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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ryan Coogler (2022)

The second “Black Panther” brings another highly entertaining mix between African culture and science-fiction. Characters in traditional African apparel (at least, in some situations) are picked up by flying saucers, the vibranium that they mine gives them extremely high technology going from advanced AI to impenetrable suits, superhuman power and what not.

The imaginary African state of Wakanda has earned a place in the international community, but actually everybody is only after their vibranium. Then there appears to be another state that is as advanced as Wakanda. This could be an ally or a foe.

Naturally, when another such nation with similar technology is an enemy, this allows for over-the-top scifi action and so it is. African traditions and languages can in this story be supplemented with South American ancient culture. The technology is very imaginative. The action is a bit too much here and there perhaps and the drama is a bit too ‘thick’ for my liking two, but overal this second “Black Panther” makes a very interesting and watch-worthy Marvel spectactle.

Doomsday – Neil Marshall (2008)

This dystopian action scifi reminds a bit of the old Mad Max movies. Mankind managed to almost wipe itself out. It partly hides behind a wall that keeps the virus infected Scotland from saved England. Then it proves that on the other side of the wall, people still live.

There in Scotland a survival of the fittest took place resulting in punk-like gangs not unlike the wild bunch in Mad Max. Of course a person with ties to both camps has to go to the enemy camp to get something and she is tossed between both sides.

“Doomsday” is perhaps not a great, but a pretty amusing film for when you feel like scifi dystopia.

Black Panther – Ryan Coogler (2018)

The follow-up was a preview before “Woman King“, which made me somewhat curious about the film. “Black Panther” holds the middle between adventure, science-fiction and superhero action.

The imaginary African state of Wakanda is built on a vibranium mine. Vibranium is an odd substance that came with a comet and allows the inhabitents of Wakanda extremely high-tech sollutions; hence the sci-fi elements. The Wandians have super-cars, super-suits and super-weapons which gives the film the superhero elements. The movie is indeed based on a comic.

A piece of vibranium that was kept in a museum outside Wakandu was stolen and the Wakandians set out to retrieve it and to prevent the powers of vibranium falling in the wrong hands.

“Black Panther” is a bit of a ‘blacksploitation’ with mostly black actors (the white ones are the villains). Besides all the sci-fi and spectacle, there are also ‘African elements’ which bring the ‘adventure’ elements that are somewhat out of place. This is exactly what makes the film somewhat atypical which is not a bad thing.

All in all not a masterpiece, but an enjoyable sci-fi, superhero action.

The Woman King – Gina Prince-Bythewood (2022)

In the 18th century European countries not only colonised parts of Africa, but they started making money by selling the people who live there as slaves. Using conflicts between tribes, the Westerners even got come tribes as far as selling them their prisoners. Of course this becomes lucrative for both parties.

The film is mostly about the tribe of the Dahomey who do business (of sorts) with the Portuguese and their enemies of the Oyo who are armed by the West. The Dahomey have an elite female fighting force called Agojie.

So, there we have Nawi who does not obey her father and is sent to ‘serve the king’. Also we have Nanisca who leads the Agojie and who has the respect of her king. Nawi is trained by the Agojie and of course the film moves towards the final conflict.

“The Woman King” has everything a large-audience movie is supposed to have. Battle scenes, a victorious underdog, drama and some romance. What is less common, is that the West is the enemy. The saddening history of slavery is quite in-your-face. The way the Westerners manipulated the situation for their own gain is quite disgusting. What is even more, of course the story is molded into a Hollywood format, but there appears to be more ‘based on actual history’ than what the inattentive viewer may expect.

The names of actors contain many African names. It seems that the makers got a couple of actors and a lot of locals. The result is a well-made film which may be a bit ‘too Hollywood’ here and there, but at least now there is some attention for a piece of history that many countries struggle with nowadays. Watch “The Woman King” and find out why.

Bullet Train – David Leitch (2022)

Brad Pitt returns to the violent action comedy genre as the goofy “Ladybug” who is a former hitman who has retired. He is returning to his old profession though, but he will only do easy jobs, such as picking up a case on a Japanese high speed train (from the title).

But there is also the story of Kimura whose son was pushed off a roof who sets out to find the perpetrator. Also we have Wolf, a Mexican criminal whose family, including his wife, was killed during the wedding. Tangerine and Lemmon are two hip criminals who are also on the train for another job. Needless to say that the storylines get together as the film continues.

“Bullet Train” is a film as we have seen before. Witty dialogues, over-the-top bloody scenes, dark humour, action and a story that unfolds before the viewer. The result is an amusing movie with amusing elements of Japanese culture, Thomas the Train and well-read bad people.

The Gray Man – Anthony & Joe Russo (2022)

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So that he would not be remembered for playing in slow action films, Ryan Gosling plays in a fast one.

