9.5/10 stars for Marvel’s Black Panther

**WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS FOR BLACK PANTHER**

Wakanda is a beautiful and vibrant example of exquisite world-building. It looks incredible – as a stunning fantasy landscape, a technological wonder, but also as a country buzzing with tradition and culture. The costumes, weapons, architecture and even the people’s gestures (the crossing of the arms, the dancing before the duels, etc) all contribute to a stunning world more developed than anything we have seen in the Marvel universe to date.

Part of this is achieved through the outstanding cinematography. There are numerous shots that render the viewer speechless, the beauty and raw power of certain scenes is mesmerising. The music contributes to the overall feel of the movie perfectly, a blend of the modern and traditional – mixing the familiar epic sound of Marvel’s soundtracks with more primitive tribal music.

The real strength of Black Panther is the cast and the outstanding characters they play. Every actor on the screen is exceptional. Chadwick Boseman, of course, is the quintessential Marvel superhero. He is honourable, just and righteous, a perfect king for the nation of Wakanda. Boseman’s acting is both profound and charming, achieving a great balance between the intensity of the fight scenes, and the playful banter he shares with his sister.

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Michael B. Jordan’s Eric Killmonger, though bitter and disillusioned with the world, is charismatic and sympathetic. It is difficult not to relate to him. Danai Gurira as General Okoye is strong and determined, fiercely loyal to Wakanda (and would make an excellent partner to Captain America – just imagine the honour the two of them would ooze on screen together!)

Letitia Wright’s Shuri almost steals the show in her own right. A wonderfully developed character, she is funny and has some of the best moments in the film. Her intelligence, reflected in her ingenious inventions, rivals Tony Stark’s and, as a team, they would be formidable (she would also be more than capable of keeping up with his witticisms). But the best thing about Shuri is the joy she radiates when explaining her creations. This is a woman who shows pride in what she accomplishes and isn’t ashamed to show excitement at her own achievements. She is a science geek, without falling into the typical geek stereotype (she can even seriously kick ass when she needs to).

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But all of these things apply to numerous Marvel films. Excellent acting can be said of The Winter Soldier or Civil War. Humour is wonderfully represented in Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok. Black Panther has these things, but what makes it truly shine is the maturity of the storyline. This is no simple origin tale of a superhero. Really, T’Challa becoming the Black Panther is only a minor plot point. The true theme at the heart of this film is the plight of African nations.

Black people all across the world, and throughout history, have suffered at the hands of colonialism and prejudice. Relegated to third world status, many of Africa’s countries struggle with poverty, but Wakanda is wealthy, accomplished and more technologically advanced than any place on Earth. If it were to reveal its true self to the world, Wakanda would undoubtedly be ruined and so the rulers of the country have kept it hidden from prying eyes. But doesn’t Wakanda have an obligation to share its resources and knowledge with those suffering around them? This is the true question at the heart of the film – embodied by Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia. As a moral philanthropist, Nakia wishes to see the nation of Wakanda spread its wealth to those who need it most, even if it means piercing the blissful bubble that has protected them for centuries.

Ever since the film’s conception, it has been heralded as groundbreaking for its depiction of black characters. In this it is truly admirable and revolutionary. But the representation of black people isn’t its only triumph. Black Panther also excels in its portrayal of female characters. Instead of a single ‘strong’ woman as a token gesture (as Black Widow can sometimes appear), the female characters in this film are integral to the plot and indeed drive much of the narrative. Female warriors, commanders, scientists, inventors, diplomats are all woven into the plot and, most crucially of all, without the need for explanation. Okoye isn’t the ‘first ever’ female general, or the leader of the ‘all-women unit’ of the army. She’s just the general, because she is. And that is a huge step forwards.

There are very few negative aspects of the film. It is easily a top tier Marvel movie and one that won’t be easy to top (although Infinity War will give it a good try). There are only a few areas in which it loses points. Firstly, there isn’t really a need for armoured rhinos! They look good, but they don’t add anything and seem to be thrown in for visual spectacle and nothing more. The film is already stunning enough without war rhinos!

