Student perspective of movie “Us”

By Garrett Wheeler, Contributing Writer

“Us” follows a family played by Lupi-ta Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex.

They are enjoying a vacation in Santa Cruz when all of a sudden, they find exact copies of themselves standing out on their yard.

They must do what they can to fend off their clones while pondering why they are here and what they want.

“Get Out” was one of the biggest surprises of 2017.

It was funny, tense and smartly written with some of the cleverest twists and social commentary I’ve seen in a film.

The fact that it was written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele of MadTV and Key and Peele fame made it all the more surprising.

Needless to say, I was very excited to see “Us,” especially considering the trailers looked promising.

And I must say, “Us” did not disappoint.

From what I’ve seen so far, Jordan Peele has a knack for taking something that sounds initially simple but going all out with it.

As a result, the story presented is riveting.

It’s full of great ten-sion that permeates throughout the entire film.

But what truly makes the film gripping is the family itself.

Each member is likable, and they all play off each other very well. Their interactions were believable and highly entertaining.

They felt like a real family, and it was great seeing them spend time together. And that con-nection made it all the more exciting to watch them try and survive.

What amplifies the entertainment value of the family is the perfor-mances.

The main cast are phenomenal not just as normal people, but also as their creepy doppel-gangers.

Lupita Nyong’o in particular is fantastic.

The contrast between her two characters is truly outstanding, and she nails the comedy and the drama in every scene.

However, Winston Duke plays my favorite character of the film.

He is the quintessential dorky dad and I love him. He is endlessly entertaining throughout.

Aesthetically, this film is an improvement over “Get Out.”

It’s not a knock on “Get Out” in any way, but I can tell Jordan Peele has improved as a director in such a short time.

The cinematography is beautiful, the shot compositions are more interesting, the use of color is creative and the musical score is outstanding.

As a visual and audio presence, this film leaves more of an impact than “Get Out.”

Again, I’m not saying “Get Out” is bad in terms of aesthetics. “Us” is just better in those aspects.

However, I don’t think the “Us’s” script is as strong as “Get Out’s”.

It’s not bad by any means, but there are more flaws here. There are some dialogue moments that came across as corny.

Plus, the meshing of intense psychological drama and lighthearted comedy did not receive the balance that “Get Out” had.

Tonally, this film is not very consistent.

The biggest flaw this has is its use of ambiguity.

There are some elements that are ambiguous and some that are not. As a result, the film is not completely logically sound.

It’s a movie that if you think really hard about it, you will be able to pull the plot apart.

I’m not saying “Get Out” was a fully realistic story, but the way it was executed made logical sense and left no room for error.

“Us” was a little too hard to follow in terms of making sense. I know there are a lot of theories about what everything means, but they’re just theories.

I think if the film went all the way one way or another, the narrative would be stronger.

Despite its flaws, “Us” was a blast. It was a creepy, clever horror film with a great concept and great execution.

I do think “Get Out” is the overall better movie, but I personally had more fun with “Us”.

It’s not perfect, but its positives make me mostly forget the negatives, even if those negatives are quite prominent.

If you liked “Get Out”, then I think you’ll like this one. As for me, I am very excited to see “Us” again. Final score: 8/10 (Great)

‘The Lego Movie 2’ proves a success

By Garrett Wheeler, Contributing Writer

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part follows the story of the previous film.

Weird Duplo monsters have invadeBricksburg, transforming the world into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Five years later, and things are not awesome.

Everyone is struggling to stay alive… except for Emmett, who is blissfully ignorant of the strife that is happening around him.

However, when his friends get kidnapped, he must toughen up and get them back, all while trying to figure out what the Duplo characters are up to. 

The Lego Movie is one of the biggest surprises of the decade. What should have been a terrible, pointless commercial turned into a beautifully animated, cleverly written, and overall hysterical movie. 

The Lego Batman Movie was also a lot of fun, even if it started to get tiring by the end. 

The Lego Ninjago Movie is okay, but pointless and not as clever as the previous two films.

