Black Panther, the highest-grossing film in history with a majority black cast and crew, is also the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture.
Following his father, T’Chaka’s (John Kani) death in Captain America: Civil War, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the heir to the mantle of the Black Panther, returns to his homeland of Wakanda, a secretly hyper-advanced but isolated African nation, to become the king and rejoin his superintelligent sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his wise mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett). Along with his head guard Okoye (Danai Gurira), he rescues his former girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) from her undercover duties attempting to end human trafficking so that she can attend the ceremony. T’Challa takes on the only challenger to the throne, M’Baku (Winston Duke), and emerges victorious, but spares his life.
Netflix released this movie and, appropriately, seemed to mostly keep quiet about it, because it is like getting stung by tiny, irritating things.
Some scientists find a bunch of small winged creatures, referred to as “vesps” (Latin for Wasps) because the writers quit thinking after the first Google result for “Small flying things.” The creatures are attracted to sound, ravenous, and proportionally pretty strong.
Ally (Kiernan Shipka) is a late-in-life deaf girl (having lost her hearing in a car accident) who never acts like she’s deaf. At all. Because of that, it will be brought up repeatedly to remind the audience that, yes, this character cannot hear. She lives with her parents, Hugh and Kelly (Stanley “Yes, I agreed to this” Tucci and Miranda “Whoa, I agreed to this?” Otto), her grandmother (Kate Trotter), her brother Jude (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), and a dog who, because story demands it, barks at everything.
They are all in the city as the Vesps start to go through the US, killing anything that makes noise. The government tells everyone to stay indoors and quiet, but Ally says they should head for the countryside, which is quieter. Glenn (John Corbett), Hugh’s best friend who is randomly there, joins them. However, shortly after finding a massive traffic jam composed of all the other people who got the same idea, Glenn goes off-roading and crashes, attracting vesps. Glenn sacrifices himself to save the family who is being attacked because the dog won’t stop barking. They sacrifice the dog and make it to a house in the countryside. The owner conveniently dies because they didn’t hear the news. The family sneaks in through a storm drain, but Kelly gets bitten by vesps. Hugh kills them by turning on a woodchipper and leading them to fly into it, proving conclusively how dumb this movie is.
Ally contacts her new boyfriend, Rob (Dempsey Bryk), a guy who knows ASL, who reveals that his parents are dead. He also reveals that cults have started to spring up that involve cutting their own tongues out. I remind you that this is only a few days into the attacks. Kelly’s leg gets infected, so they have to rip-off The Day After Tomorrow and go on an antibiotic run. It’s revealed that Vesps lay eggs in corpses, something that sure seems inconvenient for a species that apparently didn’t have contact with anything else for at least hundreds of years. It’s also revealed that they’re weak to cold.
A reverend (Billy MacLellan) and his cult who Ally had refused to join earlier show up at the house, interested in impregnating Ally, because bad guy is bad. Hugh shows them a gun, something that, when fired, would probably result in everyone’s death by Vesps, which leads the cult to leave. Rob reveals there’s a “refuge” to the North. The cult sends over a little girl strapped with phones in what is one of the only legitimately clever moments in the film, activating them to summon the Vesps. The cultists run in and abduct Ally, but Lynn kills several of them by tackling them and shouting to attract the Vesps, sacrificing herself, after which the family manages to kill almost all of the other cultists. They make their way north to the refuge where Ally finds Rob and they go Vesp hunting with bows and arrows, where Ally wonders if humans will get used to silence before the Vesps get used to cold.
