The Greatest Showman (2017)

Rated PG: For Minimal Themes and Violence

Running Time: 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes)

Genre/s: Comedy, Drama, Musical

Released on December 20, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Chernin Entertainment, Seed Productions, Laurence Mark Productions, TSG Entertainment, and 20th Century Fox

Partly Based on a True Story

Writers: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon

Director: Michael Gracey

  • Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum
  • Zac Efron as Phillip Carlyle
  • Michelle Williams as Charity Hallett Barnum
  • Rebecca Ferguson as Jenny Lind
  • Zendaya as Anne Wheeler

Because basically nobody ever stops singing the songs from the film's soundtrack, we feel that it is high time for us to review the newest version  of Frozen. We call it as such because, like that movie, its most famous songs are overplayed to death.

The defendant has been accused of taking too much advantage of Hollywood's favorite weapon, "artistic license", and once more playing the "style over substance" game. We will indeed get to the bottom of this case. So help us God. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is the case of Dateline v. The Greatest Showman.

Also, even if a million dreams might be keeping you awake, not enough dreams can change the fact that spoilers are ahead! 


What is the movie about?

P.T. Barnum, played by Jackman (Logan), has had a long streak of bad luck, from being looked down on, to losing his job. Despite the misfortune, his lovely wife Charity, played by Williams (All the Money in the World), and his two daughters, are always there by his side.

His life will take an unexpected turn when he gets a crazy new idea. Fueled by his ambition to prove that one cannot make a difference without being different, Barnum gathers together socialite Philip Carlyle, played by Efron (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile), trapeze artist Anne Wheeler, played by Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and eventually, famous opera singer Jenny Lind, played by Ferguson (Life) to form a circus unlike any other.

However, Barnum soon must decide on who he really wants to be in the midst of pressure from people who see his business as nothing more than a waste of space.


The Defense:
  • Hugh Jackman + musicals + a great ensemble = amazing!
Come on. It is Hugh flipping Jackman, a Broadway actor, and a very versatile one, in a musical. You know you are in for a treat! But needless to say, everyone in the cast is just impeccable in the film. And of course, Hugh Jackman adds yet another brilliant performance to his already stellar filmography, and bringing with him is his brilliant singing voice, which mainstream audiences have already beheld in Les Misérables, and has been used to its prime here. He absolutely wins me over with his on-screen chemistry with Michelle Williams, who also shows-off her singing prowess in her solo song, "Tightrope", a melody that tugged a few of my heartstrings because of her heartfelt performance.

Zac Efron is also here, and I have to say, I am more than glad that he is looking to step away from his typecasting as a "dumb jock" actor. I am also glad that he is back to doing what the inner ten year old in me knows that he does best, singing. With this and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, where he will be playing as real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, this is indeed quite a huge improvement. Heck, it really has been a long time since I actually heard him sing (and no, him singing the pretty mediocre end-credits song at Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates does not count). And his on-screen chemistry with Zendaya, who despite having not much to do in her role, still manages to be a notable presence thanks to her magnificent voice, is unmatched. I really do hope to see more of the two of them in other, hopefully bigger roles.

The Greatest Showman has also one of the best line-ups in musical film history. Of course, how could we forget about Kella Settle in her film debut, who portrayed the bearded lady Lettie Lutz in the film. Her stunning vocal work for the song "This is Me" lead her to share a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, which she highly deserves. According to Dad, he, and I, and basically everyone in our family when we watched the film, commend the awesome Daniel "Cloud" Campos, who was the first dancing bartender featured in the musical number, "The Other Side". He danced when no other dancing bartender could. 

And my personal best performance from this movie, among the long list of talented cast members, is Rebecca Ferguson. Fun fact: Rebecca Ferguson did not sing "Never Enough", but rather it was Loren Allred, who competed in 2012 in The X-Factor. I was blown away when I found-out when Ferguson basically did the greatest lip-sync battle in the history of man, but without the battle. I mean, if you could actually convince the audience that it was you who sung it, you really are a talented actress. Keep it up, Ms. Ferguson. Keep it up. And I also do hope to hear more from the talented mystery singer Loren Allred in the coming days.

Just a side-note though. This is not to be disrespectful to Ferguson, but could it not have been easier for Allred to just take over the role of Jenny Lind? I am just saying.

  • Seamus McGarvey's cinematography is beautiful. (Plus, the costumes, choreography, sets, and direction are great.)
The movie is crawling with colorful, and almost unconvincing C.G.I. backgrounds. You can take a look at the black and blue sky backgrounds, and in some scenes, numerous cityscapes, and you can immediately conclude that "yep, these are totally made from a computer". But despite the fact that it does look all too cartoonish, perhaps that really is the point, and the bright and glitzy set-pieces, with the aid of the eye-popping cinematography of Seamus McGarvey, The Greatest Showman achieves its aim to evoke a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

It really does help that, through Michael Gracey's expert hand behind the camera guiding the entire project, the choreographers' careful aid in the dance numbers, and the artistic pizazz of the designing crew, this film truly does come alive. (At this point, you should be taking a shot for every single subtle soundtrack joke that I made. Have fun.)