Secondly, the love story between T’Challa and Nakia seems a little weak and unnecessary. It doesn’t really add anything to the movie (though they do make a gorgeous couple!).

Finally, though Black Panther is a fantastic film in its own right, it doesn’t really feel like a Marvel movie. The recent films in the MCU have all linked together very well, with characters and artefacts crossing paths and interlinking, ready for Infinity War. Aside from a few minor things, this film doesn’t link with the others at all – making it an unusual choice of movie as the last before Infinity War. Civil War or Thor: Ragnarok would have been much better for warming up the fans before the main event.

But, these points aside, there is very little that can be criticized in this outstanding movie. Overall, Black Panther easily achieves a 9.5/10.

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7 upcoming movies for fans of extended universes

It’s an interesting time for geeks the world over as science fiction, fantasy and superheroes take over our screens. The Marvel and DC phenomenon has exploded in recent years, showering us with a whole range of excellent (mostly excellent…) films and series to enjoy. Once, comic books were viewed as for the geeky underbelly of society, the single, lonely nerd in the basement, but that has changed drastically. Now, people from all walks of life indulge in superhero adventures and science fiction journeys.

Directors and producers have seen the huge success of these movies and capitalised on the potential, bringing the huge interlinking worlds of the comics to the big screen, drawing viewers in and get the geeky blood pumping around our bodies. The Marvel universe is a fine example of this, with each film cleverly weaving in and around the others, characters crossing paths and even fighting one another (as in the excellent Captain America: Civil War).

For the modern viewer, a single film just isn’t enough anymore. We expect more from our movie experiences and each trip to the cinema gives us not one evening’s entertainment, but rather a small chunk of something that will keep us entertained for years – a glimpse into a wider world.

Here’s a rundown of the extended universe movie treats we have in store over the coming months and years:

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Han Solo movie film poster Star Wars dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
Star Wars spin-off movie Solo: A Star Wars story promises to be a rollercoaster ride of adventure, cocky smirks and general roguish scoundrel antics

Star Wars Episode IX

Star Wars episdoe 9 IX film movie dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
Following the outstanding sequel movies, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, episode IX will bring an end to the Skywalker saga. It promises to be a thrilling and yet heart-wrenching goodbye to this incredible story arc.

Avengers:Infinity War

Marvel MCU Avengers Infinity War movie film dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
The culmination of every Marvel film to date, Avengers: Infinity War will bring action on an epic scale

Black Panther

Black Panther MCU Marvel film movie dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
A ground-breaking triumph for the Marvel universe. Black Panther’s early reviews are excellent and the movie promises to bring a mature and complex edge to the MCU

Ant Man and the Wasp

Ant Man and the Wasp MCU Marvel film movie dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
Ant Man is a fun character and his chemistry with The Wasp is great – it will be interesting to see these two together.

Venom

Venom Tom Hardy MCU Marvel film movie dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
Dark, brooding and intense at the best of times, Tom Hardy is an excellent choice to play Venom in all of his terrifying insanity.

Black Widow

Black Widow MCU Marvel film movie dm cain immersive fantasy fiction
Black Widow is an intelligently written character who happens to kick ass too. It’s about time she had her own movie.

Tell me in the comments section, which of these are you most looking forward to?

 

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Avengers:Infinity War trailer review

The new trailer for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ was released yesterday.Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet:

Here’s a quick run-down of what I made of it – the good and bad parts.

PROs:

That music <3

1 - Infinity war trailer review Audrey Horne Twin Peaks

The epic combinations of characters:

2 - Infinity war trailer review Iron Man Spiderman Doctor Strange

Thor and Rocket together (squeeeee!)

3 - Infinity war trailer review Thor Rocket Raccoon

This amazing shot:

4 - Infinity war trailer review Spiderman

CONs:

I’m not convinced by the new style of Captain America’s shield. It has potential but I really miss the iconic circular shield

5 - Infinity war trailer review Captain America Black Panther

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Doctor Strange, so I’m hoping he’ll be used sparingly, and if he is used a lot, he’ll be used well

6 - Infinity war trailer review Doctor Strange and Iron Man

Do you agree with my pros and cons? Do you have different ideas? Let me know what you think!