Now, we have the true direct sequel to the first film; The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, and while it’s not as good as the first one or Lego Batman, it’s still a lot of fun, and has a large amount of humor, action, and wit that will tide the whole family over. 

I will say that this film doesn’t start off all that great. The first third of the film is awkwardly paced with several meta jokes not sticking much of a landing.

There are some funny moments, including a joke about why no Marvel characters appear in these movies, but most of the humor in the beginning leg of the film falls flat.

However, as it keeps going, it gets a lot better. The writing grows sharper and wittier, the storytelling gets a lot more compelling, and the way the story handles the “twist villain” cliché is well done. 

It never gets to the quality of The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie, but there is a lot of great writing here, and this film, especially the second half, is highly entertaining. 

There are some aspects from the first Lego Movie that carry over to this sequel. The animation is as gorgeous as ever. The colors are beautiful, the visuals are creative and fun, and the fact that it looks stop motion is very charming

All the characters move like Lego figures would, and the moments where the film intentionally breaks the animation rules are hysterical. 

The characters are still highly entertaining. Emmett is wonderfully optimistic and fun to watch, Wyldstyle is a great foil to Emmett, and Batman is hilarious.

Plus, the new additions are enjoyable. Rex Dangervest has a great connection to Emmett, and his story is fascinating to watch unfold on screen. Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi is not only fun to watch, but also wonderfully designed.

The way her entire physical form morphs with every line of dialogue is very creative. All the characters are great, and the stellar performances make them even better. 

However, with all the beautiful animation and great humor in mind, my favorite aspect of this film is, surprisingly enough, the message. 

Messages in movies are not why I watch movies, but I found the message for The Lego Movie 2 to be quite profound.

From what I could tell, the message is that life is not awesome all the time, but by surrounding ourselves with friends and supporters, the bad moments won’t seem so bad.

It’s a message of optimism and community that I completely agree with. It’s the kind of message that kids should learn, and adults can get something out of it as well. 

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is a lot of fun. It has sharp humor, beautiful animation, likeable characters, and great writing.

It doesn’t reach the comedic or story heights of the first Lego Movie or Lego Batman, but I still enjoyed this sequel immensely.

Plus, it’s a lot better than The Lego Ninjago Movie. If you’re a fan of the Lego films, then I highly recommend it. Everything is awesome. 

Final score: 7/10 (Good) 


‘The House With a Clock in its Walls’ boasts good performances but juvenile humor, lackadaisical storytelling

By Garrett Wheeler, Movie Critic

“The House with a Clock in its Walls” follows a boy named Lewis, played by Owen Vaccaro.

After Lewis’ parents pass away, he takes residence in his uncle’s house. His uncle is Jonathan Barnavelt, played by Jack Black, a man with magical powers, living in a magical house.

However, when its revealed that a bitter rival had left a ticking clock in the walls of his house before he died, Jonathan and his neighbor Florence Zimmerman, played by Cate Blanchett, must bring Lewis along with them to figure out where the clock is hidden before the destruction of the world begins.

The trailers for this film were not promising. They made the film look like an even cheesier and campier version of the Goosebumps movie.

Plus, the title for this movie is awful. It has no ring to it, and it is way too long.

And while “The House with a Clock” in its Walls was better than I thought, it’s not necessarily good.

As a story, it’s not very interesting. The storytelling is bland, with cheesy dialogue and weak characters. Nothing about the plot stands out as truly exceptional. It’s a shame, because it’s set in a world of magic, but the magical elements aren’t fully realized.

The way the fantastical moments are executed are underdeveloped, and the rules of the magic seem nonsensical.

There didn’t seem to be much of a rhyme or reason to how and why the magic was conjured up. The story lacked development, and it suffered as a result. It did not stand out.

However, what did stand out was the production design.

The set that was created for this movie is immaculate. The house is gorgeous, and the way the interior shifts throughout the course of the film is beautiful. Visually, this is a solid flick, but it’s the set itself that stands tall as the best aspect of the whole movie.