I would be having a rather very difficult time in choosing which among the musical numbers are the best, but if I were to choose which among them are included in my top three scenes, then I would be including the introductory "The Greatest Show" sequence, which helps the viewers get a sense on what we are about to expect as Hugh Jackman's P.T. Barnum serenades the crowd with an opening act of wonder. After that, perhaps I would be including "The Other Side" sequence, where P.T. Barnum recruits Zac Efron's Philip Carlyle in a bar, namely because of Campos' gleeful, albeit small, involvement, and the fun interactions between the two leads. My last would have to be the "From Now On" sequence, because P.T. Barnum dancing alongside his friends at the previously mentioned bar to the tune of a somber redemption song, leading to Barnum chase after his family through colorful scenery to make amends, is just beautiful.

  • The positive overall message of "acceptance" is cliched, but truly captivating.
Yes. The classic Aesop of loving yourself. The age-old principle of accepting all of your flaws and all of your weaknesses. The ancient lesson of looking at yourself at the mirror, and saying "this is me". Yes. We have all heard it before in countless other movies, from superhero flicks such as the X-Men franchise, to timeless classics such as The Elephant Man, to something as old as the Bible. But even if we have heard this timeless parable, The Greatest Showman somehow still manages to make this theme noteworthy, and above all effective, which proves that if you just put a little effort into even the most mundane of messages, you can still make something golden.

And even if I am not all up for the preachy type of theme exploration, I commend this film giving some heartfelt moments that tackled the idea of acceptance, including Barnum inviting dwarf performer Charles Stratton, played by Sam Humphrey (Neighbours), into becoming one of his first co-performers for the circus, and the entirety of the "This Is Me" and "Rewrite The Stars" sequences, with the latter tackling the subject the best as it makes use of the traditional "star-crossed" lovers perspective.

  • With the genius lyricists for La La Land writing the songs, what more can you ask for?
Did you love La La Land for its catchy songs? Obviously you did, because who would not. In fact, the producers of this film knew that you would be clamoring for the same type of musical wonder, so they decided to bring Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to create the songs for this flick. There really is no competition among the songs, because honestly, all of them are truly spellbinding, and because they are all wonderful, let me briefly explain as to why they are all great in their own unique way.

"The Greatest Show", an entrance antiphon performed by the film's ensemble, and headlined by Hugh Jackman, is one of the greatest opening songs that I have ever heard of, and it perfectly sets-up the mood for the rest of the film

"A Million Dreams", while being the least favorite of mine, but not in an incredibly negative light, is a great showcase for the singing talents of Ziv Zaifman, the singing voice of Ellis Rubin, who played a younger P.T. Barnum at the beginning of the film, and Skylar Dunn, the younger Charity Barnum. "Come Alive" is just a catchy and upbeat montage song, gushing with ferocious energy. "The Other Side" is simply brilliant because of the magnificent team-up between Jackman and Efron, as they sing together a brotherly symphony about joining the circus, and getting away from the "same old part".

"Never Enough", which should have also been nominated for an Oscar, is a very sentimental reflection on Barnum's developing struggles and seemingly unquenchable thirst for recognition, bolstered by Loren Allred's vocals. "This Is Me" is the ultimate acceptance ballad for everyone, reminding all that no matter the adversity, we are stronger than those obstacles, lead by a powerful performance from Keala Settle.

"Rewrite The Stars" is the radio hit of the summer, and is a brilliant romantic-themed duet between Efron and Zendaya. "Tightrope" is a great showcase for Michelle Williams' vocal range, as she sings about her life being with the man whom she loves, and the unpredictability of their marriage in the midst of issues. And "From Now On" is the best way to gently close a pretty entertaining movie, featuring Jackman singing an optimistic melody of redemption, all the while performing with the rest of the ensemble.

If that is not enough to convince you to listen to the entire song, then I do not know what will. And also, "Rewrite The Stars", made by the same writers of "City of Stars" from La La Land. Add "All The Stars" from Black Panther, and you might notice that Hollywood has a certain liking for the astronomical object.

The Prosecution:

  • Philip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler's love story is rushed.

