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Tag Archive: Ryan Coogler


Review by C.J. Bunce

Already taking in more than $1 billion at the box office, Marvel’s Black Panther is one of the biggest and most successful movies to come out of any genre or studio.  This is the third day and final look at the major tie-in books that have been developed for Black Panther fans here at borg.com.  The first book (reviewed here) consists primarily of concept art for the film, the second book (reviewed here) features the history of Black Panther in the comic books, and this next book, Black Panther: The Official Movie Special showcases the film in photographs with a behind the scenes view of the making of the film.

Fans of the film will love the many 8″ x 11″ stills featuring key characters and scenes.  The book includes interviews with actors Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, and Winston Duke, stunt/fight coordinator Clayton J. Barber, costume designer Ruth Carter, special effects coordinator Jesse Noel, Marvel Studios president and “mastermind” Kevin Feige, and director Ryan Coogler.

Part souvenir book, part photo guide, Black Panther: The Official Movie Special also includes sections on the setting of the film in Wakanda and on the film’s newly designed fantasy-world props.  The section on Ruth Carter includes images of costumes and some of her early concept designs.  Other interviews are interspersed throughout the book with behind-the-scenes set photos.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

With this year’s hit blockbuster film Black Panther, Marvel Studios has offered superhero genre fans a truly original movie in its 18-film arsenal of live-action adaptations from the comic book world’s best-loved superheroes.  A few new books on Black Panther that we’re reviewing here at borg.com delve into everything from the comic book history of T’Challa in Marvel Comics to a photographic review of the best scenes from the film.  The concept artwork behind the film takes center stage in The Art of Black Panther from Marvel Publishing, compiled by Eleni Roussos, and featuring a foreword by director Ryan Coogler.

The Art of Black Panther reveals all the ways the hidden country of Wakanda might have looked, giving fans insight into the process taken by the production designers, set designers, and digital artists.  The environmental designs for the hidden world of Wakanda, including several versions of concept art created for each set and location, make up roughly half of the book.  The rest features multiple incarnations of costumes, jewelry and cultural props considered for both key cast and background characters.  The book consists mostly of digitally created art, but plenty of painted work and pencil studies are included, too.  As with previous books in Marvel’s film artbook series, don’t look for much explanatory text as this is primarily a visual compilation of the concept art without reference to the final as-photographed images from the film (if photos of actual sets and actors in costume are what you’re after, come back later to borg.com as we review another new book that features photos from the film).

Nicely designed with gorgeous concept art, The Art of Black Panther is a 240-page hardcover welcoming readers to Wakanda in a glossy binding, housed in a slipcase holder featuring artwork from the film.  Readers can see how production designer Hannah Beachler and her team of artists went beyond the source material for the inspired designs that became Marvel’s newest fantasy world, incorporating Jack Kirby and decades of his artistic progeny from the comic books.  Each of the key characters you’d expect get plenty of coverage.  Readers will find hundreds of images of Ruth E. Carter’s costume designs for King T’Challa, Killmonger, Nakia, Okoye, Shuri, W’Kabi, Queen Ramonda, Zuri, T’Chaka, the Tribe Elders, and more.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ryan Coogler, the young writer-director of the excellent Rocky sequel Creed, has put his Creed star Michael B. Jordan against Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42 and Thurgood Marshall in last year’s film Marshall.  The result?  The next great Marvel superhero movie, Black Panther, opening this weekend in theaters everywhere.  Boseman is back as King T’Challa, the suave and poised Black Panther of the comic books that audiences first met in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  The new film fills in the blanks of T’Challa’s origin story, populated with a dozen of the best characters from any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, matched to some of today’s best actors.  On the heels of last year’s wildly successful surprise hit Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther is just as good if not better, but completely different.  It’s a more serious tale, a one-off in the MCU similarly spliced into the ongoing Avengers narrative as was done with 2016’s supernatural Doctor Strange.  It also supplies a new, rich superhero mythology populated primarily with black characters–a film first featuring a black superhero title character in a major studio release.  Coogler’s layered, multifaceted film is even more successful at accomplishing what Zack Snyder tried to do last year with the DC Universe film Wonder Woman, which first put a woman in a title role in a major superhero movie.  Coogler makes great strides with Black Panther, not just a mere first step.