The production design isn’t the only good thing about the movie. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett are both highly entertaining and make for the two best performances of the entire film.

They had great chemistry with each other, and they made for the most endearing characters in “The House with a Clock in its Walls.” It’s obvious to the audience the two had blast while filming.

However, while the production design was fantastic, the special effects were not. Some of them looked great; the moving stain-glass window, for example, looked cool.

However, most of the effects looked cheap. They did not feel organic, and it’s easy to tell where CGI was slapped on. The best movies make viewers forget the scenes were created with CGI. This was not one of those movies.

The weakest aspect of “The House with a Clock in its Walls” is the comedy, which had little to offer and was mostly juvenile.

It has bathroom jokes, overly descriptive insult humor, slapstick humor and more.

The comedic timing and delivery also seemed exceptionally one-dimensional and… young.

While the argument can be made that this movie is for children, films should not underestimate their younger audience. It felt like the humor was too dumb for its own good. Kids will like it, but they deserve better comedy.

I did not hate “The House with a Clock in its Walls.” Sure, it’s not necessarily the smartest movie out there, but it wasn’t made to be. It was made for kids, and as a kid’s movie, it’s fine. It has enough entertaining and spooky moments to make children audiences happy. But, there are a lot of better movies out there, especially in the kid’s horror genre, but this one is… okay. It’s cute, it’s mildly charming, and it has some fun moments.

However, I believe that this will be one of those movies that kids will enjoy, but when they grow up and look back on “The House with a Clock in its Walls,” they will wonder why they even liked it in the first place. Final Score: 5/10 (Average

Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, A stunning and emotional Part One of MCU finale

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor  (Courtesy photo)

It’s been called the biggest crossover event in movie history, and “Avengers: Infinity War” doesn’t disappoint. Almost every Marvel superhero that’s alive makes an appearance, and while one would think that’d make the movie too busy and strain character development, it actually works perfectly.

The main villain is Thanos, an alien from the planet Titan. His mission, after seeing his planet die from overpopulation, is to wipe out half the population of every planet in the universe to save them from extinction. He plans to do this by using the Infinity Stones, all-powerful objects from the dawn of time, which we’ve seen hinted in past MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films.

That is a horrific plan, but the way the film portrays him makes Thanos genuinely look like he cares about the universe.

It’s especially evident he believes what he’s doing, and that he has feelings, when he retrieves the Soul Stone (no spoilers on how he does that!).

Sometimes, no matter how bad his plan is, or how much you hate to, you just have to feel sorry for him.

Now, for the heroes.

Of course, with so many heroes, some get a little more screen time than others, but the ones with the most airtime get to shine when before they didn’t.

Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff, is a standout from the beginning. During her first scene, Wanda and Vision have to fend off two of Thanos’ goons, and Scarlett Witch gets her moment to shine when she has to protect an injured Vision.

She is also an integral part in the movie since her abilities were given to her from an Infinity Stone, so she is the only hero as strong as they are.

We also get to see the relationship between her and Vision develop. Her personal development in this movie is stronger than any other she’s been in.

The Guardians of the Galaxy also had a stronger part to play, and they still brought their signature humor.

Groot is a teenager in this film, and as such he’s moody and standoffish.

Mantis brings a great naiveté to the film, as well as some great one-liners.

Drax is bit of the comedic relief to the Guardians, but sometimes you kind of wonder what he’s really adding the film.

Gamora plays a huge role in the film. In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” we learn that she is the adopted daughter of Thanos, and that is integral to the plot.

Their relationship throughout the movie is so interesting to watch, and Zoe Saldana plays the heart-wrenching role perfectly.

“Infinity War” has a central conflict, the fight against Thanos, but several characters, as mentioned, are fighting their own battles. This would seem like it would get busy, but it’s just enough to make the film one that you have to watch over and over.

I don’t know how I’m going to wait a year for Part Two.

