Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Star Trek Captain Philippa Georgiou Malaysian connection

Michelle Yeoh on the cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine as Captain Philippa Georgiou.
When the latest incarnation of Star Trek launched last September, Star Trek Discovery certainly sent where no Malaysian has gone before. That being Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh stepping onto a Federation starship as Captain Philippa Georgiou. More politely addressed as Tan Sri Dato' Seri Michelle Yeoh within Malaysia by her honorific titles received by royalty, she is widely known internationally for her prowess in martial arts action movies such as Hong Kong's Police Story 3 (1992) starring alongside Jackie Chan, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) with Chun Yun Fat. She has also been a Bond Girl in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies and other western film productions like Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and Luc Besson's biopic The Lady (2011) as  Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Prior to Star Trek, Michelle Yeoh's geek pop culture contributions include Babylon A.D. (2008) with Vin Diesel and more recently a surprise cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).

Interview of Michelle Yeoh on her role as Captain Georgiou.

Michelle Yeoh's stint on Star Trek Discovery began in the pilot episode "The Vulcan Hello" as Captain of the USS Shenzhou in the year 2256, approximately 10 years before Star Trek The Original Series (TOS). As Philippa Georgiou, she is a highly decorated Starfleet officer and mentor for the last 7 years to Lt. Commander Michael Burnham, the new series lead character as portrayed by Sonequa Martin-Green of The Walking Dead fame. Although human, Burnham was raised on Vulcan under tutelage of Ambassador Sarek, father of the infamous Mr Spock. The relationship between Georgiou and Burnham on the Shenzhou is much like surrogate mother to daughter with the Captain nurturing the younger officer's humanity from Vulcan stoicism and instilling Federation ideals.

On the bridge of the USS Shenzhou (left to right): Saru (Doug Jones), Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).


Michelle Yeoh has infused her character with cultural elements outside the typical American mold of television. Most notably of which she does not speak English with an American accent as would have most principal cast of US productions. Whilst most Malaysian and Asian viewers are quite used to her accent and tone inflections, indeed it is uncommon for American viewers to hear foreign accents outside stereotypical racial roles. Hence it became a statement on Star Trek progressiveness in television for its equality and inclusiveness, a theme that has resounded since TOS first aired over 50 years ago with a racially diverse principal cast. Read more about netizens initial reaction of her accent on Netshark.com; side observation on our part that some Americans have difficulty understanding English spoken outside their native accents.

A Wayang Kulit puppet seen on Captain Georgiou's ready room.
The producers of Star Trek Discovery have subtly included cultural references of Georgiou's Asian heritage. Although us Malaysians here have probably yet to encounter anyone local with such a surname, perhaps that will change in another 200 years. Months ago, screenshots of Captain Georgiou's ready room / office on the starship Shenzhou highlighted a Wayang Kulit puppet in the background (see picture above). Wayang Kulit is a traditional puppet shadow-play originating from southeast asia. Whilst widely known by Malaysians, the traditional performance is now a diminishing art form amongst younger generations. Find out more about how the artists at Fusion Wayang Kulit (FWK) are infusing modern pop culture into this traditional art to revive interest for the current generation.


In the latest Star Trek Discovery episode and season one finale "Will You Take My Hand?", Michael Burnham asks Philippa Georgiou of her homeland. In reply Captain Georgiou replies that he grew up in Malaysia.


Upon further probing by Burnham, she more specifically pinpoints Pulau Langkawi, translated to English as Langkawi island. In response Burnham mentions of "beautiful beaches".



In what would likely be seen as a few throwaway lines elsewhere in the world, these mentions of Malaysia and Langkawi has certainly gotten Malaysians buzzing on social media. Considering that western entertainment media typically references locations that more widely known to American audiences, e.g. New York, San Francisco, London, etc., hearing not just one but two references associated to our country in an established sci-fi franchises like Star Trek clearly resounded in many Malaysians. Here are some reactions to our Instagram photo posted yesterday and shared to Facebook:

Response by Malaysian Trekkies on Facebook Group Starbase MY - Star Trek Fans Malaysia.


