Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLACK PANTHER (spoiler free!!!)

Let’s get this out of the way: BLACK PANTHER is already the best film of 2018, one of the MCU’s best films to date, and really proves that Warner Bros. and DC need to get their shit together and fast. Believe the hype, this movie is pretty fantastic. What I really love most about the MCU right now is that while they slowly have tried to reinvent themselves from their same old schtick and formula, starting with Guardians Vol. 1, they are gradually progressing with Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and now seem to be kicking it into high gear with this. While some of the same threads of the MCU formula are still in there, co-writer and director Ryan Coogler makes Black Panther is own animal, bringing in new cultural and ethical elements into the franchise oh and uh, maybe finally solving the MCU villain problem.

If you don’t think MCU (hell even DC right now) has a villain problem, you are up dumb shit creek. What villain do you truly love in the MCU other than Loki and Vulture? Yes, Black Panther has the best MCU villain thus far with Erik Killmonger. That’s right, even better than Loki and Vulture for me. While Loki has that charm that Tom Hiddleston swoons both males and females with, and while the Vulture was played with some balls and class by Michael Keaton, neither of the two had a very legitimate reason for being villains or any true emotional wait. Loki just wanted to rule, and Vulture wanted to make money. Erik Killmonger has the best reason for doing what he is doing, and you actually feel for this villain, and Michael B. Jordan’s fantastic performance brings everything together. Don’t worry, I know I put spoil free at the top, so I won’t reveal his motivations, just to say that they have worked the best out of all the MCU films.

To make this spoil free, let’s write a short two sentence abstract statement about the plot. Black Panther takes place about a week after the events of Civil War. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has to adjust to being the new king in Wakanda with enemies old and new surrounding him. That’s all I will say. The plot slowly builds around all of these fantastic non-one dimensional characters and then once true revelations are revealed, goes into all out hyper mode. My one criticism with this film, let’s just get it out of the way, are some of the special effects in the climax. All the effects building to the climax are top notch and amazing, but let’s say that the climax has a few CGI shaky moments the film could’ve used maybe just a couple of more days of touch up on. Mainly having to due with the Panther suits and how the characters heads sort of wobble, knowing that they are actually probably wearing green screen suits.

But that is a minor quibble, because everything else is astonishingly good. While Chadwick Boseman is already a fantastic actor, and is probably going to be this generations Denzel, it is really the ladies of Wakanda that steal the show and the entire movie out from under the men, other than Michael B. Jordan of course. Danai Gurira, who you may know as Michonne on The Walking Dead, plays Okoye, one of T’Challa’s royal guards, and her fierceness and determination makes a lot of scenes more believable and well rounded. Lupita Nyong’o plays T’Challa’s love interest, and she has a couple of scenes to shine, and so does Angela Bassett as T’Challa’s mother. But the real scene stealer is T’Challa’s sister, played by Leticia Wright. If this were a Bond film, you could say that she is the Q of Black Panther, designing and making all the cool tech you see throughout the film. But it is her jokes and one-liners that make her the star, and hopefully she is in every Black Panther film as much as this one.

You have other characters to, like Martin Freeman as the one token white guy throughout this film that just gets dragged along for the ride. He’s there as a story/plot representation of the audience, seeing everything for the first time in wonder. You also have Forest Whitaker, who is there in just a couple of scenes to provide plot information. And Andy Serkis is in this, who is so fantastic with his very small role that you wish he was in the film a little bit more, where you could say he really solves the Marvel villain problem. Also, you have recent Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) who plays a Wakandian that is on a different tribe. His role is small too, however everyone does have an important part to play at some point or another and even though some of the roles are very small, all of the character progression and growth is so well rounded, it makes the characterization of Baron Zemo (the main villain in Civil War) look outright childish.

This movie does a whole boat load of things right. It not only brings a solid story with it, it also combines cultural significance and heritage of a people and uses it in the best way I have ever seen out of a comic book film. It is really hard to talk about it without getting into spoilers, but lets just say you’ll know what I mean when you see and hear it . This film is gorgeous. Wakanda is a place where I would want to live myself. The city with it’s technology is the best mini world I have seen in the MCU thus far, and I can’t wait to see more of it, because you know this film is going to do well by all the ticket tracking that Fandango has done thus far (it is expected to hit possibly $180 million this weekend in the U.S. alone.)

Do I need to mention to stay after the credits? If I do then you are kind of…well…stupid. I mean seriously, does anybody need to tell you this anymore? I snicker when I see people leave right after the credits, because by now you know that there will at least be two, one mid way and one at the very end. I do like though that these final two after credit sequences lead to more story progression with Black Panther and Wakanda other than just trying to nod and wink at future films. Anyway, if you don’t see this movie as fast as you can, you are either and idiot, or just don’t have the time, the latter of which is okay. Seriously, this film rocks, Wakanda forever!!!

