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AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) – My rating: 7.8/10

Avengers: Endgame is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team,The Avengers. The film is produced by Marvell Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Avengers: Endgame is the sequel to 2012’s “The Avengers”, 2015’s” Avengers: Age of Ultron” and 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” , it is also the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Avengers: Endgame is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Endgame picks up with the surviving members of the Avengers team, along with their allies working to reverse the damage caused by Thanos during the Infinity War. I for one, anticipated Endgame with bated breath. While I thought this was a decent sequel, I was somewhat disappointed.

Thanos (Josh Brolin) used the Infinity Stones to disintegrate half of all life across the universe, leaving us devastated by the deaths of our beloved super heroes. The world has waited in anticipation for the reversal of Thanos’ actions. Avengers: Endgame, part two of Avengers: Infinity, begins three weeks after the completion of Thanos’ dastardly deed, with Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) returning to Earth from deep space, carrying a spaceship containing Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) inside. Now the remaining Avengers, which include; Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Rocket (Bradley Cooper’s voice), Thor (Christopher Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and James “Rhodey” Rhodes / War Machine (Don Cheadle), must find a way to go back in time to fix what Thanos has done. Using Nebula’s knowledge, they find an injured Thanos on an unguarded planet. Their plan is to retake the Stones and reverse his actions but find he has already destroyed them to prevent further use. An enraged Thor beheads Thanos, who is now an ordinary person without the powers of the stones.

**** SPOILERS ****

Five years later, Scott Lang / Ant Man (Paul Rudd) escapes the quantum realm and meets Natsha Romanoff / Black Widow and Steve Rogers / Captain America at the Avengers’ compound. Scott explains that he experienced only five hours while trapped, which to him theorizes that the quantum realm allows time travel. The three heroes travel to ask Stark, because of his genius, to help them retrieve the Stones from the past so they can reverse Thanos’ actions in the present. Stark not believing this could be done refuses, mostly out of fear he’d lose his daughter, Morgan (Lexi Rabe). After having a short chat with his wife, Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Stark relents says good-bye to his family, then leaves to work with Banner, who has merged his consciousness with the Hulk’s body, hoping to stabilize travel in the quantum realm. Banner and Rocket go to the Asgardian refugees’ new home in Norway, to recruit a beer drinking, drunken, overweight Thor and Romanoff heads to Tokyo to recruit Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who has turned into a ruthless vigilante following the disintegration of his family.

I think this is a good place to stop. It is difficult to critique this film because the entire story is a mystery for you to solve or not, so you don’t want to know how it ends or if they accomplish the mission. I was a little disappointed in this sequel. First, I felt Tony Shark deserved much more. I can’t elaborate on this since it would spoil the movie for you. Suffice to say, Iron Man should have a movie all to himself, which would give him the opportunity to explain his actions, past, present and future. I also feel Black Widow should be in that Iron Man movie to boost their fan’s moral, concerning what happened in the Endgame. I must inform you that this three hour and one minute movie is action packed with special effects beyond your greatest expectations. There were so many super heroes, from the present as well as the past, that you will find it hard to keep up. The beginning of Endgame tested our faith in the writers to pull off a Thanos’ reversal, as hopelessness was the only feelings we could muster up. After a long battle of defeats for the Avengers and company, we finally got some hope but it didn’t last long. I personally thought the Endgame could have been better written, as there were too many disappointments. Also, the quantum theory story was a bit hard to swallow. Terms like “your past is now your present” really took a lot of intellect to fully understand. BTW, that quantum statement is longer with deeper meaning; I just can’t spoil this for you by saying anymore. You have to see Avengers: Endgame for yourself. It is definitely worth seeing. The film received positive reviews for its direction, acting, entertainment value, musical score, visual effects and emotional weight, with critics lauding its culmination of the 22-film story. With an estimated budget of $356 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. It also broke numerous box office records and has grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2019, as well as the fifth highest-grossing film of all time. Check It Out!

