Black Panther

U is for Ulysses Klaue

God bless villains with unusual names, so I get to have a character for this day. Once again, I got to say Klaue isn’t a favourite though I do think Andy Serkis appears to have a whale of time in the role and that makes Klaue an entertaining presence whenever he’s on screen.

I kinda love how unapologetically greedy Klaue is. He’s a black-market arms dealer, has no problem with murder, and generally has little regard for life. His henchmen are indeed just that and he doesn’t appear to have anyone he cares about. He knows how to talk the talk when faced with someone deadlier than himself, case in point Ultron, and he also willingly admires Killmonger even when he is being killed by him.

Klaue definitely has a weird sense of priorities and a weird sense of humour too. He’s eccentric, having his replacement hand being a weapon, and readily talks about his fear of cuttlefish when confronted by someone with powers.

Klaue is a cunning businessman and he is smart, noticing the little things while also having a lot of fun causing chaos. He does think highly of himself which you could say was his downfall as he never really saw Killmonger as a threat.

Klaue was always a funny and entertaining villain, especially in Black Panther. His obnoxious attitude always bounced off of other more serious characters and just made him a lot of fun to watch.

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S is for Shuri

I love Black Panther for giving us so many interesting and cool female characters. I think besides the Thor films; Black Panther has the most well-developed female characters than any other MCU film.

Shuri is so great because while she is ridiculously smart and is the head scientist of the Wakandan Design Group, she still acts like a teenager who enjoys music, jokes and messing with her big brother. I love the scenes with her and T’Challa. They feel like proper siblings but T’Challa still listens to her judgement when it comes to the technology she’s created.

I like how Shuri is a character that has many sides and responsibilities. She’s Princess of Wakanda, meaning she has certain responsibilities and must act a certain way when she’s doing her royal duties. She’s a scientist and engineer, making much of Wakanda’s modern technology. She’s a warrior, prepared to fight alongside her brother for the good of Wakanda. But then she is still a young woman with a sense of humour and her own ideas about what’s right and good.

I also love that in the MCU all characters just accept how ridiculously smart this young black woman is and no one underestimates her. Or if they do, they end up regretting it.

O is for Okoye

Near enough all of the characters in Black Panther are pretty badass but Okoye is perhaps the most badass.

She’s the general of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite female bodyguards, and is a trusted advisor to King T’Challa. While she is T’Challa’s friend and will question him when she feels it’s necessary, she is also loyal to the throne of Wakanda, no matter who sits in it. She loves her country and its people and will do just about anything to protect it, even going against the man she loves.

Okoye is a fierce and skilled fighter. I loved watching her fight whether it was when she’s undercover in a casino, or when it’s on the plains of Wakanda. She’s elegant yet lethal and with her fighting style being a combination of martial arts and spear mastery.

I love Okoye’s sense of humour. She’s seemingly very stoic and serious, but she can also have a wicked sense of humour. It’s just that she knows when she needs to be professional and be the face of the Dora Milaje, but when she’s with friends or not in a serious meeting, she can be funny and approachable.

Okoye’s incredible and I’m sure she, along with M’Baku, are keeping Wakanda together and I can’t wait to see her again in Endgame.

E is for Erik “Killmonger” Stevens

Black Panther is a pretty incredible film and one of the reasons it stood out was because of its villain.

Killmonger is such an interesting villain because you could understand where he was coming from. Killmonger’s motives came from hearing about how amazing and almost utopian Wakanda is, while he was living in an unjust society. He experienced violence as a child, he was abandoned by Wakanda and his family there, meaning that he grew up in America and saw the violence and bigotry that black people faced every day there while knowing there was somewhere that could help them.

Killmonger fought in wars, was an elite soldier and was a murderer. So, he definitely wasn’t some you’d want to lead a country but his idea of levelling the playing field (as he saw it anyway) was understandable if misguided.

