Monday, March 8, 2021

Weekend Movie Round-up

 Because movie theaters aren't quite open to full capacity yet and because the studios are taking their time and being cautious about their releases, watching new movies at home has been a new normal for the last year now. It's crazy to think its been a whole year of COVID-19 and I'm hoping everyone can get the vaccine as soon as possible. No matter what happens, we are still getting new films at home, and its working so far as an alternative to the movie theater. 

"Coming to America" is one of my favorite films of all time. Any time a sequel is made over 30 years after the original came out, I am always cautious. I want so bad to like "Maverick" when it comes out, but there is also some hesitation. It's easy to be away from something so long that the new result doesn't live up to expectations. "Coming 2 America" is not better than the original, but that's okay. It's still wildly entertaining.

Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Louie Anderson, James Earl Jones, and Shari Headely all return from the previous film. Akeem is still a prince, but his father is close to death. Because Akeem has fathered three daughters, the royalty is at risk of reverting to another royal family once they marry. Unbeknownst to Akeem, but known to Semmi, Akeem hooked up with a girl in Queens (Leslie Jones) and fathered a son (Jermaine Fowler). Akeem and Semmi return to Queens, New York to track down his son. Akeem is successful, and his son comes back to Africa with him, and learns the fine art of becoming a prince. But his son is his own man, growing up in America, and he's got his own ideas for his new country and newfound royalty. Which could butt heads with Akeem's long lasting tradition.

"Coming 2 America" definitely features some sequel-idis, it features many of the same story threads from the first films. But it does a good job of updating for a more modern world. The original cast fits right back into this world, are all very funny revisiting their roles. The additions of Fowler, Jones, Tracey Morgan, Trevor Noah and Wesley Snipes add to the movie as well. Being PG-13, it isn't nearly as raunchy as the original film, but the film is able to side-step much of this with aplomb. What's clever is the movie feels raunchy at times without ever really tipping into that kind of humor. If that makes sense at all.

It's hard sometimes to really tap into the magic of something old. But sometimes, that doesn't really need to happen. There is plenty of fun to be had with "Coming 2 America," and it was really enjoyable to see these characters I love once again.

The "Groundhog Day" affect is quickly becoming a cliche in this business. We are seeing quite a few movies these days of people repeating the same day, over and over again, determined to break the cycle. Because this isn't a new idea, for me I like to see how entertaining something can be, and how it can play with expectations. I'm looking at execution over originality, and I have to say "Boss Level" is a mostly satisfying action thriller.

Frank Grillo is an actor I have admired for sometime now. I think he's been ripe for a leading role for quite awhile now. I am glad director Joe Carnahan gave him a chance, because Grillo proved that he can lead with the best of them. In "Boss Level," Grillo plays Roy Pulver. A typical ex-military, alcoholic who has an ex-wife and a child he barely knows. Every day he wakes up to shady people trying to kill him. There is a playful attitude to "Boss Level," as Roy is continually narrating his life, trying to piece together this mystery, spewing corny joke after corny joke to anybody who will listen. This definitely feels like an 1980's action movie made in 2021. 

A ton of fun actors make their way through this film. Including Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Jeong, Annabelle Willis and Will Sasso. Also look for Rob Gronkowski in a particularly funny cameo and Frank Grillo's own son Rio playing his son in the movie. Joe Carnahan is like Michael Bay, so get ready for a bunch of crazy mayhem and characters that could only exist in the movies. Like many other Carnahan movies, he over-extends his plot for no reason. Sometimes the film feels a bit overly-long and acts as if its trying too hard to be clever, something Carnahan hasn't got over quite yet. But there is still plenty of fun to be had here.

I also caught "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" It is thoroughly ridiculous.

I am able to catch quite a few movies since so much is getting released at home. So expect big reports like this in the future.

