The Stargate Movement

stargate

Being a lover of TV can be a painful experience. There has been many a cancellation over the years that has stung and left me with that horrible feeling of having a story I’m invested in left unresolved. The degree of the upset that it causes can vary. With something like Firefly, the show had already been cancelled by the time I started watching it. With something like Terra Nova, I only had 13 episodes to get invested in the story and the characters. But with Stargate, I’d spent 17 seasons across all 3 shows falling in love with the universe and the intriguing mythology that had been set up and expanded upon as the years went by. But more importantly than that, I had a large range of characters that I would look forward to seeing week after week. Jack O’Neill (two L’s) Daniel Jackson, Rodney McKay, Samantha Carter, Teal’c, Eli Wallace, Nicholas Rush, Ronan Dex, Aidan Ford- these are just a few of many characters that I would happily spend time with.

stargate sg1 characters
Jonas was a character too, just for the record.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, it began with a movie in 1994 by Independence Day helmers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. The premise was that the stargate itself was found in ancient Egypt and it was discovered that it had the ability to transport people to a faraway planet. 3 years later came a spin-off series with a mostly replaced cast called Stargate SG-1. It continued the story from the movie (with a few minor changes to it) but opened the mythology up so that the gate could be used to travel to many different planets- not just the one seen in the film. The Stargate program was created and many different units were assigned planets to travel to so they could learn new cultures and hopefully gain new technology to fight the evil Goa’uld, who wanted to rule every new planet they came across. The show continued along nicely for several years but when it reached its eighth year- the franchise expanded again.

stargate atlantis season 5 cast

Stargate Atlantis came along and had the action set in the Pegasus galaxy. A whole new cast went along for the journey and that show forged its own identity with its own villains to deal with (the Wraith). One year after it began, SG-1 had something of a reboot. Gone was leading man Richard Dean Anderson, and in came Farscape vets Ben Browder and Claudia Black. The Goa’uld (and the Replicators who appeared in both shows) also stopped being primary villains and were replaced by the Ori. From what I’ve seen, fan reaction to the later seasons of SG-1 has been mixed but for me, it was a breath of fresh air that was needed by that point. There was a real feeling that the show had been revitalised and some of my favourite episodes come from those last two seasons. Those final few minutes of the 9th season finale are still some of the best TV I’ve seen. But, it was just a final two seasons as Stargate SG-1 came to an end after season 10 and 2 direct to DVD movies.

Atlantis kept going though and made it to its fifth year. The cast changes were higher on this show but the quality never really dropped. In fact, in the final season, we had what I think is a contender for one of the best episodes of the entire franchise with “The Shrine”. It was an episode that was light on action but worked because it was a character study of McKay, someone who had by this point become a fan favourite.

stargate universe cast

When Atlantis came to a close, problems for Stargate began to show. Stargate Universe was a not a show that had the support of all those who had followed Stargate thus far. Some Atlantis fans blamed Universe for their show coming to a close and it wasn’t helped by the promised direct to DVD movie of that show never coming to fruition. This was nobody’s fault. The DVD market had taken a hit around this time and it wasn’t deemed viable, yet the bitter taste that some had as a result of it wouldn’t shift. Certain fans took issue with the younger demographic it seemed to aim for in the marketing, and some thought the dark and gloomy tone felt at odds with the generally optimistic and upbeat shows that had come before it. As for me? I loved Stargate Universe. It took some time to find its feet but as the second season got underway, I started to feel as though I was watching something quite special. It was a very different beast to SG-1 and Atlantis certainly, but it was an example of how to evolve a long-running property like Stargate in new and interesting ways. I suspect that had Atlantis continued alongside it, the reaction to it would have been much more positive on the whole. And the music in that show? Some of the best I’ve heard on TV to this day. Joel Goldsmith is, and always will be, missed.

