Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

The Universal Appeal of Black Panther

This is a reaction piece, not a full review. It will be most sensible to those who have seen the film, but only low spoilers due to some things just should not be spoiled.

I went to Black Panther determined to write an objective review. This isn’t one. Within a few minutes of the film’s start, I had tears on my eyes, and when King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returned home to Wakanda, they just started streaming down my cheeks.

The sets, costumes, and city are a great example of “show, don’t tell.” Though there is plenty of exposition of the nature of “as you know” or flashbacks and visions as well.

I have read a lot of reviews saying how this is a black movie, and it is, through and through. But it is more than that. Black Panther pulls you in and I felt like this was my family, my people, my African nation as it should have been without colonization and neocolonialism. This isn’t the world as it is, but in some sense, a vision of the world as it could be.

The fictional nation of Wakanda, being the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, shares many of the dilemmas which the US faced when it was technologically advanced compared with other nations. “If we allow in immigrants, they will bring their problems with them,” as one character tells King T’Challa. Similarly there are issues of arms exports and bringing justice through superior firepower. An interesting and thought-provoking mirror.

Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is certainly the best of the Marvel villains, an area where they have been notably weak in characterization and motivation in the past. A Shakespearean family drama ensues. As well as Killmonger and T’Challa acting as proxies for the African diaspora v. mother Africa.

It’s funny how critics run in packs. I’m curious why the neoliberals aren’t screaming about cultural appropriation because this movie is all about that.

Wakanda is supposedly in East Africa more or less where real life Rwanda and Burundi are today. But people speak Xhosa, a South African language. And the hairstyles, fashions, and architecture and textiles are a mishmash from all over the continent. All overlaid on what is now retro-futurism dating back 50 years to Jack Kirby’s illustrations for the comic.

Of course, Wakanda doesn’t exist in the real world, and more’s the pity. So they had to use inspirations from somewhere. And everything is so beautiful and awe-inspiring that I guess every reviewer in the world is giving them a pass on this and I’m no exception. Of course I tend to be a “world citizen” and “all one people” person so I am prone to want to encourage people to learn and use and do the best of everything, and to make it their own anyway. But that’s another story.

Very strong cast. Chadwick Boseman seems to be channeling a young Nelson Mandela in his regal bearing as a newly-crowned king, his accent, his cadence, and his badassness (Mandala was a hereditary prince of his tribe, and a boxer as well as a lawyer before he was imprisoned on charges of murder and terrorism.) His nemesis, Killmonger, played by Michal Jordan is a Shakespearean anti-hero who almost steals the movie.

There are many strong and independent female characters. Notable is Leticia Wright as T’Challa’s snarky younger sister and master of Wakanda’s vibranium-based technology, Shuri. Danai Gurira as Okoye, general of Wakanda’s Royal Guard, the Dora Milaje, is ferocious as the guardian of the throne. And Angela Bassett brings a regal presence to the role of Queen Mother Ramonda.

There were a couple moments which were immersion breaking for me. One early one which I will spoil involves CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) interrogating South African arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, having great fun chewing all the carpet in sight in his own skin instead of mo-cap), who replies with questions of his own. I suddenly realized I was watching a game of riddles between Bilbo (Freeman) and Gollum (Serkis). As a meta-callout this is amusing but also distracting for me. The second weakness is some rather sloppy CGI which would frankly be better served with Wuxia-style wirework or even simply cutting those few seconds.

The third act suffers from too much action, falling into the typical problem where every Marvel movie has a setpiece battle where they try to top all the previous movies. Not up to the standards of Civil War, but special bonus points for (spoilers) armored rhinos! Remote piloted space ships! Personal force-shields and sonic blaster vibranium spears! Heel-Face Turn and The Cavalry. All in one rather chaotic battle. The narrative and characterization is somewhat lost in the festival of badassness which ensues. But this is a genre standard and the movie can be praised for opening so many new avenues it can be forgiven for the rather predictable final battles. I’d say more but big spoilers there.

Overall, a most lovely movie which will stand the test of time, better than I expected after reading 30+ positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and a rollicking good time. The movie seems too short at 2:14 so I am looking forward to a director’s cut and one hopes, one or more sequels, including perhaps a spinoff for some of the interesting secondary characters. Wakanda Forever!