Friday, March 5, 2021

That's a wrap on WandaVision (SPOILERS)



That's a wrap on "WandaVision." The new mini-series that premiered on Disney+ roughly nine weeks ago. The mini-series revolved around Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and basically chronicled what she has been up to since all of our favorite Marvel heroes defeated Thanos and brought everyone back to life. After The Battle For Earth (which is what the final battle in "Avengers: Endgame" is referred to, on its Wiki page at least) loved ones who got dusted were reunited, and some of the heroes died. Vision sadly was unable to return due to the sad timing of Thanos' snap. Wanda felt like one of the very few who lost everything and gained nothing in return. She was determined to deal with her grief, so she used her unbelievable power to create her own reality in a sleepy town of Westview.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, and which was hotly debated on social media, the first few episodes definitely threw people off. Why are Wanda and Vision living through old school sitcoms? Who is controlling all of this? Somebody within the universe is watching too? Who is it and why? There was definitely some fun to be had in those first few episodes, and I'm not sure everybody got the joke. But it did all make sense by the end. 

If "WandaVision" was about anything, it was about grief. How we can sometimes turn to nostalgia in order to restrain the pain of whatever is making us grieve in the first place. We learn that as Wanda and Pietro were growing up, they had a poor but happy home. She grew up watching DVD's of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Bewitched." That was her family bonding time, and of course she would hold on to those precious memories when trying to cope with the pain of missing Vision and her brother. We can't wear nostalgia as armor though, that will slowly tear us apart, just as it did Wanda on the show. Someone I follow on Twitter called WandaVision "The Good version of 'Ready Player One.''' While that might be funny, when you think about it long enough, it makes perfect sense.

One of the things "WandaVision" definitely benefitted from was the weekly episode release. Something that seems foreign in a binge TV world. That set up worked for the show, rather than against it. Since each ending made the audience guess about next week. Kathryn Hahn is definitely someone from the comic books, but who? WHOA, Evan Peters who played Quicksilver in the Fox "X-Men" now playing him again now?!? What does this mean! Monica Rambeau? I know that name from somewhere! WHOA, WANDA'S KIDS HAVE SUPERPOWERS! There was always something to talk about each week, which added to the fun. 

Overall, and this is the comic book nerd in me talking so take it as you will, but the answers to these questions could sometimes be underwhelming. When they introduced Wanda's children, and the break-neck speed at which they grew in this show, I thought Young Avengers may be on the horizon. But in order to release the people of Westview from her spell and in order to stop Agatha Harkness (more on her in a bit) Wanda had to do away with the reality she created for herself. That means that Vision and her children disappeared. Sadly, if Young Avengers ever happens (which seems not that far-fetched since we have already been introduced to Harley Keener and Cassie Lang in this universe) it'll be without Speed and Wiccan. Too bad. While Evan Peters showing up as a character he played in X-Men, the reason as to why he was Quicksilver here may have disappointed some viewers. Obviously, messing with the multiverse is on the horizon with the MCU, but it doesn't start here. Evan Peters is basically the end of a joke and nothing more.

One of the biggest strengths of this show has been Kathryn Hahn and her fabulous work as Agnes, and the slow introduction of her being Agatha Harkness. Agatha Harkness was an evil magic-user from the comic books who has ran into all sorts of characters in the comic books, Wanda included. In the show, she wants to absorb Wanda's power. Because, yes, while this show did explore all sorts of themes, its a superhero show at the end of the day. Of course there's a Big Bad that Wanda was destined to take care of. Like I said, Hahn was great here, and I am glad that Agatha doesn't die, leaving the door open for her character to return in some form.

I equally enjoyed Teyonah Parris' work as Monica Rambeau. The daughter of Maria Rambeau, whom we met in the "Captain Marvel" movie in 2019. We find out that Monica was one of the many people who got dusted from Thanos' snap, and she re-materializes in hospital, where she was staying due to her mom's health. She comes back to learn that Maria died of her health complications, she volunteers to enter the mysterious force field created by Wanda, agreeing with SWORD, an organization created by her mother. (Apparently since the 90's, even though somehow this is the first we are hearing about it) Monica Rambeau already has powers and I'm sure we will learn more about those powers sometime in the future, because the finale today made it clear that Monica isn't going anywhere soon. I like Teyonah Parris a lot and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future.