John Krasinski transitions into directing: ‘A Quiet Place’ emerges as a critic, fan favorite

Staff, Arts Writer

Much has been written about the new thriller “A Quiet Place,” which premiered the first week in April and has now grossed over 110 million dollars in the United States alone.

The film has quickly become a favorite of critics and movie-goers alike, and is expected to top 130 million dollars by the end of the week. So what makes the film a hit?

Yes, the screenplay (written by Scott Beck, Bryan Woods and John Krasinski) is good; it offers a new twist on the classic “creature feature.”

But what makes the movie stand out is how it is directed—entirely by Krasinski.

The first scene opens with the simple declaration “Day 89” in a recently vacated-looking community.

That brevity of a descriptor establishes early on this is not a story about HOW things have come to be but about what happens next.

The audience may never learn what happened before Day 89, but the information will not be missed; the exposition just isn’t necessary.

All the viewer needs to know is everyone must remain very, very quiet lest they attract the attention of terrifying, blind creatures with an amplified sense of hearing. They are also wickedly fast, which is why no one really has much information about them. If you make noise, you will die. Quickly.

Early on, Krasinski commits a film “taboo” of sorts, illustrating the extreme danger in which they find themselves.

That event seems to be a starter pistol for a tense cinematic experience, and the pressure never really lets up; for an hour and 35 minutes the audience simply doesn’t get a break.

The next scene brings us to day 473, and we slowly realize the wife (who is never named in the movie, by the way; none of them are as conversation just is not a key component) is pregnant.

The implications of that itself becomes a subtle, yet brilliant, cinematic tool. Nothing need be explained as you come to ask two rather horrifying questions: How will she give birth in complete silence? And HOW do they plan to keep a newborn quiet? It is a rather interactive narrative tool—your understanding of the inevitability of terror works to build suspense and engage the audience as a whole.

The plot synopsis is pretty straightforward after that: this family needs to survive and they are in an impossible situation.

How they silently navigate their own survival borders on brilliance in terms of direction.

Traditionally, when one sees a horror or thriller movie, sound plays a huge role in indicating mounting tension and release. That is not the case here.

Krasinski basically removes sound from the experience—that absence creates an absolutely delicious tension.

Not only is the audience invested in the characters (which could have been a challenge considering we know so very little about them), but we actively participate in a deadly quiet game. The audience is also silent—not only do they fear the “monster” itself, but they fear noise, including any they might make. The result is very little popcorn snacking, no whispered dialogue and an unrivaled intensity.

Krasinski capitalizes on this interaction as he foreshadows potential tragedy.

For example, a close-up of an errant nail on the stair or a child’s toy with a battery emphasize their precarious existence without overdoing that technique. They also cause the viewer to understand how simple self-defense is not possible; guns cannot be used because they will compound the threat.

This family is hunted by vicious predators and they really have nothing in their arsenal—nothing that can be maintained, at least.

In that sense, “A Quiet Place” is artful, understated and exhausting. At the end of 90 minutes, you will feel taxed, entertained and thoroughly spent.

In fact, its simplicity sets the bar rather high for any horror/thriller to follow; after watching this, cheap suspenseful manipulation and “horror” standards will just seem shallow and incomplete.

This is a new kind of show, and you will like it.

One element that has caused Rotten Tomato users to score this as a 95 on the Tomatometer include the acting.

Krasinski also stars in the film with his real-life wife Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and a young, deaf actress Millicent Simmonds.

Simmonds emerges as a new talent whose hearing loss becomes almost a super power in this movie.

Because of her, the family is fluent in sign language, so all of their acting is delivered almost entirely with nonverbal communication and facial expressions.

She is adept at expressing herself and being convincing.

In fact, in one interview, Simmonds argues the characters’ “signing style” reflects their personality (i.e. the father is focused on protecting his family so his signs are “curt and short,” whereas the mother uses more “poetic” because she is trying to provide her children with “a much bigger life”).

No other film in recent history celebrates the deaf community as this one does—and none illustrates the potential complexity of even basic sign language.