We have no inkling on whether dear Tan Sri Yeoh influenced selection of Pulau Langkawi entering Star Trek canon, although Georgiou's association with Malaysia had been unofficially hinted some time ago on Trek chatter. Since Michelle Yeoh's actual hometown is Ipoh, perhaps Langkawi simply served better as an exotic sounding name that had more syllables. Indeed it could have been spoken as "Langkawi island" instead of "Pulau Langkawi", noting that most of Star Trek's audience do not speak the Malay language and therefore would not read "pulau" as "island". Nevertheless with Burnham's mention of "beautiful beaches" it does help serve as somewhat of a tourism plug for Langkawi.


For our readers elsewhere in the world, Malaysia is a tropical country in southeast asia just north of the equator. West Malaysia comprises a peninsula stretching between Thailand and Singapore, whilst East Malaysia spans along the northern shores of Borneo island. Total land area of Malaysia is 330,803 sqkm, roughly 13% smaller than Japan.


Langkawi is an island just off the northwest coast of peninsula Malaysia bordering Thailand. It measures 478 sqkm, approximately two-thirds the size of Singapore. As an island resort, Langkawi does offer "beautiful beaches" associated with island attractions and geoforest parks. Direct access to the island by air is provided via an international airport, and good for travel most times of the year from sunny tropical weather. Discover more about Langkawi from the official tourism website.

== / == End Commercial Break (LOL!) == / ==

These are not actually the first time Malaysia has been mentioned in Star Trek, but the third. The first was way back in year 2000 in the seventh season of Star Trek Voyager on an episode titled "Inside Man". As a member of Project Pathfinder, Lieutenant Reginald Barclay (a recurring Starfleet character played by Dwight Schultz) was experiencing transmission problems sending his hologram to the USS Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant. His apparent obsessive paranoid soon annoys his supervising officer who then tell Reg to take a leave of absence and offered use of his cousin's beach house in Malaysia during that time off. It seems even 18 years ago Malaysia was somewhat associated to "beautiful beaches", which is most certainly true in the current 21st century.

Reginald Barclay (right) offered to take a vacation on the beach in Malaysia during Voyager's episode "Inside Man".
 The next mention of Malaysia came two years later in Star Trek Enterprise during the middle of the series first season in the episode titled "Silent Enemy". In this instance, Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula of "Quantum Leap" fame) had requested Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) to track down the parents of his tactical officer Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating). After locating them, Hoshi inform Archer that Reed's parents are located in Kota Baharu, Malaysia. Again for those not familiar with Malaysia, Kota Bahru (correctly spelt) is capital city for the northeastern state of Kelantan in West Malaysia. In today's day and age, this city of 300,000 people does not come to mind as a first choice for western expatriates to make home; Reed's parents seem to hail from England. Perhaps in 150 years later (of which Star Trek Enterprise takes place), Malaysia's My Second Home (MM2H) Programme has effectively attracted nationals from all over the world for long-term residence / retirement in our outlying cities and "beautiful beaches".

Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) informs Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) on the whereabouts of a colleague's parents in the Star Trek Enterprise episode "Silent Enemy".
Find all the references of Malaysia in Star Trek at Memory Alpha powered by Wikia.


START SPOILERS, beware reading further if you have yet to watch any episodes of Star Trek Discovery.

Avid followers of the series would be well aware that the Philippa Georgiou in this final episode is not the same version of the person starting the series. The original Captain Georgiou (also played by Michelle Yeoh) was killed by Klingons at the end of the series pilot in episode two "Battle at the Binary Stars". Michael Burnham bears the guilt of being unable to save her Captain or bring back her body (which was subsequently eaten; gross!).

Philippa Georgiou & Michael Burnham face off against Klingons in Episode 2 "Battle at the Binary Stars".

