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Literally... I have never been in a movie theater and said - Damn, I need to see every single movie in these trailers - until Monday. They showed the trailers for Widows, Monsters & Men, and If Beale Street Could Talk - that's right, the James Baldwin novel (the same one my dad tried to make me read when I was like 10 and I lied and said I did, and got smacked when I thought I could trick him into thinking I read it by just reading a paragraph here or there - memories.... Anyway, I'm so effing in those movies I might need protection - too much?). 

Back to the flick - I kid you not, BlacKkKlansman (or Black Klansman) is the most poignant and overall satisfying Spike Lee feature film since Malcolm X (and, arguably, Do the Right Thing) and I LOVED that Malcolm X flick - that was the first Oscar they stole from Denzel.

Usually, I don't do this, but I went and read some of the critiques of BlacKkKlansman online before I finalized my own review and I really don't understand some of these critics' issues with this film.  I mean, the nerve of some of these asshats.  Interestingly, a one of these so called fill buffs credited movies like Django and directors like Quentin Tarantino (notwithstanding that flick being pure fiction) for it's "historical accuracy" but only with respect to the use of the 'n-word.' Another of those clowns is giving Spike Lee crap about his fictionalizing of a true story because Spike takes liberties with whether the kkk actually hated a Jewish undercover cop (why, you ask, does this genius take issue with that? Well, because in the real life version of the story, there's no mention of whether the cop was Jewish...  Yup, so BlacKkKlansman missed the mark for that?) 

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I'm looking at you real sideways and straight up Kevin Hart clapping as I say this @JamesDawson from The Federalist - 'You loved that Hateful Eight bullshorts, but couldn't stomach this... okay.  We don't believe you. You need more people.

Spike Lee (if you don't know Spike's work... stop reading now and go grab a mirror and take a look at a dummy) - Writer/Director
Other Writing Credits got to - Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Wilmott
John David Washington (upcoming Monsters and Men and TV's Ballers) - Ron Stallworth
Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Frances Ha) - Flip Zimmerman
Laura Harrier (Spiderman; Homecoming) - Patrice Dumas
Topher Grace (Spider Man 3, Interstellar) - David Duke
Alec Baldwin (Glengarry Glen Ross, Boss Baby, Schweatty Balls Alec) - Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard
Michael Buscemi (who I totally thought was Steve for about 30 seconds... ) - Jimmy Creek
Robert John Burke (Miracle at St. Anna, Limitless, Safe) -
Isaiah Whitlock (who I think you all know better as Clay Davis from the Wire... you know... this guy
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The rest of the notable cast includes Frederick Weller, Paul Walter Hauser, Damaris Lewis, and Corey Hawkins as Kwame Ture.

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Ron Stallworth, a college graduate joins the Colorado Springs Police Department. When hired, they call him the Jackie Robinson of the CSPD.  Stallworth has to endure the bigotry and racism of some of his fellow officers as he integrates that police department (I'm sure that never happens anymore), but like many of us... we know what we're getting into so racism doesn't phase us too much - we find ways to get back... Stallworth took the route of becoming one of the best detectives in the CPSD.  That's one way to go, I guess.

So, Spike takes us on this Officer Stallworth's journey as he initially tries to do the work he's assigned, but soon his desire to do something more substantial than retrieve files for men who lack moral character but are given badges and guns. Like most of us who have had to be the only vanilla bean in the vanilla ice cream (of an office, class, etc.), we just hope that what we're sacrificing ends up being worth it.

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Spike, in true Spike fashion has some interesting scenes of straight speechifying.  For example, the scene where Stallworth is assigned to go undercover and ends up meeting the outspoken female President of the Black Student Union at an event where the controversial ex-panther, Stokley Carmichael/Kwame Ture is set to address the community.  His mission is to go wear a wire and listen to Ture, and gauge the crowd's reaction.  Would they be roused to violence?  With that "all power to all the people" business and "black power" and "black is beautiful" craziness, the police was concerned that he might encourage black folk. They could end up being proud to be black and therefore dangerously emboldened and whipped into a frenzy.  Black Panthers didn't walk around with dope tech, fresh handshakes, and screaming Wakanda Forever.  They walked around with pistols, shottys, and were versed in the gun laws of the local jurisdictions, the knew the Constitution, they fed hungry people, and - they were largely killed for it by the kkk and the some government sponsored "law enforcement."

But, I digress.  I'm starting to channel my Pops on this review.  Don't get me started.  I'm still vexed that there are idiots out there that think that it is even possible to be hyperbolic about the breadth of the kkk's racism and the lengths to which they still go to protect their deadly ideals.