Krasinski quickly becomes a beloved father and husband, and we care about what happens to him; we are in the moment with him, and we feel his helplessness and conviction.

As talented as he is, however, Blunt steals the show with her realistic portrayal of silent labor and maternal devotion—which brings us to the other reason why this movie works so well.

This is a movie about familial commitment and parenting.

In many ways, the setting becomes a metaphor for parenting in general; how often parents feel helpless to protect their own children even as they feel an undeniable, physical need to do so.

Krasinski creates an emotionally imposing landscape adept at expressing anguish, tenacity and renewal.

That landscape is delivered in a beautiful mosaic of what is expressed and what cannot be expressed—what we hear and what we cannot.

The result is a glorious tension that one reviewer, Josephine Livingstone, remarked “in ‘A Quiet Place’ the primal scream that makes people in agony or fear or rage becomes a nuanced cinematic object. This is a movie about the sound of fear, but it gives us a great deal more to listen to.”

Finally, this is an economic film; not a single scene is wasted.

When the film ends, rather jarringly, you are almost violently expelled from this dense and creative world Krasinski has created for you.

Some may be surprised to learn this is a PG-13 film; there is no real gore or cheap horror tricks to muddy the waters. Many people may want to wait to see the movie later on demand, but that would rob them of that cinematic, communicative experience.

In short, go see this. Go see this soon—it is well-worth the price of adult admission and snacks galore (just make those quiet snacks as to not unnerve your fellow viewers).

As one person noted, “Jim has certainly come a long way from pranking Dwight,” and it is true.

Krasinski has proven himself as an actor (think “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” “The Hollars,” ‘Manchester by the Sea” and “Detroit”). But this film also establishes him as a director with whom to be reckoned and a storyteller with staying power.

Review: “Rampage” v. “Pacific Rim: Uprising” They both get the action movie job done, but which one is better?

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor  (Courtesy photos/Google)

Pacific Rim

“Rampage” and “Pacific Rim: Uprising” are two action movies in theaters right now. Both involve larger-than-life monsters that threaten to destroy major cities, and both have the flawed heroes that save the day. There are differences, however, and, depending on preference, there is one that is clearly more worth seeing than the other.

“Rampage” starts out in Los Angeles with a primatologist named Davis Okoye, played by Dwayne Johnson, and a geneticist, Dr. Kate Caldwell, played by Naomie Harris, who meet when a genetic editing synthesis affects Okoye’s friend, George the albino gorilla, making him grow exponentially and become highly aggressive.

The genetic editing synthesis is an experiment from Energyn, a genetics company in Chicago, called Project Rampage.

Project Rampage was being tested in a space station, but when the station crashes back down to Earth, three pieces of the Project fall to Earth in different places: Los Angeles, the Everglades and Wyoming, affecting George, an alligator and a wolf, respectively.

Rampage causes the animals to grow to the size of a building, and it also causes mutations; the alligator now has a club-tail and armor, and the wolf has porcupine spikes and can fly.

The three animals go to Chicago because Energyn’s CEO Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman) placed a code in Rampage that drives them to stop a low frequency sound emitting from their building, and they’ll destroy anything, even all of Chicago, to make the noise stop, which is where Davis and Dr. Caldwell come in to try to save the day.

“Pacific Rim: Uprising,” on the other hand, is a sequel to the original “Pacific Rim,” and it continues the Jaeger (giant robot warriors) and Kaiju (Alien monsters) battle.

This movie is set 10 years from the first one, with Jake Pentecost (John Boyega), Marshall Pentecost’s son, as the main protagonist, who
joins the Jaeger Pilot’s ranks, after leaving for a period of time, to fight a new danger.

This time, a corporation called Shao Industries created Kaiju-Jaeger hybrids to replace the Jaegers (because that worked the first time),

The hybrids turn into actual Kaijus, and open the Breach (a wormhole connecting the alien world to Earth) to let real Kaijus come to Earth.

Pentecost and his co-pilot (Scott Eastwood), along with a team of new Jaeger cadets, have to kill the Kaijus before they destroy Earth.