  • Okay fine. This movie really is entertaining. I really did enjoy watching this one, and I had a lot of fun writing about all of the positive things the film had. But despite the glitz and glamor, the story is sadly the film's Achilles' heel. Cliche after cliche, you can pretty much put the entire plot of the movie in this very section of this review, and just say that The Greatest Showman itself is one big steaming pile of worn-out tropes. But for me, the inevitably least effective among all of the running plot threads is the love story between Philip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler. The musical number featuring "Rewrite The Stars" did its best to keep this plot line as relatable as possible, but truthfully, how on God's good green Earth could an on-screen couple be together after the man literally just tried to hold your hand during one singing segment? And don't even bother raising the whole "love at first sight" trash. Love, be it in real life, or a fictional medium, does not work like that, at all, ever. It is a shame, considering that the actors in question had remarkable chemistry, and to see the obviously rushed subplot put all of that effort to waste is just disheartening for me.

    Sorry Zac and Zendaya, even if you did rewrite the stars, you still could not convince me otherwise to change my mind.

    • The actual story has been overly simplified for no particular reason.
    And speaking of cliches, there are a lot of them, and in effect, it made the movie adamantly lacking in depth. This means that, in favor of keeping it as simple as a children's fable, complete with a simplified exploration of a moral lesson and the possible consequences of not fulfilling said principle, The Greatest Showman, if you remove the songs and all the things that I said made the film watchable, is effectively just as boring as watching paint dry. The overall story structure itself is a superbly simple underdog parable. Protagonist dreams big. Protagonist loses big. Protagonist keeps big. We are discussing a fictionalized account of a real-life person here, in the person of Barnum & Bailey Circus founder P.T. Barnum, and provided the real world basis, one should have had a lot of complex themes and stories to cover. Alas, it is all for nothing. Look, I know the studios want to make the movie as accessible as possible to people of all ages, and by doing so most of the appealing complexity of the subject matter is sacrificed. But if you want to make a greatly groundbreaking story that honors the true-to-life person that inspired your story, you might as well as some gravitas to your movie. So please, walk that tightrope, and add some depth.

    The worst offender is that literally all of the characters are walking tropes, including P.T. Barnum being the "underdog protagonist", Philip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler the "Romeo and Juliet", Charity Barnum as the "moral support love interest", Jenny Lind as the "manifestation of the protagonist's inner desires", and Lettie Lutz as the "likable supporting character". Cliches are usually unavoidable, but it is never enough to just settle for stock characters.

    The Ruling: Not Guilty!

    Despite its shortcomings on the narrative front, The Greatest Showman is a rare case of "style over substance" actually being entertaining, with earworm-inducing songs, likable castings, and some topnotch production value.

    And that was The Greatest Showman, a fine movie that is definitely worth your time, even if it really is not at all innovative. From now on, do remind us to avoid inserting movie-related puns in our posts, but then again, where is the fun in that. Before you officially leave our humble abode of a website, please do take a look at three songs straight from the film's soundtrack. be sure to check them all out on Spotify, dear readers, and stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


    Black Panther (2018)

    Rated PG-13: For Violence

    Running Time: 135 minutes (2 hours and 15 minutes)

    Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Superhero

    Released on February 14, 2017 (PH Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

    Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    "Black Panther" Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    Writers: Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler

    Director: Ryan Coogler

    • Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa / Black Panther
    • Michael B. Jordan as N'Jadaka / Erik "Killmonger" Stevens
    • Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia
    • Dania Gurira as Okoye
    • Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
    • Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi
    • Letitia Wright as Shuri
    • Winston Duke as M'Baku
    • Angela Basett as Ramonda
    • Forest Whitaker as Zuri
    • Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue

    Here it is, ladies and gentlemen! The first ever black superhero movie to make it to the billionth dollar mark! Critics are hailing it as the best Marvel Cinematic Universe entry yet. Are they right, or are they wrong?

    The defendant has been accused of not living-up to the hype due to a variety of shortcomings. With God's grace, we will truthfully determine if the latest film in the MCU cannon is a masterpiece, or just a passable time when watching it on Netflix when it gets out. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is the case for Dateline v. Black Panther.

    Remember, Wakanda does hold a large pool of secrets, and this post is no exception. Spoilers ahead, everyone!

    What is the movie about?

    Prince T'Challa, played by Boseman (Message from the King) is now the newly appointed ruler and protector of the isolationist superpower nation of Wakanda. As the Black Panther, he is charged with the duties of protecting the Wakandans from dangerous people like the notorious Ulysses Klaue, played by Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes), as well as the most valuable mineral in existence, which they have underneath their lands: Vibranium. In his quest in safekeeping his beloved homeland, T'Challa is accompanied by the world's smartest teenager Shuri, played by Wright (Ready Player One), his mother Ramonda, played by Basett (American Horror Story), the head of the security team Dora Milaje, played by Gurira (The Walking Dead), his best friend and confidante W'Kabi, played by Kaluuya (Get Out), and the the elder Zuri, played by Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

    When a new threat emerges in the form of former black-ops mercenary Erik Stevens, played by Jordan (FANT4STIC), and another opponent rises, the leader of the neighboring Jabari Tribe M'Baku, played by Duke (Person of Interest), T'Challa is forced to risk it all, and join forces with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross, played by Freeman (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), to save Wakanda, and the rest of the world from a potential revolution! However, T'Challa finds that it truly is impossible for a good man to be a king.

