Geek For E!

Movie Review: Black Panther, Wakanda Forever (2022)

Wakanda Forever!

Welcome back to Wakanda was all I thought walking into the screening. Once the lights went down, however, I knew we were not in for a happy ride.

This movie was not an easy one to make due to the circumstances behind the scenes. The original movie had to be scrapped due to Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death. Even with all the obstacles in front of him, Ryan Coogler made a movie that not only dealt with grief but paid their former star a great deal of homage.

The movie takes place a year after T’Challa’s death. Wakanda is grieving and lost. They try to get back to normalcy, such as tracking down Vibranium that has been taken from Wakanda. Instead, they are met with another obstacle, Namor, who is also trying to hinder the outside world from realizing who they are. Namor though, is seen as a deity. His name to his people is Kukulkan, loosely meaning “Amazing Serpent”.

The movie is long, clocking in at 2 hours and 41 minutes. I did not look at my watch once, however there were times where it dragged.  The film’s a little messy, and does not flow the way the first one did. There is a lot to like about the movie, starting with the performances. Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett bring their “A” game, taking on the hardest scenes to film. You can see how much they miss and loved Chadwick Boseman. Their raw emotion comes through in their performances. Winston Duke does his usual great things with M’Baku. Newcomer Tenoch Huerta is a solid addition to the ever-growing actors in the MCU and a great choice to play Namor.

BPWF takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride. It is heavy at times but needs to be heavy because of Chad’s death. You know that going into it.  Although a solid entry into the MCU, it does not feel as complete and as fluid as the original but considering the circumstances I think Mr. Coogler and the crew did the best they could, and it shows.

3 out of 4 stars (Marc Moses)

Movie Review: The Woman King, B+

The Woman King is a special movie. I went into the screening only having seen the poster. But based upon who was in the cast, specifically Viola Davis’ intensity, I knew I was in for a ride. And what a ride it was. The movie pulls you in immediately, showing off the toughness, skill and community respect of The Agojie, the all-female warrior King’s Guard who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century.  From the set design to the action sequences, The Woman King feels authentic. You feel like you are there fighting beside them as they take on whoever is in front of them. The costume design was tremendous. The robes of King Ghezo, played by the wonderful John Boyega, were colorful and beautiful.  For a 120-minute movie, it never feels bogged down, even as it fleshes out the different characters who we come to love and deeply care about throughout the movie.

The performances were stellar all around. Lashana Lynch, the aforementioned John Boyega, and Sheila Atim do some of their best work in this film. As expected, Viola Davis gives her all. In my opinion, she is one of the finest actors working today. As the lead Agojie, General Nanisca, Davis leads with a ferocity yet also exudes the emotion of the burden she carries, and a much more vulnerable, softer side. Her name should pop up during awards season along with all the actors mentioned above.

I do want to give a special shout out to Thuso Mbedu as Nawi. This was my first time seeing her on screen. She is going to be a powerhouse. This performance was so genuine and passionate. Her emotions, whether saving a friend or standing up for herself, are not overdone. There are times when she is all I can see, even when Viola Davis is on screen. Directed and co-written magnificently by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the Woman King felt personal like it was written from deep within her soul. I really enjoyed this film.

Reviewer: Marc Moses, Geek For E!

Movie Review: Jurassic World: Dominion

About halfway through Jurassic World Domination, I concluded that if you put dinosaurs in a movie, people will go see it. That does not mean the movie is good. Such is the case for this 3rd installment. The actors seemed like they were having a good time together and although the script was weak, the actors, due to their talents made the ride a fun one. There felt like there was no depth to the script. The premise followed in the same line as other Jurassic movies.

What I really enjoyed seeing was both sets of stars interact with each other. I am more of a fan of the original cast, but seeing Chris Pratt and Sam Neil say “Do Not Move” in unison, was cool. Their charisma is on full display.  DeWanda Wise, a newcomer to this cast was arguably the best part of the movie. She is funny, tough and oozes confidence on the screen.  One good thing is that you really do not have to see any of the other movies to watch this one.  There are some callbacks for sure, but nothing that will affect this viewing.

The movie takes us on an adventure to such places as Malta and Italy.  The parts filmed on location in Malta, which was fun, had a great motorcycle chase. There was whole facility in which the third act takes place. Beautiful scenery and cinematography.

The villain in the movie, Lewis Dobson, played by Campbell Scott, came across as a whiny, entitled, brat. He did nothing for me. On his staff was another newcomer to the cast, Mamoudou Athie, who plays Ramsey, was terrific. He is an actor on the rise.

In summation, the movie had moments to scare you, make you laugh, get you excited and feel some emotion, but the movie also seems disconnected. It is not as bad as Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, but not as good as either the first Jurassic World or the original, Jurassic Park. I think we could all use a break I for one, am “Dinosaured out”.