 

BLACK PANTHER (2018) – My rating: 10/10

Black Panther is a Black superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The film is directed and written by Ryan Coogler,   and produced by Kevin Feige / Marvel Studios.  By now Black Panther has become a phenomenon surpassing all expectations for this type of action comic book hero with a predominantly Black cast. In Black Panther, the main character returns home as king of Wakanda and finds his sovereignty challenged by a new adversary, in a conflict with global consequences.  Now in it’s 6th week, the film has grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2018, as well as the seventh highest-grossing film ever in the United States and the 14th highest-grossing film of all time as well as the biggest debut by an African-American director.

Centuries ago, after being hit, in Africa, by a meteorite containing a powerful metal called vibranium, five African tribes go to war over rights to own this metal. One warrior ingests a “heart-shaped herb” affected by the metal and gains superhuman abilities, becoming the first “Black Panther”. He unites all but the Jabari Tribe to form the nation of Wakanda. Vibranium enabled the Wakandans to develop advanced technology, including the ability to cloak, thus isolating themselves from the world by posing as a Third World country.

As a result of placing spies all over the world, in 1992, a young King T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani) visits his brother N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), who is working undercover in Oakland, California. T’Chaka accuses N’Jobu of assisting black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) with stealing vibranium from Wakanda. N’Jobu’s partner reveals he is Zuri (Forest Whitaker), another undercover Wakandan, and confirms T’Chaka’s suspicions.

In the present day, following a much older King T’Chaka’s (John Kani) death, his son, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to Wakanda to assume the throne. He and Okoye (Danai Gurira), the leader of the Dora Milaje regiment, extract Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), T’Challa’s ex-lover, from an undercover assignment so she can attend his coronation ceremony with his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). At the ceremony, the Jabari Tribe’s leader M’Baku (Winston Duke) challenges T’Challa but looses in ritual combat.

After Klaue and Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) steal a Wakandan artifact from a museum, W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), T’Challa’s friend and Okoye’s lover, urges him to bring Klaue back dead or alive. T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia travel to Busan, South Korea, where Klaue plans to sell the artifact to CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman). A fight erupts and Klaue attempts to flee but is caught by T’Challa, who reluctantly releases him to Ross’ custody. Klaue tells Ross that Wakanda’s international image is a front for a technologically advanced civilization. Erik attacks and extracts Klaue. Ross is gravely injured protecting Nakia. Rather than pursue Klaue, T’Challa takes Ross to Wakanda, where their technology can save him.

While Shuri heals Ross, T’Challa confronts Zuri about N’Jobu. Zuri explains that N’Jobu planned to share Wakanda’s technology with people of African descent around the world to help them conquer their oppressors. As T’Chaka arrested N’Jobu, N’Jobu attacked Zuri, forcing T’Chaka to kill him. T’Chaka ordered Zuri to lie, saying that N’Jobu had disappeared and left behind N’Jobu’s American son, Erik, in order to maintain the lie. Erik became a U.S. black ops soldier, adopting the name “Killmonger”. Meanwhile, Killmonger kills Klaue and takes his body to Wakanda. He is brought before the tribal elders, revealing his identity and claim to the throne. Killmonger challenges T’Challa to ritual combat; after killing Zuri, he defeats T’Challa and hurls him over a waterfall. After ingesting the heart-shaped herb, Killmonger orders the remainder of the herb incinerated, but Nakia extracts one first. Killmonger, supported by W’Kabi and his army, prepares to distribute shipments of Wakandan weapons to operatives around the world.

I have taken you through most of the characters and given you a lot of the story.  As usual, I have to stop here in order to keep the story in tact.  If you haven’t already seen this awesome movie and to find out what happens next, give it a try as it is one of the best films I’ve seen in some time.  In particular, the plot is “on the money”.  The acting is brilliant and the special effects are sensational.  There is also lots of trivia so I added an entire section on most of the actors, actresses and characters for you to read about.  I enjoyed Black Panther so much, I’ve seen it twice.  I highly recommend it and I congratulate Marvel and Disney for a job well done! Check it Out!

