Director Jordan Peele has made quite a name for himself after the Oscar winning racial-tension thriller Get Out. He’s certainly a bold new voice in a largely stale genre filled with sequels and remakes. In this, his second effort, a woman along with her husband and kids head to a beach community for a holiday, where when she was a child a bizarre incident happened that has haunted her all her life. However after meeting up with some friends, as night draws in a weird group of strangers turn up outside the house who look exactly like them.
Initially I thought this was very much like a copy of The Strangers mixed with Funny Games., but as it progressed it became so much more. Firstly, Peele’s direction is slick, visually interesting and coats the movie in a thick unnerving atmosphere. Moments of humour only slightly eleveate the tension but work well to create a surprisingly relatable tone with characters I quickly grew to care about. One joke involving an Alexa-like device was just brilliant. Performances, especially considering the cast are mostly playing two parts are decent with a special mention going to Lupita Nyong’o who delivers a very layered duel-performance that’s at times quite chilling..
The overall concept is clever on paper, but as the movie drew to a close I felt it got a bit confused, causing an avalanche of questions in my head that begged me to re-evaluate what I had been watching. That can be great but in reflection, I’m not sure if it entirely works. However for such a visually captivating, well acted and often thrilling experience this remains one of the most purely entertaining horrors I’ve seen in a while.
Following the death of his father, Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther returns home to claim his birth right and become king of Wakanda. However when news surfaces of a terrorist who has stolen some of his homeland’s resources, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) springs into action to stop his home’s sacred power being used for evil.
This has had a great deal of attention and is now one of the highest rated Marvel movies on RottenTomatoes.com, surprising when the character has never been what you’d call a household name like Thor, Spiderman etc. For whatever reason this movie has gained such attention, what we actually have is a fairly basic super hero movie with the twist of an African setting and largely black cast. Panther is an interesting, layered character and fairly refreshing compared to the usual machismo we get with other characters; but with a rise and fall and rise again story ark, I failed to see how this was any different than what we’ve been getting for several years now. Add to this an underwhelming Michael B Jordan as the villain who’s character is basically a carbon copy of another Marvel villain, and like in Creed has no screen presence and is instead feels miscast beyond his impressive pecks. Yet we do get a fantastic car chase sequence, decent CGI and some tense fight scenes, along with good support from Martin Freeman and especially Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister – who gets all the best lines and funniest gags.
As it stands this was very pretty, often fun but very drawn out considering it’s simple plot, and felt more like an ‘also ran’ in the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe than anything else. I still had a good time, but like a lot of heavily-hyped things these days … I also came away wondering what the fuss was about.
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