A Quiet Place is a great movie. It’s one of the few films where sound really does have a massive effect both on the story and the audience. The sense of terror that occurs throughout the movie is basically its own tinnitus ringing. At the same time, we are watching a family go through an internal upheaval from the loss of a child that they are dealing with just as much as the external upheaval. It gives us a way to connect emotionally with the characters that makes everything they’re going through feel just real enough to make us want to suspend disbelief to the rest of the story, and some disbelief definitely has to be suspended. The monsters in A Quiet Place are terrifying not only because they’re fast, but because they are unstoppable. Despite that, at the end of the film, in order to give the characters an arc and some hope, they are revealed to have a weakness. Realistically, this opens up a lot of holes in the idea that they destroyed humanity’s resistance so easily, because that means that no one thought to use sound against the monsters who can only use sound to navigate. I mean, we have ultrasonic weapons already, so apparently every military and police force on the Earth is pretty dumb in that world. But, the movie is so good that you don’t think about stuff like that until you’ve left the theater and ruminated. A lot of movies have similar issues in retrospect, but if you aren’t noticing the flaws until you’re at home, the film’s experience was still effective, so that’s still a quality film.
This film drives home its flaws at almost every chance.
First, Kiernan Shipka. I know that the Joker loves her in the new Sabrina series (MJH forever!) and I loved her in Mad Men, but dear God do I never, ever, ever, at any f*cking point believe she’s a deaf person. At several points she seems to react to things that are happening behind her. I understand she’s not totally deaf, but even when stuff doesn’t seem loud enough to get to her, she still jumps and turns, unless the plot demands she doesn’t. Also, if she’s reacting to people reacting to the other thing, then she should be a half-second behind everyone else. Second, the monsters in this movie are crap. They’re tiny flying dinosaurs, something that SHOULD be cool, but there are so many massive flaws with them that the movie points out. Yes, there are a lot of them and they breed somewhat quickly, but they’re vulnerable to basically everything and they can’t get through most structures. You can kill them with a bow and arrow or block them with a suit of armor, let alone a tank, and you can force them to blindly fly into anything loud. If you just threw a ton of firecrackers onto a bonfire, they’d burn themselves to death trying to eat the fireworks. I can understand why it might take a few days to get things under control, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s really an “apocalypse” level threat.
Third, the cult subplot is just so damned nonsensical. We find out that these cults are popping up everywhere only a few days, maybe a few weeks, after the vesps appear. To give you an idea of where society is at that point, we still have the internet. It gets even worse when you consider that these people just cut their tongues out, but they still make noise. I mean, cool, you stopped yourself from being articulate, but the monsters still want to eat you. Hell, the Reverend growls at people.
This movie might have been in production before A Quiet Place came out, so maybe they didn’t start out with the goal of making a mediocre knock-off, but that’s damn well what happened. It’s not compelling enough to distract me from the logical flaws, and it’s not visually or aurally interesting. I mean, Stanley Tucci couldn’t make me like this film. What else is there to say?
I didn’t really care for the movie either, but a few points. One, Stanley Tucci is always amazing. Two, Kiernan Shipka actually learned ASL to do the movie and that’s dedication. Three, adding an element of societal collapse driving people crazy does at least flesh out the world a little bit.
Alright, so, I will freely say that I actually like the episode of Game of Thrones that made the list more than this one. But, I also can’t object to this being on the list. Since several people have asked if this was going on the list, and I was on the fence about just adding it myself, it’s getting an entry.
“Battle of the Bastards” is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on TV. The sheer scale of the episode is almost beyond belief. While it does almost nothing in terms of dialogue or several of the metrics I usually use to weight episodes here, it doesn’t matter, I still have to concede this is one of the greatest episodes of television of all time based almost entirely on its incredible acting, challenging cinematography, and enormous scope.
BACKGROUND (Reduced beyond the point of usefulness)
Two of the best actors of the last century partner together to take out two of the most famous criminals in American history.
It’s the 1930s and outlaw couple Bonnie and Clyde (Emily Brobst and Edward Bossert) break several of their associates out of prison. In response, Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (Kathy Bates) hires former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Kevin Costner) to track down the pair, since the FBI has been ineffective and overloaded with bureaucracy. Hamer’s former partner Maney Gault (Woody Harrelson) joins him. While Hamer is fairly well-off, having married into money, and interested in justice, Gault is broke and needs the money. The pair try to track down the Barrow Gang through the country while dealing with the FBI’s disdain and the fact that their particular brand of law enforcement is going to the wayside.