How much does it cost to visit Chengdu for 1 week?

Hey guys! 

I am back from Chengdu and I am going to share with you EXACTLY what some sample costs are that were spent on my very amazing week in Chengdu.    I am often asked how much does it cost to travel to certain destinations and I am here to share exactly what I paid and give you an idea of estimate costs to help budget and plan your trip to Chengdu.   I splurged quite a bit on this trip and could have done this trip a lot cheaper.  Chengdu is an incredibly budget friendly place to visit especially if you find cheap flights.

I traveled on a more moderate level and you can do this trip even cheaper if you have flexibility and want to do less activities.

Flight $630 RT  flight  is even cheaper currently on Air China approx $395.00

Right now flights to China are a steal and I have seen flights to China as low as $395 out of DFW.   When this was booked it one of the cheapest destinations I could go to the first week of February.   That being said I have seen countless flights out of DFW to Europe for a couple hundred that exact same week.  Traveling the first two weeks of February is ALWAYS cheaper than other times of the year.   If you are ok with colder temps this is a very cost effective way to see the world!

Chinese Visa $140.00 

I already had my visa so I didn’t have to spend  $140.00 this time, the beauty about a Chinese visa is that they now grant a ten year visa good for multiple entries.

6 nights accommodation at the JW Marriott $28.00

Yes you read that correct it was only $28.00.  I trip hacked.  I had almost enough Marriott points to cover the entire stay, I had to spend $28 to cover what points I did not have.  This hotel is about $120 a night during this week, so it is still reasonably priced and quite fancy and is one of the higher priced places to stay.     If you are wanting even more cost effective accommodations with privacy there are NUMEROUS guest houses for $25 a night.  If you are into hostels you can get a bed for $5-8.      Chengdu has incredibly affordable accommodations and it is very budget friendly.

A bowl of dan dan mien approx 10 yuan or $1.58 USD. 

I lived for Dan Dan Mien (Mian) ya’ll.  LIKE LIVED FOR IT.  By far one of my favorite things to dine on.  IT so yummy and spicy and just pure yummy in one bite.

Picture with a panda approx $267 USD

So there is absolutely NO way around this cost.   If you want your picture with a baby panda well you have to cough up this money.  IT was a major splurge and I struggled with the cost but at the end of the day it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Train ticket from Chengdu to Leshan $12 each way in first class

First class train tickets are not very expensive but if you are on a budget you can travel to Leshan for half this cost.

Bus to Giant Sitting Buddha 2 yuan or .32 USD

Cheapest and easiest way to get to this site.   You can cab it if you want but you can’t beat 2 yuan and it the bus stops here after about 30 minutes.

Entry into the Giant Sitting Buddha 90 yuan or approx $14.20 in USD. 

A must do if you are in Leshan

Play the Ancient Candy Game 3 yuan or .47 USD 

I will have a full post on this later, as it was truly so much fun.  You spin for a chance to win a candy shape and then the person makes it for you! So much fun and seriously you can’t beat 3 yuan

Average taxi cost anywhere in the city $3-7 USD. 

Walking is always the best way to  view the city and get much needed exercise but if you are in a hurry the cabs are truly cheap.  Just always say taxi and not cab, every time I said cab they had NO clue what I was talking about.

Entry into the Famous face Changing Opera 120 yuan unless you meet Mr. Lee and it is 90 yuan approx $14.20-18.40 per ticket 

I had a chance meeting with Mr. Lee and got discounted tickets.  I promise a full post is coming on this… my bullshit meter was going off hard on this man… but he is 100% legit and if you are lucky enough to meet him you get discounted tickets.    I will give you ALL his details in an upcoming post but if you are going to Chengdu I HIGHLY recommend you contact him.  Amazing dude!

Bottle water 2-6 yuan 

Depending on where you are water can cost as little as 2 yuan or as much as 6.  Still pretty affordable if you drink a lot of water like me… but since I stayed at the Marriott they gave me 6-10 bottles of water free everyday.

Famous hot pot $10-100s

When you are in Chengdu the famous hot pot restaurants are a MUST DO.  You pick and choose what you want to eat so this meal can be super cheap or get very pricey if you get a few beers, a couple bottles of wine and quite a few options.    The average cost is closer to $20 but this is something that can get very expensive but you would have to order a lot of alcohol and options.

So there you have it a few costs that I personally spent and the averages to help you budget you next trip.  As you can see Chengdu is very affordable especially when it comes to food and I HIGHLY recommend you include it on your China trip.