Many people came out of the film saying that Killmonger was right, but let’s be real – Nakia was the one who had the right idea when it came to Wakanda no longer being an isolated nation and using their resources to help people around the world.

Besides his motives, another thing I really liked about Killmonger was his attitude. He has so much confidence and swagger. The way he baits the museum curator and says right to her face that he’s going to take the artefacts and not pay for them because that’s exactly how her ancestors did it gave me chills. You instantly knew this was a character that knew who he was and what he wanted. Plus because of his upbringing, he was so different to T’Challa and the people of Wakanda which made him unpredictable and dangerous but also very entertaining.

My Top Ten Films of 2018

A bit later than normal, because life, but here’s my favourite films of the past year. I contributed to both the HeyUGuys Online Critics Top Ten and Jumpcut’s Top 10 Films of 2018 this year as well so check out what took the top spot on both of those lists.

This Top Ten is based on UK releases in 2018. I reviewed most of these films so will link to my review if you fancy learning more about why I thought it was so good. I’ve put these films in a rough top ten but really the film that takes the number one spot is the one that is my all-out favourite and even though I’ve watched it five times in 2018, I still adore it.

10. Dumplin’
This film was so sweet, funny and lovely. It was released in early December on Netflix and I watched it twice in about ten days. Dumplin’ made me laugh and cry and I can see it becoming a go to comfort film for me.

9. Game Night
I definitely need to rewatch Game Night to see if I laugh as much as I did when I saw it in the cinema. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I ended up having such a good time with it, and “Oh no he died!” is still my favourite line delivery in any film I saw last year.

8. The Hate U Give
I loved the book so was eagerly anticipating the film adaptation of The Hate U Give and it didn’t disappoint. Amandla Stenberg was fantastic, and I think the story was translated to the screen so well.

7. Widows
I love a heist film and Widows was brilliant. It’s a slow-build kind of film but all the characters are compelling and the performances in Widows should be getting more awards buzz than they are currently.

6. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians was one of those surprising occasions where I liked the film way more than the book. It’s funny, big, bold and it also made me cry at the end.

5. Black Panther
Ever since I watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon I’ve loved T’Challa so I was super excited about his standalone film in the MCU. I loved the world of Wakanda, the characters and the story, I haven’t done an MCU ranking recently but I think Black Panther would be in my top 5.

4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Well this was a non-stop thrill ride! Ghost Protocol is still my favourite Mission: Impossible film because that’s the team I like the most, but Fallout is definitely my second favourite and I really do think that Tom Cruise is super-human.

3. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
I grew up loving ABBA thanks to my mum and I think Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is just as good as the first film. I think how they combined a prequel and a sequel was great, I laughed, I tapped my feet, and I cried at the end.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
I really want to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse again before it leaves the cinema because it deserves to be seen on the big screen. I loved the story, all the spider-people worked so well, I loved Miles, and the animation was stunning.

1. Avengers: Infinity War
I love Infinity War so so much. I think not only is it a great film, where I like all the characters and the different stores going on, but it’s an achievement really that ten years of build-up and stories works.

Those were my favourite films of 2018. What were your favourite films of last year? Do we have any in common.

May’s Illumicrate Box

May’s Illumicrate was just the best! But before I get into what’s inside, here’s a little about Illumicrate. Illumicrate is a quarterly YA subscription box based in the UK. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK. It does ship internationally but it has shipping costs that varies depending where in the world it’s travelling to. Illumicrate contains one new release (and sometimes a bonus ARC as well) and 4-6 goodies, some of which can be exclusives.

Now I had cancelled my Illumicrate subscription as I’d moved to a new house, I was now paying more monthly expenses etc etc but when I heard what some one the goodies would be related to, I knew I had to get this box. Seriously, mention Black Panther and I’m there!

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was the Black Panther item. It’s a book sleeve designed by Risa Rodil featuring T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia and Okoye and I LOVE IT!!! I love the design (I’d seen some of Risa Rodil’s work before and loved it so I’m so happy I have a book sleeve by them) and how big the sleeve is.