I don’t consider it a spoiler to say that Bonnie and Clyde die brutally, given that A) it’s one of the most famous scenes on film and B) it’s what happened in real life. What’s interesting is that the film knows that we know that and treats the pair differently than most focal points would be. Bonnie and Clyde aren’t in a ton of the movie and, even when they are, they are mostly kept out of focus or shot without showing their full figures. All of the majesty and romance that was given to them in the film Bonnie and Clyde by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway is stripped away and all we really see of them is the aftermath of their crimes: Dead bodies and broken families.
The film really goes out of its way to rebut the depiction of Bonnie and Clyde as a modern-day Robin Hood while also pointing out that so many people were truly willing to overlook everything the pair did in the name of spiting the wealthy. In real life, and mostly in the film, Bonnie and Clyde killed at least nine police officers and a handful of civilians. At some shootouts they would fire hundreds of rounds into public areas without consideration of casualties. The film recounts some of their more horrible offenses, like murdering a gas station worker for $4.50 and murdering a family man on his way home to see his kids in order to steal his car. Despite this, women are shown to be dressing like Bonnie and poor folks are more than willing to cover for them. They have massive mobs of rabid fans which the pair even uses to keep law enforcement away from them. As it happened in real life, the pair had 35,000 attendees at their funerals, a number that, at the time, was almost unimaginable. Despite being cold-blooded killers, they were worshipped because they hurt the banks. Granted, the banks, too, are given a very negative treatment in the film, which, let’s be honest, is completely justified by the things they were willing to do to people during the 1930s. Even Gault’s home is shown being sold by the bank. However, it’s so horrifying to realize that people genuinely wanted to celebrate these two just because they stood against someone they hated. It’s like backing Jack the Ripper because you don’t like prostitutes.
This film really is interesting, because it presents the two leads as the opposite of the pair who they’re fighting against. Hamer and Gault might both be there for different reasons, at least at first, but neither of them is looking for fame, mostly because they had it in the past and found that the things they were known for were distasteful in the long run. While they both lived and died in relative obscurity compared to the two people they ended up killing, they’re more deserving of acclaim than Bonnie and Clyde, particularly for acknowledging their bad deeds. Ultimately, the ending of the film stands in opposition to the romanticized claims of the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway film.
I fully recommend watching it after watching the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde to get the full effect.
Most of the movies proposed by my readers were terrible films or riff-able films, so imagine my surprise when one of my readers decided to select one of my favorite movies of all time for the list: The Fisher King.
If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it on Amazon. It’s $3. Do it right now. I’ll wait.
You done? You’re welcome. If I make a Patreon, give me a dollar.
Alright, first I watched this movie and didn’t think I needed to take notes because it’s not a shitty movie I’m trying to mock, and I’ve seen it at least twice. However, after trying to write the review, I realized that the movie is so deep and beautiful that I needed to have notes just to make sure I remembered all the things that I wanted to put in the review. I’m new at this, give me a…
You know this scene. It’s the end of election season. The race is between: a woman with a shady history of international spying, who is surrounded by rumors of potentially huge violence that has mostly been covered up, and who has been part of the entrenched government for basically as long as anyone can remember; and an outsider “businessman” who lies frequently and blatantly, who has a history of immoral activity bordering on the cartoonishly evil, and whose followers range from those who hate the entrenched power to those with an essentially religious devotion to him. While the woman’s supporters can be extremely corrupt, bordering on devilish, the outsider is being helped by a foreign power, even though the businessman might not have directly solicited it. While everyone assumes that the election will go to the woman, even leading her and her supporters…
Fry and Leela have to save the Earth from the greatest threat to mankind: Brains. No, it’s not a metaphor. Or is it?
The planet Tweenis 12 has been destroyed by a cloud of flying brains. On Earth, Leela (Katey Sagal) enters Nibbler (Frank “I Voiced Your Childhood” Welker) in a pet competition to demonstrate his talent, but unfortunately is completely shamed when Nibbler fails at every single task. Meanwhile, the Hypnotoad wins by virtue of being the Hypnotoad. Everybody loves hypnotoad.