In a typical story undercover agent Six has to retrieve a single object that apparently can cause world destruction. Of course his boss turns against him (or the other way around), so not only the enemy, but also his own organisation hunts him down. Unsurprisingly, Six turns out to be an uncatchable one man army.

In spite of the unoriginal and predictable story, “The Gray Man” is a descent over-the-top action film with a lot of fighting and shooting and not to forget Ana de Armas as Dani and Billy Bob Thornton as the bad guy.

The 355 – Simon Kinberg (2022)

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A female version of “The Expendables”? Nah, the ladies in “The 355” are not that old. But it sure is some sort of women actor reunion action film.

In a typical 007 actionfilm story, a group of bad guys has bad plans with the world and some secret service heroes are going to prevent that. Working for different secret services and innocent bystanders form a team to prevent the sale of a device that can disrupt the entire world.

The film is fairly amusing. Pretty women, action, chasing scenes, just your alright action film and certainly not boring.

Knightfall (series) – Handfield & Rayner (2017-2019)

The story of the Knights Templar in a somewhat historical manner.

We mostly follow Landry who quite against his own will, becomes the master Templar of the Paris temple when his predecessor dies. The first season is mostly about Landry looking for the Holy Grail that the Templars lost during a lost battle at Akko in 1291. During that battle the grail was lost, but it appears to have resurfaced in France.

Landry is a friend to the King of France (Philip IV 1268-1314), but also the lover the the king’s wife (Joan I of Navarre (1273-1305) which is basically the start of a lot of problems.

In spite of the lost battle of Akko, the Templar Knights thrive under the protection of the Pope and the King of France, but raptures start to appear in the relationship. First, the King of France is after the Grail as well, thinking it would increase his power. To obtain that power, he first sets up the Pope (Boniface III 1230-1303) against the Templar Knights and then even replaces the Pope with Clement V (1264-1314). Both Popes, especially the former, have their own agendas of course.

The series make a drama with love, drama, brotherhood, honour, fighting and battle scenes and a lot of intrigue. Here and there there are historical elements, but do not see the series as a history lesson.

Of course the Templar Knights eventually loose their organisation and their lives, but not without a fight.

Not boring, but not great either.

The Matrix Resurrections – Lana Wachowski (2021)

The fourth Matrix is both ‘more of the same’ and some elements have been added and left out. Lana Wachowski made some sort of rewind of the earlier films with scenes that are almost exactly alike and with flashbacks. In general, the first part of “Resurrections” is a bit of a summery of the first film and a bit of the next two.

Thomas Andersson is a celebrated, yet plagued game designer who has had episodes of not being able to distinguish reality from game. So the first three Matrix films are now seen as classic games that sprang from the mind of Andersson.

The company he works for picks up the idea for a fourth part so Wachowski could make some jokes about money and franchise. Of course this is also the step up to Andersson wondering what is real and what is not. Basically the story of the previous films in a slightly updated form.

As we got used to, we have the film playing within and without the matrix and Wachowski has brought back a whole lot of the original actors. Some characters are played by new actors though and the story was adjusted accordingly. The familiar actors bring some amusing scenes.

As you can see in the poster, Trinity apparently did not die in part three and the film is mostly about Neo again trying to find her. Naturally for this he has to find old and new enemies and he encounters new and old people on his side.

“Resurrections” is not the shoot-out that number two was. There is some action here and there which does not look as groundbreaking as in the original films in their time. As I said, there are a few new elements. Also there is a new twist to the whole matrix theme, but do not expect huge surprises.

“Resurrections” is an amusing film, but I do not think it will be anywhere near the classic the original film still is.

Travelers (series) – Brad Wright (3 seasons 2016-2018)

And yet another Netflix series that is just not boring enough to end watching prematurely. By the time I thought to cut if off, I noticed there were only six episodes left, so I sat it out.

“Travelers” is not really bad or boring, but it is not really good either. Story wise it is at least different from all the serial killer thriller series that have been put out for decades. Mankind caused its own demise and in the future a way of sending consciousness back in time has been discovered. “Travelers” are sent back to try to give history a push in a better direction.

In the future, every detail of our current time is known, so also when somebody historically dies. It is at that moment that a “traveler” consciousness takes over the body of the “host”. Travelers working in teams get missions from “the director”, usually to prevent some sort of disaster.

These travelers -of course- fall in the life of a person who used to live, so they have to try to live with a partner, work, etc. of somebody else and at the same time perform the missions as are given.

So we have the drama of partners not recognising their spouses, the events of the life of the ‘host’, partners from the future whose lives are more or less separated in “the twenty first” and then of course action because of the missions. Also future technology employed in the present. The characters develop somewhat, both the ‘host’ character as the ‘future’ character. There is an underlying story that is worked out a bit. There are also less logical elements. How does the prevention of the collaps of a bridge that would have killed some people help the demise of humanity in the future? You get it, there are ‘filler episodes’.

“Travelers” has a couple of beautiful women, amusing characters, an alright story. All in all just not boring enough to end watching.