Stallworth, after hearing the eloquent words of Ture, decides - on a lark - to give a call to the kkk.  Surprisingly, he gets a call back.  So, when he gets the go-ahead to take a look under the hood (pun intended) of the local kkk chapter, he is assigned a white partner because somebody had to do the meet up with the klan. Flip Zimmerman (interesting choice of last name to use in a film like this - all things considered) played by Adam Driver - who I genuinely dis-enjoy watching mess up my Star Wars movies, but was really good in this flick - is the white cop designated to stand in for the black cop who the kkk was interested in recruiting.

Alec Baldwin's amusingly disgusting racist rant was a lighthearted and interesting tone to set off the film.  Watching Topher Grace play David Duke... I mean, it's David Duke so you hate him, but then you love how much of an idiot he is, so... you kinda like him (and you can still kinda see that Forman face from That 70's Show). It's great casting (I know that might sound like shade, but I have nothing but respect for Topher - aside from his name... I can't cosign that, bro.  That's a choice.)

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Yet, if you paid attention, there was a lot of seriousness to this movie.  That's what makes it a bit of a gem.  The speech by Kwame Ture (Hawkins) was one of the highlights of the film.  So was the fact that the Stallworth and his lady had their dramatic tension over the issue of whether you can change the system from inside the system.  I happen to agree with Stallworth, but it's damned near impossible.  And damn, that last convo with that long time kkk'er who a certain orange guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, DC claims to have not known anything about (although he really did!) was satisfying even if it never ever really happened.

If I say too much more about the things I like in BlacKkKlansman, you wouldn't have to see it.  And you really should go and see it.  It was smart. What else are you going to go out and see Octogenarian Secret Agents accepting impossible missions? If you're woke, you have to see this movie.  If you're not, you may well be afterwards.  You find yourself shaking your head and kissing your teeth at the historically consistent statements made in this Civil Rights Era- based film that are astoundingly relevant and echoed over, and over again today.  Stop me when this sounds familiar, kkk/white supremacist rallies in major towns, shouts of "America First" by idiots who think they're losing "their" country... There were some people that were visibly uncomfortable in that Brooklyn theater when they showed the Charlottesville footage in a clear juxtaposition of the fictionalized kkk versus the neo-nazis who showed up in Virginia last year.  That's the sign of a good movie people are disturbed by the fact that reality is just as bad as the fiction.  So, to the critics of BlacKkKlansman, I say - STFU ya might learn something.

No, it's not perfect.  But it is really good.  Really good.

IMTHATDUDE gives BlacKkKlansman: 4 

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET! 
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.

ASIDE:  Of course, this whole film had me thinking of this classic Chappelle joint -


Ocean's 8

I'm a fan of the original Oceans 11 (the one with Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Sinatra) and the reboot with Clooney and Brad Pitt.  Now, I'm a fan of Ocean's 8... well, I'm more a fan of the concept of Ocean's 8.  Don't get me wrong, it was pretty good, but it was also entirely too predictable.  Aside from that, it was a good introduction to this Ocean's crew of thieves and it was exceptionally entertaining.  Sometimes (with how many movies I've watched, critiqued, analyzed, and fanboy'd) I get bogged down and miss the forest for the trees... I ran the risk of doing that here, but fortunately the woman I was with kept that from happening - she was more exuberant about the little things than I was - wait... what I mean to say is that she was more excited about things like the casting and discovering what I thought were thinly veiled plot twists than I was.  Ocean's 8 is the first real date movie I've enjoyed in some years.  
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SIDE NOTE: In other news... Rihanna is arguably the sexiest woman breathing right now (with only Lupita Nyongo #WakandaForever challenging her)… no disrespect to my lovely date (but I can't really respect her opinion since she went out with me and is in love with Alex Rodriguez...?).

Gary Ross (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games) - Director (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games)
Gary Ross (Free State of Jones, The Hunger Games) & Olivia Milch (Dude) - Writers

Image result for oceans 8Sandra Bullock - Debbie Ocean
Anne Hathaway - Daphne Kluger
Rihanna - Nine Ball
Helena Bonham Carter - Rose Weil
Sarah Paulson - Tammy
Awkwafina - Constance
Mindy Kaling - Amita
James Corden - Insurance Investigator
Richard Armitage - Claude Becker 


Debbie Ocean is out of prison on parole (see Ocean's 11) and she’s been plotting her next job every minute she spent in the hole.  That’s the first connection we have with Danny Ocean (Ocean’s 11).  We quickly find out after she gets out that Danny’s no dead - maybe.  Danny’s little sister and she has mapped out everything down to the kind of crew that she needs pull off a job that will bring in so much money, they should never need to pull another job again… at least, not until Ocean’s 9 – and I hope they find a way to fit in Julia Roberts. 

First, Debbie seeks out her old ace, Lou (Blanchett) who is basically the Rusty (Brad Pitt) of the crew.  Lou is the one who compiles the talent and helps Debbie figure out the logistics of her high-handed plan to rob the MET Gala for the great gobs of jewels that the celebs and celebutants.  Then, they go out and solicit the talents of old friends (some semi-retired, some otherwise occupied) and new friends - all of whom are enticed by the idea of either working with Ocean and Lou or by the value of the loot to be divvied up at the end of the heist.