These movies, while both about fighting monsters, have different premises, human-made versus alien monsters, and there are other differences that affect each film’s appeal.

Dwayne Johnson is becoming a huge name in sci-fi action movies, and his performance in “Rampage” isn’t disappointing, but it isn’t any different than “San Andreas” (and probably his newest film, “Skyscraper,” set to show in theaters this summer). His character is basically the same person, just with a different backstory, and a thin one at that. We know almost nothing about why he doesn’t like people or about his time in the military.

John Boyega’s character in “Uprising” is no different. While not as big of a name, he is well known for his Star Wars role, and his character also has a thin backstory. The movie doesn’t explain why he wasn’t in the picture during the first “Pacific Rim,” but his sister was.

The visual artistry of the first “Pacific Rim” is present in “Uprising,” as seen in the brilliantly colored panoramic view of Tokyo when Pentecost flies his Jaeger, but, unlike the first “Pacific Rim,” it doesn’t have the Guillermo Del Toro.

The biggest thing “Uprising” has going for it is the fact that it’s a sequel, and they might be making a third based on the cliffhanger at the end.

If you’re a fan of the Pacific Rim World, and the unique designs of the Kaijus and Jaegers, then it’s a perfect movie. “Rampage,” on the other hand, is carried by the name of Dwayne Johnson and Naomie Harris, as well as George the Gorilla’s silver screen debut. He himself, while being CGI, was the whole reason to love the movie; his dry-comedic nature makes you love him, and even when he turns bad, you’re still rooting for him to come back to the good side, which, SPOILER!, he does

Review: Ready Player One, a beautifully futuristic and nostalgia-soaked adventure

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor  (Courtesy photo)

I would say “Ready Player One” is only worth it if you see it in 3D, but it was no less amazing in 2D.

Yes, that means I saw it twice, but it was so worth it.

The movie takes place in the year 2045.

Virtual Reality has become the most important economic resource. Everyone is doing it; they’re all playing the same game, too. It’s called the Oasis. It’s a virtual world where you can do literally anything. There are planets dedicated to sports, gambling, vacationing and so much more. You can also make your avatar look like anybody you want, even Marvin the Martian from Looney Toons or a zombie.

The founder of the game, James Halliday, was obsessed with the 80’s, so if you’re a lover of retro pop culture, the Oasis is heaven.

The movie centers on Wade Watts, aka Parzival in Oasis, who is trying to find Halliday’s Easter Egg he hid in Oasis before he died.

To find the Egg, which would make him the owner of Oasis and a trillionaire, Wade has to find three keys that are hidden throughout Oasis.

The real reason Ready Player One is a winner is the beauty of the picture. Half of the movie takes place in the Oasis, and it is breathtaking.

The action in the racing scene, one of the first scenes in Oasis, was mind-blowing. It felt like you were actually there.

The CGI effects throughout the movie were spotless.

The CGI doesn’t look realistic, but that’s the point. People in 2045 go to the Oasis to escape reality, and the Oasis meets their demands by being an idealistic paradise, hence the name.

Now, for my favorite component of the movie, the many, many, many throw-backs.

There’s a Chucky doll that’s used as a weapon.

Parzival and his “clan” go into “The Shining” and meet the twins and the ghost from room 237.

Parzival pulls a “Dragon Ball Z” move and shoots a ball of energy from his hands.

The villian, Nolan Sorrento, transforms his avatar into MegaGodzilla.

King Kong attacks the race cars after jumping off the Empire State Building in the first Oasis scene.

The soundtrack also is a throwback to the 80s with Van Halen, Joan Jett, Springsteen, Eart, Wind, and Fire and so much more.

If you love eye-popping special effects, poignant messages about the future and the 80s, Ready Player One is the perfect movie.

Black Panther grosses more than one billion globally: Inspires audiences philosophically, politically

Staff Reviewer, Arts Section

“Now more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, we build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were a single tribe.”

