony and Joe Russo as directors, and has been the key to everything Marvel have done since. It perfectly carried on the thread from Avengers, and built towards Civil War. The genius move here was to pair Steve Rogers with Black Widow, and watch these two characters with differing ideologies bounce off each other, and become friends. This is Marvel at the top of their game, creating character driven spectacle. The Russo’s also gave weight to the action, and for the first time you actually felt the hits, in both a physical sense, and an emotional one. They also made Captain America cool, which is the films crowning achievement.


So, there you have it. My ranking of the MCU thus far. Of course, it’s not definitive, as I want to leave myself room to change my mind, but on the eve of Infinity War, this is how I feel the journey has gone. Disagree with me? Great. Leave a comment and let me know what your favourite movie in the MCU is, the only condition is that you have to tell me why. I’m hoping to re-assess this list before Avengers 4, but until then enjoy Infinity War.

Black Panther

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, and Sterling K. Brown.


Black Panther is based on a comic released in 1966, and it’s about time it got its big screen adaptation. In a world where #oscarssowhite was only trending a couple of years ago, representation is a huge issue. Black Panther isn’t the first black superhero to grace our screens, but it is the first black, solo superhero movie in the MCU. I was excited going in, Ryan Coogler is a director with a unique voice, which he isn’t scared to use. He managed to bring his socially conscious film making from Fruitvale Station to Creed, and I was interested to see what he did with an even bigger scope. He also assembled a fantastic cast, and crew, and with Kendrick Lamar on song duties, a rapper whose socially conscious songs seem to gel perfectly with Cooglers M.O., I went hoping for a Marvel movie which offered something more.


Black Panther carries on from where we left T’Challa at the end of Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his Father, King T’Chaka, Prince T’Challa heads home to Wakanda. Wakanda is perceived by the rest of the world as a third world African Country, but in fact it’s the most scientifically advanced country in the world. T’Challa is home to take on the mantle of King, and Black Panther. Black Panther is the super strong protector of Wakanda, a role passed on from King to King. Soon, T’Challa sets out to correct one of his Fathers biggest failures, capturing Ulysses Klaue, a thief who stole Wakanda’s precious supply of Vibranium, killing Wakandians whilst doing it. It doesn’t go smoothly though, and T’Challa finds himself facing competition for the throne.


Black Panther is a breath of fresh air in the MCU. After going through a phase of releasing homogeneous, if fun, super hero movies (I’m looking at you Doctor Strange), they have started to add some different colours to their palate. Thor: Ragnarok was hilarious, but I felt it suffered within the MCU because of its irreverence. Black Panther though is a film that takes the super-hero genre seriously, and offers an origin story that looks and feels completely fresh. It’s nice to see one of these movies not set in New York, and the Coogler leans heavily into the African influence with fantastic results. The use of colour in this film is incredible, the set design is fantastic, and the score is thunderously good. The brilliant world building of Wakanda means that even though there are ties to the MCU, Black Panther really does stand on its own four feet.


The conversation around Black Panther is always going to concern reprentation. It’s one of the great joys of this movie, watching so many talented black actors excelling in roles which have been for so long reserved for white actors. Coogler goes one step further and fills his film with lots of powerful black women. In fact Boseman’s Panther generally comes in second to all he women around him. His sister, played by Latitia Wright is more intelligent. His general, Danai Gurira, is better tactically and perhaps a better fighter, and his ex, Lupita Nyong’o, is arguably morally superior. Coogler does well to create this fictitious African country, but he crucially doesn’t forget the American part of the African-American experience. This comes in the form of a Michale B. Jordan’s villain Killmonger. A boy who grew up in Oakland without a father, Jordan is superb, and completely believable with his righteous anger. Coogler uses his rivalry with T’Challa to impart his social messages, but never in a way that is preachy, both their ideologies are flawed. These are lofty sentiments for a movie of this size, and at times you can’t believe Marvel and Disney let Coogler say these things, but the film is all the better for it.


For the most part, Coogler has knocked this movie out of the park. With a firm grip on tone, he swings from family drama to bond-esque spy movie without missing a beat. The action scenes are for the most part fantastic, Coogler bringing his single take, Creed style to the film. The climax does feel slightly under cooked, a savanna fight scene involving some armoured rhinos feeling a little bit like second hand Lord Of The Rings. The film is littered with great performances. Boseman and Jordan are the stand outs, but special mention has to go to Letitia Wright, who is a great deal of fun, and Andy Serkis who seems to thoroughly enjoy not being in a mo-cap suit. Martin Freeman is perhaps the only under-used actor, there for some good jokes, but ultimately feels like a character Coogler doesn’t really care about. Special mention must go to the score and original songs by Lamar. Ensuring that not only does this film look like no other Hollywood blockbuster, it doesn’t sound like one either. I loved the contrast of the organic African drums used in Wakanda, and the processed drum machine used to represent Killmonger.


Black Panther is perhaps the best stand alone MCU movie yet. It’s smart, funny, and full of thrilling action sequences. It’s also a movie rooted in family with a whole ton of heart. Coogler doesn’t shy away from using his movie to comment on the African-American experience. His villain is nuanced and complicated. His hero is thoughtful and wary. Coogler offers a depiction of the things that divide us, but has ultimately made a movie that we can all get behind.