Black Panther

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.

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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.

TRAILER REACTION: Black Panther

The first teaser trailer for Black Panther was released overnight and it was the first thing I watched this morning.

I LOVED IT! It’s a teaser so you don’t get it explicitly explained who each of the many characters you see snapshots of are or what the conflict in this film will be but that’s more than fine. I love seeing so many awesome women fighting, Michael B. Jordan looks cool and kind of hot and scary at the same time and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa still looks super regal and amazing.

I love the conversation at the start of the trailer between Klaw (Andy Serkis) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), how Klaw says that Wakanda is this all powerful and advanced country and the front they put out to the rest of the world is exactly that, a front. It’s great world building of this fictional country, a country which should (and by the look of this teaser I think it does) be just as much a character to the story of T’Challa and his people as any other character.

Wakanda looks beautiful. It’s an African nation of the future, today. I love the mixture of technology and skyscrapers with the African landscape. It all looks amazing.

This trailer is all about setting up the look and the feel of this movie and I couldn’t be more excited. All the characters with their costumes and weapons look amazing, everything is so bright and colourful and when there is a quick shot of a fight scene featuring Black Panther it’s exciting. The final shot of T’Challa jumping from one flipping car to another was kind of jaw-dropping.

I like the voiceover talking to (I presume) T’Challa, saying how he is a good person but it’s hard for a good person to be a King. I really hope the film explores the political difficulties of a country’s King being its superhero protector, and this line makes me think it will. T’Challa is such a different character compared to the other heroes in the MCU (and in superhero movies in general), he won the mantel of Black Panther and is a king, he isn’t an average guy who got his abilities in an accident like so many of the other heroes we see. Yes, Thor is a prince but he does not have the same level of responsibility that T’Challa has.

I love the feel of this film and everyone involved. The director is brilliant, the entire cast are great in just about everything they’ve ever been in and I’m so excited to see this new chapter of the MCU. I feel like Black Panther along with Thor: Ragnarok are going to bring something unique and vibrant to the MCU and I’m so looking forward to it. Black Panther has been my most anticipated superhero film ever since it was announced a few years ago. Seeing Boseman as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War made me even more excited because he brought the regal gravitas as well as a bit of impulsiveness to the role. Black Panther has been one of my favourite superhero characters ever since I watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon (great series, definitely recommend it) and I can’t wait to see him leading his own film.

Only eight months to wait!

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. This week it’s all about books you picked up on a whim, I’m going to take this as books I bought on a whim – so books that I’d never heard of, hadn’t read reviews for and books that I may have seen in passing on the internet but knew very little about. On to the books!

sudden death coverSudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue
I bought this book in Any Amount of Books, a lovely second-hand book shop off Leicester Square, the last time I was in in London. I had never heard of it before and when I read the blurb I was still none the wiser what it was actually about. It’s something to do with a tennis match and it mentions a lot of different historical figures and time-periods. I have no idea what it’s about or whether I’ll like it but that’s what made me pick it up.

the secret fire coverThe Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
I bought this one during the London Bookswap Crawl and I had never heard of it before. The striking cover was what drew me to it and then it was only a couple of quid so I ended up buying it. I haven’t read it yet but I have a feeling I’m going to get to it sooner rather than later.

 

asking for it louise oneilAsking For It by Louise O’Neill
So I had heard about this book through murmurings on the internet but I hadn’t read any full reviews. Then one day I was browsing Amazon, clicking from book to book and I saw Asking For It again and it wasn’t that expensive so I bought it. My review is here. (more…)

SPOILER REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I posted my spoiler-free review of Captain America: Civil War a few days ago and you can read that here. This my spoiler review and it’s kind of ended up in any old order where I mostly talk about each character and what I liked about them. Be warned this is a long post – it’s over 1,800 words! Now below is all my spoiler-filled thoughts on the movie so once again you have been warned! I really advise you not to read any further if you haven’t seen the film. (more…)

REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

captain america civil war posterAfter a string of dangerous and deadly missions that put the public at risk, the Avengers are told they must be regulated by the U.N. While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with these measures, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) doesn’t trust them. This causes a divide between the team that’s only exasperated when Steve’s best friend and former assassin Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces.

Anthony and Joe Russo return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe after directing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the way they put together this film is great. The action sequences are well-shot, there’s only a few instances of shaky-cam and most of the time fight scenes are framed in a wide shot so you can see exactly what’s going on. Also the way they manage to film multiple characters fighting but you never lose focus of where each character is and what they are doing is truly commendable.

A big part of the film is obviously this conflict between Steve and Tony and the sides various characters choose. The great thing about Captain America: Civil War is that you understand why these characters disagree and as the viewer you can see it’s not black and white and there’s pros and cons to both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the film there’s a sit down discussion between a lot of the characters and you get why the stakes are so high and what these regulations mean to them all.

The tension builds between all the characters as the film progresses and in many ways it’s similar to a Bourne thriller as characters go on the run and try to figure out the truth. While I won’t go into any depth of the different characters motivations, I can’t not mention Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). He is a guy who has the weight of a country on his shoulders but he is still fallible. He isn’t particularly on anyone’s side, he is on his own side and it makes him an interesting third party to this conflict. Civil War gives Black Panther a brilliant introduction and there’s going to be many people excited about his solo film.

There are a lot of characters in this movie but thanks to a great script, they all get their moment in the spotlight though some may have that moment longer than others. Really while Civil War is in a way both a sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at the heart of it, it is a Captain America movie. It’s the relationship between Steve and Bucky that drives a lot of their character motivations, and the motivations of a lot of the characters around them. the two of them are the heart of the film and it’s a good job Evans and Stan have such a good understanding of their characters and give such great performances because if they didn’t, Captain America: Civil War really wouldn’t be as good as it is.

Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal film. While there’s all this conflict and amazing action sequences, at the heart of the film is the characters and their relationships. It’s what drives the plot and makes the film so great. 5/5.