‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

The passing of Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa/Black Panther respectfully and movingly prequels Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, his absence constantly felt.

And sadly, as grief pervades, so the narrative and focus of the feature struggles in Boseman’s absence. With the throne passing to his mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett – What’s Love Got To Do With It, Black Panther), the world looks to unsettling the power base and gain access to vibranium. As T’Challa’s sister Suria (Letitia Wright – Black Panther, Ready Player One) attempts to create a new Black Panther to protect Wakanda, so an underwater empire led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta – Sin Nombre, Bel Canto) threatens both the African state and global stability.

Director Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station) returns but brings with him something of a plodding approach lacking in any real thrills.The power base certainly shifts as Wakandan women rise even more to the fore but the lack of focus as to the direction of the storyline undermines and confuses.

Nominated for 5 Oscars in 2023.

Rating: 53%

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’

When Gorr looks to make the gods extinct, Thor enlists the help of Valkyrie, Korg and ex-lover, the dying Jane Foster (Natalie Portman – Black Swan, Thor) with her newly found superpowers.

After the irreverant humour of director Taika Waititi’s first foray into the world of Thor (Thor: Ragnarok), this latest episode somewhat overeggs the pudding with many of the jokes falling flat. As Hemsworth and Portman rekindle their love, so a splenetic Gorr (Christian Bale – The Dark Knight, Exodus) looks to total annhilation.

It’s a Marvel Cinematic Universe outing, so it’s inevitably all things visual with plenty of destructive battles. But Waikiki teeters on adventure versus comedy with a smattering of romance resulting in a somewhat juvenile hotchpotch (what’s with the two goats?).

Rating: 44%

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’

Considering his seeming omnipotence over several of the recent Marvel films, its surprising this is only number two in the Steven Strange solo sagas. Far more visually impressive than the first, as a narrative it’s considerably more perplexing.

Teenager America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez – Shadow Wolves, Roped) appears in Strange’s dreams. She is being pursued by Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen – Wind River, Avengers Infinity War) for her power of travelling across multiverses. Cue battles across those multiverses (including ones with himself) to prevent the Scarlet Witch obtaining the power.

Unquestionably a visual feast, director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man) fails to create a cohesive narrative of significant interest. It’s all so episodic as Strange, America and Wong (Benedict Wong – Doctor Strange, The Martian) confront different iterations of themselves and others across the multiverses.

Rating: 48%

‘The Green Lantern’

Commonly believed to be one of the worst comic book hero adaptations, the self-deprecating humour of Ryan Reynolds (Dead Pool, Buried) fails to elevate The Green Lantern above below average.

Maverick earthbound pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) finds himself chosen by the green lantern to become the latest member of the intergalactic organisation to protect the universe. His powers become all-important as former colleague and Senator’s son Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard – An Education, Jackie) becomes infected with much darker aspirations.

Generic in plot and visuals, it’s all somewhat synthetic, a plodder of a feature that the likeable Reynolds cannot come anywhere near saving.

Rating: 35%

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’

A multiverse narrative in 2021’s biggest box-office success facilitates not one but three Spider-Man superheroes save the day.

With Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland – Uncharted, The Impossible) identity publicly exposed, he looks to Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog, Doctor Strange) for help. But things go drastically wrong as villains of the past – Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) – reappear. As do past Spider-Men Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire.

Certainly more intriguing than previous outings, No Way Home pulls on the web strings of family drama, young love and loyalties and Holland steps up to face responsibilities. But it’s still a Spider-Man feature, so personal expectation remains low.

Nominated for the 2022 best visual effects Oscar.

Rating: 43%

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

Number two in the series for Tom Holland and the cheeky humour stands him in good stead for what is essentially a tedious and overblown yawn of a superhero tale.

Following events of Avengers: Endgame, there’s the need for the void to be filled. Chatty schoolboy Peter Parker prefers to not take the mantle, especially with the loss of his hero, Tony Stark, and his continued love interest with MJ (Zendaya – The Greatest Showman, Dune). But a school trip to Europe and an encounter with Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler, Southpaw) places his schoolfriends (and the rest of the world) in danger.