    The Defense:
    • Kendrick Lamar producing the soundtrack is just what the doctor ordered.
    I am currently at that phase in my life when all I ever listen to is hiphop music, so yes, I do have some bias that leans towards the works of Kendrick Lamar. However, you do not have to be someone who is completely addicted to raps to admire the movie's cool soundtrack. With Lamar's creative music direction, he gathers a large assortment of diverse talented individuals, ranging from SZA, The Weeknd, Khalid, Zacari, and so much more, with the aid of scorer Ludwig Göransson, and in the end, he crafts one of, if not, the finest film-inspired soundtracks in recent memory. Although only three songs were actually featured in the movie itself, including "Pray For Me" by Lamar and The Weeknd, "Opps" by Vine Staples and Yugen Blakrok, and the heavily replayed "All The Stars" by Lamar and SZA, the rest of the soundtrack is available on Spotify for you to enjoy, which you should. The songs have superb production value, are catchy, and while certainly not groundbreaking in a lyrical sense, nor is it that type of track list for the youngsters, "Black Panther: The Album From And Inspired By" is awesome!

    • Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger might just be one of the most intriguing M.C.U. villains yet.
    The movie is surprisingly filled with a huge amount of cliches, and Michael B. Jordan's turn as T'Challa previously lost cousin, the megalomaniacal Killmonger, is one of the biggest walking banalities in all of the entirety of the flick. On the surface, Killmoger is just your typical fatherless orphan turned evil protagonist wannabe counterpart. If you just watched the movie on a single viewing, Killmonger is just pretty much that. However, director Ryan Coogler, and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole's heavy application of symbolism, which  is heavily scattered all throughout  the movie, Killmonger has a lot more going for him. 

    One of the best uses of symbolism in the movie is Killmonger's trip to the ancestral plane, wherein instead of being greeted by the wonderful, heaven-like plane of existence that T'Challa visited to seek his father T'Chaka's, played by John Kani (Coriolanus) counsel, he returns to the place where Killmonger's own father, N'Jobu, played by Sterling K. Brown (Brown and Boseman both appeared in Marshall) was killed. At first, it is just a reflection on how deep Killmonger's childhood traumas go, in typical comicbook movie style, but upon closer inspection, you realize that he is just a lost child at heart. 

    When you think about it, Killmonger is actually a tragic hero from another perspective. Think about it. A secret society vows to keep their civilization a myth in the eyes of the world, decides to kill the father of the "hero", who in our case is Killmonger, after said father just wants to help out those who were left unaided by their gifted nation. Said "hero" then decides to gather all of his strength to fulfill his father's dream, only to be opposed by the new "villain", the son of N'Jobu's killer, T'Challa. I honestly did not see Killmonger as this type of villain, but after watching this video, which pretty much summed-up my previously discussed points, I might as well just call him as a "thinking man's villain". I can say that Killmonger is one of the best rogues in all of the franchise, which hopefully could include Thanos, played by Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2), once Avengers: Infinity War comes. 

    • Some of the action scenes are remarkable, especially those "Trial" parts.

    A lot of people would despise me for this, but to be honest, a lot of the actions in Black Panther are not that great. I even actually expected it to be on-par with the two last Captain America movies, given that we just saw the T'Challa fight other Avengers in C.G.I.-less scenes. We will go further into that later on, but for now, I will give credit where credit is due. And that credit belongs to a handful of the two action scenes wherein T'Challa has to fight M'Baku, then Killmonger for the throne. This video helped me realize that C.G.I. is probably not Black Panther's best suit, and on close inspection, that department clearly needed a little work. But when you remove the computerized imagery, the results are somewhat effective, as the realism that surrounds these two scenes amplify the thrills.

    Two of the C.G.I.-heavy scenes are mildly effective, mostly due to some theatrics inserted, and these include T'Challa, Shuri and Okoye's pursuit of Ulysses Klaue in South Korea, and the climactic battle sequence between T'Challa and his friends, against the Killmoger regiment. Personally, I love the South Korea car chase scene because of just how awesome the way "Opps" by Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok blend perfectly with Klaue's attempts at escape, and I still remember getting a few goosebumps upon seeing that sequence. The final fight is arguably fun, because of the cast members' dynamics, but it is mostly just disposable fun.

    • The social commentary is thought-provoking and timely.
    It is the year 2018, and it would not be a 2010s flick if there was no social commentary included in the screenplay. In case you were not paying attention to the growing trend of multimedia correctness, several modern movies have taken it upon themselves to subtly share their insights and criticisms in the most creative ways. Sadly enough, most attempts at doing so would usually come off as either preachy or just plain pretentious. This is, however, not the case for Black PantherConsidering that there is a growing need to address various racial concerns, it is fitting for one of the few black superhero films to take a few jabs on politics.

