‘Widows’ Review

The only bad thing about Widows was the three guys sitting behind me shuffling their bags of popcorn after every handful.

Heist movies, they are a tale as old as time. We see them every so often, it’s a fantastic genre of movie. I’ve seen plenty of them in my life and some have even reached the upper echelon of my favorite films. What makes this genre so unique is when a talented filmmaker decides to add a little flavor of their own and tries not to reinvent the wheel, but rather create something we as film lovers have not seen before. Steve McQueen the wonderfully talent director of 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame steps into new territory with Widows and I must say, he knocked it out of the park. He managed to take something I love and breathes new life into it, making for a thrilling, pulse-pounding, an emotionally charged entertaining heist film.

Widows certainly has shades of other great heist films, Point Break, and The Town both come to mind. McQueen takes from those great films and is able to add layers into what can at times, be described as a cut-and-dry genre. Walking out I thought to myself, if you took a blender and added a little Mean Girls, Point Break and The Town and blended them all flawlessly together, the end product would be Widows. I think that’s the highest regard I can give this movie. All three films I love and that’s just what it reminded of. We all know that in these types of movies there are usually men doing bad things for most of the time good reasons. To provide for their families, maybe it’s to start over, begin a new life. But what McQueen manages to do, is peel back the curtain and we examine what happens after a job goes bad. These men have families, they had lives outside the world of crime. So when they die, what happens to the things and the people they leave behind? This is the forefront of Widows, and I really loved this idea, as generic as it may seem, McQueen gets you invested in these women and you find yourself rooting for them the entire way. The reviews were pouring in, and for the most part, it was being met with the highest of praise, but some film reviewers I trust, didn’t see it that way. So I was curious to see which side of the fence I would land on. I can tell you that this is not only one of the best films of the year, but it also happens to be one of my favorites.

Losing a loved one is never easy, in fact, it’s one of the toughest hardships to deal with in life. But what happens when that loved one is dead and they owe 2 million dollars to some crazy, badass, terrifying people. Well, that is the rundown here, Veronica (Viola Davis) owes some bad people a lot of money. Her husband Harry (Liam Neeson) the head of the crew dies and she is left to pay his debt. The rest of his crew Florek (Shane Bernthal), Carlos (Manuel-Garcia Rulfo) and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) all perish with him in a heist gone horribly wrong. All four of these men had wives and a family, so when Veronica gets in contact with the other ladies to tell them that their lives are in danger, they take it upon themselves to pull their late husband’s final job and get out of this mess. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and an outsider Belle (Cynthia Erivo) all decide that in order to protect not only themselves by the one a closest to them, but they must also band together and pull off this heist. On the other end of the spectrum, the ones trying to collect what’s rightfully theirs, we have the worst Manning brothers since Peyton and Eli. Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). Jamal is running for city council and wants to become the first African American in history to win his Ward, while Jatemme serves as his ruthless muscle (more on Kaluuya later). Standing in their way is Jack Mulligan (Colon Ferrel) whose family has been in politics for generations, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. The political aspect of the movie was fine, it hits hard on some important issues and problems that America is dealing with today. But at the heart of Widows is a truly great heist film.

Like most heist films their are certain twists and turns along the way, one in particular that even had me say “NO WAY,” and in a time where you can kind of sense and feel out most movies, that one actually took me by surprise. Widows keeps you on your feet and keep you guessing until the very end. From the opening shot of the film you are invested and kind of all in on what is taking place. The story is great, but what makes Widows truly special are the performances. Viola Davis, as usual, is a juggernaut giving just a phenomenal emotional raw performance. She continues to be one of the best leading actresses Hollywood has to offer. We get to see her in a new light as well, she even had a Sarah Conner and Ripley look going on, rocking a white beater. Widows makes Davis look like a kickass action star. It should come as no shock that she’s fantastic and she does a great job carrying the emotional weight of this film. Elizabeth Debicki I thought was just wonderful and was going toe-to-toe with Davis in some pretty powerful scenes. But the man of the hour, Mr. Get Out himself, Daniel Kaluuya. My god, that man is a freight train from hell. I heard he was terrifying going in and he gave a goosebumps level performance, but you really have to see it, to believe it. He can do so much with his facial expressions. He does just that here because he is a man of very few words, but his actions jump off the screen. You’re on edge because you don’t know what he’s about to do, one moment he’s smiling, the next, you’re dead. It’s a chilling performance and one to remember in 2018. There’s a scene that takes place in a bowling alley and I legit had my hands over my mouth because it was about to hit the floor, he’s that damn good in Widows. His calm demeanor yet his ruthlessness meshed so incredibly well together, I want him for the next James Bond villain. The cast is obviously stacked and full of talent, but one thing was missing. Steve McQueen has worked with Michael Fassbender for every movie, but he sits this one out. The weakest part of Widows, although Liam Neeson is a terrific actor, I couldn’t see him in this role. I dunno, something was off and those scenes where’s he’s acting next to Viola Davis, he’s getting his ass kicked. I think that’s where Fassbender can elevate his game and I think he would have made the movie perfect. But that’s such a small nitpick because Neeson is wonderful, but I thought about that all during the movie.