In true scifi fashion, Philippa Georgiou returns to Burnham and the Discovery, albeit another version from the Mirror Universe. This Georgiou is far from the compassionate nurturing mother-figure of the Prime Universe, but a ruthless dictator of the Terran Empire. Burnham saves the Terran Georgiou from certain death and brings her over to the Prime Universe. Through desperation on the losing side of the war with Klingons, Terran Georgiou in this final episode "Will You Take My Hand?" is appointed by Starfleet Command to take guise as the Prime Universe Georgiou to Captain the Discovery on a critical mission to end the war.

Here's the actual scene from the Episode "Will You Take My Hand?".

So in this context, viewers know that Burnham is testing Terran Georgiou on her guise as Prime Georgiou in front of the bridge crew. Therefore it could be said that Georgiou's replies may reflect the Terran counterpart instead of the Prime version. However, Burnham did not openly challenge her replies so it could be surmised both Malaysia and Langkawi may be consistent to the origins of the Prime Georgiou. And surely such background information should be readily available from Starfleet service records that Terran Georgiou would have studied prior to her assuming guise of Prime Georgiou.

Terran Georgiou posing as the Prime Georgiou on covert mission in the season finale.
As the episode plays out, we can be somewhat relieved that this Georgiou survives the season, albeit departing from the crew of the USS Discovery. It certainly leaves ample room for callback of Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh to reprise Georgiou in later seasons of Star Trek Discovery. And we will wait and see whether more Federation idealism rubs into Terran Georgiou steering her towards who was the Prime Georgiou. Though it was a fun ride watching the "evil" side of Michelle Yeoh as the Terrain Emperor since we are more used to seeing her in heroic character roles.

END SPOILERS

Another series on Netflix featuring Michelle Yeoh is Marco Polo. She portrays a martial arts warrior named Lotus in Season 2. This mega-budget series inspired from Marco Polo's journey in China during the rule of Kublai Khan was actually filmed in Malaysia at Pinewood Studios, Iskandar Johor. The production value is very impressive.


Whilst Philippa Georgiou's martial arts prowess was somewhat limited in Star Trek Discovery (why use swords when phasers are available), classic Michelle Yeoh kung fu action is part of Marco Polo:


For more out-of-this-world fantastical martial arts, watch the official sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon also available on Netflix titled Sword of Destiny. It also stars Donnie Yen and directed by Wo-Ping Yuen. Unlike the first movie, Sword of Destiny is in English as a Netflix Original Film.


Back to Star Trek, check out our resident Vulcan Mr Smock and Malaysian Trekkies Mr Enginer and Mr Thomas reviewing the finale episode and this first season of Star Trek Discovery:


Watch this video till the end as Smock will explain how to win a Netflix tote bag and complimentary subscription thanks to the nice people at Netflix. Help share this blog post as well and follow to get our latest posts as soon as they are transmitted.

Netflix goodies to giveaway. Watch our video review to find out how.
The entire first season of Star Trek Discovery is now streaming on Netflix and available to binge-watch at your leisure. Netflix also offers the entire Star Trek saga comprising over 700 episodes including the above-mentioned ones with references of Malaysia. Read out previous blog post that revealed the most popular Star Trek episodes watched by Netflix viewers. Also check out our rundown of Star Trek Discovery back when the series was just launched.


To connect with Malaysian Star Trek Fans, join the Facebook Group Starbase MY - Star Trek Fans Malaysia.

LIVE LONG & PROSPER #LLAP


Disclaimer: Star Trek and other trademarks are copyright to CBS and/or Paramount, referenced here for fan service announcements without intent to infringe. 



胡巴回归捉妖记2 Continuing Wuba's Adventure in Monster Hunt 2


看着《捉妖记2》即将在今年春节2月16日全马上映,之前还伴随着胡巴这萌娃大人偶到处宣传造势,再听说第一部的《捉妖记》口碑极好,所以在好奇心的驱使下,看完了《捉妖记》。

注明:以下影评将运用中文解说而已,如果造成不便请多包涵。
Note: The first movie's review will be written in Mandarin only, sorry for the inconvenience.