[Black Panther is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score, Original Song, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing]
Actors/Actresses/Characters:
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther:
    The king of the African nation of Wakanda, who gains enhanced strength by ingesting the Heart-Shaped Herb. Ashton Tyler plays a young T’Challa.
  • Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka/Erik “Killmonger” Stevens:
    The son of N’Jobu, and a U.S. black-ops soldier who seeks to overthrow his cousin T’Challa. Executive producer Nate Moore said Killmonger “has his own opinion on how Wakanda has been run and should [be] run”. Seth Carr plays a young Killmonger.
  • Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia:
    T’Challa’s former lover and a War Dog, an undercover spy for Wakanda placed in other countries to complete missions. She is from the River Tribe. Nyong’o called Nakia a “departure” from her comic counterpart. She begins the film fighting for enslaved women in Nigeria; Nyong’o learned to speak Hausa for certain scenes in the film. She also trained in judo, jujitsu, silat and Filipino martial arts.
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye:
    An “extremely proud” Wakandan and traditionalist from the Border Tribe, who is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female special forces of Wakanda, who serve as T’Challa’s bodyguards. When looking to cast Gurira, director Ryan Coogler had not seen The Walking Dead, in which Gurira portrays the popular character Michonne, and instead wanted her for the part because of her performance in Mother of George. Gurira said that the fighting skills she learned playing Michonne complemented the skills of Okoye, but that “there’s a lot of ways that they’re extremely different …
  • Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross:
    A member of the Central Intelligence Agency and former liaison of its Joint Counter Terrorism Task Force. Freeman said that Ross “has an uneasy peace with T’Challa”, and that he “goes on a strange journey, an enlightening journey to Wakanda.” Unlike his comic book counterpart, who mainly served as comic relief, Freeman and the filmmakers sought to turn this version of Ross into a more capable agent in terms of diplomacy and combat.
  • Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi: A confidant to T’Challa and his best friend, who is the head of security for the Border Tribe, serving as the first line of defense for Wakanda.
  • Letitia Wright as Shuri:
    T’Challa’s 16-year-old sister and the princess of Wakanda who designs new technology for the country. Wright described her as “an innovative spirit and an innovative mind” who “wants to take Wakanda to a new place… [and] has a great fashion sense”. Wright also felt Shuri was a good role model for young black girls.
  • Winston Duke as M’Baku:
    A powerful, ruthless warrior who is the leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari, who are in protest to T’Challa being the new king. Duke described the Jabari as people who “strongly believe that to move forward, you have to have a strong adherence and respect for the past. As a result, they have a deep moral conscience.
  • Angela Bassett as Ramonda:
    T’Challa and Shuri’s mother and Queen Mother of Wakanda. Boseman noted that Ramonda “is one of the advisors that [T’Challa] would look to… for some of the answers of what his father might want or might do. She may not be exactly right all the time, but she definitely has insights.” Bassett wore a silver, waist-length wig for the role that was made from 120 pieces of hair hand-rolled into dreadlocks.
  • Forest Whitaker as Zuri:
    An elder statesman in Wakanda, and the keeper of the heart-shaped herb. Coogler called Zuri a religious and spiritual figure, and a way to reference the spirituality within Wakanda from the comics. He also added that Zuri “is a major tie back” to T’Chaka for T’Challa, and is “Black Panther’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Denzel Whitaker, who is not related to Forest, plays a young Zuri.
  • Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue:
    A South African black-market arms dealer, smuggler and gangster, who is allied with Killmonger. He uses a piece of advanced Wakandan mining equipment as a sonic disruptor arm-cannon, replacing his left arm, which he lost in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Boseman described Klaue as a threat to Wakanda, one of the few outsiders to enter the country, and someone with access to vibranium, comparing him to Osama bin Laden. Serkis added that in addition to his desire for vibranium, Klaue is motivated by a “personal” vendetta against T’Challa, and “to expose what he thinks is the hypocrisy of Wakanda.”