Solo: A Star Wars story trailer review

The trailer for ‘Solo: A Star Wars story’ was released yesterday.Here it is if you haven’t seen it yet:

Here’s a quick run-down of what I made of it – the good and bad parts.

PROs:

  • This incredible shot:

1 - Millennium Falcon star destroyer Star Wars Solo trailer

  • ‘I’m gonna be a pilot – best in the galaxy’ – this line sent chills down my spine

2 - Star Wars Solo trailer Han

  • Shiny, clean Millennium Falcon interior!

3 - mIllennium Falcon interior Star Wars Solo trailer

  • I do like the look of Alden Ehrenreich as Han – he’s got the little smirk just right.

4 - Han Star Wars Solo trailer

5 - Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover Star Wars Solo trailer

  • Some kick-ass Falcon moves

6 - Millennium Falcon shot Star Wars Solo trailer

CONs:

‘I was kicked out of the flight academy for having a mind of my own’ – This line seems really cheesy to me. A bit like he thinks he’s too much of a maverick to play by the rules

7 - Robert Downey Jr Star Wars Solo trailer

Emilia Clarke looks sadly under-used (though I acknowledge that this is just a short trailer so it’s difficult to tell for sure)

8 - Emilia Clarke Star Wars Solo trailer

Do you agree with my pros and cons? Do you have different ideas? Let me know what you think!

Is this the most adorable and geeky thing you’ve ever seen?

Anybody who knows my family knows that we are enormous Star Wars geeks. My six year old son is already a die-hard fanatic and his six month old sister is well on her way.

So, this Christmas when we should have been making festive footprint art, we decided instead to go for something a little more… ‘us’. This is the result!

Let me know – which is your favourite? I really like Boba Fett and the little porg <3

Star Wars footprint art

Star Wars footprint art
The top row of footprints are by my son, Deacon. The bottom row are baby Lucia’s.

The Phoenix Project for just 0.99!

The Phoenix Project is available to buy for just $0.99 / £0.99 from July 11th – July 17th. After that, the price returns to $4.99 – so why not grab a copy of this psychological dystopian thriller now!

BUY IT HERE!

The Phoenix Project Cover

BLURB:

How can you fight to the death, when you’ve given up on life?

A thought provoking and compelling dystopian world that will change the way you view justice.

Britain has descended into chaos, as violence and terrorist attacks seethe across the once-peaceful country. Outraged by the steady stream of lawlessness, citizens demand a harsher penal system, and the Phoenix Project is born.

In prisons across the country, inmates fight to the death in a weekly bloodbath while the nation cheers them on.

Raven Kennedy, a prisoner who has never forgiven himself for his unspeakable crime, struggles against his own guilt and self-loathing. But even as the real war rages on within himself, Raven is forced to battle some of the prison’s most ruthless killing machines.

Fighting for his life and a chance for redemption, can Raven survive long enough to unravel the anger and regret that shackle him – and find the forgiveness he seeks?

“A superbly written debut, soaked in tension and intrigue.” Jack Croxall, author of the ‘Tethers’ trilogy.

Links

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In desperate need of Thunderclap help!

With just 2 days left until my Thunderclap campaign ends, I am still in need of 22 supporters! From July 11th – 17th The Phoenix Project will be on sale for just $0.99 / £0.99 and in order to get this news to as many people as possible, I need Thunderclap’s help.

This means I need as much support as possible. I will gladly return support for anybody else’s campaigns, or if you need shares or tweets etc.

Here is my campaign:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/43726-the-phoenix-project-for-0-99

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The Phoenix Project is back on sale!

Thanks to my amazing new publisher, Creativia, The Phoenix Project is now back on sale! Grab a copy here:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GKU3T92/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GKU3T92/

The Phoenix Project Cover.jpg

THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

Wow – I am absolutely honoured by this wonderful, in-depth review of The Phoenix Project! I truly feel that this reviewer managed to grasp the core of what I was trying to say. She looked beyond the violence and the celebrity culture of the book, and saw the true messages I wanted to communicate.