Those are all the big comic book characters introduced. The BIG CAMEO that Paul Bettany kept teasing the last few weeks ended up being just smoke and mirrors. The final episode today is a pretty big spectacle and little else. Personally, I am not sure nine episodes were needed, but those missing the big superhero fights were satisfied. Some people like that the final episode wasn't a big cameo fest, while others were expecting someone big to show up. It just goes to show that we have to let go of our expectations with these pieces of entertainment. Sometimes people ruin things for themselves because they are always holding onto rumors or things they hear or read on the internet and they treat it like the Holy Word and we can't do that. Wanda's future is going to be pretty crazy, suggests the final credit scene of this last episode, personally after her journey here, that's all I needed. This was an overall very enjoyable mini-series. Disney proved that Marvel could be cool on their streaming service and now I'm excited for "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" even more.

Monday, March 1, 2021

The award shows are weird this year


Amazing that the 2021 award season is just now kicking off at the time every year where its usually winding down. But you thank COVID-19 for that.

I didn't watch the Golden Globes last night. I read the winners list this morning. I know Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted and knowing them, I am sure they did really well. The older I get, the more cynical around awards I have noticed I get. Sure, I am a little interested to see who pompous Hollywood likes to give their golden statues to, but that's all it is, it's pompous Hollywood self-congratulating themselves. I know there fans of these ceremonies and people who specifically like the kinds of movies that the award's season covers, and I don't mean to judge what they like. You are more than okay to like the movies you like and enjoy the awards season. The older I get though, the more I think the conversations around award circuits is limited. I detest the idea that certain filmmakers will make an "Oscar-bait" movie. Because honestly, doesn't that make awards redundant? I don't like that entire genres and entire types of films are ignored because the subject matter isn't enough for the award circuit. It all drives me nuts more and more.

2021 awards are going to be even weirder this year. For some reason, because of COVID, the awards got pushed back this year. COVID may have made the business cautious, to be safe over being sorry, and I understand that completely. But I don't get that the measure of a year really goes kapoot. They were successfully able to work around it. It was postponed and many actors, from what I saw, received their awards from home last night. Good move, for sure. But including 2021 releases when we should be focusing on the year 2020. Each year has their own mix of great moments from film and television and I think if you are going to pick what the best of each year was, it has to be set within that year.

"Judas and The Black Messiah" is a wildly great movie. I gave the movie a great review. Movies that great usually don't come out this early in a year. If its such an early anomaly, why is it being caked in with a bunch of 2020 titles. Don't get me wrong, I am glad Daniel Kaluuya is getting recognized for his work in this film. But it almost feels like an unfair advantage against a sea of 2020 films filled with great performances that got pushed to side for a 2021 movie.

I don't remember these awards being categorized by a year and three months, they are the best of the year, so we should focus on the year in question. That year is 2020.

I feel like this isn't a COVID issue and I don't understand why it happened. It makes the whole season of awards very weird and I don't know how this will affect the future of these ceremonies.

Oh well. I've spoken my peace on the subject. Now I am going to start figuring out who will appear on my annual Heroes vs. Villains March Madness bracket!

Monday, February 22, 2021

2021 Notable Releases


2021 has been, like any other movie year, one of ups and downs. I've been busy as a bumblebee this past year, so I haven't had as much time to write as I'd like. But rest assured, I am seeing as many 2021 releases as I can. All of which have been in the comfort of my home. Because of the pandemic, there is still so much being released at home. Netflix is releasing new movies a week. HBOMax is pretty much doing the same. Streaming services are keeping the business afloat right now. I don't know how theaters are really doing right now. But streaming is making it work. Digital rentals are making it work. With all of this together, I am still awash in film. What some people don't seem to understand either is that "new" doesn't automatically mean 2021. I've been spending 2021 watching as many movies that I haven't seen yet. From the 2000's, the 90's, the 80's, even the 30's. I've been watching 2020 movies that I haven't had a chance to see yet. Anything you haven't seen yet is new, and its been an adventure at home, even when I'm not actively going to the theater.