I remember watching the midseason finale of season 2 and trying desperately to find some hints online as to what was coming next. And then, just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2010, word came that the axe had fallen and killed not just the show, but the whole franchise. I was gutted. All these seasons of watching Stargate grow would end on a cliff-hanger. For something that had gone on for so long, that seemed to be the biggest kick in the teeth to all those that had stood by it.

stargate atlantis season 2

The world of Stargate lay dormant ever since. Now though could be the time that the fans can get behind it and get new life breathed into it again. MGM are apparently interested in bringing it back (and they sort of already have- more on that in a moment) and if the fans and those involved in it band together then we could make it happen. But, what many of us feel is the most important thing is bringing it back in the right way. That means a continuation of the story that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper shepherded for all those years. It needs to be something that builds on what they started and not a reboot.

stargate origins

There’s a web series that’s currently mid-way through its run called Stargate: Origins. It tells the story of a young Catherine Langford who discovered the gate and an adventure she goes on. But here’s the thing. I am a huge Stargate fan, yet I’ve no real interest in watching this. I imagine I will check it out at some point once it’s done, but I’m in no rush. I just don’t see anything to get excited about with a show set years before the characters I’ve grown to love were even alive. I don’t want to look back, I want to look forward. I want to see new adventures and I want to see this world continue to grow. I haven’t seen much love for Origins or much hype about it, so I can assume that most Stargate fans feel the same way. It’s not the fault of those working on this web series, it just seems to me that the people behind it have misjudged the fanbase; as if they think we’ll all rush to watch it based on the Stargate name alone. Stargate is more than its name. It’s the deep history and the love of all the stories we’ve seen that we want to get back to. It’s like when Emmerich announced that he was going to reboot the movie and bring us a new trilogy that was separate from the shows. The overall reaction wasn’t one of excitement, it was a collective groan from the fandom that indicated we weren’t interested. It’s telling that those movie plans were quietly dropped.

stargate sg1 puppets
Actual episode footage. Long story. This isn’t a puppet franchise.

But here we are now with a chance to finally get Stargate back on screens the right way. Joe Mallozzi, who wrote for the franchise and served as showrunner for the last two Atlantis seasons, has been very vocal about how we can all make that happen. His blog is a great place to go to get information on what we can do and how we can make this movement one that has a great chance of succeeding. I’ve actually had the chance to interview Joe before when Dark Matter was about to premiere for a website I was then working on. He’s a man who is great at uniting fans and more importantly he cares about them and the stories that he tells. With him helping to lead the charge, there really is a strong chance we’ll all pull this off. Over on Twitter, StargateNow are really rallying the troops and doing all they can to get as many people on board as possible. Cast and crew are now starting to follow and get involved, and a planned tweeting session is due to take place to get Stargate trending and to get MGM to really take notice. In North America it will be Friday, March 9th at 6:00 p.m. PST/9:00 p.m. EST. Internationally it will be Saturday, March 10th at 7:00 p.m. GMT. It’s worth noting that anyone can join in on either of these; it’s actually encouraged. I urge everyone to join in, whether you’re a diehard fan, casual fan, or even just a lover of science fiction.

Stargate is something that I love and it’s inspired me. I doubt I would have even started writing were it not for that show. Now I have a book out and another 5 at varying stages of completion. It’s inspired others too and it’s really a franchise that has a fandom that would do anything for it. Stargate fans are great. They help each other, they usually debate in civilised ways and they can be a powerful bunch. Now’s the time for every single one of them to come together.

stargate golf
This photo was taken in the middle of a backswing

On a final note, I suppose I should say what I would like to happen were it to come back. I personally wouldn’t want a direct continuation of one of the shows we’ve already had. As much as I desperately wanted, say Stargate Universe Season 3, I think that time has passed. The way forward in my eyes is a whole new show with a couple of characters from any of the former shows among the main cast. New stories, new adventures, but built on the ground of the 17 seasons that have come before it. Other cast members can make appearances from time to time, but it needs to be something new that can appeal to fans both old and new; at least in my mind. What do you want from a new show? If you’ve stumbled upon this post, then do let me know. But should the show come back? If it’s done right, is there a market for it? That can be answered in one word; indeed.