This was a difficult book to write (as said in the review, I truly did have to visit a dark place to get into this mindset), but it is very close to my heart because of this.

 

THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51

by Anita Kovacevic on 08/05/2016

The Phoenix Project was no small surprise for me. It guides the reader into the abyss of what is wrong with humanity, so many negative feelings, brutality, alienation, fascination with fame, lack of faith and communication, and the overwhelming exuberance of alienation. It is not the book for the faint-hearted, romantic reader who seeks light entertainment, and the author obviously did not write it according to the popular recipe for book sales, but out of conviction.

This is a dystopian version of human reality set in a horribly violent prison, with characters of questionable morality and almost no hope for optimism, save naivety. The main (anti)hero Raven is placed in a prison for a crime he did commit, and is forced, along with others, to fight to life or death in the prison arena during televised fights, deluded by the warden’s false promise of early release 5 years later and a zero chance of surviving that long. Along the way you also follow a paralel story of Raven’s life before prison, explaining what led to his crime.

Considering the current events in the world, the story is relevant in its relation to the consequences of terrorism, and is painfully shocking in depicting what people turn into when they are oppressed and afraid the whole time. The author poses a huge challenge before the reader – how do you justify the main character, who is a criminal himself although he claims to hate killing? What punishment would you give or could you give? How much is enough to atone for our trangressions and who is to judge? The corruption of society leaders and the obsession with media fame are too close to home for modern society, adding to the effect of the story on the reader.

The author’s style is consistent in depicting the depressing and overwhelming amount of unnecessary violence, people herded like sheep and subdued by fear, difficulties in forming even simple friendships, let alone meaningful romance. The amount of violence is strongly reminiscent of gladiator fights, and the historical analogy emphasizes the futility of hope for human progress. The story is profused by the dark and gloomy all the way, except for the epilogue which you can read at the link in the end of the story.

The characters are memorable, for all their faults and weaknesses. The inevitable fascination with brutality, madness and the celebrity cult is a vital spiritus movens of the story. You are both shocked and mesmerized by the characters, for instance – the quite extraordinary Millicent and Khan, the brutal brother and sister and the story of how violence shapes them. No character is faultless, nobody beyond reproach, even the seeming ‘good guys and gals’, even despite their redeeming actions and life history.

Raven, the main anti-hero, was difficult to relate with for me – his lack of strength and conviction in his everyday life outside prison is so sad. He tries to please his girlfriend Seraphia by not being himself, he stays with her even after she makes a tragic decision about their common future (trying to avoid spoilers here) and even though he knows she is leaving. This eventually leads up to his crime, which, for the reader, becomes easy to guess, but difficult to condone. You keep wondering why he didn’t just choose a different path. Raven makes all the wrong decisions, and his life is a study into loneliness, depression, weakness, indecisiveness, lethargy, guilt… The feeling of isolation is enhanced by the lack of anything outside the prison from the moment he enters it, which adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere. The final scenes, when he is forced to be alone with himself, are interesting, because people always say it is the most difficult thing in life not to be able to spend time with your own self. Apart from the vivid graphic descriptions, I felt the author could have even done slightly more with this section. The purgatory/hell-like scenery is depicted really well.

However, I cannot recommend this read to everyone, but only because this kind of a story is an acquired taste. The author’s dedication and vision are strong and convincing. I am definitely recommending The Phoenix Project to fans of post-apocalyptic dystopia and those interested in the psychology of violence and loneliness.

What amazes me is knowing that the author must have gone to a really dark place of vision for this story, and is to be commended for persevering in the same tone and mood the entire time, and sticking to conviction, without succumbing to what is easier. Congratulations on that courage.

(On a P.S. note, I have read the epilogue, and much as my romantic side felt it deserved its readers, it stood slightly separate from the rest of the story in its tone.  So many things happen in the epilogue, which soothe the optimists among readers, but compared to the development of the book plot itself, it feels more like a dream than the ‘real’ ending. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the offer of hope and consolation.)

 

Source: THE PHOENIX PROJECT by DM Cain – my review no.51