5 of 5 stars. Bring a friend so you don’t talk your Lyft driver’s ear off as I did on the way home. :)

Copyright © 2018 Henry Edward Hardy

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16 February, 2018 Posted by | Andy Serkis, Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, media, Michael Jordan, scanlyze, Wakanda | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump, Year 2

We all know the pain of being separated from one beloved person.

Multiply that times 800,000 and you have the inevitable outcome of Trump’s plan to exile the Dreamers.

Pain and sadness, criminalization and forcible expulsion from the country for people who were brought here as children and grew up here. Starting in March.

In many cases, this is the only home, the only language, the only culture and nation they have ever known.

I just can’t get my brain around how anyone in the political class is even considering talking about this.

A hateful, horrible, hideous idea.

The eight thousand expelled Cherokees of the Trail of Tears times one hundred.

This is an expression of a genocidal hatred that goes beyond mere dumbass racism into the realm of intentional evil on a massive scale for fun and profit.

Trump, Year 2

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

26 January, 2018 Posted by | Cherokee, democracy, Dreamers, genocide, racism, scanlyze, Trump | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on policy toward North Korea

So the UN has put even more stringent sanctions on North Korea. I don’t see where that is going to force North Korea into abandoning its nuclear and ICBM arsenal and development. At best the sanctions slow the nuclear program by limiting access to hard currency.

Maybe, maybe, a more adept US administration could persuade North Korea into joining the Test Ban Treaty. They could commit first to no atmospheric testing, which would essentially cost them nothing since they haven’t been conducting atmospheric tests. However, more competent administrations have tried and failed to contain North Korea using negotiated agreements.

Absent a US-Russian-Chinese agreement to go in and denuclearize North Korea by force, the US has to accept that North Korea is a nuclear state and has no intention of denuclearizing, ever.

North Korea looks at states like Ukraine and Libya which did denuclearize, and later saw their governments overthrown by US-backed coups, and this doesn’t look like a good scenario to them.

Engaging in a florid war of words with the North Koreans, with insults like “Little Rocket Man,” is a spectacularly bad and unwise strategy. They are on the paranoid side of insecure, so we should be as stolid and predictable and imperturbable as possible. Enduring a million “dotards” is better than enduring a single nuclear strike on the US or its allies.

China is most concerned with a break-up of NK with loose nukes and a huge refugee crisis on their borders, and that would be a horrible situation. The US needs to not squeeze NK so hard that it collapses into warlords or a Mad Max-like anarchy.

The best option I can present is make the best of a bad situation. Treat them like Pakistan, more or less. If the US simply refuses to give NK a seat in the club of nuclear powers, it loses all chances of NK ever adhering to customary law, and it invites NK to make some kind of demonstration, which could go hideously wrong in a number of ways.

Copyright © 2017, 2018 Henry Edward Hardy

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23 December, 2017 Posted by | diplomacy, news, North Korea, scanlyze, war | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Thoughts on the Last Jedi

==SPOILERS AHEAD!!!==

This is my reaction after just having seen The Last Jedi at the theater. If you haven’t seen the film then stop reading because spoilers and also I’m making reference to events in the film without explaining them to the point of view of someone who hasn’t seen the film.

Well, long story short, or perhaps I should say, long story excessively long, a big disappointment.

Going in to the film, I wanted to know who is Rey? Who is Snoke? What happened to Ahsoka, Kanan, and Space Aladdin aka Ezra? What is in the ancient books of the Jedi? How does Leia die (hopefully heroically)? Why is it time for the Jedi to end?

Are those crystal wolf things Loth-Wolves? Did Han survive his Disney death in the shaft?

And most of all, I wanted to see Luke kick some ass. And smarmy emo Adam Driver handed his.

Well if you were looking forward to any of those things, rest assured, none of those things are in this movie. None of them. For this manufactured committee-made story-line the awesome Clone Wars and Rebels and their bespoke characters were/are being terminated, why?

Kathleen Kennedy, you’re no George Lucas or Dave Filoni. And Rian Johnson, you’re no Lawrence Kasdan. Looking forward to the last half of the last season of Rebels, otherwise, I think that Kennedy, Abrams &co have just about driven this franchise over the shark as has happened to poor old Star Trek. Did anyone say “spore drive?”

Anyway, the Force went back to sleep, and nobody cared. There was zero audience interaction at the packed theatre. When I saw Thor Ragnarök and Rogue 1 at the same venue (AMD 12 Assembly Row Somerville, MA USA) , the crowd was very engaged, laughing, snarking cheering, and crying in the case of Rogue 1. Not so here, more’s the pity. 2 of 5 stars.