Long story, slightly shortened - everybody they look for is in.  They have a hick-up here and there (most of which were so minor as to be unworthy of mention) and Ocean (just like her brother, Danny) has a side mission attached to this jewelry heist; unlike Danny, she is working an angle to screw over the guy who snitched on her and broke her heart, Claude Becker (Armitage).

The heist happens, shenanigans ensue, and Debbie Ocean's 8 walk away with plenty of booty to spare.  See what I did there?
Aside from the cute-siness of the tagline "Every con has its pros," the biggest problem I have with this movie is that there is only one twist that is not predictable as hell and even that twist is relatively meaningless.  I'm not a complete bastard, so I won't tell you what it is, but let's just say the payoff for this particular twist doesn't really make much of a difference to me.  Maybe it's a function of the fact that this is officially the fifth Ocean's '#' movie and after a certain point, you kinda get it.  Ocean plans caper, Ocean gets crew together, crew makes Ocean's idea into a plan, crew's plan works despite Ocean, Ocean's crew walks away scot-free with a crap load of loot.  

Image result for oceans 8Now, like I said, I was fortunate to go see this with a particularly savvy woman (besides, I am too old to be hanging out with dummies) who summed it up pretty well… Ocean's 8 is fun and it has “all my favorite people in it” – well, it may have all of her favorite people, but definitely multiple of my favorite female actors are in it.  Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and the magnificent Sarah Paulson.  I was missing Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Nicole Beharie, Zoe Saldana, and the incomparable Lupita in this flick - if they added 2 or more of these women, I would have been there twice on opening night day.

Not exactly groundbreaking or as slick and twisty as any of the Clooney Ocean's movies, but it was solid.  It was a great date movie, light and entertaining with a talented cast. I definitely detected a few Thomas Crown Affair-type nods (either one McQueen or Brosnan).  Good enough to watch again - when it comes out on one of those streaming services.  And, in my humble nerdy opinion... it was at least as good as Avengers: Infinity War (Pt. I) - snap that sh#, Thanos!

PS: Did I mention she's in this too (even though they tried to make her not sexy)...
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IMTHATDUDE gives Ocean's 8: 4 

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET! 
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.


Black Panther

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Way back in July 2017 (before anybody outside of the studio execs saw more than the teaser trailer) I said that I expect Black Panther to be "effing dope!"  I may have been wrong.  It was better than that. It was SOFA.KING.DOPE it's not even fair.  It's been a long time coming... Black Panther is the first comic book movie/superhero film that actually means something AND it is absolutely top notch in terms of its quality.  It isn't "good... for a black movie" or "good, but it should have been better if they had blah blah blah..." It is legit better than best Iron Man (I) movie, better than the best Avengers (I) movie, better than the best Captain America (Civil War) better than Wonder Woman (which was the best DC movie in recent decades), and it kicks Deadpool in the nuts - and these are all movies I like!

Black Panther was stellar from the dead on perfect casting to the action and comedic writing.  The only thing that gave me pause prior to seeing it was whether the script would hold up to the expectations from Captain America: Civil War.

Shout out to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for creating a black superhero like this back in the 1960s.  I wont dig too deep into their motivation for creating Black Panther, I'll just say... good call.  #WAKANDAFOREVER  Fast forward and we find Ta Nehisi Coates (a journalist and one of the most influential black authors of our time) has a graphic novel version of the re-imagined Black Panther that I suggest real fans pick up - it's a good read.  It was a little bit of concern to me that the names attached to this movie were relative newcomers to the big screen.  Ryan Coogler, the director, who had done Creed and Fruitvale Station; both exceptional films, but nothing on this scale. It was also written by Coogler and another newbie to this type of film, Joe Robert Cole.  Nothing they did was this kind of action and they were super dramatic.  Not to mention...  they're both BLACK!  Say whuh?  Yup.  A predominantly black cast, black writers, black director, and it wasn't a movie about sports, civil rights, or big mama... and there's nobody in the major credits whose name rhymes with Pyler Terry?  Already sounding awesome to me.

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Damn near every performance is a breakout performance.  I would go so far even as to say that this should be nominated for multiple Oscars next year.  As much as I think the Oscars ain't all they're cracked up to be (otherwise Denzel would have won for Roman J. Israel and Malcolm X) - hence the birth of the Shammi Awards.

Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) - Director
Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) and Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) - Writers
Chadwick Boseman (42, Marshall) - T'Challa/Black Panther
Michael B Jordan (Creed, Fruitvale Station) - Killmonger
Lupita Nyongo (12 Years a Slave, ) - Nakia
Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, ) - General Okoye
Letitia Wright (The Commuter, and Black Mirror) - Shuri
Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, ) - W'Kabi
Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Marshall) - N'Jobu
Matin Freeman (The Hobbit, TV's Sherlock) - Agent Ross
Angela Bassett (Notorious, This Means War) - Queen Ramonda
Winston Davis (Person of Interest, Modern Family)- M'Baku
Florence Kasumba (Captain America: Civil War, Wonder Woman) - Ayo
Cast also includes Forrest Whittaker, John Kani, and Andi Serkis



King T'Chaka is dead and Prince T'Challa (Boseman) must return home to be crowned king of Wakanda, a nation believed to be a "third-world" country made up of farmers and tribes of little significance.  What should be an easy ascension to the throne becomes complicated by rivals in the time of political uncertainty - sounding familiar... if not, don't worry, you'll get there.  First, the prince is challenged by the leader of another tribe who believes T'Challa to be weak and unworthy of the mantle of Black Panther.  By way of brief background, the Black Panther is the protector and leader of Wakanda.  This title is not one that is merely bestowed based upon lineage, but there is an opportunity for worthy warriors to challenge the putative king for his spot and the Black Panther mantle - kind of like what Diddy tried to do with his show The Four

Image result for black panther movie photosT'Challa has the powers of the Black Panther (heightened strength, reflexes, healing power, stamina - you know... Black people stuff) stripped away to from him to face this warrior-challenger on equal footing.  Of course he wins, but then he receives advice that all good leaders should adhere to - surround yourself with good people that you trust. So, he does precisely that.  He has the faithful General Okoye (Gurira) of the Dora Milaje, the warrior women sworn to protect the throne that make the Amazons in Wonder Woman look like Girl Scouts, mom dukes (Bassett), and bae - Nakia (Nyongo).  Interestingly, he didn't really surround himself with a bunch of dudes.  Bruh... neither would I, but we'll have to delve into that at another time.  ASIDE: The sheer number of beautiful black women in this one film does make you think, how come you don't get more of them in movies that aren't written and directed by black/brown folks?  I mean, com'on son.  These women looked good with MY haircut.  They gotta be poppin.


No sooner than he handles his first test does the next adversary step up; this one is much more unexpected than the first and it hits a lot closer to home.  This test of his leadership also comes as he also has to face internal questions of his own worthiness.

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In every hero film, there's the all is lost moment.  Of course, the stakes have to be really high - not just a loss of a title, or his powers; there has to be more at risk.  If T'Challa loses this second challenge to his position, it means that he conceded or he's dead.  And either way, it means he doesn't get to do this with fam anymore:  
Anybody with a special handshake and salute will tell you that if anybody messes with that, that person is really violating and should expect trouble.  But no, that's not the only thing at risk here if T'Challa loses.  If his new nemesis, Killmonger (Jordan) happens to be successful, the once reclusive nation of Wakanda will change forever.  Change is good if you're talking Obama, but not so good if you're talking Orange grown man babies from Queens - ya dig?  Killmonger will move Wakanda into age of war and interventionism (taking their knowledge, resources, and technology to the outside world for the first time) the likes of which they have never seen before.

Ordinarily, there's enough about a movie that tickles my sardonic compulsion to clown it or belittle pieces of it.  Black Panther had a couple of moments that could have pushed it right into that realm if they lingered just a hair too long or appeared more frequently.  Fortunately, that did not happen.  Although a couple of my Blue and White Brothers had a couple of solid jokes about Keenan Ivory Wayans popping up in the movies shouting "Message!"
Truth - this movie could not be better timed or executed.  The kingdom of Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation in the world and richer than the outside world knows.  The creators of the comic and the writers of the movie could not have anticipated comments that would be made by 45 about "s-hole" countries in Africa, Latin America, or the Caribbean when they were writing the script.  

There's more to Black Panther than just a bunch of fights and special effects - everything from the barking Jabari tribe giving CIA Agent Ross (Freeman) the business when he tries to speak in their presence, to Killmonger's "hey, Auntie," to Shuri referring to Agent Ross as a "colonizer" in the way brown women can say things playfully whilst cutting your throat (gotta love that), to the Dora Milaje busting that a$$.

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Killmonger is an excellent villain.  He's a madman with a vision and a hell of a vendetta. More importantly, his mission is something that kind of makes sense and even resonates with people like me.  He wasn't trying to watch the world burn like most of those ridiculous Bond villains.  He was trying to give a forgotten people a fighting chance to flip the tables on a world that has oppressed them for hundreds of years.  You can almost cosign him.  Villains that have twisted good intentions just enough to be sinister and if they happen to match up well against the hero... that's a great villain.  Black Panther vs. Killmonger made for exceptional dramatic interplay against the backdrop of all of the socio-political issues that this movie addressed at times with a little tongue and cheek approach.  The end result is that there's really nothing to pick apart with this movie.  I'm doing my best not to give away the story and the meanings behind some of the more important lines in the movie that had this woman next to me say "Yassss" every ten seconds. Aside: Yes, she was stereotypical, but the white girl in the row behind me wasn't much better.  I could have used the Dora Milaje at iPic.  