That's not to say that 2021 hasn't already been memorable. Let's dig through some of the 2021 releases that I haven't written about yet. 

HBOMax Releases

It was pretty canny move for Warner Bros. to release their entire yearly slate on HBOMax as well as theaters. Has it paid off so far? Well, that really depends. A studio is a studio. They will have hits and misses, and usually in the beginning, there are mostly misses. "Locked Down" starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway features two great leads, it's got a fun "Ocean's 11" style vibe, but its pretty teflon Hollywood as far as story and structure is concerned. There wasn't enough here to fully wow me in any way. It's a movie that tried really hard to use COVID-19 as a springboard, but just because you take advantage of a momentary gimmick doesn't mean your movie is going automatically be good. The movie itself doesn't have much to say about how our society has changed or evolved because of this and it's entertaining enough to matter. It's very, very light entertainment.

"The Little Things" starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto is a fairly typical, gritty detective movie. We got two hotshot cops who are trying to solve a series of grizzly murders. They constantly trying to one-up each other. They will eventually grow to respect each other. One cop has a family he really cares about, the other is divorced with a tough past that will miraculously tie into the story in this movie being told. Does any of this sound familiar? Because it should. We see so many of these types of movies, that they are a dime a dozen. So much so that I wonder why Denzel and even Rami bothered in the first place, surely they could find better projects to spend their talents on. It tries hard to reach a morally gray ending, but its really not enough to warrant a "good enough" rating, especially since they aren't covering new material here.

Warner Brothers will probably have more misses this year, each year is full of them.

More than a magician

Easily the best thing I've seen in 2021 so far has been "In and Of Itself" which is currently showing on Hulu. On the surface, it may look like magician Derek DelGaudio performing one of the many showings he had live from New York City (I believe it was?) but this isn't just some special. DelGaudio isn't the typical magician. When I say that, I don't mean that I can't figure out the prestige in his tricks. I'll confess to you all, magicians do nothing for me anymore due to "The Prestige" and "The Illusionist." Simply because I spend my time trying to figure out the trick instead of focusing on the show. DelGaudio isn't just a typical magician, he is also a vulnerable storyteller. There is so much of DelGaudio that goes into his show that its almost an autobiography. Not only that, but he asks his audience to give something of themselves to the show as well. One of the big, story-weaving tricks is that each member of the audience must pick a card, each card has a specific nickname on it and you must pick a nickname card that pertains to your life. How that ties into DelGaudio's show is just part of the fun. Magician's don't need to be vulnerable, they don't need to tell their stories to us. But DelGaudio chose to in order to enhance his show and it makes for quite the experience.

JT making it real!

I can't say that I was a big NSYNC fan growing up. I also didn't really care for Justin Timberlake as an actor when he first started showing up in movies. Much like many celebrities who jump into acting, Timberlake carried his persona into his roles and it usually hurt the movie in some way. Those days could be behind him now. Scoring big playing in films like "The Social Network" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," Timberlake has made a true name for himself as an actor. He just leveled up this year in the unforgettable "Palmer" available on AppleTV+. Palmer is a guy who has just got out of prison when we meet him. He's currently living with his grandmother until he gets on his feet. He's got a parole officer, he's struggling to find work. The whole bit. Despite the violent arrest on his record, he's able to get a janitorial job at a school. Palmer reluctantly bonds with a child who lives next door to his grandmother, and they begin hanging out quite a bit. The child's mother is taken away due to drugs and the boy stays with Palmer's grandmother, which leads Palmer to become even closer to the boy. When his past tries to catch up with him, Palmer must make some quick, smart decisions. It's a simple story, a straightforward tale but its well done. Justin Timberlake gives the best performance he's given in anything so far, and just watching him grow is all the reason to see it.

