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Marvel’s What If…? – Season 1 Episode 2 Review

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What If…?  is the latest Marvel Studios project to arrive on our small screens on Disney +.

The animated anthology series, created by Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia writer A.C. Bradley and Marvel vet Bryan Andrews flips the script on the MCU as following the creation of the multiverse in Loki’s first season finale, What If…? reimagines famous events from the films in unexpected ways.

 

The first episode which debuted last Wednesday introduced a new character to the MCU, Captain Carter and offered an altered take on Captain America: The First Avenger. Now in Episode 2 The Watcher shows us a unique look at T’Challa who’s mistakingly put into the world of the Ravager’s and Guardians of the Galaxy which certainly offers an outlandish and awesome take on an iconic character as he’s put into a completely new environment and ultimately becomes The Star-Lord.

What you call destiny is just an equation, a product of variables. Right place, right time, or in some instances, the wrong place at the wrong time. As fate would have it, at that very moment, a Ravager spacecraft was arriving on Earth to abduct the spawn of the Celestial, Ego. But in this universe, Yondu outsourced the assignment to his subordinates.

The Watcher

What if…? T’CHALLA BECAME A STAR-LORD? 

Synopsis

The Rough-and-tumble space pirates known as the Ravagers abduct T’Challa instead of Peter Quill 

Review

What If’s …? second episode titled What If…? T’Challa Became a Star-Lord? was a really fun yet an emotional ride, I found myself smiling throughout as hearing the late Chadwick Boseman play T’Challa was incredible and heartbreaking to know that this is his final performance as the Iconic Wakandan King. Overlooking this Galactic adventure is The Watcher( Jeffrey Wright) who again addresses the “What If..?” moment that created an alternate timeline in the multiverse. 

The exact moment in Episode two happens when Yondu outsources the assignment from Ego to retrieve Peter Quill from earth which is seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. He gives this assignment to the Ravagers and they mistakenly end up abducting T’Challa and ultimately erases the events seen in Black Panther and Guardians. 

 

What I loved is that instead of giving the viewers a remake of the first volume of the Guardians movie like they did with Captain Carter for The First Avenger, we’re given an entirely new story. Episode 2 really shows What If’s…? true potential is too create these Multiverse stories that are engaging and ultimately full of heart. 

The overall story is very much entertaining with plenty of Sci-fi elements fused with comedy and action. It is Guardians of the Galaxy however it switches the point of view from Quill to T’Challa, which impacts and changes the galaxy more than you’d think. Chadwick Boseman is at the centre of the episode playing T’Challa’s version of Star-Lord, his presence is heartbreaking but is truly cherished by the audience. He voices T’Challa who’s not confined to a Throne, so Boseman is able to explore this new swashbuckling Ravager hero who has helped make the galaxy a better place as they believe that T’Challa is basically a galactic Robin Hood.

©Marvel

His charismatic presence also inspires everyone around him to do more and be better. Its astonishing to see how far his influence goes especially since he’s managed to change this versions Thanos. This goes to show as I previously said that rather replacing characters, episode two highlights certain changes that send ripples across the galaxy and ultimately show a side to characters that we never expected to see. 

Along for this galactic adventure are T’Challa’s team of Ravagers which are filled with familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Michael Rooker( Yondu), Djimon Hounsou( Korath), Chris Sullivan( Taserface), Karen Gillen(Nebula), Josh Brolin(Thanos), Benicio Del Toro(The Collector), Ophelia Lovibond (Carina), Kurt Russell (Ego), John Kani( King T’Chaka), Danai Gurira( Okoye) and Carrie Coon, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Proxima Midnight and Ebony Maw from The Black Order.

Hey, Cha-Cha

Nebula

Speaking of Karen Gillan, this version of Nebula is no artificial machine but rather organic as in this timeline her relationship with her father is significantly changed to more of an embarrassing dad then what once was a genocidal monster. she’s in no pain so Gillan’s vocal performance is able to flirt and rendezvous with T’Challa. I Absolutely loved the heist style as Nebula’s design is absolutely gorgeous dressed to the nines and she’s now got some golden locks.

©Marvel

T’challa’s relationship with Yondu also makes this episode a highlight as Rooker and Boseman work well together as they too share plenty of emotional senes together. 

The animation has continued to be high quality and this episode features neo-futuristic colours. Its visually high quality that captures comic book moments. 

Overall, this second episode is a major improvment. In Chadwick Boseman’s final performance as T’Challa, we get everything we loved about his performance of the character. This episode even serves as a reminder that no matter what reality, Boseman’s character is sure to leave a legacy of kindness, bravery, and loyalty. The episode wraps up nicely and provides a heartwarming conclusion for this what if scenario.

©Marvel

Marvel’s What If…? is now streaming weekly on Disney+ every Wednesday.

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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Animation

Marvel Animation’s X-Men ’97 | Official Trailer — Disney +

Continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series (1992)

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Genre:

Animation, Action, Adventure

Release Date:

March 20, 2024

Director:

Disney +

Cast:

Jennifer Hale, Ray Chase, Lenore Zann

Post Summary:

Continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series (1992)

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Animation

Despicable Me 4 | Official Trailer — Universal Pictures

Plot unknown. Fourth installment of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise.

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Despicable Me 4 [credit: Universal Pictures]

Genre:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

July 3, 2024

Director:

Chris Renaud, Patrick Delage

Cast:

Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wig, Sofía Vergara

Plot Summary:

Plot unknown. Fourth installment of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise.

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