Overall, Widows is full of powerful performances and a smart clever story. I was entertained the entire time and I was invested in our heroines the whole way through. Come Oscar season this may pop up here and there for certain categories, especially Viola Davis for best actress. If you enjoy heist flicks this will be right up your alley, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s not performing well at the box-office right now, which is crazy to me. Go support this movie, because we need more movies like Widows in our cinemas.

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Widows = 97/100

Bow Down To Black Panther

Anyone else getting a Lion King vibe. 

(MARVEL)

Well this certainly cured the Monday blues. Sunday scaries were hitting pretty hard last night and this was a nice little treat to wake up too. Black Panther is ultra badass and this entire trailer is truly something unique and something we really haven’t seen from a Marvel movie before. Is the Rocky universe part of the Marvel universe? Because that would be a crossover I would love to see. Ryan Coogler the director is really putting his stamp on this movie, and making it his own. It’s very urban looking, insanely colourful, and just all around world building. 

Tons of action is going on throughout the trailer, but very little about the actual story line is known up to this point. I pointed out that this trailer feels very “world-building” where we are not in a modern city like most Marvel movies or in space for the GOTG and Thor franchises. We are seeing things we have yet to uncover and discover in this trailer and everything just looks spectacular. We have gotten a slew of trailers lately and I think this is really close to being my favourite one. It’s right there with The Last Jedi trailer. 

The cast is just fantastic but I can’t stress enough how excited I am to see Michael B Jordan tackle the role of a villain. He’s one of my favourite actors working today, and I’m really excited to see his take on this character. Seriously this is one of the best all around casts in a comic book movie that I can remember, there are so many talented people working on this movie, it really is something special. I’m not really sure what’s going on with the suits, but it looks pretty awesome, I’m excited to get to learn more about Black Panther and where he comes from. 

Ryan Coogler cares deeply about all of his projects and the fact he also is getting a writing credit for Black Panther speaks volumes. I know there is going to be a ton of passion and heart behind the camera and in the script, so that’s why I have tremendous faith in this movie. He’s coming off Creed which was one of my favourite movies of that year, so he’s got a great track record. There’s just too much to love about the entire project for me not to realize that Marvel has another home run on their hands. Look for this one to break the mould on the cookie cutter formula we are all so accustomed too when it comes to these Marvel movies, I think this one is going to be special. 

Check ya later. 

So ‘Black Panther’ Looks Really Dope 

Michael B. Jordan as a bad guy? Sign me up!

(MARVEL)
Wow, wow, wow! Okay, so one of the best parts of Civil War was the introduction of Black Panther. The king of Wakanda is now getting his very own movie, and my god, this just looks incredible. Ryan Coogler is fresh off his Creed success, I thought it was such a fantastic movie. How he handled the Rocky universe and his ability to tell a great story, can only be a recipe for success when it comes to Black Panther.

First things first, this cast is remarkably good. The amount of star power is just something you don’t see in a comic book movie. Big stars are certainly involved, it’s just the actual amount of incredible actors and actresses is something truly special. From Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett and finally Forest Whitaker. Now that’s some serious star power, I can’t wait to see Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Kaluuya play a couple of bad guys. Daniel is coming off playing hero of the century in Get Out, and you always think of Michael as such a sweet and innocent guy in everything he’s in. Wakanda itself looks breathtakingly beautiful, the visuals throughout this trailer, especially shots of Wakanda are just top notch. It’s a nice change of scenery for the MCU, shifting away from either that cosmic look, or the big city feel, that most of the movies have.

Marvel does enjoy following the same cookie cutter formula for every origin story they tell, but this one seems different. Maybe it’s because we have already been introduced to this character, but certainly not his universe or where he comes from. But I got a serious Batman vibe from this trailer, and when he’s lurking up in the trees, it felt like Batman, and that’s only a compliment. I’m really curious to know if Bucky will make his return, seeing how we last saw him going into some sort of hyper sleep at the end of Civil War. I would love to see these two characters interact again, and build on their unique relationship. We also have Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis back in the mix, Serkis is playing bad guy Ulysses Klaw again, the arms dealer from Age of Ultron, and it’s just a nice little reunion for the actors. Seeing how they both stared in The Hobbit movies together.