Beginning with a father teaching his son about a hidden country in Africa called Wakanda, we learn that a powerful resource called vibranium gives the people of this land incredible power, which they hide from the known world.  The story is straight out of Shakespeare or Roman and Greek histories: three princes compete for the throne of Wakanda when the King dies in a terrorist attack at the United Nations.  Boseman’s T’Challa is the heir-apparent who is challenged for the throne first by Prince M’Baku (Winston Duke), then by Jordan’s Erik Stevens, a special forces soldier from the States whose death toll in battle earned him the nickname Killmonger.  Not just a one-note villain found so often in superhero movies, Erik has his own complex backstory that converges with T’Challa’s efforts to capture the film’s villain, Ulysses Klaue (pronounced “claw”), one of Marvel’s best villains yet, played by Middle-earth native Gollum and The Planet of the Apes’s series’ star Andy Serkis.  Although his antics are unique, here Klaue is the crazed villain you’d expect from a superhero story.  Erik also assumes a villain role, but his story and particularly his life in parallel to the new King is more biblical in its roots.  Erik’s father is N’Jobu, a compelling supporting character at odds with Wakanda, played by Marshall co-star and Supernatural’s Sterling K. Brown, and his past sets up a compelling tragedy arc within the film for Erik.

For those who go to superhero movies for badass superheroics, it’s the women of the film that fill that niche.  Our own early borg.com nominee for the annual badass heroine of the year goes to the fan-favorite actor from The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, as Wakanda General Okoye.  Her steely resolve and loyalty alone is enough to get us to race back to the theater to watch her all over again in the theater tomorrow.  A Wakanda spy and confidante of the King is Nakia, played by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book star Lupita Nyong’o, a fierce and savvy ally.  But a favorite of the film for many will no doubt be T’Challa’s young sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright (Doctor Who, Ready Player One, Humans, The Commuter).  The film doesn’t completely find its voice and reach full throttle until Shuri lets out a howl in a conversation with her brother.  By that point the entire audience is onboard.  Shuri is very much derived from Q in the James Bond movies, supplying her brother with the latest tech.  After movie audiences got a peek at what a woman would look like as James Bond with South African actress Charlize Theron as a superspy in last year’s Atomic Blonde, those looking for the first black James Bond need go no further than Boseman’s smooth and stylish take on T’Challa Coogler even inserts a spectacular casino mission scene straight out of 2012’s Skyfall, and borrows another great character from the Bond playbook with The Hobbit and Sherlock actor Martin Freeman as a very, very Felix Leiter-esque American CIA agent named Everett Ross.  A scene pitting Freeman opposite Serkis again will be a fun reunion for fans of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies.

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We had a first look at Chadwick Boseman in the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the kingdom of Wakanda whose alter ego is the Black Panther, in last year’s great superhero mash-up Captain America: Civil War, and a teaser trailer back in June.  Next year Marvel Studios is giving Boseman his own solo movie in the big screen release of Black Panther, based on the comic book superhero created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Fantastic Four.  The latest preview of the film arrived today.

T’Challa must defend his kingdom from being torn apart by enemies outside and within.  Boseman, who portrayed both Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42 (reviewed here) and Thurgood Marshall in last week’s release of Marshall (reviewed here), brings along an impressive supporting cast.  Adonis himself, Creed star Michael B. Jordan will play Erik Killmonger, Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia, and Andy Serkis is Klaw, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Forest Whitaker is Zuri, The Hobbit and Sherlock’s Martin Freeman is Everett K. Ross, and Green Lantern’s Doctor Waller, Angela Bassett is Ramonda.

Creed’s Ryan Coogler directs the film with Creed’s Hannah Beachler providing some impressive production design work and Ruth E. Carter (Marshall, Selma) created some incredible new costume designs for this new Marvel world.

