This is a review by Thomas Rodriguez

I was afraid that it would buckle under expectations.

I feared it would be a bad movie.

The pre-release reviews were very positive.  But was it because it was a good movie, or because the good intentions behind the film overrode its entertainment value.

It had burned me with Ghostbusters, the remake. I wanted to root for the film’s success because unlike some Neanderthals, I’m not afraid to root for a female protagonist. One of my favorite films of the last decade was Hunger Games. While the sequels were okay, that first film showed that a strong woman, both emotionally and physically, was nothing to be afraid of.

Another protagonist not to fear? The Black superhero.

This wasn’t the first African American Lead in a major superhero film. Wesley Snipes was the day walker in Blade. Before that, Michael Jai White donned the cape and cowl of the supernatural hero Spawn.

But those didn’t have the almost all black cast that Black Panther boasted. and they didn’t feature an African American Director. Black Panther would change the landscape and prove that representation matter.

But it had to be great.

I’m happy to say that Black Panther exceeded even my high expectations.

The film’s brilliance is in the way it’s able to use the fictional country of Wakanda to present questions on isolationism and what a monarchy’s responsibility is to its people when the rest of the world screams for help.

It presents a villain who, much like Magneto in the X-men films, has a valid reason for why he does what he does. It’s a villain with such a solid motivation that, if it were any other film, he would be presented as the hero.

But this movie is not about him. It’s about T’Challa.

The film starts with the history of Wakanda. An alien meteor strikes earth on the land of Wakanda, bringing with it Vibraniam, an alien metal that will allow Wakanda to flourish. It also infects some of the vegetation on the earth. When eaten, the flowers give the consumer powers far beyond those of mortal man. The first Black Panther is born, and like a kingdom, the responsibility is passed down from father to son.

The film then starts in Oakland California in the early nineties. We witness a betrayal. The results of that betrayal will reverberate in T’Challa’s life.

That’s not to say he’s having it easy. He has claimed the throne in the most heartbreaking of ways. While he tries to navigate his newfound responsibilities, his rival, Eric Killmonger, is planning to infiltrate the secure country of Wakanda and reclaim a throne that he believes is rightfully his.

Though the above description may make it sound like the movie is a total drag, it’s anything but. There are many funny moments, especially the interaction between T’Challa and his sister Shuri.

And the Dora Milaje, a group of women warriors, is worth admission alone.

All in all, it’s a fantastic film with thought-provoking commentary on what the responsibly of a country with means is to the world. T’Challa learns that isolation is not the best strategy. Given the oppression minorities have faced, it’s obvious that the black panther feels he must make amends in some way.

The harm that his people did nothing to stop.

Any film that brings forth thought arguments for and against a nationalistic approach and doing it through the entertaining means of superheroism, is a film worth watching.

And re-watching, if you have the chance.

This is a guest review by Fernando Autran. DVD Street is not responsible for any of these views or opinions.

The Thor saga occupies a strange place within the Marvel universe. It’s like that weird cousin in your family or the mysterious friend of your friend that nobody quite likes, but they don’t hate either. What I’m trying to say is that the best way to describe the previous two Thor movies is they were average. Blame it on an uninspiring script or bad direction, but they didn’t leave much of an impression. The question is then, has Thor Ragnarok finally managed to shake the saga from its stupor? Well, I’m happy to say that it has.

The solution came by pouring a big glass of Guardians of the Galaxy essence into the mix, but don’t take this as a lack of originality. Director Taika Waititi managed to take the best elements, implant them seamlessly and make the movie truly his. The humour, the campiness, the colourful characters and settings, are all there to our delight. A feast for the eyes that oozes charisma.

However, an amazing setting is nothing without a good story filling it, and although it’s pretty good overall, there’s a bit of dissonance that drags the experience. You see, the problem is that Thor Ragnarok is two stories packed into one. On one hand, we have Thor and Hulk’s story on the planet Sakaar, and on the other, we have Hela’s conquest of Asgard. From the two, the first one is clearly the best, and the jumps to the second one feel more like an intrusion than a progression of the story. The movie could have been perfect for just the first story.

This is not fault of any of the actors, they all perform their roles perfectly. That said, I would like to give a special mention to Cate Blanchett. She does a fantastic Job as Hela, she devours every scene she’s in. In a movie with so many characters that fell larger than life, you truly believe her when she says she’s the goddess of death.

That said the stars of the movie are definitively the Hulk-Thor duo. The banter and puns between the two wouldn’t have work if there wasn’t chemistry between the actors, but they both deliver, giving us a hilarious performance. The sibling relationship between Thor and Loki also gets developed and although not as humorous, it carries a lot of the drama of the movie, and it helps develop Loki’s character.

I’m talking a lot about the acting and the story, what about the action? It’s pretty much what you can expect from a Marvel movie: frenetic, tense, and exciting without dragging too long. It doesn’t have anything to envy from Guardians of the Galaxy. It speaks volumes of Taika Waititi’s skill as a director that the serious and comedic moments never clash during the action, they nicely flow from one to the other.

Thor Ragnarok is probably the funniest Marvel movie to date. That is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The virtues do outnumber the flaws, but they do not suppress them. Marvel has found a good equilibrium between comedy, action, and drama, but when the moments that stand out the most are the jokes you run out the risk of taking away the gravity of the story. So far, the movie manages to stay on balance with a few missteps. Time will tell if they’re capable of maintaining that balance with the rest of the movies.