Back at Planet Express, Fry (Billy West) sticks up for Nibbler being stupid. After the Professor (West) announces that Tweenis 12 is destroyed, Nibbler becomes anxious and runs off. Leela follows him but is attacked by a giant floating brain. A group of brains chase her until she finds Nibbler in a spacesuit and loading a spaceship. He starts to leave, but returns to save her from the brains, letting her in his ship. The brains begin to attack Earth, making everyone, human and robot alike, stupid, except for Fry. Examples include Bender (John DiMaggio) thinking that his heart stopped and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) almost drowning by keeping his mouth open in the shower.
As Nibbler and Leela fly through space, Nibbler reveals himself to be an extremely advanced alien. When they reach Nibbler’s planet, Planet Eternium, the Nibblonians welcome Leela and explain that the brains are part of the Brain Spawn, a species which was born a millisecond into the universe that hates all other consciousness. They travel the universe trying to destroy all life. The one hope of the universe is revealed to be the only thing immune to their power: Fry.
Leela is sent to tell Fry how to defeat the brains, but she loses her intellect immediately and Fry destroys the note she has from the Nibblonians. However, she does manage to tell him to find the biggest brain, the leader, so he naturally goes to a library, where nerds would be. Fry finds the Big Brain and discovers that thinking hurts it. He uses the books nearby to think at it, but the Brain decides to send Fry into the world of Moby Dick, where the Brain takes the place of the whale. The Brain flees to Tom Sawyer and then Pride and Prejudice. Fry gets an idea and escapes from the Brain’s field, only to die in the attempt. It’s revealed that this scene only takes place in a book that Fry is reading to the Brain, who then leaves Earth “for no raisin,” per Fry’s writing. Outside, the Nibblonians eat all the remaining brains, but no one remembers the invasion, thinking Fry is just lying. Nibbler returns to deep cover with Leela.
So, this is one of the rare arc episodes of Futurama which come out of the pilot. Fry is revealed to be the hope of the universe, Nibbler is revealed to be intelligent, and the Brain Spawn are revealed to be preparing to destroy everything. This will culminate later in “The Why of Fry” and get re-used, to an extent, in the film “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” It really is funny how few episodes actually involve this plotline, in retrospect. Making Fry “the chosen one” fits in with a large number of sci-fi stories, most notably Star Wars, but in traditional Futurama fashion, this is twisted by having Fry be chosen by the fact that his brain is so ineffective on its own that the Brain Spawn can’t affect it. It’s revealed in this episode that Fry lacks the Delta Brain Wave, something that occurs in humans, robots, and even plants. It won’t be revealed WHY he lacks it for another season.
This is also one of the episodes of the series that most amalgamates other sci-fi episodes. The premise is similar to the season one finale of the original Star Trek, “Operation: Annihilate,” which features creatures that go from planet to planet destroying civilizations by making everyone insane. The finale of the episode seems to be taken from the Doctor Who episode “The Mind Robber,” in that it involves a giant brain and people getting trapped in fiction which the hero then manipulates by re-writing the story.
This episode contains a variety of gags and plots that almost makes it feel like 4 different episodes: 1 at the pet show, 1 on the stupid version of Earth, 1 on Planet Eternium, and 1 in the fictional world battling the giant brain. It’s impressive that they can put so much varied content into one episode without it really feeling discontinuous. Also, this gave us the Hypnotoad. All Glory to the Hypnotoad.
Aside from just the Hypnotoad, who is the best thing in the show according to David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, it’s a combination of all the absurd throw-away lines that they use to convey the stupidity of the people of Earth.
The three best are:
Morbo: Morbo can’t understand his TelePrompTer. He forgot how you say that letter that looks like a man with a hat.
Linda: It’s a “T”. It goes “tuh”.
Morbo: Hello, little man. I will destroy you!
Bender: Am I a robot?
Fry: Bender, if this is some kind of scam, I don’t get it. You already have my power of attorney.