 Let’s hope this is the last one for a while. (Marc Moses – GeekForE)

Movie Review: Top Gun: Maverick

Maverick is back, and this time – he’s training the best

Top Gun: Maverick (in theaters now! THU 05.26.22).  This high-octane and nostalgic ride should have been called ‘Top Gun: Mission Impossible’ rather than its true title.   Co-writer Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) bring home a winning combination of the original Top Gun film, mated with a gut wrenching and visually stunningly impossible mission for the intrepid pilots in this sequel.  TGM picks up some 25 years or so after the first film, and before you ask – No.  You don’t need to have seen the original to enjoy the hell out of this one.  Tom Cruise (Taps) returns as Pete Mitchell, and sadly, he’s still a Navy Captain (even though he’s old enough and experienced enough to be an Admiral).  Resigned to special interest Navy flying projects, he’s reluctantly recruited back to Top Gun school to train the newest and toughest graduates for a specific mission.  A tough mission…an insane and miraculous one that will have you on the edge of that IMAX seat (or whatever format you prefer).   The key to this one being so good is really the writing out of onscreen characters.  Taking the place of Navy pilot Iceman from the original film, is a square-jawed, ridiculously handsome asshole you love to hate in pilot callsign ‘Hangman’ portrayed cleanly, sharply and with much disdain by actor Glen Powell (Hidden Figures).  You all but forget Cruise’s original love interest from the first film, and seamlessly fall in love with his love interest Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly-The Rocketeer).  She’s gorgeous, tough, a loving mom, a townie, and one hell of a sailor – you just feel the connections between the two.  But the genius in the writing here is how the original character Iceman from the first film was handled.  We all know, from real life, that actor Val Kilmer (The Saint) returned for the role – we also know that in real-life he’s suffering from a form of throat cancer that affects his ability to speak.  And his size and looks have changed dramatically since the original film.  The filming crew of TGM makes it work and exacts it on-screen into a beautiful culmination that serves the story. Films like this have a built-in audience, heck it’s been 35 years since the original, so this is going to be a hit – but I’ll go out on a limb with a fearless Memorial box office prediction of $230M.  I give it an A+ and even now I’m itching to watch the dog-fighting scenes again.

Review: Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

If you asked me to describe Sam Raimi, the director of Dr. Strange in one word, that word would be “Bonkers”. From his early days as the director and creator of the Evil Dead Franchise, his movies have always had a feeling of being off the wall. This movie was no exception.

The movie picks up after the events of WandaVision, which is now currently playing on Disney Plus. If you have not seen the show, I would highly recommend watching it before you see the movie. Things will make much more sense if you do. Without giving too much away about the story, Dr. Strange recruits Wanda in helping him understand the Multiverse. This is where things go sideways.

Besides Wanda, we have our usual cast of characters, Wong, Mordo and Dr. Christine Palmer. A new character we meet is America Chavez, a girl who has the power to travel through multiverses. I do wish they spent a bit more time on her backstory, but maybe that will come in future projects. Wanda’s importance in the movie, I will not reveal, but safe to say she plays an essential role in the movie.

The movie which I enjoyed, felt messy and a bit all over the place with a script that felt as if it was being held together by a band-aid. There was not enough backstory to many elements of the movie, elements that I believe were more important to the overall movie. The stunning visuals of the different set pieces, however, which makes the viewing experience a blast as we watch Dr. Strange and his companions travel throughout the multiverse. (There are some exciting surprises in this movie as well).

The performances were fine, nothing special except for Elizabeth Olsen, who as Wanda, shows her full range of acting ability. Picking up where she left off in WandaVision, Olsen shows off her acting range as she seamlessly moves through a vast array of emotions throughout the movie and in my opinion, is this movie’s true star.

Is this movie the best of the MCU? No. I don’t feel as if I know any more about Phase Four now than I did before watching the movie. There are still so many questions I have.

Where this movie ranks is somewhere in the middle tier and make sure you stick around to the end as there are 2 credit scenes.

Rating – 3 out of 4 stars (writer: Marc Moses)

Review: Moonfall, IMAX (in theaters FRI 02.04.22)