My Favourite YouTube Channels

youtube

If there’s one thing I think most authors can agree on, it’s that procrastination is a fun (albeit not very productive) pass time. When I started writing, I used to put TV shows that I had already seen on. I could have them on in the background and not have to pay too much attention as I’d already seen them before. Then I stumbled upon YouTube. I’d watched videos on the platform in the past obviously, but I hadn’t ever subscribed to channels. I used to just watch the odd video here and there whenever they popped up as a suggestion. Now, I actually check to see if certain channels have uploaded new content.

If you aren’t overly familiar with YouTube and those who work on it, you may have been swayed by the news to think it’s an awful place full of awful people. That’s not the case. Yes, you do get people that think it’s fun to film a dead body in a suicide forest, you do get people that film obviously fake videos of themselves- pretending to post themselves in a box from the UK to America and claiming it’s real for example, and having people using the service in this way is a shame. The news being the news, it’s the people that cause the most controversy that tend to garner all the attention. But there are many people on Youtube who do great things and post fun content. These are just a few select channels that I regularly watch and highly recommend checking out yourself. These are no particular order by the way.

The Nostalgia Critic 

nostalgia critic

Doug is hilarious. He’s the sort of person who seems like he was born to do this very thing and he’s brilliant at it. The main content of Channel Awesome are the Nostalgia Critic reviews. They look back on shows and movies of the past (normally the 90’s) and in a comedic manner, see whether they truly are as good as we remember them to be. There’s a ton of effort put into these videos. It isn’t just a “sit at the camera and talk” type deal (not that there’s anything wrong with those- there’s a couple on this list), but each one seems like a full-on production. The questionable acting skills from the team fits in with the feel of the channel perfectly and more importantly, the video’s never feel like they are bashing things for the sake of it. Nostalgia Critic reviews are concluded with an honest summation of the work they have looked at and offer a fair assessment of how well they hold up over time.

As Channel Awesome continues to grow, so does it’s content. There’s the Orbit News Report, movie reviews from Tamara, some Top 5/Worst 5 Lists and videos consisting of Doug and his brother Rob just sitting down and talking unedited about current movies or ones they have had to rewatch as part of another video. All of these are worth checking out. Special mention to them for the charity work they do. Late last year there was an extremely well put together fund raising attempt and it’s positive things like this that sadly get overlooked by the mainstream media.

A Channel Awesome Highlight

Side note, if Doug or any the Channel Awesome team ever somehow find themselves reading this- a Con Air review is long overdue, right?

Chris Stuckmann

chris stuckmann

Speaking of “sit at the camera and talk” type deas, here’s an example of why there’s nothing wrong with that. I tried my hand at YouTube videos a while back and not to blow my own trumpet, I think I was pretty good at it considering I had never done anything like that before. (I stopped purely for time reasons). I mention this because the reason I wanted to give this a go in the first place was Chris Stuckmann. His channel is almost exclusively movie reviews, but the reason they work so well is that it’s clear how much Chris really loves the industry. His knowledge of it and his passion for it really shines through which, at least in my opinion, gives his opinions some genuine weight. He doesn’t seem to get swept up in the court of public opinion either. His thoughts on movies really feel like his own and while I don’t always agree with him- that really ensures that I can always respect his viewpoint.

As well as reviews on new releases, there are also hilariocity reviews. These are looks at films that are awful, but that he can’t help but enjoy. Movies such as The Room, Tomb Raider (still waiting on the Cradle of Life one) and the remake of The Wicker Man have all been subjected to the hilariocity treatment and my only complaint with these is that they don’t seem to come along often enough. 2018 has also seen him commit to do one review a month on movies that came out pre 1970 as he, quite rightly, states that they don’t get too much attention these days.

It’s worth noting too that he also has a movie of his own due out at some point. I’m not sure when it’s due to be released, but given how much he values story in the things he watches and reviews, Auditorium 6 should hopefully be quite the watch.

