Just Mercy (2019)

Just Mercy
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham,
Based on: Bryan Stevenson‘s memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Harding, Hayes Mercure
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Content Note: (criticism of) racism

Plot:
In 1987, Walter McMillian, called Johnny D. (Jamie Foxx), is arrested for the murder of a young, white woman. Despite his protestations of innocence, he is sentenced to death. In 1989, young Harvard graduate Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) opens the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, determined to help prisoners on death row who are often black and have often had only insufficient legal representation. He meets Johnny D. and, convinced of his innocence, takes up the fight to prove it.

Just Mercy is definitely an emotional film and one with an important political point to make, but it does feel a little like it’s trying too hard to stay too clean.

The film poster showing Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) in front of an orange background with various film stills.
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Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly, Ariana Neal
Seen on: 8.12.2018
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Content Note: police violence, racism

Plot:
It’s New Year’s Eve and Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) has a full day ahead of him. He lives with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their daughter and he hasn’t been exactly honest with her, but he wants to do better. He also wants to try and find a new job before she finds out that he lost his old one. And it’s his mom’s (Octavia Spencer) birthday to boot. But by the end of the day, all of his plans will come to a screeching halt and Oscar will be dead, shot by the police.

Given that Fruitvale Station is based on a true story, I was aware that this film wouldn’t be exactly easy. Even though I was braced for that, it still hit me hard. It’s just really, really good.

The film poster showing Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) standing on a subway platform.
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Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comic character
Part of: Marvel movies
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, Isaach De Bankolé, Stan Lee
Seen on: 16.2.2018
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Plot:
After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) has to return to Wakanda to claim the throne. Returning means reuniting with his friends and family. But the transition of power is a delicate time. And there is more than one threat to Wakanda and T’Challa’s rule.

I didn’t hear a single bad word about Black Panther before I saw it, so my expectations were pretty high. And I’m happy to say that they were absolutely more than fulfilled. Black Panther is a visually, narratively and politically strong film that’s also simply entertaining.

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Creed (2015)

Creed
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Sequel to: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V, Rocky Balboa
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish, Liev Schreiber (in a voice cameo)
Seen on: 21.1.2016

Plot:
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is settled with a big legacy: he is Apollo Creed’s son. He calls himself Donnie and uses his mother’s surname, just to make sure that he isn’t carrying on his father’s legacy but building his own as a boxer, much to the dismay of his foster mother and Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), who would rather not see him box at all. But Donnie makes his own plans: he gives up his job in finance, moves to Philadelphia and seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylverster Stallone) to ask him whether he’d be willing to train him.

I have to admit that I have not seen any of the Rocky films, so I really have no point of reference for the background of this film. But it isn’t actually necessary. Creed was an engaging sports/boxing film that even brings something new to the table.

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Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank
Based on: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s comics
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Seen on: 17.8.2015
[Here’s my review of the 2005 Fantastic Four film. Or rather, my drunken tweet-along of said film. And its sequel.]

Plot:
Reed (Miles Teller) has been working on a teleporting device ever since he was a kid. With the help of his friend Ben (Jamie Bell), he has even some success to show for it. But nobody takes his attempts seriously – until Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) comes to his science fair to recruit Reed for his secret interplanetary travel project. Also working on that project: Storm’s daughter Sue (Kate Mara), his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) who otherwise would only engage in high risk behavior, and finally the volatile but brilliant Victor (Toby Kebbell). Within a short amount of time, the four of them manage to establish a connection to a planet and in a clandestine nightly operation, the guys invite Ben along and the four of them give it a go. But from that trip, Victor doesn’t return at all, and Reed, Ben, Johnny and even Sue who got them back, end up changed beyond belief.

I had heard bad things about Fantastic Four before seeing it, as did probably everybody else on the planet. So my expectations were low, but I decided to give it a chance anyway, thinking that maybe there was some mob mentality going on and maybe the film isn’t quite as bad as hyped. But I should have believed all those negative reviews. And I should have brought alcohol. Because Fantastic Four is an astoundingly bad film.

Fantastic-Four[SPOILERS]

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Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Max Landis
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw

Plot:
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) comes from a difficult family situation, with an abusive father (Michael Kelly) and a dying mother, and his only real social contact is his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). But other than that, he seems to be a rather normal teenager. That is, until he, Matt and Matt’s friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan) stumble upon a mysterious thing in a hole in the ground. Shortly afterwards, they discover that they develop telekinetic powers. And since teenagers are, well, teenagers, things soon get out of hand.

Found footage movies can go so wrong so quickly and I usually don’t like them a whole lot. Fortunately, Chronicle doesn’t fall into that category. Tough the ending gets a little out of hand, it is a really cool film.

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