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Josh Reviews Loki Season One!

Loki picks up the thread of the alternate Loki who, in Avengers: Endgame, picks up the Tesseract and escapes after our heroes bungle their “time heist.”  This “Variant” Loki quickly finds himself apprehended by the TVA — the Time Variance Authority — a bureaucracy tasked with keeping the timeline secure and correct.  TVA agent Mobius (Owen Wilson) attempts to convince Loki to help the TVA track down a villain who is attacking their agents — who is apparently yet another Loki variant.

Marvel Studios’ third TV show for Disney+ is another winner, and at this point I have completely accepted these TV shows as essential pieces of the larger MCU.  I feel rather spoiled, actually.  Now, instead of waiting months and months between new MCU feature films, we can get new installments on a weekly basis?  I am completely in.

Loki is a delight.  I think it’s my favorite of the Marvel Disney+ series so far!  (Though I’ve really enjoyed all of them, so there’s not an easy winner.)

The show was created by Michael Waldron, who wrote several of the episodes.  (Mr. Waldron was a writer for Rick and Morty and wrote the script for the upcoming Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness film.)  All six episodes were directed by Kate Herron.  I was very impressed by the writing and direction of this series.  Everything seemed to click, even better than they did in WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  This was an impressive achievement all around.  I love that we’re getting feature-film quality product each week in Disney+!!

Tom Hiddleston was great right from minute one (the first Thor movie) as Loki, and he’s only gotten better and better — and the character richer and richer.  Because this Variant Loki begins as the villainous version of Loki from the first Avengers film, I worried that we might lose some of the wonderful development the character has gotten in subsequent films.  Thankfully, the show finds a way to quickly make this Variant Loki the most interesting version of the character we’ve seen to date.  I love the journey Loki goes on in these six episodes.  It’s fun to see him challenged and put in his place — Mr. Hiddleston is fantastic at showing Loki getting his bluster punctured — while still remaining the slightly dangerous character he’s always been.  I’m glad they didn’t file away all of his sharp edges.

Owen Wilson is a magnificent addition to the MCU as TVA agent Mobius.  He is an absolute delight pretty much every second he’s on screen.  Mr. Wilson’s comedic timing serves the series very well.  At the same time, he gives Mobius … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Da 5 Bloods

In Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee’s 2020 film, four Vietnam veterans (played byDelroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr.) reunite to travel back to ‘Nam.  Purportedly their mission is to recover and bring home the body of their fallen squad leader, but in fact they’re after a crate of CIA gold that they found and buried back during the war.  I was extremely taken by this film.  (It was one of my favorite movies of 2020!)

First of all: what a cast.  Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. are each absolutely fantastic as the four surviving “Bloods”.  Delroy Lindo plays Paul, who on the surface seems like the most haunted of the men by his experiences in the war.  Mr. Lindo’s blazing intensity is extremely well-used in the film.  As an audience member I was fearful both for and of Paul from the first moment I laid eyes on him, and wow does Mr. Lindo just crush several key monologues in the film.  I fell in love with Clarke Peters in The Wire and then again in (the beautiful, brilliant, vastly underseen) Treme, and he is marvelous as always here as Otis.  Otis seems to have made most of the arrangements for this return visit to Vietnam, and some of those arrangements seem like they might have been a little sketchy.  Mr. Peters’ innate likability plays nicely against the suspicions the film’s plot raises about Otis.  Norm Lewis plays Eddie, who seems to be the most financially successful of the Bloods, though he is still committed to this mission back into the jungle with his friends (for reasons we discover).  I love how Mr. Lewis makes Eddie the Blood who seems the most out of his element, back in the jungles of ‘Nam.  Then there is Isaiah Whitlock, Jr.; if the movie did nothing more other than to give him a new opportunity to say “sheeeee-it” on film (something which made this fan of The Wire supremely happy), then dayyenu!  That would have been enough.  But he’s got a lot of fun things to do in the film; he might just have been the Blood I most wanted to see get out of this situation intact!  (Though, seriously: that “sheeeee-it” is reason alone to see this film!)  Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Lovecraft Country) is very solid as Paul’s grown-up son David, who finagles his way into being a part oof the men’s mission.

The late, great Chadwick Boseman is tremendous, as he always was, as the Bloods’ dead leader “Stormin” Norman.  Mr. Boseman isn’t in too many scenes, but his role is critical.  We need … [continued]