    The central theme of the film is very much similar to the ones we regularly see on X-Men movies, which I like to call as "The Magneto Conflict". It is represented by a simple question, "Us or them?" In the film, T'Challa, the Professor X substitute, tries to stop Killmonger, who is also named "Erik" like Magneto, from reigniting a war between Wakandans, after believing that Wakanda is neglecting their potential in saving their African brethren from further oppression, and the rest of the world. However, while it plays-out in a fashion that you would expect, Black Panther goes the extra mile in changing the perspective of the conflict, which in this case, is from the eyes of the people who watch idly. Black Panther explores how far Wakanda can go in order to keep their secrets safe from third parties, leading to the audience to question if Wakanda should even be helping, or just remain hidden in fear that bad guys can take advantage of their advancements.

    One specific scene that discussed this topic rather well is a brief exchange between T'Challa and Nakia, wherein they discuss as to whether or not Wakanda should be providing technology and aid for people outside of their nation. Aside from being a perfect scene for character development for the both of them, it is a brief yet brilliant question ponderer for the audience. Shuri's short yet funny comments on describing Everett K. Ross as a "colonizer" is both hilarious and insightful, as this also shows how Wakanda is initially reluctant in aiding others due to past disagreements. 

    In addition to racism, and in a more visual sense, the film somewhat does a critique on how women are normally portrayed in media. This is done through the magnificent costumes. This is just a slight observation, but I have to say, I do admire the crew for making the costumes appropriate for the occasion, instead of making a sexualized set of costumes.

    • Top-tier performances from the cast help bring the mystifying world of Black Panther to life.
    I think it is about time that we thank casting director Sarah Halley Finn, because if it were not for her, then we would not have had Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak) as Loki, and most especially Robert Downey Jr. (Wonder Boys) as Iron Man. Once more, Finn does it again, because the casting for Black Panther is on-point.

    Chadwick Boseman takes it home again as the titular hero, and for me, Boseman outdid himself when his character confronted his predecessors in the ancestral plane, lambasting them for their decisions to stick to the shadows. Frequent Ryan Coogler collaborator Michael B. Jordan absolutely nails it here, successfully redeeming himself from the stench of the horrible FANT4STIC, and his last line, "... bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, 'cause they knew that death is better than bondage." is every bit heartbreaking thanks to his performance. Letitia Wright established herself as a scene-stealer by delivering some of the funniest scenes in the film, and a true film highlight. Andy Serkis, tragically wasted here, portrays Klaue with an appealing amount of villainous camp, and we just love it. Martin Freeman, while just playing a by-the-numbers secret agent character, is ever the more charming. Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira effortlessly perform as two of the best new heroines of cinema, and I do hope their characters get further expanded stories soon, and Winston Duke and Daniel Kaluuya do decent jobs in their respective roles, especially Duke, who showed-off his comedic side as a seemingly savage, vegetarian, ape-themed ruler.
    The Proseution:
    • A huge chunk of the film suffers from an assortment of cliches.
    Black Panther continues the winning streak of the franchise, after previous predecessors already setting the bar even higher. However, as great as the film is, numerous tropes plague this movie worse than a viral strain during an outbreak. There is a great amount of depth provided for the story, and there is no questioning that part. But it is just that everything is oh so predictable, and I am not only saying that because I might have stumbled upon some spoilers all across the Internet. For instance, the central narrative is a Shakespearean narrative about a king being dethroned by an unknown blood relative, who then fights back after being defeated at their first battle (basically Thor: Ragnarok without the reflexive sense of humor). Heck, I even accidentally spoiled the entire theater by telling my dad that the kid at the very beginning, who saw the Wakandan ships taking-off, is Michael B. Jordan's character, only younger. I did not even read anything about that, mind you, except for some prior comicbook knowledge. And while Nakia and Okoye are decent characters in their own right, they are just cliches. One is the love interest you totally expected would get back together with the hero, and one is the conflicted aide. The actors did great though in making these characters interesting.

    • Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue is killed-off unceremoniously.
    Andy Serkis, classy actor and performance-capture extraordinaire, portraying one of the most important characters in the Black Panther mythos, and the hero's arch-nemesis, as well as a practically immortal supervillain in the comics, and practically Wakanda's most fearsome, recurring enemy. With a character as important as this maniacal gentleman, and an actor who has proven to be capable of bringing said character to the big screen with ease, you would at least expect Ulysses Klaue to walk away somewhat unscathed, given that he is not immortal in a way here. If not, at least have him die in an epic final battle against T'Challa.