Image result for black panther movie photosSo what the Wakandan accents were all over the place for a couple of folks; there's a bunch of tribes that make up the kingdom, maybe it's like having a Brooklyn accent vs a Jersey accent.  So what there were clear messages being dropped in this flick; more movies need to do the same.  In fact, all hero movies should be about that something important.  So what they tokenized the white dudes; it's about damned time.  This movie is culturally relevant without being a strictly FUBU.  It is pro-feminism (see Shuri, the General Okoye, and Nakia).  It's anti-empirical.  On top of all of that, it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  I'm looking forward to seeing it again... and then at least one more time after that.


There were two post-credit scenes.  

The first post-credit scene was very much a throwback to the movie that launched this whole MCU takeover, Iron Man.  It was so obvious it had to be an homage.   Now King T'Challa has a Tony Stark moment of his own.  

The second post-credit scene was not really worth staying for unless you are a real fan or movie nerd, like me.  The second post-credit scene just lets you see that one of the pivotal characters from Captain America: Civil War ended up in Wakanda.  No biggie... yet.

Black Panther comics have been around since the 60s which makes pictures like this all the more poignant - 

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IMTHATDUDE gives Black Panther: 5 

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.


Thor: Ragnarok

I was out doing a little book shopping in the Chelsea area and decided to catch Thor: Ragnarok sooner rather than wait.  I'm glad I did.  Best thing about Thor: Ragnarok is that it is by far the most entertaining Marvel movie since they broke ground with Iron Man (I).  Also, one of the trailers before Ragnarok had an obligatory nod to another upcoming Marvel flick - the one most anticipated by every brown person I know in Nerdom - Black Panther! Coincidentally, Black Panther promises to be THE coolest Marvel flick of all time... I'm calling it now.

Image result for thor ragnarokWARNING - THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, SO... Skip everything after the vitals if you have a problem with reading spoilers.

You know how you see a movie trailer and there's a really funny or cool looking part of the movie in the trailer and when you finish watching the movie you realize that you got suckered into paying for some sh# you've already seen the only highlights worth seeing when you watched the trailer... fortunately, this ain't one of those movies. Thor: Ragnarok is everything its trailers advertised and then some - a straight up superhero action comedy.

Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) - Director
Newbies Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle - Writers
Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Creed) - Valkyrie
Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, Thor: The Dark World) - LokiRelated image

Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Blue Jasmine) - Hela
Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, Hitchcock) - Odin
Idris Elba (Star Trek: Beyond, The Dark Tower) - Heimdall
Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day, The Switch) - Grandmaster 
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers, Now You See Me) - Hulk/David Banner

The cast also includes appearances by Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd) as Skurge and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Imitation Game) as Doctor Strange


Thor picks up about two years after Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Thor has been back on Asgard, fighting the visions/nightmares of the destruction of Asgard and the coming of Ragnarok.


Ragnarok is coming for Asgard and the conveniently named Hela (Blanchett), goddess of death, is coming with it.  She is more powerful than Thor, Odin's son and shows it when they first meet.  Mjolnir, Thor's hammer, doesn't last 2 minutes in her presence (I know how that sounds, but it's literally true in this movie).  Even Odin bugs out and leaves this battle to Thor and Loki (Hiddleston) to figure it out how to deal on some F* this Sh# I'm Out type business.
Thor gathers up some very reluctant compatriots and is forced to battle with Hela and try to stop what is the foretold destruction of Asgard and it's people.  He accidentally crosses paths with his fellow  Avenger, Hulk/David Banner (Ruffalo).  He enlists the help of Valkyrie (Thompson), an off-world Asgardian warrior.  He even gets Loki to get involved... for a minute, before Loki goes all Loki.  Of course, since this is a hero's journey, it hits all the major story elements of the classic hero's tale.
Hero's Journey - Mythic Structure - Monomyth
Hero tale or not, Asgard gets it's a$$ kicked but good.  In fact, just before he bounces, Odin warns Thor and Loki that the only thing Holding Hela back is Odin - the Allfather has some horrible parental habits.  When Hela gets to Asgard her power reaches its height and Thor and his crew do not have enough fire power to stop the goddess of death from laying waste to the entire world.  So... Hela destroys legions of Asgardians and slaps up the god of thunder, but the story really is in what Thor learns about Mjolnir, his family, and especially himself.  No, there was nothing esoteric, but he did discover some things previously unknown to him and tapped into his the depths of his power as the god of thunder.  Summoning all of his power and some pretty cool allies, Thor's crew still can't defeat Hela, so what do they do... well, that I will leave for you to see in the movie.