A Chris Stuckmann Highlight

I Hate Everything (IHE)

i hate everything

Alex from I Hate Everything first came to my attention when he was declared war on by Derek Savage, the (temperamental is one word for him) creator of Cool Cat. Chances are you’ve never heard of Cool Cat, that’s for the best. The argument essentially came down to what fair use was on YouTube and Savage, in the process of trying to show that he knew what it was, proved he didn’t actually have a clue. Ironically, Cool Cat is probably more well known now because of IHE’s coverage of it. The channel has an ongoing video series called The Search for The Worst in which Alex searches for the worst movie of all time. This is mainly low budget straight to DVD stuff and rip offs of popular films, but it’s the commentary on these and all his other videos that make this such an entertaining watch.

There’s also the ‘I Hate’ series, where he takes a look at random entertainment-based subjects that just wind him up. This includes things like Snapchat, Fidget Spinners, fans of Rick and Morty- nothings off limits basically. Alex speaks like he’s totally lost the will to live at times and I don’t mean that as a knock against him; it’s genuinely funny to hear him discuss the things that he hates and give his well thought out reasons as to why. Again, I don’t always agree with the things that he says, but even when he’s slating something that I personally love (Sonic the Hedgehog being one example) it’s still an entertaining watch. There are those who can’t handle something they like getting the IHE treatment and Alex doesn’t ignore these people. Some of his funniest and best videos are his comment comeback ones as he’ll respond to a selection of (sometimes terrible) comments he’ll receive in the YouTube comment section (also known as the place your soul goes to die). Admirably, he’ll even pick out some where he’ll admit he was in the wrong or perhaps hadn’t worded something in the way he had intended.

An I Hate Everything Highlight

The conclusion of the Derek Savage saga. There’s much more to this channel than just the Cool Cat stuff, but this was the video that made me hit subscribe. Thanks Derek Savage- would likely have never found IHE without you.

Screen Junkies

screen-junkies-news

Screen Junkies has grown into a fully fledged business now, and as a result it’s a channel that you would likely have heard of. After hitting it big thanks to the brilliant Honest Trailers, the channel continued to grow and expand. It actually now has two channels, Screen Junkies and Screen Junkies News. The channel was dealt a pretty big blow late last year for reasons I won’t go into here, but my respect for them grew with how they bounced back and, more importantly, how they handled and dealt with it all. Now, it’s better than ever. That’s largely down to the people they have there. Each member of the team have their own style and their own unique characteristics that make them all an enjoyable watch. As well as movie reviews, they have a daily live news show that tackles the big stories of the day in a normally fun manner. Honest Trailers are still a big thing, seemingly better now than they were before. Special mention here to Dan Murrel for watching every single episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation just to do an honest trailer for it. Speaking of Dan, he and Roth Cornet break down the box office every week and there’s a ton of research that’s always put into this. Additionally there’s Movie Fights that’s recently been retooled. It’s a fun, lively and silly debate on movies that’s moderated by the always entertaining Hal Rudnick.

Really it’s just a fun channel that’s successful on the back of those who clearly have a love and passion for working there. Dan, Roth and Hal aside, there’s also Spencer Gilbert, Joe Starr, Danielle Radford, Roxy Striar, Billy Business and many other contributors who help make it what it is. It wouldn’t be the same without any of them.

Oh as an aside, can we have a Roxy Vs Dan Movie Fights soon, please?

A Screen Junkies Highlight

A very recent one this and I’m including it purely for this line. “Y’now what? Fu*k it. They were allies with King Arthur and one of them killed Hitler.” I want to know which one of them came up with that line.

First We Feast

sean hot ones

This channel made me want to eat spicy food. Thanks to First We Feast, I can now eat medium sauce at Nando’s- when I sometimes found a korma to be a bit too hot, I’m taking that as a win. It’s specifically the Hot Ones videos that I’m talking about here. There’s a ton of other stuff on the channel to watch, but it’s this series of videos that keeps me coming back.

