Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy.

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff.

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steals scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

***

What have you been watching?

Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)

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

IMDB Synopsis

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

*Minor spoilers*

First off, I have no clue how I’m supposed to get all my thoughts about this film down coherently. I loved it. I loved it more than any other Marvel movie I’ve seen, that’s for sure.

While I watched, I had similar feelings to those I had while finally seeing Wonder Woman for the first time – it just blew me away.

So T’Challa (Boseman) finds himself freshly crowned King of Wakanda following the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War (at the hands of brain-washed super soldier Bucky Barnes). He’s a fine replacement with his feet firmly on the ground, which is surprising given all the adventures he’s been on recently with his new buddies.

The various friendly (and not so) factions of Wakanda are for the most part happy with this new appointment and they all plan to get on peacefully with life in the technologically advanced (and aesthetically mind-blowing) Wakanda.

Well, that would make for a very short and cheerful Marvel vehicle if that was that, so you’ll be relieved to note that there is a bad guy lurking on the outskirts, the mercenary Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis: 100% would bang). Klaue (CLAW!) has got hold of some cheeky Vibranium, the precious metal used to power the whole of Wakanda – and he’s looking to weaponise that shit. Backed by a small crew, Klaue is wreaking havoc much to the dismay of T’Challa and his council.

Pushed to do something about Klaue, particularly by buddy W’Kabi (Kaluuya) whose father was killed by this maniac, the new King rounds up his own team: the mighty General Okoye (Gurira) and spy/crush Nakia (Nyong’o). Teched up to the nines by T’Challa’s precocious sister Shiri (Black Museum‘s Letitia Wright) how can they fail? But there are obstacles along the way, guys – massive, stressful obstacles.

Will the rightful King overcome them, protect the throne, get the girl and above all, do the right thing by his people? I’d say get up THIS SECOND, go to your local picture house and find out for yourselves.

Black Panther is beautiful to look at obviously. The insanely advanced Wakanda is stunning, something to truly marvel at (lol) but it’s not just about the scale, it’s about the colours, the framing, the COSTUMING – the costuming is wonderful, authentic looking and practical. Once again I am reminded of the incredible achievements of the Wonder Woman costume department and it’s very moving to witness practical and attractive (yet not hyper-sexualised) armor worn by the women in battle.

Obviously I have to mention how female this film is, how equal rights and awesome it is that King T’Challa has his back covered by a bunch of women. How the General of his army is a woman and how the whole of Wakanda is powered by his genius younger sister. T’Challa is influenced by the ideals of his true love, a female spy and warrior, who’s first concern is to help those with less than they have themselves – even as he is offering her the world to stay by his side.

The cast in an unbelievable collection of talent, from Angela Fucking Basset to my favourite, Daniel ‘Tealeaf’ Kaluuya. I love the holy trinity of women too, they’re everything.

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And while Black Panther is not the first black superhero we’ve ever seen (uh hello? Blade?), on this scale with this cast it is awe-inspiring to witness. Though it shouldn’t be a big deal in 2018 that we’re finally getting a main-stream film with a predominantly black cast rooted in black culture and the black experience – it fucking is.

My Rating

5/5.