What can I say, Black Panther is going to be Batman for the MCU. I’m pretty excited to see this thing, and I have a feeling they will have some awesome action sequences throughout it. Some of the hand to hand combat looks amazing, it’s very brutal and face paced, which again makes it feel like Batman. This movie needs to come out sooner rather than later.

Check ya later.

‘Get Out’ Movie Review

I haven’t rooted this hard against rich white people since the election.

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Get Out is written and directed by Jordan Peele, who you might know from the hilarious sketch comedy show Key & Peele. It tells the story of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) who are an interracial couple who are taking the next step in their relationship. Chris is about to meet Rose’s family. Her father Dean (Bradley Whitfield), her Mom Missy (Catharine Keener) and her brother Jeremy. (Caleb Landry Jones) Before they set out on their trip Chris asks Rose if her parents know if he is black or not, and Rose responds by telling him that her family is pretty normal white family, that he shouldn’t worry about anything and it won’t matter because they are not racist. Things seem normal at first with Chris realizing that maybe her parents are just a little nervous and trying a little to hard to connect with him. Instead of seeing him for who he is, they immediately try to connect with on some black thing. Once Chris starts to realize that things aren’t exactly what they seem, he decides that he is in way over his head. As Jordan Peele put it, it’s Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner mixed with Rosemary’s Baby. The great thing is this, it’s a cliche to have a character like Chris be the first person to die in a slasher flick. Instead Peele flips it on its head and we see Chris fighting his way through the whole thing. The joke is though Peele makes the audience aware that young black males know their lives are always in peril from the opening scene.

Get Out is a horror/thriller with a little comedy sprinkled in. More importantly it deals with pressing issues surrounding race that people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Jordan Peele came up the idea for Get Out when he started noticing that sometimes he would be the only black person at a party or a get together and how awkward and uncomfortable that can make somebody feel. There’s a great scene in the movie where Rose’s family is hosting a large party and all the white people around Chris are trying to connect with him on some black thing. It represents that people are being seen for their colour first rather than as an individual. It’s not a hateful thing, but it fits into the whole mess that we call racism. The guests at the party are using Chris’s race as an olive branch to try and easily connect with him instead of just tying to learn who he is as an individual. Rose’s dad keeps telling Chris that he would have voted from Obama for a third time if he could have, he thinks he’s being cool with Chris, by connecting with him and making him feel welcome, but it almost makes Chris feel even more isolated. The movie does a fantastic job showing Chris’s side of this, who stays calm throughout the whole ordeal and it isn’t until he sees another person of colour at the party and just how almost whitewashed they are and he realizes that something is wrong in this community.

It’s suspenseful and incredibly tense at times. But it is also insanely funny and for the majority of the laughs they come from Chris’s friend Rod (LilRel Howery). He’s the comedic outlet for the movie and represents the audience’s point of view throughout the movie. He keeps calling Chris to check up on him, because from the get go he clearly tells him he’s crazy for going into a white girls parents house. When Chris starts explaining what’s going on, and sends Rod a picture of another black guy that was at the party and they soon discover that he’s been missing for six weeks, Rod makes it his mission to help save his friend. The back and forth between Rod and Chris is so funny, Rod is all of us telling this guy to get the hell out of dodge before it’s too late.

The less you know about this movie the better your experience of it will be. There are a ton of reveals and twists and turns and I found myself enjoying every second of it. That’s why I don’t want to go into great detail about the plot or what goes on. Go in and just enjoy this brilliant film. It’s so fun and unique and it’s ORIGINAL something that today’s modern Hollywood lacks dearly. The acting feels so real and authentic. Allison Williams really blew me away with her performance and I know that this will be a star making performance for Daniel Kaluuya. This is a important movie, and something the world needs right now. It deals with an issue that is still on going and it’s a smart and inventive way to look at racism and how it affects people in everyday life. It makes you feel what the African American perspective is, through fear and insecurity. What it feels like to be black man walking through a white suburban neighbourhood at night. It addresses so many important topics and issues, in a really unique way. The movie isn’t shovelling these messages down your throat every 5 seconds, it comes naturally. With this being Peele’s first time in the directors chair I cannot wait to see what he does next. Go see this movie.

Check ya later,

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews — Get Out = 86/100