 

Green Smoothie Challenge- Who is with me?

I admit this is something I have been putting off until I came back from China because I feel it is always good to detox a bit after you spend a week eating rich food.

I was contacted by Positive Health Wellness about their smoothies and as I dug deeper into their website I love their approach to health and wellness. I am very into hot yoga right now and honestly when I match yoga up with a smoothie I truly feel like a super hero.

So I am absolutely 100% doing this 7 day smoothie challenge and I want you to join me.  It is free and has simple recipes to follow.

Here is the link so you can join in with me.  I am going to share my smoothies on insta

Also check out their site I found this post which is an excellent source of meal replacement smoothies which I am excited about because I always want smoothie healthy but not a full meal after yoga.

So I am back from China today and I am starting this challenge tomorrow and I want you to join me!  It is just one drink a day and I am not asking you to give anything up, but just drink to your health!

If you join in make sure you tag me @TheCubicleEscapee and @positivehealthwellness and let us know that you joining me!

 

Headline Photo Credit goes to Positive Health Wellness.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FIFTY SHADES FREED

“I just wanted to see some free titties, that’s all, but there’s no such thing as free titties, is there Zack, is there?” -Craig Robinson, Zack and Miri Make A Porno.

Boy, if that quote pertains to anything, it is having to sit through this train wreck of a trilogy. The only reason why I saw the other two and this last in the trio, FIFTY SHADES FREED, is to see Dakota Johnson’s breasts. I’m a man, so fucking sue me. I always thought she was cute and funny before these films and when I heard she was hired for the trilogy, I knew she would have to give up the goods. But if I realized that I was going to sit through 5 to 6 hours of total absolute boredom and ridiculous campiness over the past three years in the theater with my wife, just to see some celebrity woman’s breasts…I think I would’ve waited for the online leaks and just used my fast forward, rewind, and pause button. Jesus these films are terrible.

The best I can say about this film is that it is the most tolerable of the three. The first one had the most plot, but the terrible chemistry between the two leads made everything unbelievable and unbearable to watch. The second film is absolutely fucking pointless, has the least amount of plot, if it has any plot at all, and doesn’t make one lick of sense. The only thing that has gotten better from movie to movie is Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan seem to not hate each other anymore, and their chemistry is a little better. In this movie, their chemistry is the best, and it has a little more plot than the last film, but everything else is stupid and pointless and boring.

And this probably has the least sex of the three films. I thought these things were going to break the barrier of how much sex you can get away with in a R rated film. These films weren’t meant to be R rated. E.L. James should’ve just sold to rights to Cinemax and let them have their way with the material with bad acting and direction, but at least the sex would’ve probably been more accurate in accordance to the source. Or they should’ve just got full NC-17 a la Blue Is The Warmest Color or Shame. To make these rated R is slapping romance fan fiction novels in the face. Every woman knows it. I have a feeling if one woman has a dilemma from now on from either re reading one of the novels and watching the movie, they will just reread the novels and never put the disc in the player again.

I mean, can I even explain the plot of the film. It’s just the Twilight series but stripped of everything vampire and added sex. In the third one, they get married, some jealous asshole is after them both for revenge (hardly, and for only like 10 mins), and of course, well, I mean come on, if it is Twilight fan fiction you know they also have to deal with an unexpected development and consequence of having so much sex.

But why am I here? You know whether you are going to see this film or not. If you are a guy, you are trying to score some brownie points to see this with your lovely lady. If you are a lady, you have either read the novels and/or a fan of the film series and already know it is schlock but really don’t care. All I know as a really big fan of cinema, these movies are some of the worst projects to every come out of Hollywood. It is a slap in the face to cinema and it is a head scratcher how films like this can be made, but Hollywood won’t take more chances on original content. It’s disgusting and disturbing all at the same time. This is another film (how is it that I have basically had three movies in a week and a half that will end up like this) that will be on my worst of 2018 list, just like the 2nd one was last year, and the first one was a year before.

Also the best thing about this film? Is that this is the end. Well, did I just jinx it though? Because couldn’t they make a fourth film that doesn’t follow the novel that has some kind of plot with them trying to have sex around the obvious plot development that I mentioned earlier in this review? If Hollywood is really running out of ideas, they just might. I really hope this is the end, or that the film doesn’t make enough money to get Hollywood greedy assholes to squeeze out a fourth film. Maybe they’ll wait 35 years and we will see Dakota and Jamie has old people having hot wrinkly old sex? I don’t know. I only know one thing, and I already posted this on Facebook but it is so relevant to how I feel: The Fifty Shades of Black trilogy is the worst thing since living in Europe between 1347 to 1351.

Just escape the cubicle already

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