Pubescent angst of the first half quickly gives way to templated Marvel destruction as Venice, Prague and London find themselves the Mysterio targets. And even the quirky one-liners from Holland and the enjoyable rapport he has with Ned (Jacob Batalon – Let It Snow, Every Day) fail to lift the monotony.

Rating: 32%

‘The Batman’

A moody, glowering Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattison – Twilight, Tenet) results in a deeper, pyschological Batman than previous fare as a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham.

Corruption is rife and the anti-vigilante mood is threatening. But Lt James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright – No Time to Die, The French Dispatch) maintains faith in the Batman. It’s a dark, dark brood of a feature with flashes of violence from director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Wayne is confronted by his own family’s culpability in the Gotham of today.

Certainly too long and, with the arrival of Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz – Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent), the Riddler (Paul Dano – There Will Be Blood, Love & Mercy) AND the Penguin (Colin Farrell – The Lobster, In Bruges), there’s a danger of too many antiheroes in one feature muddying the waters. But The Batman pulls it off as a gritty noir thriller rather than a comic book superhero.

Nominated for 3 Oscars in 2023 – visual effects, sound, make-up/hair.

Rating: 68%

‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’

Back in 2017, director Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, 300) stepped down from the film Justice League post-production for personal reasons. On its release, the film, completed by Joss Whedon, with a shorter running time, brighter tone and more humour, was a box-office disappointment.

Unexpectedly, Snyder was given the opportunity (and $70 million) in 2021 to complete his vision – a much darker, character-driven four hour extremis. Like chalk and cheese, the new cut leaves the earlier version for dust – even if the basic story of the Justice League struggling to prevent the destruction of the Earth without Superman (Henry Cavill – Man of Steel, Enola Holmes) remains the same.

The centuries old Mother Boxes with their wondrous powers, long kept apart, are reunited and, held by Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds – Belfast, The Woman in Black), pose a very real threat. The newly formed Justice League and its DC superheroes need to prevent global destruction – but also need to find a way to bring Superman back from the dead.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League remains a ponderous super hero narrative – and at four hours, it’s something of a slog. But that extra run time creates opportunities that Snyder grabs with both hands, resulting in a significant improvement on the dullard (and a personal 37% rating) that was its predecessor.

Rating: 57%


It’s hard to fathom why Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland, The Rider) helmed what essentially follows the events of Avengers: Endgame in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon. An indie film maker exploring slow, observational narratives, Zhao instead is visualising the story of the ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years as they reunite to fight the return of the Deviants.

Living separated for centuries, it’s the death of their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek – Frida, Savages) that brings the group back together. It’s to Sersi (Gemma Chan – Crazy Rich Asians, Let Them All Talk) the leadership is unexpectedly passed on to rather than her former lover, Ikaris (Richard Madden – Rocketman, Cinderella). But there’s reasons…

Eternals is sporadically interesting – many of the heroes go against ‘type’ – but at 156 minutes, it settles into an overlong, derivative stereotype of battles, internal power struggles and, just for good measure, a few more battles.

Rating: 42%

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ (Marvel #19)

A sardonic Paul Rudd continues to charm, even if he is the bad books of Hope (Evangeline Lilly – The Hobbit, Real Steel) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas – Fatal Attraction, Behind the Candelabra), having ‘borrowed’ the Ant-Man suit to head off to Germany to help the Avengers.

Continuing a plotline from the first installment, Ant-Man, the father-daughter team are fugitives themselves. They need the help of Scott to travel in the quantum world to find Pym’s missing wife, Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Hairspray). But they need to get him out of his house – and avoid Ava (Hannah John-Kamen – Ready Player One, Tomb Raider), the somewhat physically unstable woman who needs Pym’s technology to stabilise.

Lots of shrinking and enlarging of people, vehicles and buildings (!) abound with that technology in high demand, mixed with Hope in a suit of her own, Scott avoiding being caught out of home and the wonderfully funny Luis (Michael Peña – End of Watch, American Hustle) returning to continue where he and his team left off in the first film.

Rating: 62%