    Surprise, surprise, it is basically Star Wars: The Last Jedi all over again, with yet another Andy Serkis, who played Snoke in the aforementioned film, role being wasted to forward the plot. In this case, Klaue gets shot in the head by Killmonger about halfway through the film. The end. No more Klaue. Wow, Marvel Studios really should work on their villain problem more. While I do admit that it is a necessity for Killmonger to advance his plans, killing off a character this essential to the main character is basically removing Loki from Thor's stories. I guess about a quarter of everything that made the South Korea scenes awesome, from the characters oddball comments like his "I made it rain" remark, to his sinister presence, is down the drain.

    Also, the studios killed him off without even bothering to share his Soundcloud link. Darn. For all we know that mixtape of his might have been something on par with Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d. city".

    • A few of its more comedic elements do not exactly work.

    This might sound particularly "nitpicky" of me, but let us face it, Marvel is really inserting a little way too much comedy on all of their movies, although they do try to limit those these days. For Black Panther, some of its comedy-related scenes feel awkwardly bolted on. This is mostly notable in one scene, which is when Shuri and T'Challa discuss about the newly upgraded suit. At some points, it is annoying, and Shuri's "What are those?" joke, while quite intriguing as it also establishes the setting of the film (a few days after Captain America: Civil War, in 2016), feels extremely outdated, although it serves its purpose. The "I never freeze" scene, while actually pretty cool, especially when it is played for ironic laughs, feels oddly placed. And M'Baku's interruption on the climactic family reunion, where he tells them to get it over with, might bother some with its sudden tone short from serious to comedic. However, as I usually say, these scenes in particular are not at all bad, but they do disrupt the tone consistency, and lucky for us, Shuri's other scenes and other moments, even these ones when put into consideration, help deliver some lightheartedness for an actually mature flick.

    • Much of the C.G.I. feels terribly unconvincing for an M.C.U. film.
    Lastly, we now go to the biggest detractor for the movie, which you might have guessed by now is the messy C.G.I. Normally, C.G.I. would not be too much of a problem for me as long as it is A.) decent to look at, even if it might look cartoonish at some points, and B.) makes sense plot-wise and further establishes the atmosphere. The golden rule of C.G.I. is obviously A., and unfortunately, Black Panther fails to fulfill requirement letter A.

    This is the reason as to why I found much of the C.G.I.-heavy fights as almost ineffective in entertaining me, and this mostly applies to the final battle, even if it is fun to watch. Everything just feels so unrealistic in that sequence, from the technological shields of the Border Tribe, to the two Panther Habit-wearing characters clashing with kinetic blasts at the underground Vibranium transport system, delivering a very vague looking, and very unconvincing battle. This eventually results in the stakes being non-existent, rendering this incredibly important scene boring. The worst part about this is that both T'Challa and Killmonger are obviously substituted with computer-rendered models when they fell to the underground levels. It feels more like a video game more than a live-action movie, and heck, I can compare this to the equally bad C.G.I. from Justice League, but at least this movie did not have to digitize a mustache shave. I think it really would have been better if they minimized T'Challa's usage of kinetic blasts, as the stakes of him beating-up his own countrymen would be higher.

    The Ruling: Not Guilty!

    While not the best M.C.U. film, Black Panther succeeds in being a very important thoughtful film, with great performances, soundtrack, and themes, but murky C.G.I. and the amount of cliches can be distracting for moviegoers.

    And there you have it, our official review of Black Panther. How do you think T'Challa and the rest of his friends and allies could possibly help the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy defeat Thanos? Let us know in the comments, and for your information, I am betting that they cannot, at all, stand toe-to-toe with the Mad Titan. Oops. Possible spoilers.

    Also, you might have noticed that we have not been posting that much lately, mostly due to me facing various academic struggles. Since it is already summer vacation, do expect for some new content, and one of our upcoming posts is something that you might find interesting. Some sort of an ode to this beautiful disaster of a school year of ours.

    Of course, before you leave, do check-out the three main singles for the Black Panther movie, two of which are featured in the film, and the one is ... well ... a little bit ruined by Future's verse, but is made masterful by Jay Rock's and Kendrick Lamar's respective verses. No offense, Mr. Future. I know you did your best here. I also do recommend listening to "Redemption" by Zacari and Babes Wodumo, one of my personal favorite from the soundtrack. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

    Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

    Rated PG-13: For Violence and Some Sensitive Themes

    Running Time: 130 minutes (2 hours and 10 minutes)

    Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero

    Released on November 3, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

    Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    "Thor" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

    Based on "The Mighty Thor" by Walt Simonson, and "Planet Hulk" by Greg Pak

    Writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost

    Director: Taika Watiti

    • Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
    • Tom Hiddleston as Loki Laufeyson
    • Cate Blanchett as Hela Odinsdottir
    • Idris Elba as Heimdall
    • Jeff Goldblum as En Dwi Gast / Grandmaster
    • Tessa Thompson as "Scrapper 142" / Valkyrie
    • Karl Urban as Skurge, The Executioner
    • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / The Hulk
    • Anthony Hopkins as Odin

    We are back! We decided to take a look at probably the best movie Thor is featured in, as well as one of the most unexpectedly great solo superhero films last year, even ranking second place at our previous countdown.