The premise is simple, Sean Evans (who to look at, I wouldn’t think initially that he could handle the heat) interviews celebrities while they work their way through a series of chicken wings that have been coated with hot sauces. The sauce gets hotter and hotter as the interview goes on until they get to the last dab, a sauce that comes in at around 2 million Scoville units. The beauty of this show is its simplicity. Sean just asks well researched questions and has a chat with the interviewee while they eat. The fun comes in as you can see both Sean and whoever is being interviewed start to crumble as they heat ramps up. Now credit to Sean, he rarely breaks. But then he should be the one holding things together, it’s the person doing this for the first time that’s in for an interview like no other.

It can be hilarious to watch someone as they begin to realise, normally around the sixth or seventh wing, what they have let themselves in for. Even some of the lesser known people he has on are worth watching. Sean has a very relaxed way about him while he does these interviews that complements the pain that the celeb on the other end of the table is feeling perfectly. Highly recommend checking this channel out.

A First We Feast Highlight

Jonathan Pie

jonathan pie

If I didn’t have a wedding to pay for, I’d be going to see this guy on tour next month. If you find the news to be a bleak and depressing thing, if you wish that a news reporter would just say what they really thought about the things they were reporting on- well then watch Jonathan Pie.

His video structure is that he ends his link while reporting out on the streets and the news would go back to the studio, but the camera stays rolling so that we can catch him ranting about the things he’s just been talking about; completely unfiltered. It would be fair to say that his content is extremely not safe for work (NSFW if you’re into all these abbreviations), but it’s also extremely funny. Not just that, it can be extremely powerful too. He doesn’t hold back on certain topics and has no problem calling someone out, regardless of who they are, if he thinks they need to be told some hard truths. Jonathan Pie may just be a character, but he’s one that I think is important in this day and age.

Donald Trump, Teresa May and Jeremy Hunt are just a handful of the people that have been subjects of his rants and it’s clear that there’s a great deal of passion that goes into the things he says.

A Jonathan Pie Highlight

If you want an example of how Pie is able to blend comedy with genuine outrage- this is it.

The Angry Joe Show

angry joe show

This was I believe, the first YouTube channel I subscribed too. The Angry Joe show is a games (and now also movie) channel and what makes it stand out is the quality of the reviews and the effort that goes into them. His Angry Reviews are full on productions. Interspersed with him talking about the game he is reviewing are skits that feature him and Other Joe (normally in costume) acting out scenes or using props to enforce a point. What I appreciate most about this channel though is that Joe is never one to say something just because it’s the popular opinion. He’s also never one to endorse something just so he can stay in a studio’s good graces. What he thinks is what he says and it’s refreshing to have someone who isn’t afraid of pissing people off when it comes to critiquing something.

Take Destiny for example. This was a game by Bungee. This was a game that had a dedicated fanbase before anyone had even played a second of it. But it wasn’t all that great. It had potential sure, but a lot of that potential was wasted on a repetitive game that had very little in game story. But the reviewers went crazy for it. If you listened to the reviews, you’d have thought it was the one of the best video game in history. That may be a slight exaggeration, but it was almost universally positive. I was running a website at the time that reviewed TV, Movies and Games and I was give Destiny to cover ahead of its release. I gave it a 3/5 and assumed that once it came out, that would be the general consensus. It wasn’t. So I was pleased to see Joe come out and actually call the game out for its faults and he’s continued with that level of honesty ever since (and before it). He does gets a lot of stick for his focus on movies and I don’t really understand why as it’s his channel- he can do what he wants. In my eyes, the movie reviews are a quick and easier way for him to get content out and I don’t see anything wrong it. The differing thoughts between the (normally 3) people that take part in these usually makes for a fun discussion.

An Angry Joe Highlight

True Geordie

true geordie

The most recent channel that I’ve subscribed too is True Geordie. He’s a Newcastle lad that loves football and women, and he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks about just about anything. I can’t think of another popular YouTube channel that would happily sit down and film a review about Celestia Vega’s first porn video for example. But he will and it’s refreshing to watch someone who will just chat about anything he damn well pleases. The thing that strikes me the most about him though is his determination. More than anyone else I’ve seen on YouTube; this guy has a determination to succeed and push himself further and it really shows. When he says he’s going to succeed, I fully believe him and his tenacity to do so makes sure he’s always an engaging watch.