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

15 December, 2017 Posted by | movie, review, saga, samurai, scanlyze, Star Wars, The Last Jedi | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What happens to Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka in season 4 of Star Wars Rebels?

What happens to Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka in season 4 of Star Wars Rebels?

==possible spoilers==

This article assumes the reader is familiar with Star Wars Rebels. If not, you can catch up on any unfamiliar people at wookiepedia or tvtropes.

So what happens to the “Cowboy Jedi” Kanan Jarus and his padewan, Ezra Bridger?

We now know that Hera and Chopper and possibly/probably clone trooper Capt. Rex survive and participate in the battle on Yavin 4 in Star Wars (the original movie). Do Kanan and Ezra die? Go into exile? Turn to the dark side?

Let’s take it in turn.

My guess is that yes, Kanan will die. I think the tragedy of that is being set up with his interactions with Hera Syndulla, particularly their almost-kiss in Rebels Season 4, Ep 3 “The Occupation

There’s no way that Kanan would voluntarily be separated from Hera again. The last time that happened, they lost Ahsoka and Kanan lost his sight. Therefore, there’s almost no way that Kanan would have not been at the battle of Yavin 4. And as the only known surviving member of the old Jedi Order except for Obi-Wan and Yoda, surely he would have been notable and a commander in the Rebel Army in Rogue One and Star Wars. So have to think there is a good possibility he gets a tearjerking heroic death and Hera soldiers on without him.

In the alternative, since Kanan is in many ways an expy of the bitter, dissolute, but then redeemed, blind ponytailed Jedi Master Rahm Kota from the non-canon game The Force Unleashed, maybe Kanan was on Yavin 4 and had his own “hero of another story” arc as Kota did and the cell in Rogue One did.

Ezra is more complicated. With his flirtation with the dark side, certainly I could see him going that way, although I kind of doubt he is Snoke. He could go back to being a street rat and live underground like Kanan used to after order 66. He might die with Kanan, or on his own, heroically, although it would be fairly brutal to kill off the teenage point of view character on an (allegedly) kids cartoon show.

What about Anakin Skywalker’s former Padewan, Ahsoka Tano? You can see a lot of my previous speculation here.

I’m going to put forward my own, I wouldn’t even call it a theory or speculation, but a story I like going forward. There’s one new piece of canon information which is pretty amazing which I want to introduce here. There was another Jedi Master who survived Order 66 besides Yoda, Obi-Wan, and, until she was captured and executed, Master Luminara.

According to Darth Vader #6, Master “Madame” Jocasta Nu, the Coruscant Jedi Temple chief librarian, survived Order 66. And she spent the years after compiling holograms she had saved or recovered. Was this preparation for refounding the Jedi Order? Or perhaps preparing a “time capsule” for a future time?

In the latter case, perhaps Madame Nu’s archive provided part of the basis either for Luke’s failed New Jedi Order, which Kylo Ren corrupted/destroyed, or perhaps his new, “Dai Bendu” or “Je’daii” grey, not-Jedi order which succeeds it.

Or, perhaps, just as with the Temple of the Whills and Ahch-To, and the abandoned Jedi Temple on Lothal, there is another temple on some place such as Dantooine, Dathomir, Ilum, or Tython to which Madame Nu, Ahsoka, Kanan, Ezra and whatever “children of the force” they can salvage form a hidden order unknown to Luke and the Skywalker and Solo clans (at least, yet.) That is what I would do if I were them in ep 7,8 era, get the heck out of Dodge and lay low for a few hundred or thousand years.

So here’s to Madame Nu and hoping she avoids Darth Vader! Because if a non-force-powered Clawdite could take her down in Clone Wars, I don’t give much for her chances against Darth Vader at an even more ancient age in the time of the classic movies or ep 7,8,9 era.

What do you think?

May the Force be with you!

Star-Wars-Darth-Vader-6-Jedi-Archivist-Jocasta-Nu
Jocasta Nu

Copyright © 2017 Henry Edward Hardy

scanlyze1

4 November, 2017 Posted by | Ahsoka Tano, Clone Wars, Jedi, Jocasta Nu, Kanan Jarus, movie, Rebels, scanlyze, Star Wars, The Force | , , , , , , | Leave a comment