    The defendant has been accused of some minor offenses, including suffering from your typical Marvel Cinematic Universe cliches such as forced-in humor and underdeveloped characters. With God's good grace, we will get to the bottom of this. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is now in session for the case of Dateline v. Thor: Ragnarok.

    Unlike what one of the characters in the film, the Grandmaster says, you are indeed loved, and not just in the planet Sakaar, but also in this website of ours. And to show you that we care, we want to give you a heads-up that thus review is filled with spoilers! Read at your own risk.

    What is the movie about?

    The fate of all of the Nine Realms hangs in the balance! Asgard is left unguarded, and unknown to its citizens, Loki, played by Hiddleston (Kong: Skull Island) has secretly taken the throne from his adoptive father Odin, played by Hopkins (Westworld), as all of their enemies have formed alliances of their own. That is not the only problem, however. Ragnarok, the end of worlds, is upon everyone, and the Goddess of Death Hela, played by Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) is about to reshape the entire universe in her own image.

    Across the cosmos in the gladiatorial world of Sakaar, dominated by the eccentric Grandmaster, played by Goldblum (The Fly), the mighty Thor, played by Hemsworth (12 Strong), finds himself on a battle to the death against his own former teammate and friend, the Incredible Hulk, played by Ruffalo (Shutter Island).

    With Asgard on the verge of destruction, Thor decides to form a team that comprises of him, the Hulk, a "Scrapper" working for the Grandmaster, played by Thompson (Creed), Heimdall, played by Elba, and even Loki himself, in order to beat the wrath of Hela and her lackey, Skurge, the Executioner, played by Urban (Both Elba and Urban appeared in Star Trek Beyond).

      What we think of the movie?

      The Defense:

      • It is the most visually distinct, and also visually creative among all of the Thor movies.
      Remember all the times in the previous Thor movies wherein you were forced to go through mundane, realistic set-pieces? Taika Waititi boldly told the former writers at those films that "realism" is completely not in Thor's vocabulary. After all, all of Thor's comicbook adventures are about the "Lord of Thunder" fighting intergalactic threats from the beyond, with some of them are on-par to what Doctor Strange would regularly face, and not going on dates with Jane Foster, who was played by Natalie Portman (Annihilation), although that one did inspire one decent comicbook run.

      All I can say about this movie is that it is just beautiful to behold. Taika Waititi really knows how to assemble a wide array of behind-the-scenes talents, from the cinematographers, to the costume and set designers, paint our wildest, geekiest dreams of a visual masterpiece. Although I will admit that there are some moments that show that the CGI is shaky, the spectacular work done on the Sakaar scenes, the introductory sequence at Muspelheim, to the final battle at Asgard, and the unforgettable character designs are enough to delightfully distract moviegoers. Let us also note the awesome costume designs, especially for the Sakaarian denizens.

      Kudos as well to Mark Mothersbaugh for giving us catchy, intergalactic background scores.

      • The cast is one of the best ensembles Marvel Studios has assembled!
      I remember one time while I was scrolling all across the Internet, I stumbled upon a comment that stated that the cast matched that of the one that you would typically expect from an Oscar calibre movie. They were not wrong though. I mean, we have Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban (who, up to this day, remains underrated), Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, who is fresh-out of the success of Creed, and the ever lively involvement of Jeff Goldblum. Now, tell me that this entire roster is not reminiscent of an Oscar-winning drama.

      As we said in the subheading, the cast is just awesome. Hemsworth finally gets the chance to shine just as bright as the scene-stealing Hiddleston with his comedic timing, while Blanchett does one heck of a job at delivering a menacing performance as Hela, and Goldblum brings his eccentric, heavily improvised energy, with a dash of comedic charm, to the table, adding much more flavor to an already delicious main course. Thompson is not far behind, as with finesse, she gets to make the debut of one of Marvel Cinematic Universe's latest superheroines incredibly memorable (her drunken entrance before capturing Thor is still one of my favorite scenes of hers). While their roles are limited to a few scenes, and some cliched roles, Urban and Ruffalo deliver some of the funniest scenes in the movie.

      I would also want to give credit to Taika Waititi for doing a rather impressive job in performing motion-capture for not one, not two, but three characters in the movie. These characters include Korg, obviously, Surtur, who is voiced by Clancy Brown (The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water), and as a Hulk stand-in. For the role of Korg, he makes use of experience with comedy to breath life to a more or less cliched brooding character in the comics, and turn it into a creation of his own.

