BARE BONES: GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (2021)

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GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE (2021)

Sam (Karen Gillan) is an assassin for The Firm, and after her most recent assignment goes awry, is tasked with retrieving some money stolen from them and killing the man, David (Samuel Anderson), who took it. She finds he stole the money for ransom, to get his kidnapped daughter Emily (Chloe Coleman) back and Sam proceeds to go rescue her. Along the way the money is destroyed, David dies and now The Firm wants Sam dead. With Emily in tow, Sam is forced to team with her estranged assassin mother, Scarlet (Lena Headly) and a sisterhood of assassins (Carla Guigino. Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett) Scarlet once belonged to, to face down an army of killers sent her way.

Netflix streaming movie is stylishly enough directed by Navot Papushado (Rabies) from a script by he and Ehud Lavski. It’s an entertaining enough movie, though a bit of a mess and clearly is a strong case of John Wick meets The Professional, with a little Tarantino thrown in for good measure. The cast all seem to be having a good time playing a host of oddball characters and there is plenty of gunfire, but it gets tiresome after a while. We’ve been watching these slow motion gunfights and stabbings since John Woo made them popular in the 90s and these hip, hyper-violent crime flicks are starting to get played out. They’ve become their own subgenre. Gunpowder Milkshake has a fun neon colored look to go along with all the CGI blood and gun flares and while it’s never boring, it’s never all that involving either. An OK waste of time if there is nothing else to watch and Gillan does make Sam a likable killer with a sarcastic sense of humor and a heart. Also stars Paul Giamatti as Firm head Nathan.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER (2018)

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BLACK PANTHER (2018)

Black Panther is the latest edition to the MCU and once again Marvel comes up with a way to keep this series fresh after ten years and eighteen films. The movie opens with a brief introduction to the history of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells of the fateful meteorite landing which introduced the miracle metal vibranium to the land, which transformed Wakanda into a technically advanced civilization. They’ve long kept hidden their technology from the world, though, to prevent ill use of their weaponry. Enter the newly crowned King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who is also The Black Panther, Wakanda’s protector as well as ruler. While still mourning the death of his father, T’Challa finds out a hard truth about the death of his uncle and of a cousin he didn’t know he had…a cousin known as the mercenary Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who wants to take the throne and use Wakanda’s arms technology to start a global revolution.

This sometimes stunning film is directed by Ryan Coogler from a script by he and Joe Robert Cole. Coogler has a wonderfully sumptuous visual eye and making full use of African cultural influence turns this into a film worth seeing for the sights alone. His script with Cole takes things deeper than that with a story rich in depth, not only in it’s cultural surroundings but in the political, racial and social issues effecting it’s African characters and the continent’s descendants around the world. It weaves this context into it’s action/adventure story-line very well, so it’s never preaching, but the issues are boldly there. It represents those who have a more aggressive way of dealing with these issues in it’s antagonist N’Jadaka / Killmonger and those who see a more peaceful solution in it’s hero T’Challa. It also doesn’t shy away from the fact that these differences can pit brother against brother, too. Black Panther is still also very much a superhero movie and we gets some spectacular action, some amazing gadgets and even a James Bond-ish trip to South Korea, where T’Challa meets old friend Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and old foe Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) who is aligned with Killmonger. Panther is given some wonderful support in his sister Suri (Letitia Wright) who is technology savvy and is the “Q” to T’Challa’s Bond. There is king’s bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira) who is Wakanda’s greatest warrior, elder Zuri (Forest Whitaker) and his proud and strong mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett). The SPFX are amazing, there is a wonderfully African infused soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson and some beautifully realized dream sequences that add even more depth to a film that has spirit and heart as well as action.

Simply put this movie also has a great cast. Boseman is a perfect fit for a character that has to be ruler, hero and diplomat, as well as, simply a man. He is charming, handsome and gives the heavily burdened T’Challa a sense of humor and warmth as well. Michael B. Jordan is solid as his vengeful cousin known as Killmonger. Jordan is usually in the role of hero or nice guy and here he shows he can be a bad-ass too. N’Jadaka is a street smart killer raised in America and he brings that urban edge to his warrior with a mission. His purpose may have a bit of a noble center, but it’s his methods and ruthless execution of them are what make him a villain. Serkis is fun as Klaue, following-up his amusing part in Age of Ultron and it’s too bad his part here is almost as small. He’s a fun and eccentric bad guy. Letitia Wright is cute and energetic as T’Challa’s genius sister Suri and Danai Gurira is a blast as warrior woman, Okoye. She’s a powerhouse and deserves her own movie. Rounding out are strong characterizations from Freeman as Ross, Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Forest Whitaker as the noble Zuri. There is also a cool post credits cameo I won’t spoil.

Once again Marvel has delivered a splendid entertainment that is at once a story with it’s own heart, soul and purpose and yet fits well into the MCU game plan. There are political and racial issues weaved into T’Challa’s first solo flick and it is as energetic and exciting as it is thought provoking. Ryan Coogler is a director who has not only a brilliant visual style, but can make popcorn entertainment that is also food for thought. A delightfully entertaining movie with some well appreciated heart and depth. As always, stay through the entire credits for two extra scenes.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) black panthers.

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REVIEW: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (2013)

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OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (2013)

Olympus is a far fetched but, action packed flick that basically follows the Die Hard formula with a lone hero fighting terrorists in a besieged White House. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is a former Secret Service agent and friend of President Asher (Aaron Eckhart) who is busted down to a desk job when rescuing the President during a car accident allows the First Lady (Ashley Judd) to be killed. But, old habits ‘Die Hard’ when a well organized and armed North Korean terrorist, Kang (Rick Yune) takes over the While House and with it, the President and his cabinet hostage. Banning gets himself inside and becomes the country’s only hope of rescuing the President and stoping Kang’s plan for nuclear destruction and forcefully uniting the Koreas. As directed by Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua, Olympus moves fast and keeps the action flying along with the bullets and blood providing a solid two hours of sometimes gruesome and brutal entertainment. And this is a good thing as, when all is said and done, the flick is ridiculous and filled with plot holes but, Fuqua keeps us from thinking too much about that with all the carnage that gets hurled our way. The cast are all good with Butler returning to bad ass action star after a string of sub-par romantic comedies. He kicks some major ass and it’s fun to watch him take out the Korean bad guys with brutal efficiency. The rest of the cast are good with Eckhart playing the type of cool President we wish we actually had and Morgan Freeman as The Speaker Of The House, who takes control of the Presidency once Asher and his cabinet become hostages. Rounding out the fine cast is Yune making a sophisticated yet appropriately slimy terrorist, Dylan McDermott as a traitorous ex- agent, Angela Bassett as The Director of the Secret Service and veteran Robert Forester as an army General who doesn’t quite have faith in the one man army already on the inside. Everyone takes their roles seriously and it helps us suspend our disbelief though, I wish Fuqua would have lightened up just a bit and had a little more fun with the outlandish premise. Sometimes Olympus takes itself a little too seriously. The biggest drawback with this flick, however, is that the action is marred by some really sub-par CGI FX with a lot of phony looking CGI blood and bullet hits to go along with the fake looking planes and explosions but, all in all it is an entertaining enough time on the couch and definitely better then the latest Die Hard sequel that was also released earlier this year. Fun as long as you go with it and don’t expect a classic.

3 bullets!

ex2 rating

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