Worth The Hype

As we draw closer to a very weird Awards circuit, you'll be hearing much about "Nomadland" which is now available on Hulu. I watched this past weekend and I am glad I did. I am usually weary of anything getting such a big push from awards season lobbyists, but in this case, they are dead right. "Nomadland' is visual poetry. A miracle of a movie. Francis McDormand lands yet another stellar, memorable performance to add to her unbelievable career. Here, she plays Fern, a woman who sadly lost everything in 2011. Her job, her husband, her home. Because of her circumstance, she sells most of her belongings, purchases a van and equips it to live out of. She becomes a "nomad," and spends her days looking for work. 

We get what feels like an exclusive look at a very small corner of our country's culture. Fern follows a long line of other nomads; people who are living out of their cars, constantly traveling for work, a community that gets together and learns and teaches itself survival and self-sufficiency skills. What's amazing is the movie features actual, real-life nomads. There isn't much of a story here, as Fern drifts in and out of the Nomads, working, seeing the corners of our great nation. McDormand is able to speak volumes by just making a face, just reacting to this newfound lifestyle. There are many parts of the movie that feature no dialogue and McDormand is able to communicate much by just how she reacts to things. It's amazing acting. A once-in-a-lifetime performance by an actress that has elevated herself year after year.

The movie is also wise to not look down on these people or their lifestyles. There isn't some big dramatic change, that you often see in these types of movies. This isn't a situation that Fern is trying to escape. In fact, its really about what its like when you finally find your people, find your destiny, what you want out of life. "Nomadland" is a movie that simply gives you a glimpse of a facet of our country's culture. A truly spiritual and wonderful experience.

There is all sorts of good stuff out right now that is simply brand new. Check it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2021


So, the upcoming "Mortal Kombat" trailer has arrived. It looks like B-Movie mayhem. I am all for it. 

While I wasn't the biggest fan of "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" in 1997, the first film from 1995 had its charms. But I don't think either movie has aged particularly well. The costumes look like Halloween cosplay. But most of all, the fight scenes were in such slow motion that they deflated the action sequences. They just never looked particularly natural. So the most important thing I was watching for with this new take was how the fights look. I love that they really pay homage to the games in which they are based on, as well as looking like raw, naturalistic fights.

For fans of the game, it might be weird that there is a brand new character introduced. Lewis Tan is playing a new character named Cole Young. While I do think its weird to introduce a brand new character into a world that is already rich with characters, this could be some smoke and mirrors. I have a movie friend who was discussing his theories with me. One could be that Cole Young is an alias for Johnny Cage, and that Young was a failed actor who decided to become a cage fighter. (Get it? Cage? Ho, ho). The other theory is that Cole Young is an alias of Bi-Han, the first Sub-Zero who would become the villain Noob Sabiot. It's clear from this trailer that the bad blood between Sub-Zero and Scorpion will be explored in this movie. So I really wouldn't mind seeing one of these theories materialize. If he is indeed just a new character, its really weird to base a movie around him. In the games, the story arguably belongs to Lui Kang, so to sideline him and make him a supporting character is strange. If they go more a "Game of Thrones" route, and tell multiple stories, that could be cool. But might be odd for a movie.

I like all types of movies. I like Oscar bait. I like experimental and artsy stuff. But I also like genre junk like this. I am big a fan of this game franchise, one of my absolute favorites. I'm excited to see what they've done here. But remember, this is based upon a video game, and the video was particularly very silly. I'm not expecting Oscar-caliber writing from this movie, and you shouldn't either. Go to the movie on its terms.

But I'm just over-the-moon excited to see Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion. He is, in fact, my favorite Japanese actor. He already looks amazing!

What do you think MK fans? 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League looks fine. Just fine.