Moonfall, Don’t look up…oh wait, that’s another movie

First things first.  I don’t see Roland Emmerich movies because it’s Shakespeare (he’s done ID4, 2012, Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla).  I see them because he’s got a great visual eye for giving us world destruction playing out on the big screen (and in IMAX no less).  How he was snubbed in 2009 for even an Oscar nomination for Special Effects for ‘2012’ is beyond me…especially considering the Academy can nominate up to 5 films in each category, and that year (2009), they only slid the nom to 3 total films, and ‘2012’ – which had some of the most amazing detail in death and destruction I’ve seen on the screen, was snubbed for even a nod.  That aside, he’s charging back with Moonfall, a far-reaching story about an intrepid team of astronauts and star gazers who are convinced that the moon is in fact, not the shiny glowing white ball we’ve thought it was all these years.  Not just that, but’s its orbit around the earth is way off, and in just mere weeks, it’ll crash into the planet.  Yikes!  Awesome setup for sure, and as you can expect worldwide mayhem ensues with an eye-pleasing display of destruction peppered throughout, but sadly, the film misses.  Not because it rehashes some very similar elements from the film ‘2012.’ Including the family dynamic and sacrifice – but really because its just too unbelievable.  Even if we could hatch the on-screen plan to save us, this is America – we would botch the execution and then the laughable response to the crisis by the military in the film wouldn’t be so bad.  Did I mention that our 3 heroes have hatched their plan to ‘grab a space shuttle’ and go up to the moon…all by themselves? Yikes, again.  See this for the effects on the big screen.  See it because Halle looks super-cute in her wig and easily slides through this subject matter.  Heck, even see it because the comic relief character (aka Samwell from Game of Thrones, John Bradley), is a delight as a fervent, if not neurotic astronomy lover.   The film does touch on overall creationism with an intriguing theory that had me thinking (no spoilers), for that, I give the film a plus.  But even that can’t save this one.  Fearless forecast: 18M weekend box office (IMAX prices!) C+

TwiView: Candyman (2021)

Candyman (2021) He’s still got it!  Although this time out he’s much more stylized and just as deadly.  Don’t say his name 5 times, it’ll only draw him out.  I’d call this a continuation of the original, yet still a sequel, but this time it’s a struggling artist named Anthony who happens upon the lore of Candyman and the derelict public housing of Cabrini Green which is now a fully gentrified bustling area.   It’s still a horror film, but done slicker, almost like the film is a work of art on the screen, an ode to the character Candyman.  As Anthony descends into the madness, he discovers there was always something more to the legend, and that the plight of today’s world brings a necessity for Candyman.  But, for all it’s vision (and it does look good sans the blood splattering), and it’s storied reach (thanks to Oscar winner Jordan Peele), there’s an element missing.  The original left you scared in real life to utter his name in your own mirror.  After watching this version, it almost felt like a harmless dare to speak it.  You’ll like the urban style, you’ll love the on screen delight for the eyes of a bustling Chicago art scene – you’ll be ho-hum about those who ‘get it’ from Candyman but you’ll revel in the fact that Candyman still lives.  And what is up with #VanessaLWilliams from the original? It’s been 30yrs since the original film and she still looks 25?! You go girl 🙂 B-

TwiView: M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Old’

TwiView (Movie reviews in 140 words or less, cause ain’t nobody got time for that!)
M. Night still has it!  Don’t try and scour the edges of this slick noir for the clues, you will not guess this twist, just sit back and enjoy it.  That said, you will get a classic suspenseful treat that will have you guessing, figuring, pointing, laughing, and maybe even shedding a tear or two.  Simple premise, a family is on a tropical vacation at the beach and begin aging rapidly with no explanation as to why or what’s to become of them.  This is not a perfect M. Night rollout, but he has mastered the art of subterfuge by showing you everything and telling you nothing (till the end).  Did I love the twist?  Let’s just say it makes sense at the end, but I never saw it coming, maybe you will – get to the megaplex asap and post up your plot questions on our Facebook page…we have a few ourselves, but we’ll wait until the film opens (FRI 07.23.21 at theaters everywhere!)!  A-

MOVIE REVIEW: The Father (opening 03.12.21 in theaters, 03.26.21 SVOD)

Film Synopsis: Anthony is 80, mischievous, living defiantly alone and rejecting the caretakers that his daughter, Anne, encouragingly introduces. Yet help is also becoming a necessity for Anne; she can’t make daily visits anymore and Anthony’s grip on reality is unravelling. As we experience the ebb and flow of his memory, how much of his own identity and past can Anthony cling to? How does Anne cope as she grieves the loss of her father, while he still lives and breathes before her? THE FATHER warmly embraces real life, through loving reflection upon the vibrant human condition; heart-breaking and uncompromisingly poignant – a movie that nestles in the truth of our own lives.

Geek For E Review (Matthew Snider)

This movie is not for the faint of heart nor the weak-minded. What unfolds is a “memento-esque” deep dive into dementia and how it impacts not only the person diagnosed with it but everyone around them as well.

Sir Anthony Hopkins puts in a spectacular performance as Anthony, an aging dad who seems to be quickly on the decline with his understanding of reality in his truly hard-to-watch battle with dementia.

The film takes place mostly in Anthony’s flat of over 30 years, or so it seems. As his mind unravels we are invited into what he sees. Some of which makes sense, yet a lot of which doesn’t. We meet Anne, his daughter and caretaker, and a few other outside characters but it mainly focuses on Anthony and Anne and their ups and downs in navigating this tumultuous relationship and disease impacting The Father.