Hemsworth is funnier than you might expect, but still very much the Thor we all like in the MCU.  Cate Blanchett is always brilliant - don't recall anything she has done when she wasn't stellar.  She was delightfully wicked and amusing (like all of my favorite ex-girlfriends).  Tessa Thompson needs to be in every movie in the MCU - she's fun to watch from the second she shows up in this movie.  Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster was so freaking weird that you had to like him. Nobody played the comedic "straight man" - everybody did something or said something silly or funny.  I can only imagine what this set must have been like for the months they took to film it.  Well, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins weren't in it long enough to joke or jape.

The fight choreography could have been better, but it was comic book-y; so, it was fine for what it was.  There's no reason to see this in 3D, but whatever they converted that wasn't shot in 3D still looked good in 3D.  

ASIDE: Interestingly, with all the silliness, there's one thing that has always bothered me about Thor.  There's little to no thunder to be heard.  Lightning... yes, but thunder... too much to ask, I guess. Theoretically, the thunder would follow just one of the lightning bolts flying around this film. You have everything from Thor's sparkly hands to giant bolts of lightning - one would think they could throw some thunderclaps in the movie at some point, but that's just me.  I mean, at least throw a Asgardian Yardie in the background somewhere and let them do a proper thunderclap.  Give me something, boss.

As much as I wanted to give the writers credit for a funny movie that makes you laugh and even makes grown folk giggle throughout, the stars have been talking up how much of the movie was improv or ad-libbed - if that is indeed the case, the writers only deserve credit as far as they crafted the story line and framework for this flick.  Waititi, the director, deserves plaudits for piecing together an entertaining and cohesive film that had a crap-ton of action (the good kind, not the Transformers BS that drags on and on) and was tongue and cheek without being lame.

It's definitely worth seeing.  It's a good date movie  (I hope the one I was going to see this with doesn't realize and read this until long after its on cable - she never does read my stuff, so I should be good money) - assuming your date likes to laugh and isn't one of those posh, I only watch Indie film, I roll my own cigarettes after hot yoga, skinny jean & fedora wearing folks - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Note: Stay for the mid-credit scene, but don't bother staying for the post-credit scene.

IMTHATDUDE gives Thor: Ragnarok: 4

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.


Spider-Man: Homecoming

Back when Tobey Maguire was introduced to us as Spider-Man (cerca 2002) in the early days of Marvel's box office barrage, it's fairly safe to say that no one thought there could have been a better choice for Peter Parker. After Spider-Man: Homecoming, that is entirely up for debate.  - Maguire is still the best American-bred actor cast to play Spider-Man, now that we've had a brief stint with Andrew Garfield (a Brit) as the Amazing Spider-Man, and now Tom Holland (another Brit) as a fourteen year old high school Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

So far, I have to say, DC still beats Marvel this year despite the excellent casting move of bringing in Holland to play your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  By that I mean, Wonder Woman is still leading the pack, but this is very, very different kind of superhero movie with a lot less weight on its shoulders.  But I'll get into that a little bit later.

Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) - Writers*
Jon Watts (Cop Car)- Director
Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, Captain America: Civil War) - Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Laura Harrier (The Last Five Years, 4th Man Out) - Liz
Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman) - Adrian Toomes/Vulture
Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock) - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Wolf of Wall Street) - Happy Hogan
Zendaya (I only know her as some youngin on DWTS) - Michelle
Hannibal Burress (Neighbors, Baywatch) - Gym Coach
Bokeem Woodbine (Riddick, Black Dynamite) - Herman
Jacob Batalon (North Woods...?  never heard of it and won't be seeing it, but w/e) - Ned

*The writers' filmography explains a lot about this movie.


We first saw this new (younger model) Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, but now he is being fully introduced in his own flick with a few tweaks to his story line.  In this version of Spider-Man, we meet him as a nerdy - bordering geeky) high school student.  He has just fought alongside the likes of Iron Man, and Black Panther (Aside: I expect his movie to be effing dope! If you haven't seen it, take a look at the link at the bottom of this page.) but is back in Queens... if that don't make you feel bad for the boy, you might be heartless.

Parker, a high school freshman, is struggling with finding his place in life; sounds like a typical coming of age story, but it isn't - although bits are thrown into Spider-Man: Homecoming.  This centers around Parker's handling of what to do post-Avengers linkup.  Along the way we see that Parker is teen crushing on the lovely Liz (Harrier), a senior who is as smart and ambitious as she is cute. By the way, we're supposed to suspend our disbelief and accept that this "girl" is just a high school senior and not just a slim, yet full-grown woman 21 Jump Streeting as a high schooler -

In Parker's quest to prove himself to Tony Stark (RDJ) and become a real Avenger, he ends up trying to thwart what seems a to be local arms dealers trafficking in the sale of converted alien technology (left over from the Avengers battle in New York).  That tech has been converted into weapons that are way too powerful and way too advanced for the men using them in low-level robberies and heists of the brand usually manageable by local heroes like Spider-Man.  When Parker attempts to bring this information to the attention of the Avengers, he gets boofed and silenced because nobody is trying to hear a 14-year old yap about what they know that no one else does (and 9/10 times boofing these kids is the right way to handle that sort of thing).  This puts Spider-Man in direct line of conflict with  the leader of the arms dealing crew, Vulture (Keaton).