No, these aren’t words penned by Dr. Martin Luther King. They were not spoken by former President Obama, and they were not written in Plato’s Republic.

These are the final words spoken by King T’Challa in the latest Marvel installment, “The Black Panther.”

These are powerful words spoken by a fictional character, but they resonate—they are relevant and timeless. And they represent the film’s philosophy well: they are complicated and simple, nuanced and probing.

Since viewing this film, I have told several people how wonderful it is—as an action movie (or any movie for that matter) and as a message for a modern world.

You see, two weeks ago, as I was raving about the quality, someone asked me “why? Why do you like the movie so much? Can you really offer specific cinematic reasons for your admiration?” The answer is yes.

There has been so much written about the depth of this movie, and hopefully we will unpack some of those ideas here.

Let’s start with the concept of the movie in general—how it is constructed.

In general, the movie is solid because it fulfills every plot/character/anecdotal reference.

Take the rhinos, for example. When the camera first offers a pastoral image of grazing rhinos, you may discount that as a mere prop or visual bonus. But that comes back later in a telling battle scene. It is resolved. . . and that doesn’t happen in every movie.

Even the notion that T’Challa’s suit can absorb kinetic energy provides another opportunity to reveal the character of the man wearing it.

At one point, T’Challa throws himself on a grenade; he couldn’t be completely certain the material would absorb all of the explosion, but he risked his own safety anyway. Even brief plot points are brought to some form of closure, and that creates a satisfying viewing experience.

The cinematography and costuming are also brilliant; the bright colors represent a rich history—one that is reflected in the landscape and the clothing.

There was one costuming/make up decision that I thought was particularly poignant. Throughout the film, we see Queen Ramonda in splendid royal headgear.

From the first moment of the film, she is represented as a strong, ageless woman who embodies ideas like family and loyalty.

Angela Bassett was THE perfect choice for this character as she never seems to age—she embodies strength and determination itself.

When we see Ramonda fleeing the city after watching her son dethroned, we see her without her headgear. In those scenes, her gray hair is evident, and it ages her.

Simply by removing one item of costuming, director Ryan Coogler conveys her sudden shift in power and her physical and political vulnerability.

Another reason this film resonates with so many is that it has historical roots.

For example, the language is often overlooked in reviews.

All of these actors are speaking in English for the benefit of an English-speak-ing audience. . . most of the time that is.

Sometimes, however, sub-titles are seen on the screen to translate a language unknown to most audience members: Xhosa. Xhosa is not a creation of Marvel Universe, Disney or the director – it is one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

It is known as the “click click” language, and over eight million people speak it fluently, including the late Nelson Mandela.

By weaving together traditional and accurate facets with fictional ones, Coogler creates a greater sense of realism and weight to the movie as a whole. (For more info about the languages, see (

The location also has a touch of factuality; while you cannot buy a ticket to the imaginary land of Wakanda anytime soon, not everything about the country is fictional.

Wakanda is based off of the cultures and geographic locations of multiple African countries including Nige-ria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and the Congo. (See for more info).

Then, of course, the score is powerful. Coogler pushed Ludwig Goransson to use as many African sounds as possible, which led him to a South African library and its “collection of about 500 different instruments that don’t really exist anymore.”

In an article in the “Hollywood Reporter,” Goransson said, “I also felt incredible pressure to pay homage to African culture and its traditional music. It’s not lost on me that I’m a Swedish guy from one of the coldest countries in the world.”

In terms of philosophical symbolism the movie is successful because it offers a sign that we are ready to move into a new era: Obviously, this is a film about reflection and change.

Obviously, it depicts the power of social inclusion and development. How it does that is multi-faceted. There are two moments in the movie which brought me to tears.

The first one happened as T’Chaka, the former king and father to T’Challa, meets his son in a spiritual vision. The prince tells his father he is not ready—to which he responds, “a man who does not prepare his children for his own death is not a good father.”

T’Challa clarifies he is “not ready to be without you.” This is powerful because it does touch on the universal idea of parenthood and living legacies