Here is the latest trailer for Black Panther:

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How often does a franchise include seven films?  How often are any of them up to the quality of the original that launched the franchise in the first place?  The 1976 surprise hit Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards and took Best Picture, Best Director (for John G. Avildson), and Best Editing.  In every way Rocky Balboa and Sylvester Stallone have been synonymous ever since.  Stallone was nominated for his original screenplay and for best actor.  Rocky is the story of an underdog, and Stallone was the mirror of Rocky in real life, proving himself to the world as a wannabe A-list movie star.  As the franchise continued, Stallone became an international megastar, with movies like Rambo.  Many argue the sequel to Rocky, simply titled Rocky II, is akin to the Godfather 2 or Superman 2, an example of Hollywood crafting a truly worthy sequel.  From there critics and audiences diverge:  Was Rocky vs. Dolph Lundgren as Drago in Rocky IV up to the adrenaline rush of the boxing rounds in the earlier films?  Where does Rocky III fit in?  The latest entry in the Rocky series, the reboot and eighth film in the series, Creed, is now streaming on Amazon Prime.  If you are looking for an inspirational, feel-good movie, it should be the next movie on your list.

What seems to be unanimous is a drop in quality and excitement beset Rocky V and the sixth film Rocky Balboa.  So when Creed was released at the end of 2015, who could have guessed it could be on par with the original?  The odds were against its success, much like the character of Adonis “Hollywood” Johnson, the son of the late Apollo Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan in the film.  Director Ryan Coogler, born ten years after the original Rocky film, grew up with Stallone’s boxer already part of the national psyche, along with other motivational sports films like Rocky director Avildson’s other unforgettable classic, The Karate Kid.  Coogler draws from that film’s sensei Mr. Miyagi in one particularly well played training sequence between Stallone and Jordan.  Stallone has played sensei before in the series, but only now, with the actor a real-life wise, elder thespian, does he provide a performance that in some parallel universe garnered him not only an Oscar nomination but a win (Stallone was only the sixth actor twice nomination for playing the same character).  The young Jordan is equally superb, holding back when others may take obvious choices with a hot-headed fighter.  Coogler’s subtlety is the stuff of great filmmaking, such as editing in musical cues from the original Rocky like a whisper throughout the film, only to release the full weight of Bill Conti’s goosebump inducing theme when it meant the most.

But how can Creed be as good as the original?

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Stallone and Jordan in Creed

Okay, it doesn’t really seem possible.  We know Sylvester Stallone more for his action movies than any acting prowess.  Yet he is Oscar material.  Rocky–the movie and role that made him a household name, earned him nominations for both acting and his screenplay.  The latest Rocky movie, titled Creed, is his seventh film as boxer–now retired boxer–Rocky Balboa.  And the latest trailer (see here at borg.com for the first Creed trailer) shows he still has the acting chops, and can give as emotional a performance as ever, and maybe one that could garner him another Oscar nod for the same role he played nearly 40 years ago in 1976.

Like the first Rocky film, Creed looks more like a drama than just another boxing movie.  This time Stallone handed the writing and directing honors to 28-year-old Ryan Coogler.  Will it take passing his most significant life’s work to someone else to get him a story that provides the recognition he deserves?

Creed Stallone Jordan

If you’re a Veronica Mars or Heroes fan, as you watch this new trailer for Creed keep an eye out for the girlfriend of Creed’s son (Michael B. Jordan playing the characters Adonis Johnson).  It’s Tessa Thompson who played Veronica Mars’ off and on friend Jackie Cook, and Becky Taylor on Heroes (Claire’s sorority sister and her power was invisibility).

Here’s trailer #2 for Creed:

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Rocky VII Creed

Has there been a bad Rocky movie?  Sylvester Stallone’s springboard to stardom was the character and stories he wrote and starred in beginning with the first, garnering ten Oscar nominations and three wins, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.  Stallone’s acting and screenplay even earned a nomination for the 1976 classic.  In fact Stallone has written each of Rocky II, III, IV, V and the most recent Rocky Balboa in 2006.  Now the Rocky story takes a new direction, this time with new writers, newcomers Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, with the fall release Creed.

Who doesn’t remember the motivational Bill Conti soundtrack to Rocky?  Rocky II’s “Eye of the Tiger”?  How about cheering on Rocky as he defeated Dolph Lundgren’s Drago in Rocky IV? 

Rocky II 1979 movie poster

This time Rocky steps into the shoes of those that trained him, Burgess Meredith’s Mickey, Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed, and Burt Young’s Paulie, to train a new fighter.  That fighter is Adonis Creed, son of Apollo, who we saw as Rocky’s unlikely trainer in Rocky III, and last saw as he was killed by Drago in Rocky IV.

Check out the trailer for Creed:

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