Next there was a box with Fangirl-inspired artwork by Alice Oseman. I really liked this item as it’s something I’ve not seen in subscription boxes before and it’s the perfect thing for keepsakes or your lunch. There was a Camp Half-Blood enamel pin with a pegasus on it from Fable and Black, tarot-style art cards inspired by the Infernal Devices featuring Will, Jem, and Tessa from taratjah, and a set of elements page markers from AnotherStudio_ inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. All of these items were Illumicrate exclusives which is pretty awesome.

Also included were promotional items like pin badges, bookmarks, samplers and postcards for Grey Sister, How Do You Like Me Now?, From Twinkle With Love, I Was Born For This and A Reaper at the Gates. And there was an exclusive edition advanced readers copy of Light Years by Kass Morgan which sounds like a great, mysterious yet romantic sci-fi adventure.

Now for the book. It was A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews and this copy was an exclusive copy with red sprayed edges. It came with a signed book plate, a letter from the author and a bookmark. This is a book I’d seen murmurings about on Twitter, and after reading the blurb I can see why. It’s a contemporary story about friendship and music and overcoming parental abuse. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

I loved everything included in this quarters Illumicrate box and I think it could be the best yet. I like how it has a real eclectic mix of items from different fandoms and I’m looking forward to reading both books, especially as they are books I might not have bought myself. I think this Illumicrate box might be their best yet, it’s truly great.

REVIEW: Black Panther (2018)

Still reeling after his father’s death, T’Challa (Chadwicke Boseman) returns to the secretive country of Wakanda to take up the mantle of King. Soon his judgement and resolve are tested when old enemy Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) resurfaces and brings with him a perhaps even deadly foe – Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

Black Panther is a lot of firsts – first film in the MCU with a black superhero as the titular character, first film in the MCU not directed by a white guy, and first big budget superhero film in general that brings this many talented black actors into a place in our world that’s never been colonised nor had any outside influence throughout its history.

Wakanda is a vivid and fleshed-out country – so much so it’s like it’s its own character. The buildings, the vehicles, the technology and the clothes are all a mixture of the future and the traditional. Merging the real and the imaginary helps make Wakanda feel like a real, lived-in place and overall special effects in Black Panther are incredibly well-done. Subsequently when there are those moments where the CGI isn’t to the same level as the rest of the film, it’s more jarring which is unfortunate. Wakanda is a place that has been left to thrive by the rest of the world and thanks to its many scientists and inventors, including T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Shuri is a character who steals just about every scene she’s in with her humour and relatability. She and T’Challa feel like proper siblings, and with their mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are a strong family unit.

In some ways Black Panther feels like more of an ensemble film because there are so many great, fleshed-out characters surrounding T’Challa. There’s Okoye (Danai Guria) the head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all female security force, who is such a badass, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) a spy for Wakanda, and M’Baku (Winston Duke) leader of the Jabari Tribe who is a surprisingly layered character. Every single one of them have their moments to shine but T’Challa is rarely upstaged thanks to Boseman’s stoic yet compelling performance as a man trying to be both a king and a superhero. Killmonger is a great villain and a worthy adversary for T’Challa. He’s a fascinating villain because while it’s clear he’s the bad guy, the way he states his reasoning makes you get where he’s coming from. His actions are in no way condonable but the reasons for his actions are understandable.

The pacing in Black Panther is a little uneven at times. There is a lot to set up in showing Wakanda and introducing this society and its people which is great and very enjoyable, but there’s something’s that could either have had more detail or have been briefer and have still gotten across the same information.

Black Panther is a great film. It’s exciting and surprisingly funny – it perfectly balances the humour, which is mostly character-driven, and its serious moments. Black Panther covers a lot of genres, it’s political, it’s like an espionage thriller in some ways, it’s about family and legacy, as well as being an action-packed superhero movie. 4/5.