Not only do the performances pull on your heartstrings, but it also brings you along for a ride on a roller coaster of emotions which is hard to swallow. You see so many sides of this disease ravage both Anthony and Anne that you are left exhausted and confused by the end of the film.

Directed by Florian Zeller, and lead by Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, and many more familiar faces you can’t help but feel for these people, their story, their pains, and figuring out what the next right thing is for each of them.

What plagues this film is the direction giving by Florian. It follows the mind (or lack thereof) of Anthony which takes away from a fluid and linear timeline/story. Due to this “memento-esque” storytelling sometimes you lose the characters and their storyline amongst trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

While this technique is used to show the sheer confusion of dementia itself, it takes away from the storyline and the pain suffered by all a little too much.

The Father is a behind-the-scenes look into this degrading, frustrating, and life-altering disease that impacts more than 6 million Americans, and more than 50 million worldwide. 

It is a film that brings to the light family, and the senior years, and all that can come with it. The Father brings to the screen a story that is almost always behind closed doors, a story that asks you to suffer alongside its characters, to feel for them, to want to help, and to just sit and hold them. 

The Father is a film I recommend you to see, albeit with a box of tissues nearby.

MOVIE REVIEW: Judas and the Black Messiah (everywhere FRI 02.12.21)

Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of the rise of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya) as the revolutionary leader of the Black Panther Party and how the organization is infiltrated, and he is ultimately assassinated with the help of a fledgling crook named Bill O’Neal (Stanfield) supported by an unscrupulous FBI system led by J Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen).   

First and foremost, major props to Director Shaka Smith.  He is young, but learned, as this is his first true feature film and he succeeds admirably with his tone and angle usage.  The tension the audience feels with the inevitable betrayal and death of its lead character was palpable from the opening scene (and the lead wasn’t even in it).  It’s not surprising he was given the helm of this subject matter (he co-wrote the screenplay) and we even chimed in to ask why he wanted to make a film focused on the Black Panthers?  “The Panthers led with love,” he said.  It’s that type of passion that led him to make what he calls “a vast film, a dense film.”  He succeeded, watch the film.  You’ll see it’s range, its power to incite, Hampton’s propensity to love through a sea of racial hatred and most importantly ‘feel’ what it’s like to be a ‘Judas.’

Lead performances here are no surprise from Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton) and Lakeith Stanfield (Bill O’Neal).  Kaluuya is a past Oscar nominee, I knew he could handle the subject matter but asked all the same what drove you to portray Hampton in the film?  Said Kaluuya, “his love for his people and I’m humbled and honored.”  What I wanted to see  (and have not from his past work) is his ability to feel.  To show a loving touch and nature.  His relationship with Deborah Johnson (mother to his unborn child, played masterfully by Dominique Fishback…more on her later) is where I hoped he could prove it.  And he did.  His ability to be softer and accessible and still be convincing as a revolutionary leader is what I needed to see, and I did (all without dropping his accent).  He’ll get an awards nod for this, but regrettably, he won’t win it.  Not because he isn’t that good with the character, but I’ve seen the Best Actor winner already (no spoilers from a Geek!)

Lakeith Stanfield who portrays the ‘Judas’ that is Bill O’Neal gets a nod and hats off from me.   It’ll be sensitive to read, but I’ll write it all the same – he brings (to me) a bit of Richard Pryor ‘scared n*gga’ to his roles which seems to fit this film perfectly, after all he’s portraying a Judas – he should be afraid.  Not in his dialogue, but in his eyes when it’s needed.  From the opening scene which showcases his characters range as a thief, you can see an underlying fear which stays with him as he confidently infiltrates the Panthers, rises through its ranks, deals with the FBI and even becoming Head of Black Panther security.  All the while with a confident but doomed look for the fraud he knows he is.   There’s a moral burden even portraying such a character, and he spoke about it at great length.

The unsung hero here is relative newcomer but soon to be household name, Dominique Fishback who portrays the lead character Hampton’s empowering, viscerally literal, and fierce girlfriend and fiancé.   I had to look up the actress, could there be anything in her past work that showed an inkling of what she poured out here?  From her introduction, playing a waifish adorizing young girl – her delivery was perfect.  Deifying Hampton but still with a mind of her own – hats off to Director/writer Shaka King for writing her well and major ups to the make-up/production crew for her onscreen appearance.  I thought she was 16 when her character meets Hampton for the first time at a rally, I had to Google to find out, the actress is nearing 30yo.  You go girl, reached right back into that younger time and brought her through with shining colors, I hope the awards machine sees you this season.

See this film people, if not for its social relevancy – than just to get a bit of education in Black History month.  Do you really know what the Black Panthers were all about?  A- #JudasandtheBlackMessiah