I think "Zack Snyder's Justice League" looks fine. It doesn't look terrible, it doesn't look like the messiah of superhero films either. It looks fine. The DCEU (if we can even call this movie apart of that) has been high and low, basically from the start. There are movies that I really like from that camp of films, and there are films that I don't care for much at all. It's totally okay if you like the films I don't like. Its perfectly okay if you love the entire franchise. If you also happen to be the type of fan that was will gush all over anything that features characters you've grown up loving all you're life? Guess what? That's okay too! 

 I am not here to get in your face for liking the films you like. I don't need to know the reasons why you like the films you like. To tell the truth, the story of how "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is a remarkable one. Snyder didn't finish "Justice League" in 2017 because his child had health complications. No matter what you think of Snyder or the films he's made, that's really sad. I don't wish that type of grief on anybody, and I am glad that he pulled through that time in his life. Joss Whedon stepped in to finish the film. While I like "Justice League" to a degree, its not without its flaws. One of those flaws is how the film kind of feels like a Frankenstein Monster. Two styles of two different directors are fighting for air, and it ends up feeling like a strange experience. 

 The fans for years have been begging DC to allow Zack Snyder to release his cut of the film. Warner Brothers decided to give Snyder a few million to do so and they are now giving the fans what they asked for. It's truly a great story. An artist gets to fulfill the vision he had for the story he wanted to tell. The fans to get to revel in that vision. It's a great example of what happens when fandom comes together and when the establishment decides to listen, and what can come of that. 

With that said, a very specific type of fan asked for this. I think no matter what, those fans are going to love this movie, no matter what it ends up being. That's perfectly okay if they like the movie and they like anything and everything about it. I hope I enjoy it when it comes out. The thing is, Zack Snyder is kind of all over the place when it comes to the movies he makes. There are films of his I really like, but he can also colossally screw the pooch as well. I think he's said some really crazy things in the press before. Overall, he's a decent guy and a decent filmmaker, but maybe not the guy you put in charge of a big franchise like this.

 I've said this thousands and thousands of times, too. I don't get the need to make these characters dark. Or why fans feel the need to bully others into believing that these characters need to be dark. Comedies are funny, horror films are scary. Superhero movies also have a very distinct style to them. If you can't handle that, that's on you, not the genre. I'm not saying I'm against dark comic book movies. It really depends on the character. Punisher should be dark. Wolverine and Spawn should be dark. really depends. Because he's been so flexible over the years that you can virtually tell any story with him. There was a time when I only thought dark Batman mattered. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with the Christopher Nolan movies and "Batman Forever" hurt my heart and all I wanted was dark and serious Batman. As I have gotten older, I still like Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." I like playing the Arkhamverse video games. But I also like the Adam West era Batman. I enjoy "Batman: The Brave and The Bold." Yes, I still love "The LEGO Batman Movie." Batman can be much more than one thing. Dark, gritty storytelling featuring Batman isn't a bad thing. For me though, the darkness needs to illuminate something or help elevate the story, or features a metaphor. There are plenty of Batman stories that are dark for darkness sake, and I don't tend to like those stories at all. It really depends on the character and what kind of story you want to tell if you are going to create a dark superhero story. I tend to not like dark superhero stories simply to say "gritty is cool!" You have to be saying something if you want to do that. There's also a big difference between dark and serious toned. 

What it looks like we have here is a Justice League movie where heroes will drop F-bombs and acting mopey because someone set off the Mother Boxes and one of the alien invaders is named GRANNY GOODNESS. Overly serious DC is even more silly compared to Marvel because DC is way more engulfed in fantasy and their characters or much more goofy. That's why DC dark works a lot less. Sorry, not sorry. Just my opinion. I'll still check this out. I like SOME of Snyder's work and I hope he can surprise me here. But I never get the need to make superheroes so dark and serious and angsty. Maybe that was cool when I was 16, but as I've gotten older and see comic books as they are, dark superhero stories seem dopey to me. 

