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Monday, February 19, 2018

Cindy Prasick's Reviews of Early Man & Black Panther

Dearest Blog: After a two-week hiatus, yesterday it was back to Marquee Cinemas for what I thought was a promising pair: Early Man and Black Panther.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First up: Early Man.

The fate of a pre-historic tribe rests on a soccer game. Yes, you read that right.

Well, dear reader(s), it hurts me to say it, but Early Man just plain stinks. I wanted the wacky premise to be as funny as it sounds. I wanted the voice cast to be as amazing as it looks on paper. I wanted to love this movie, and I had every reason to believe I would, but it didn’t give me a chance.

Early Man is populated with forgettable characters who lack any charm.  The premise is improbable enough that it could have been hilarious, but instead it's just idiotic. The film doesn't even run a full hour and a half, but I lost count of the number of times I nearly nodded off. I can't imagine Early Man holding anyone's attention, nevermind the young audience at which it is directed. The few good laughs don't half make it worth your time.

Early Man clocks in at 89 minutes and is rated PG for "rude humor and some action."

If you were thinking of seeing Early Man, I'd suggest you save your money and watch Wallace & Gromit again instead. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Early Man gets three, including one bonus Weasley for having an actual Weasley (Mark Williams) among the cast.

Fangirl points: Richard Ayoade!

Next on my agenda, Black Panther.

Following the death of his father, new challenges face T'Challa both as king of Wakanda and as the Black Panther.

My usual disclaimer: I'm a DC girl through and through, so generally I find Marvel product enjoyable but forgettable. My notable exception has been Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but now I have two exceptions.

You. Guys. Black Panther is SO good. Other than being just a hair too long, it gets everything right. Chadwick Boseman carries the mammoth blockbuster with all the ease of the best A-lister. He's been so good so often it shouldn't be a surprise, but this is a very, VERY large stage and he owns it. His supporting cast is extraordinary to a person, with special mention to Danai Gurira--often the only watchable thing about the Walking Dead--and the always-remarkable Andy Serkis. The film boasts striking visuals with nifty tech, solid effects, majestic costumes, and glorious scenery. The humor is spot-on, never Iron Man-forced; in fact, one of the best things about Black Panther is the lack of intrusion by the other Avengers. The film reflects and respects African culture without so much as a hint of patronizing, and does an incredible job of planting everyone on equal footing. Characters in Black Panther aren't written to do things just because they're black or white, male or female; they're complicated people with complicated feelings and motives. The film bears important messages about our obligations to one another and those commitments that don't change with circumstances or our feelings. Black Panther has plenty of action, smart performances, layered interpersonal connections, and even a touch of romance, a little something for everyone.

Black Panther runs 134 minutes and is rated PG13 for "prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture."

Black Panther is that rare Marvel offering that is truly something special. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Black Panther gets nine.

Fangirl points: Don't wanna spoil anything but STICK AROUND FOR THE SECOND POST-CREDITS SCENE!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 18, 2018


After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king -- and as Black Panther -- gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

Release Date: Feb 16, 2018

Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture

Runtime: 2h 14 min


Black Panther is a bit of a watershed moment for Marvel films for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, the cast and director are primarily people of color and it carries over on screen.  The film has a decidedly strong theme of African Heritage running throughout all within the trapping of a superhero story.  Ryan Coogler does an impressive job of giving his film a visual distinctiveness that’s missing from most of Marvel entries.  As such, Black Panther has a strong identity and it uses it to its advantage by telling an emotionally engaging and thoughtful story.  Chadwich Boseman leads the film with an easy charisma that’s hard to resist.  Boseman has an effortless way about himself all the while maintaining a sense of nobility in T’Challa.  The supporting cast is probably one of the best assembled for any of the Marvel movies.  Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright and Martin Freeman all leave lasting impressions on the film.  Their characters aren’t simply throwaway supporting players but instead feel like well rounded characters equal to the lead.  Michael B. Jordan makes for a fine villain.  He’s a strong counterpart to Boseman’s T’Challa in every manner of speaking.  The character’s motivations actually make sense and pose some interesting questions.  Unfortunately, the film doesn’t spend nearly the amount of time it should fleshing him out which could have made him iconic.  It’s a minor issue compared to the whole.  Black Panther, much like last year’s Wonder Woman, elevates the super hero genre and forces future entries to raise their game.   


Sunday, February 11, 2018


A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to their simple existence. Lord Nooth plans to take over their land and transform it into a giant mine, forcing Dug and his clan to dig for precious metals. Not ready to go down without a fight, Dug and Hognob must unite their people in an epic quest to defeat a mighty enemy -- the Bronze Age.

Director: Nick Park

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall

Release Date: Feb 16, 2018

Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rated PG for rude humor and some action

Runtime: 1h 29 min


Early Man, Nick Park’s latest claymation entry, is as decidedly charming as it is British.  It’s got some solid laughs even if never really nails an emotional center.  Park’s characters are fun and eccentric but the film’s brisk pace never lets us get too close to any of them.  Eddie Redmayne’s Dug is central character and he’s a likeable sort matching Redmayne’s endearing voice work.  Tom Hiddleston hams it up as the film villain who’s never any sort of real threat.  I would have liked to have seen Maisie Williams character get more to do but she’s still solid in parts.  The movie’s real MVP is Dug’s side kick Hognob, a prehistoric hog, who is good for laughs throughout.  Early Man probably won’t be remembered as one of Nick Park’s classics like some of his Wallace and Gromit films or even Chicken Run.  That being said, it is a charming family film that’s going to leave a smile on most people’s face.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018


The story set in the near future, centers on a team of astronauts on a space station making a terrifying discovery that challenges all they know about the fabric of reality, as they desperately fight for their survival.

Director: Julius Onah

Release Date: Jan 12, 2018

Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O'Dowd, Zhang Ziyi

Not Rated

Runtime: 1 hr. 42 min.

Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi


Years from now The Cloverfield Paradox, originally titled The God Particle, will be remembered mostly for Netflix’s release strategy more than the actual content of the film.  Ultimately, Netflix’s strategy of releasing a repurposed sci-fi film, which had been delayed a couple of times before, after the Super Bowl shortly after premiering the first trailer gave the film the kind of visibility it wouldn’t have received otherwise.  The gambit surely paid off in spades even though the final product is lacking in several areas.  Sadly, for all the hoopla the film is simply a passable sci-fi film that recalls better films like Sunshine or even Event Horizon with a heaping serving of Star Trek’s oft used multiverse conceit.  The result is an uneven story with a subplot grafted onto it’s spine that tries desperately to connect the main story to the larger franchise.  It’s a choppy feel throughout resulting in a story that never finds it’s footing even with the ensemble’s best effort.  The cast assembled is impressively strong but the script leaves way too many of them hampered with one dimensional character.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw does her best to give the entire production a heart beat and is only partially successful; displaying some real chops in the film’s final act.  The rest of the cast is populated by top notch actors like David Oyelowo and Daniel Brühl who try their best to bring some sort of life to uncooked characters but they can only do so much with razor thin characterizations.  Elizabeth Debicki’s character could have been thoroughly fascinating if she’s been explored properly.  In the end, The Cloverfield Paradox is a glossy looking misfire which could have used more fine tuning and less overt franchise shoehorning to work effectively. 


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