      • The story is, surprisingly, effective, moment to moment.
      An MCU movie never really stuck close to my emotions as much as this one, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, which is a surprise. Ragnarok added something that was never done before in the entire franchise, and that is making use of black comedy not as a means to make a character cooler on-screen, but to add some character depth. Fine, some of the comedy does feel oddly placed at first, but trust us, it works.

      Why did I find Hulk's scenes both tragic and funny? Because we get to realize that, being just an alter-ego for Bruce Banner, is just a spoiled child. Why did I find the Grandmaster both terrifying and alluring? Aside from the great performance from Goldblum, it is because through comedy, we see how dark and twisted, and also humorously ironic a villain can be, considering how he was just a cheery gentleman making quippy exchanges with his bodyguard, Topaz, played by Rachel House (The Hunt for the Wilderpeople), to cousin killer in seconds. And finally, my personal favorite. Why do I find that "Get Help" moment as the most memorable scene? Aside from it just being too ridiculous to believe at first, not only did we get to see the non-hostile brotherly bond between Thor and Loki that we saw in The Dark World, but also because we get to see that Loki has once again given in to temptation, leading him to the sad realization that Thor had, initially, lost faith in him actually being a decent person, much to his shame.

      I could also add that part when Hela reintroduced herself to an unfriendly Asgardian force, only for one of the Warriors Three, Hogun, played by Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer) to act like she is a nobody. For me, it is funny that for someone who just heard one lengthy monologue about her resume, he remained ignorant. However, with a much more in-depth analysis, this shows how tragic Hela's life has been. Forgotten by her biological father, and basically by the very kingdom that she served. If that is not heartbreaking for any of you, then you all must have stone cold hearts.

      • Thor evolves into a much more appealing character, in contrast to his previous bland portrayals.

      And lastly, this is arguably what Thor: Ragnarok did best: make Thor a likable character. Remove his mostly forgettable supporting cast, Mjolnir, and a whole bunch of other things that we believe that are essential to the making of Thor into who he truly is, and what we get is the perfect deconstruction of a deity slash alien who just happens to have human qualities. No longer were we seeing a half-baked character with a seemingly perfect life. This is now Thor at his best, from actually outsmarting Loki at his own game, to taking bigger risks to save Asgard, even having to summon a hellish creature just to kill the main antagonist.

      This also applies to Odin, who for two movies, simply acted as  Thor's benevolent guide, and that is pretty much it. This is also applicable for Heimdall, who was just kinda there at first. After being dethroned by Loki at the end of The Dark World, and after being found eventually, Odin comes clean that he is not the oh-so wise king that we were lead to believe, but rather, a flawed figure trying to escape the past. For Heimdall? He gets an upgrade from being the guard at the bridge, to the all-seeing leader of the Asgardian rebellion! Sadly still, the Warriors Three did not even get to have some development.

        The Prosecution:

        • Notable key characters are reduced to cannon fodder.
        This film really is surprising, to say the least, as it really did step-up its game. But like all great things, there will always be that one thing to mildly ruin the entire movie experience, and no, it has nothing to do with the humor, even if the film does make it feel strangely out-of-continuity. And like all previous MCU entries, Thor: Ragnarok falls victim to the tragic case of wasting some of its major characters to mere cannon fodder.

        In this case, not only are the supporting characters, in the form of the Warriors Three, and even the villains Hela and Skurge, plus Surtur, are pretty much wasted. At the very least, Hogun gets to have an epic fight scene, while Hela and Skurge had some moments of awesome, despite some cliched story arcs, the other Warriors, Fandral, played by Zachary Levi (Shazam!), and Volstagg, played by Ray Winstone (Punisher: War Zone) are killed very early, with Fandral not even getting to say a single line. Surtur, the most dangerous enemy that Asgard has ever faced, is killed at the end, as a means to tie-up all lose ends.

        Well, as much as I want some of these characters to make a comeback, there really is nothing left but to accept it.

        And also, did anybody at all notice that Lady Sif, played by Jamie Alexander (Blindspot) is nowhere to be seen? That leaves enough room for a possible return.

        The Ruling: Not Guilty!

        While its oddball brand of comedy might alienate some, Thor: Ragnarok is a welcome retooling of the God of Thunder, fueled by a confident direction, magnetic performances, and a surprising amount of heart.

        And there you have it, your long overdue review of the last film in the Thor trilogy, which it is a shame since only now did Thor actually get to have a decent film. Oh well. We might as well make it last, since we might be seeing a lot of the newly introduced characters from this film to be butchered during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which is out next month. I am praying to God almighty right now to spare some of them, including Heimdall, Valkyrie, and Korg, and his lovable insect friend Miek, who is actually a monstrous villain in the comics.

        Before we officially conclude this review, please enjoy the latest clips from the "Team Thor" shorts, featuring the Grandmaster himself, and without Thor. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!