His dedication shows with the success he’s experiencing too. Take his podcast. He’s now attracting some huge names to do it and that wouldn’t happen if he weren’t a man that had the balls to make it happen. Some of his recent guests have included Alan Shearer and Kieron Dyer (Two Newcastle United legends, which shows he is only interested in guests he actually cares about) and Robbie Williams. And he has no problems with asking them just about anything, even things that other interviewers would likely shy away from. It works and he can get away with it because he and co presenter Laurence McKenna have such an ease with what they’re doing that they can build up a friendly rapport with people almost instantly. This is one YouTuber that’s destined to go far indeed. And perhaps the best thing is that he’s not out to make quick easy money. He was asked whether he would be selling merch on Twitter the other day and said he would when he had the right things to sell. In a world that has people like Logan Paul in it, it’s great to see someone who isn’t out to extort fans. Speaking of Logan Paul…

A True Geordie Highlight

Want to watch the most powerful response to the whole Logan Paul situation? Well there it is.

Granny Potty Mouth

granny potty mouth

To change things up, here’s a granny that likes to swear a lot. Granny Potty Mouth shouldn’t be as fun to watch as she is. The joke should have worn thin quite quickly, and yet it hasn’t. That’s down to just how likeable she is. Basically, we get cookery advice from a grandma who swears a lot whilst remaining wonderfully chipper throughout. If you watch her channel, you’ll get to learn how to make her Meatball Muffin Mo’fo’s, or her Easy as f**k Potato Salad. It’s such a simple idea with such easy to make videos but the quirk of who’s doing the teaching here is genius.

She’ll also give her take on new crazes such as fidget spinners, she’ll give advice to people who write in and perhaps best of all, she’ll read out jokes that have been sent in and react to them in brilliant ways. There’s also one where she explains how to deal with internet trolls and not only is the video funny, it’s also full of extremely great advice. That’s the thing with this lady, she makes great educational videos and uses the sweary gimmick to give her a boost. It works.

If you watch one of her videos, don’t forget to click the little pink fu**er in the corner.

A Granny Potty Mouth Highlight

So they’re my favourite YouTube channels from my subscription list. And that was about three hours killed that I could have spent writing any one of the four partly written books I have open on my laptop. Procrastination 1 Joe 0. Ah who am I kidding? It always wins.

If you happen to stumble upon this and know of a great YouTube channel I haven’t mentioned, let me know. I can do with some more to watch whilst I’m writing so it would be appreciated.

Black Panther: Review

black panther logo

A Strong Start to 2018 for the MCU

Written by: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole.
Directed by: Ryan Coogler.
Starring: Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and Forest Whitaker as Zuri

Black Panther Synopsis

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

Review

Following on from the light-hearted romps that made up the MCU last year, Black Panther comes along and reminds us that the franchise can be dark, it can be gritty, and it can combine comedic elements with its more serious stories seamlessly when it puts its mind to it.

black panther suit

Last seen in Captain America: Civil War, we re-join T’challa not long after that films conclusion. He’s about to be made king and he’s apprehensive about what that means and what the future of his country, Wakanda, holds. On top of that, he’s struck with a disturbing secret from his now deceased fathers past that threatens to alter everything.

First up, the cast. Chadwick Boseman is once again superb in the lead role. He plays T’challa with a degree of calmness that really makes him feel like a real and well-rounded character. But the surprise here is just how well everyone else does. Some characters don’t get quite as much attention as they deserve (there are two romance plots that feel a little shoehorned in) but when it comes to the people playing these roles- they all do superb work. Danai Gurira has shown what she can do on The Walking Dead (a show she is now so much better than), she brings a whole new level to her performance here and steals many scenes she’s in. Andy Serkis is another highlight. He reprises his role as Ulysses Klaue from Avengers: Age of Ultron and is clearly having a ball in the role. Always an underrated actor, he brings life and comedy to the role here and he’s another scene stealer. Props too to Martin Freeman. He is able to turn his character from an unlikable smug man to someone I found myself truly rooting for. Best of the bunch for me though is Letitia Wright as Shuri, in fact I think she could well be one of my favourite characters in the whole MCU so far. She’s a delight every single time I saw her and I really hope her role continues to develop as the franchise continues.