Parker accidentally exposes his secret identity to his buddy, Ned (played artfully and accurately by Jacob Batalon), who literally volunteers to be Spider-Man's quintessential sidekick, or as he calls it "the man in the chair."   He's also flanked by the likes of a weird and snarky but darkly comedic Michelle (played by the almost unrecognizable and mononymous, Zendaya), who proceeds to make comments that most of us cynics would probably have thought or said if we saw our friends doing the same things as Petey Parker and Ned.  Michelle strikes the broodingly realistic tones of Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club or Raven from Teen Titans.

I try not to spoil movies by giving too many details about what happens, but I think you get it. Spidey is a teenager, with teenage problems that are complicated by his abilities.  He's had a taste of the big time and wishes for more, which further complicates his life.  Parker's surrounding crew of friends, family, PE coaches, etc., contribute both to his desire to be more than just a teenager in Queens or an obscure neighborhood hero, and also to Parker/Spidey's eventual realization of who he is and what is most important.

So, what makes this movie good, better, or meh...?  Casting was pretty good.  Liz, eh.  Not so sure about that one.   Good actress, but the combination of Harrier* and Holland makes it a bit tough to believe that there could be a romantic relationship.  Keaton played a pretty good villain. The plot landed and the script was pretty strong.  Given the writers' movie history, it makes a lot of sense why this movie was more funny than anything else.  Where the first Iron Man and Thor were witty, this movie was definitely youthfully comedic.  It was a good call to incorporate other marvel characters throughout so that there is support and continuity.  More importantly, we didn't have to see the whole Spider-Man origin story in Homecoming.  Thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus!  

Overall, it was entertaining and better than the last three Spider-Man movies, easily better than Andrew Garfield's (no disrespect he is a stellar actor, but those movies fairly mediocre).  Tough call between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but I would give Spider-Man: Homecoming the edge over Guardians.  It was not as much of a heavy lift as Wonder Woman was and there was nothing groundbreaking about it (plus, there was no Gal Gadot which automatically makes this a little bit less than...), so Wonder Woman wins the day.  We'll see if Marvel can top DC's latest when they release their next film in the MCU (for the uninitiated, that's the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Thor: Ragnarok - which will be premiere just before the Justice League movie in November.  Looking forward to that battle.

Note: If you are on a tight schedule, both the mid-credit scene and the post-credit scene are not worth your time.  One was amusing and one added very little to the story or experience.  I waited and watched both and as much as the post-credit scene was clever and all that good stuff it was several minutes of waiting for nothing; so, if you skip it, you'll live and no one will look at you as though you missed some super important reveal if you tell them that you left and they happened to have been foolish enough, like me, to have stayed.

* Post Review Addendum: It turns out, all of the main actors playing high school kids were born in 1996... except for one - Ms. Harrier (Parker's love interest) - she's a youngin, but let's just say - as I told my my ex-girlfriend, "you and I both know I'm always right even when I'm wrong." - I knew one of these kids was doing their own thing.

IMTHATDUDE gives Spider-Man: Homecoming: 4

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.



Wonder Woman

Let's be clear, Gal Gadot is straight fire.  I mean she could have been onscreen, sitting on a plain ole chair slowly reading Tolstoy in the original Russian - backwards - and I would be enthralled from the opening credits to the post-credit extras (if there were any... but there are not, so dont stick around Wonder Woman for that).  She's that sexy.  With all the hype and anti-hype by so-called "purists" (better known by their clinical term "maxima haterificus") that Gadot is too thin to play the amazon warrior princess, I went into the movie with a healthy dose of skepticism as to whether it really could be pulled off by someone so striking but relatively unproven as a headliner.
When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice dropped, I was sure the best part of the movie would be Batman busting Superman's Kryptonian a$$ets, but (although Ben Affleck sucks as Bruce Wayne/Batman) I was never so happily wrong as when I found out that Gadot had completely stolen the show.  Her scenes were BY FAR the best of the film.  It should be no surprise that Wonder Woman is doing so well in the box office.  She crushes the competition out in theaters (Mummy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien: Covenant, and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II) and demolishes every female comic book superhero, sci-fi action I have ever seen - no exaggeration.  Then again, that is not exactly the highest of hurdles.  At the charter school I work at, they ask the kids to write and cite their pieces of evidence, so please see (or do not see) the following:

Elektra (Verdict - WEAK all WEEK and 2x on Sunday)
Aeon Flux (Verdict - Wack AF)
Related image
Ghost in the Shell (cultural misappropriation aside - I skipped this bs 'cuz it looked lame) 
Verdict - Exit polls say... this lands squarely in Wack County, Wackland 
BloodRayneUltraviolet + (Halle Berry's prank of a film) Catwoman
Verdict = WACK, WACK, and Supremely TRASH (respectively)

