Black Panther (2018)

I try make it my mission to keep up with the Marvel films because personally I believe they’re the best superhero films out there. I completely get that they are pretty much the same story over and over again, of the Marvel universe telling a story of good vs evil and a superhero comes to save the world, usually America. Although, I have to admit this one was actually quite different from the others. There was a personal edge to the main protagonist and more to the narration. Plus, the best thing was that things weren’t so ‘good vs evil’; the ‘good’ were wrong and the ‘evil’ were born into a life knowing nothing but revenge. Additionally, ‘Black Panther’ wasn’t set in America, but instead Africa, Wakanda, Marvel’s fictional country of where technology is at an extreme height where nowhere comes near to comparison.

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When the King of Wakanda is killed, seen previously in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is left with the throne and the role and powers of the Black Panther. With this he comes across many conflicts, the fate of Wakanda falls into his hands where he stands strong in his father’s beliefs that his country should remain secret from the world with it’s technological powers. Will anything change his mind? With an ex-girlfriend, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) trying to do anything to save the world. With his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) continuing to build the greatest of scientific developments. An old friend, W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) determined in military power. With old secrets of his father coming to light and lastly a murderer finally landing on the radar once again.

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Tensions rise quickly when we are thrown straight into the spectacle of action that all these films express. We quickly discover a villain in Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, who brings a villain in Michael B. Jordan to screen too. T’Challa and his best fighters, Nakia and General Okoye (Danai Gurira), are quickly brought to mission of the capture and death of Klaue, but it’s not as easy as that. The audience, as always, fall into this action-filled world, but ‘Black Panther’ also brings some cool scientific discoveries, better than any in ‘Iron Man’ for sure. Moreover, we have the brilliant Martin Freeman making an appearance as the American CIA agent – I guess Marvel has to Americanise both of the amazing figures of ‘Sherlock’, but proudly, even with the American accents, they will always be the great British actors.

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Obviously, the graphics and the acting are great, as is the action and happily quite a bit of comedy. The Princess of Wakanda, Shuri, is a brilliant character, probably one of my favourite in the film. She is hilarious with witty comments. The comedy is brilliantly done to connect to modern day, even the classic “what are those???”, honestly, I kid you not. Another character who becomes an element of comedy is M’Baku (Winston Duke), in which his brilliance of comedy is fantastic again. I would definitely recommend this film. If you are a Marvel fan then obviously you have to watch this anyway! It’s definitely a great Marvel addition, with a different edge, more to the narrative, action tension and comedy. It’s a fab film for everyone. Don’t underestimate this one just because it’s a character who hasn’t appeared as much as in all the other Avenger films.

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016)

The third film of the Divergent Series and I am so sad to say it was a little bit of a let-down. I was absolutely loving all the films, the first two were full of action and great simulations you fall into. But then this one just turned weird and a bit far-fetched. I understand it’s a sci-fi film, so it’s not supposed to be reality, but there was something in ‘Divergent’ and ‘Insurgent’ to fall into and believe in. ‘Allegiant’ had bleeding skies unnecessarily and unexplained, and weapons undefeatable. So many things were going on and the main story line just seemed weird and random. I’m so upset this happened, I was loving this series. Without the simulations, a lot of action and thrilling moments were lost, we weren’t able to go into the character’s deepest fears. Instead, we followed them as usual, but this time as divided.

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The main enemy is dead and the city turns into chaos. There are no factions and the hunt is turned onto Jeanine’s co-conspirators instead. The message of a world outside the wall has been released but nothing has changed, the walls are in lockdown. A mob has been created and is difficult to control, the city splits. This part was completely fine, there has been a rebellion and a new leader is yet to strongly come into play. Great start! Obviously, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) can’t just stay knowing there could be something beyond the wall. Quickly marked as traitors, Tris, Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller) and Christina (Zoë Kravitz) explore beyond the wall, making it over swiftly. Again, all parts of this plot were fine, especially because we know these characters and we know Tris could not resist seeing what’s past the wall. Additionally, we know Four would follow Tris anywhere and Peter would do anything to benefit himself. But then things just got weird…