black panther shuri

Now, about the villain. The MCU has almost always had a villain problem (one not exclusive to the MCU to be fair). The list of memorable villains for me only really consists of Loki and Vulture (Spiderman: Homecoming), now though- Killmonger can be added to that short list. His backstory isn’t overly original, but thanks to the always dependable Michael B Jordan he is utterly compelling. The performance here sells it and I found myself feeling sympathy for him despite the things he was doing. Hell, there were even times that I was rooting for him. That doesn’t happy very often and I’ve got to give the film credit for pulling it off.

Onto Wakanda, this is a fully realised and fascinating place to spend time. It was so much bigger than I expected and I’m excited to rewatch this (in 4k) to see all the details about I may have missed. It does however lead me on to a fault with the film. The CGI here isn’t always as great as it could be. There were numerous times when I felt I was watching actors perform against green screen and the mountain location was one of the more notable. It wouldn’t be such an issue if this wasn’t a prominent location that is used repeatedly for some of the movies biggest moments. There’s other instances too where Black Panther’s ideas aren’t realised as well as I’m sure they hoped. It doesn’t ruin the film by any means, but it is disappointing when lesser movies have managed better. All in all though, this was a delightful movie and my favourite entry in the MCU since Guardians of the Galaxy.

danai gurira black panther

Director Ryan Coogler continues to bring the goods to the work he does and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Even more so I can’t wait to see what Black Panther does next. Now, onto Avengers: Infinity War in just two months’ time.

Verdict

The MCU kicks off its biggest year yet with one of its best movies. Black Panther is a perfectly cast and wonderfully written story that is only let down slightly by some questionable CGI.

(4.5 / 5)

America

I don’t understand America. Growing up, I always wished I lived there. I had an affinity with it, with it’s culture. Everything I watched was American. I even felt as if I had been born in the wrong country.
This is all down to how it’s portrayed. I used to love the show Saved by the Bell. I remember when I started secondary school (high school) being extremely disappointed that it was nothing like Bayside High. For example I didn’t have a friendly principle (or head teacher as we call them)- he was miserable and barely spoke to any of us. But it turns out that shows like this are just a facade. It would be much more lifelike if Screech one day snapped and mowed everyone down in a sea of bullets with an AR-15.

I honestly can’t fathom how anyone can defend the way this country is handling gun control. The argument always circles back to “well it’s the 2nd amendment of the constitution”. So? The word has ‘amend’ in it for fuck sake. Change it. Americans want the right to bare arms and almost always you hear that it’s so they can defend themselves. Fine. I don’t actually see too much (in the grand scheme of things) wrong with a pistol. It can be considered a weapon used for defence, and indeed if someone had one on them at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday, then maybe there wouldn’t have been 17 killed. I see the logic in that. What I fail to see the logic in is why a mentally unstable 18 year old was able to get a semi automatic rifle. Or for that matter, why anyone can buy one of these. That second amendment argument is, quite frankly, bollocks. When that was drawn up, the most common gun was a musket. They would have had no idea what guns would become and if they had, I doubt it would read the same as it does now. But whenever a pro gun person is questioned on this, or asked why certain guns aren’t banned, they have no argument. It’s ridiculous. The question is just dodged. Honestly America, if this wasn’t so tragic, the rest of the world would be laughing at you.

Oh, and stop with the garbage like “this isn’t a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem”. It’s insulting. Mental health is indeed a problem and one that should be discussed, but no civilian, sound of mind or not, should be able to buy a weapon that can kill dozens or more people with one magazine.

I’m glad I wasn’t born in America.