If you are excited for this movie though, then be excited. I am not here to take that away from you. I merely want to explain why I'm on the fence about this. You don't have to be on the same fence. I only hope that you allow for others to have their opinions too. Fandom has become so toxic to the point that talking about these franchise blockbusters has lost its fun and we should curate a space for discussion. Not alienate others over their opinions. I know because I used to suck when it came to discussing film. But I caught myself and years ago I decided to quit. You can have your opinion and I will have mine. 

 I would love to see the end of gatekeeping as well. Because here's another thing, whether its DC superheroes or Marvel superheroes, Disney Princesses or Star Wars Jedi's. All of these fandoms are going to last longer than we do. We don't need to alienate fans based upon when they got into a franchise. We don't need to like a certain film or a certain era to fit in or to look a certain way. It's okay to like whatever you want to like. I know I was one of the few that didn't really care for "The Joker" in 2019. Joaquin Phoenix doesn't need to be my Joker, though. There are plenty of Joker's that I hold dear to my heart, and I love that. I'm not going to rail on "The Joker" ever again because I already said everything I wanted to say. If you liked that movie, then Joaquin Phoenix can be your Joker and that's absolutely fine. No harm, no foul. 

 I hope for a day when fandom isn't so toxic and we don't use other franchises as ways to offend others. We already have enough problems in the world, we don't need to be hassling people over which flavor of superhero they like. 

 For right now, Zack Snyder has a new movie coming next month. Let's see how it turns out...

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Review: "Judas and The Black Messiah" is worth the hype

History matters. As our world gets crazier and crazier its become more and more important that we remember that always.

"Judas and The Black Messiah" tells the unbelievable true story Bill O'Neal. Bill was a petty criminal during the early 1960's who got arrested for attempted theft of a car and also impersonating a police officer. While under arrest, he is approached by FBI Agent Roy Mitchell. Mitchell offers to drop all of O'Neal's charges if he goes undercover for the FBI and infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, headed by Fred Hampton. Fred Hampton and Bill O'Neal become very close with one another, even while O'Neal slips intel to the FBI. As O'Neal stays within the Black Panther Party for a long amount of time, being rejected each time he wants to end being an informant, the closer he gets to Hampton.

It may turn some readers off to discuss The Black Panther Party. I'm sure there are some viewers out there who won't agree with the portrayal of the Black Panther Party in this movie. But again, history is history and it matters. Real, actual history matters, no that revisionist crap that gets lauded on the internet now and again. It would probably blow some people's minds to learn that the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party created a free lunch program. Hampton united street gangs and other civil rights groups under a multiracial coalition known as the Rainbow Coalition. And there is more evidence then not that there was an alliance between the FBI, Chicago Police and other government agencies to kill Hampton. This is all history that is readily available to you and the real story of the Black Panther Party has been a real eye-opener when I first started reading about it avidly. 

"Judas and The Black Messiah" works wonders due to its electrifying cast. You got Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton, giving another great performance to add to his already impressive resume. The same can be said about LaKeith Stanfield, who plays Bill O'Neal. You got Jesse Plemons as FBI Agent Roy Mitchell. All three of these men are some of the best young actors working in the business right now and all three of them knock it out of the ballpark. I can't wait to see what comes of these guys' careers, because they are all on a roll right now. I also have to single out Martin Sheen who shows up a few times as J. Edgar Hoover. At first, I only recognized Sheen by his iconic voice. The make-up effects on Sheen to look like Hoover is honestly amazing. Sometimes a little can go a long way. Sometimes, too much looks really bad. But here, the make-up is just right and well done.

This is historical drama done right. At the same time, "Judas and The Black Messiah" is also very much of the moment. At a time when facts get distorted daily, where lies are taken as truths, and when history can just simply be made up to fit someone's narrative and its enough for someone to simply say "I read this somewhere" so suddenly their a historian. A movie like "Judas and The Black Messiah" matters. Believe the hype on this one folks, it's done note perfect.