'The Divergent Series: Allegiant'

A whole new life was shown to us beyond the wall. The city they had all be living in (Chicago) was an experiment and has constantly been watched by those on the other side. Who are these? Well they’re the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. The Director, David (Jeff Daniels), is quick to single out Tris and she is explained everything, in which I’m still not sure about. Something to do with genetic modification. Through the experiment, the only one marked as “pure” was Tris, everyone else in Chicago is “damaged” and the experiment is how to make everyone “pure”. This was all very random and a lot of information was given all at once. Because it’s so scientific, when it all hits at once, it becomes rather confusing. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, chaos is hitting extremes, the city is divided and ready for war: Evelyn (Naomi Watts) vs Johanna (Octavia Spencer). So much happens and so much is going on. Caleb is assigned to watch Chicago from the Bureau, so that’s how we keep in contact with the city inside the walls. However, the effects they’ve done make the screen pixelated so you know he’s not really there, although I do think it was a but unnecessary because either way we know Caleb isn’t in the city and it distracts from the vision of the city that we are still interested in, especially since we’ve been only there for the past two films. Therefore, our interest is revolved around Chicago and the characters we already know, instead of this alien place of flying cars and drones which protect with no assistance.

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These new characters are also alien to us, are they trustworthy, who are they? What do they want? What’s this business with the pure and damaged? I guess this is the mystery element of the film, but it’s so different from the other films, it seems it’s not the same series. It seems it’s taken a different route of this overwhelming world we know nothing of, and the only similarity is the characters. I guess you either appreciate this or not. I do have to admit, I did like ‘Hemlock Grove’s Bill Skarsgård’s character, Matthew. But, Christina is definitely lost in this film as well. There were things thrown into the film which didn’t seem to make much sense, and Tris’ automatic trust became slightly annoying and seemed a bit out of character. Moving away from Chicago lost the Divergent Series in my opinion, the film felt lost in this strange land that was completely unrelatable and overwhelming. Sadly, I was let down, maybe if there is a next one, it would redeem itself?

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015)

The second of the Divergent Series and it is a great one at that. You do need to watch these films in order otherwise they couldn’t be more confusing. ‘Insurgent’ leads straight on from ‘Divergent’, so if you haven’t seen the first one, there will be spoilers, otherwise ‘Insurgent’ would become very difficult to review without the knowledge of ‘Divergent’. If you haven’t seen ‘Divergent’, click the link to take yourself to my review on the first film of this great sci-fi series.

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After the upset and destruction of the first film, ‘Insurgent’ explores the mishaps of the numerous deaths of Abnegation and the mass uproar of Divergents. As Jeanine (Kate Winslet) stands as the head of the society as she wanted, she twists the stories of the mass murders. All blame is placed on Divergents as they become the fault against peace and harmony, they become societies’ “one true enemy” as she so strongly tells everyone. This twisted society then makes all Divergents hunted and all factions are tested. Jeanine becomes persistent in finding the one true Divergent to open the hidden box they found in Abnegation. Fugitives, Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller) and Marcus (Ray Stevenson), find gratitude in the peace and harmony of the Amity faction. But it’s not long until they have to leave. On the mission of hiding, fugitives are soon split up and are each for themselves. The film is of these fugitives on the run trying to formulate some sort of plan. ‘Insurgent’ definitely explores the factions in more detail, we travel from Amity, to the Factionless and even pop to Candor, to end up in Erudite. We travel the whole entirety of this fenced city, in every one the fugitives hit a multitude of issues with action and thrilling moments.