The Cloverfield Paradox: Review

cloverfield paradox review

Cloverfield Super Bowl Reveal

One of the biggest surprises of this year’s Super Bowl (aside from the result- which was awesome) was the reveal that the third entry in the Cloverfield franchise would debut on Netflix that very night. There hadn’t been a trailer until that point, the release date by Paramount was getting pushed back further and further, and all some knew about Netflix’s involvement was that they might buy it for streaming. So, it was a fantastic surprise and a brilliant reveal to find out we could watch it in just a few short hours. Although it would end up being the next say for me being based in the UK, the game itself didn’t finish until the early hours.

Cloverfield Paradox Review

I love both Cloverfield film. The first was exceptional in both marketing and finished product and it’s still one I can watch again and again. 10 Cloverfield Line was nearly as good. It’s a stunningly tense film and the only weak spot for me comes with it’s ending- which many felt shoehorned in to become a part of Cloverfield. This one? Well it’s certainly got problems.

cloverfield paradox

There’s a great movie here somewhere, the first half in particular sets up a solid space adventure that looks to really focus on the intriguing alternate reality concept it presents. But this ends up becoming muddled and not overly interesting. The cast is fine and the script has moments of greatness, but a lot of this is just a bit dull and not as gripping as it could have been.

As for the Cloverfield part, well it seems that this was never meant to have a connection at all. It seems all too apparent that all the links to the franchise were included later through reshoots and as such, it’s all a muddled mess by the time the credits roll. It’s a sometimes good space movie, but a pretty shoddy Cloverfield movie. Marketing wise though, the release of this was genius. It’s just a shame that hype vanishes once the movie concludes.

Wonder: Review

wonder

I’ve made the choice this year to try and watch as many moves as possible. Not that I tend to miss a lot, but a lot of the smaller more indie type movies have a habit of passing me by. I’m not sure Wonder counts as a small indie flick, but it’snot the type of film I would have been in a hurry to watch. But after seeing some great smaller films lately (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri being one of the best), Wonder climbed my list and you know what? I enjoyed it more than I did many of the big blockbusters of 2017.

Focusing on a young boy named August (Auggie for short) who was born with a rare genetic disease that left with him facial deformities, Wonder is essentially just a look at this boy’s life as he traverses the complicated world of middle school. It takes a look at him and occasionally shifts its focus to other characters that play a part in Auggie’s life. I’m pleased that Jacob Tremblay took on this role. That’s not just because he’s utterly captivating as Auggie, but because he’d appeared last year in the abysmal Book of Henry and it would be a real shame for that movie to damage his budding career in the same way it did director Colin Trevorrow. Based on this, he should be fine. He imbues Auggie with a shy yet cheerful enthusiasm. From the moment he first appears on screen bouncing on a bed wearing an Astronaut’s helmet, it’ so easy to root for this kid and to want nothing but the best for him. When he was sad, so was I and that’s down to him, and a very sharp script.

Wonder does a brilliant job at making this school life believable and never overselling moments. The other children that Auggie interacts with, the kind head teacher (played brilliantly by Mandy Patinkin), everyone there feels like they are genuine people. It helps the film become absorbing and it’s nice to see that it doesn’t ever really try to throw in something overblown or action orientated, it’s confident enough to just let the characters lead the story.

wonder

The supporting cast are also great. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson deliver nuanced performances that show the struggles they are going through as parents to not only Auggie, but to Via who often feels neglected as the child that doesn’t need the extra care. Izabela Vidovic does great work here too as Via. Her feelings of neglect are understandable but again, the writers don’t feel the need to play this up. There isn’t a lot of screaming, shouting or melodrama that you might expect, instead the story just moves along and gives time to allow these issues to be resolved. Hell, even Vis’a love story subplot works and is given the same kind of restraint.

Perhaps the only character that feels a tad redundant is Via’s friend, Miranda. She is given some time in the spotlight after a falling out with Via, but the reasons for the dissolution of the friendship and her back story never really amount to anything. It’s not the fault of actress Danielle Rose Russell, but if Miranda were removed from the film entirely, well I don’t think it would make much of a difference to the final product.

Wonder though is a beautiful and uplifting film. It tells its story of acceptance perfectly and by the time it drew to a close, I found myself wishing it could have gone on longer. These are characters that I could happily have spent more time with.