Patty Jenkins (Monster) - Director
Alan Heinberg (if you ever saw a Shonda Rhimes show, you know his writing)- Writer
Zach Snyder (300 and Sucker Punch) - Story By
Gal Gadot - Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Chris Pine - Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen - Hippolyta
Danny Huston - Ludendorff
Robin Wright - Antiope
Elena Anaya - Dr. Maru

(And I'll keep this part brief...) Steve Trevor crashes and finds himself being rescued by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.  If ONLY... He brings with him tales of a war that that endangers humanity. Diana, much to the chagrin of her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Nielsen) leaves her Amazonian sisters and paradise home to fight the great war.  Of course, Diana is convinced that Ares, the god of war, is behind this great war - I said she was fire, I didn't say she was perfect... (She's Gal Gadot, not Jade Eshete - if you don't who she is, check out Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency).  Having spent most of her life, from adolescence to full grown womanhood, training harder than any amazon has ever been trained, Diana ready to fight whoever.


Image result for antiope wonder womanAntiope (Wright), Diana's aunt and chief trainer - the baddest warrior woman on the island -catches a bad one and the war (WWI) is brought directly to the Amazon's shore. Diana feels compelled to join the fight to save humanity and her big fish out of water story begins there as she begins to scratch the surface on the breadth of her powers.  She works with Trevor (Chris Pine) to uncover and foil a plan by the sinister Ludendorff (Danny Huston) to use a new weapon of mass destruction that could slaughter millions.

Wonder Woman has always been one of my favorites, but for absolutely no feminist reasons.  Sure, I was in love with Linda Carter's Wonder Woman reruns when I was a kid because she was half-naked; but I had respect for Wonder Woman since she was flying her invisible jet on retrospectively lame, and occasionally racist, Super Friends -
There's about a million reasons to love Wonder Woman.  She's a woman.  She's not some alien who comes to earth and basically is a better human than humans.  She's a princess, but not a spoiled little rich brat (in the way Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark are... no shade).  She gets her powers from birth - albeit by via deities.  Wonder Woman was a dope AF superhero because she stood for the best of humanity and always fought for what was right and could always do whatever her male counterparts - especially if that counterpart was lame ass Aquaman - could do, and often do it better - and look good doing it.  I have always had an affinity for strong women in comics, films, literature (fiction or fact).

This film could be summed up in the scene when Diana poses this question -
And, back in ye olde London, England, when Trevor's secretary explains to Diana Prince what she does as a secretary, Diana quips poignantly.  What's awesome about this superhero is that she doesn't walk into the world of men assuming the cultural gender roles are rules to be obeyed or honored.  She just does what she does and she's unapologetic about it.  That... reminds me of my closest female friends and relatives.  The men around her, who were also relatively heroic in their own right, failed to act when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but Diana literally pops on a headband, pulls out a sword and gets busy.  It's this sort of dichotomy that smacks you upside the head and makes Wonder Woman so incredible as a character and more than tolerable despite her genuine goodness.  When anti-heroes and anti-heroines abound (Batmans, Ironmans, etc.), Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is the truth.  She's the reason why my smartest and coolest female have "always loved WW" and even dressed up like her for Halloween (I see you, pemora - that pic on IG is priceless!); even for those who didn't read comics at all, they know, respect and love WW.

ASIDE: Superman cannot beat Wonder Woman, you dig? Some may argue it, but he can't. SUPERMAN... and his only weakness is Kryptonite - and possibly corny women.  Wonder Woman bests Superman, who is supposedly the best of us and she does this after being trained by a bunch of kickass women in a paradise shrouded from the realm that contains men.  There's something something poetic and compelling about a character like that.  It's no wonder (pun unintended) that this movie resonates with men and women.

Thankfully, this film was directed by a woman who understands that no one (men or women) enjoy one-dimensional characters or one-dimensional movies enough to make it a success across demographics.  Patty Jenkins captures the right amount of humor, drama, and nuance.  The film isn't perfect, but it really is very good.  Impressive even because of all that it managed to do.  It redefines a genre without being pretentious, self-aggrandizing. or smug in it's own political correctness.  It goes a bit off with the Steve Trevor-Diana Prince romantic piece near the end (but those concerns are merely stylistic).  It also drags a bit with the big fight scene.  The twist is good, but it was not unpredictable which is really a writer + director problem - it's tough to camouflage that kind of thing without completely avoiding any foreshadow, but they have a lot of screenwriting power behind the movie, so it would have been awesome for me to be properly misled.  I was not.  Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is the second best movie of the year (and the only one I've seen better is a different genre).  Aside from Get Out, I haven't seen a movie better than Wonder Woman this year, but the summer is just beginning...

IMTHATDUDE gives Wonder Woman: 4

5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.