Insurgent - Tris

There are again more simulations of this film, which I think are great! You are always watching second guessing whether what you are watching is real or fake, it is really well done. Of course, the graphics are great too as you fall into simulations of burning, flying buildings or reality of the hunts. Although, I do have to admit, it does seem in some parts that Tris should have been shot in extreme fighting moments when in reality she doesn’t, but maybe she’s just that good. We get to know Tris’ brother, Caleb, more in this film as he is weak in fights and struggles to come to grips with everything that is happening. We also get to know Peter more, and the selfish sacrifices he makes. Four is still as mysterious as ever, as his life continues to be revealed slowly. The major difference is Tris, the main protagonist full of hatred and anger. She becomes a worsened version of herself, drowning in guilt of the deaths from the first film, particularly the death of her mother. She is driven by one thing, the hatred of Jeanine, all Tris wants is for Jeanine to be dead. Not very Abnegation of her…

Insurgent - Tris and Caleb

‘Insurgent’ is a great film, it’s a brilliant second film to the Divergent Series. I don’t think it’s as good as the first one, because I think there are more thrilling moments. However, ‘Insurgent’ is a great follow-up and does continue the story well. If you liked the first one, I don’t think you would be disappointed by this one. Plus, they keep leaving the films on cliff-hangers, so don’t you have to watch this one?

The Divergent Series: Divergent (2014)

This sci-fi action alternate world really is one that becomes thrilling. You get to know this dystopian life pretty quickly. This different city is caged, the whole place fenced and divided into five factions. 1. Erudite, those intelligent and live a life of knowledge. 2. Amity, treasuring kindness and harmony. 3. Candor, who cherish honesty and order. 4. Dauntless, the protectors, the police, the warriors. And finally, 5. Abnegation, or known as the “stiffs”, the selfless. Then there are those factionless, who don’t have a life to live, who have no where to live, who are accepted by no one, except the generous help from Abnegation.

Divergent - Tris and Four

100 years ago, this society was created to keep peace and to get rid of all conflict. On the day of the test, each person is suggested a faction you belong in based on the results, 95% get into the faction they were born into. But this isn’t so easy for Beatrice (Shailene Woodley), born into the governing faction of Abnegation, but not feeling like she fits. When her test results come back inconclusive, she is told she is three factions, something extremely rare and extremely dangerous, she is Divergent. At the choosing ceremony through a lot of struggle she chooses the warrior faction, Dauntless. Once Abnegation Beatrice, now Dauntless Tris. But it is still not that easy. In order to be a fully-fledged Dauntless member you have to pass the series of tests, a strict 10 week training programme for the transfers to determine whether they are fit enough to be in this faction. If they are at the bottom of the ranking they are cut, which means they live the aimless life of a factionless. Alongside this are even more pressing issues, not only is Tris in serious danger of her secret, nor struggling to keep up with the other initiates to not be cut, but there are also issues amongst society, the leader of Erudite faction, Jeanine (played by the amazing Kate Winslet), wants nothing but for her faction to be the governing one, instead of Abnegation. Because of all these factors it is quite a long film, approximately two hours twenty, but a lot does happen.

Divergent - Tris

Falling into Dauntless, literally, Tris meets enemies and friends. The trainer, Four (Theo James), is a brilliant character, you don’t know much about him, but you are told so much at the same time. Then there’s Christina (Zoë Kravitz), originally from Candor, she learns the hard ways of how Dauntless is. Enemy wise, originally Erudite, Peter (Miles Teller) is always trying to put down Tris for being from Abnegation as she falls immediately at the bottom of the ranks. Then there’s the one who carries a lot of the tension of the film, he’s erratic and you never know how he’s going to react which creates a lot of suspense and thrilling moments. This is one of the leaders of Dauntless, Eric (Jai Courtney). He definitely shows this hard, thrilling training the transfers have to go through and he stands as the constant reminder that death could be around any corner.

Divergent - Tris and Four

Based on the book by Veronica Roth, this film is a really great representation. You follow Tris’ life as she struggles to come to grips with everything, you become empowered when she stands out, but then wince when she falls back down. She truly is a great protagonist to follow. I would definitely recommend this film, there is action and suspense, mystery when trying to figure out what is actually happening and a constant threat of the characters throughout the film. Just remember the one rule: “faction before blood”.