《捉妖记》剧情简介 《Monster Hunt》(2015) Movie Summary

Monster Hunt movie poster 第一部电影的海报

宋天荫(井柏然饰)意外怀孕生下萌妖胡巴后,为保护“儿子”,与天师霍小岚(白百何饰)一起对抗妖界的故事。很久以前,人与万物共存,当中也包括妖。但人想独占天下,于是人向妖宣战,把他们赶进了深山大泽,从此人和妖划界而治。一天,一对装人样的情侣妖竹高(曾志伟饰)和胖莹(吴君如饰),为了保护怀有小妖王的妖后逃避血妖的追杀,来到了永宁村,遇上了善良的天荫、降妖少女二钱天师小岚以及跟小岚对着干的四钱天师罗刚(姜武饰)。
天荫目睹人妖大战,才惊觉有妖的存在。妖后为了保住小妖王,决定将其托付给天荫,二话不说把肚里的蛋塞到天荫的嘴里,男子汉大丈夫的天荫从此就怀着妖胎成为“孕夫”。葛千户(钟汉良饰)重金悬赏小妖王。小岚为了得到赏金,硬拉着从没有离开过永宁村的天荫,躲避罗刚的争夺,离开永宁村展开了一段奇幻的旅程,途中遭遇大押店老板娘(汤唯饰)、厨子天师(姚晨饰)、一对萌妖(张悦轩和田雨橙饰)等各路人物。可爱的小妖王胡巴出生,令天荫和小岚的关系起了奇妙的变化,同时也揭穿了一个重大的秘密。经历一番风雨,原本频频被抓住了的胡巴最终被还是被天荫和小岚成功从坏妖手里救了出来。可人妖毕竟不能共处一世,胡巴呆在人类身边只会给彼此带来更多的灾祸,所以天荫忍下心赶走胡巴告别他妖。胡巴从此和其他妖怪们隐居过活,而天荫与妻子小岚也踏上寻父之旅...

The film takes place in the distant past, where the Human race existed alongside the Monster race. They once shared the world in peace and harmony until the Humans drove the Monsters out from their home, for they sought total dominion over their lands. Recently, a civil war took place in the Monster Realm which resulted in the usurpation of the Monster King's throne from a treacherous minister, who later sought the Monster Queen and her unborn baby, and the Monster Queen fled to the Human Realm. The story begins with Song Tianyin, an unnerved young village mayor who becomes pregnant with the Monster Queen's baby, and he encounters an aspiring Monster-hunter named Huo Xiaolan, and they both embark on an adventure to protect the baby from villains of the Human and Monster worlds alike. At the end Wuba was saved by Tianyin and Xiaolan after surviving various life-threatening fights, however human and monster cannot live together or it will bring disaster to each race, so Tianyin chases Wuba away and wave goodbye to other monsters as well. He then proceed to go on a journey to search for his father while Wuba is hiding away from human along with the other friendly monsters.
Source: Wikipedia


捉妖记》影评分析 《Monster Hunt》(2015) Movie Review (by Micho Teh)

说实话电影各方面偏低幼化,就说角色造型而言,电影里头不论好坏的妖,均一都眨着汪汪大眼,不怕小孩看了做噩梦,给人感觉上就几乎小妖王外的妖怪都长得太相似了。即便如此,妖怪设计细节却处理得非常好,比如说妖怪的性别之分会影响它们的形象-- 雄妖四只胳膊两条腿,雌妖则两只胳膊四条腿,还有妖怪们生气时候脑袋上的植物会有所反应变化。它们更有自己的独特性格,百变的表情,看着叫人觉得怪可爱的。影像方面来说, 整部电影虽没有特宏大的特效场面,但所存在的影像特效都弄得不差,当时更是在中国被称3D特效大片,吸引了不少人进去电影院观看。

Wuba is way too adorable. 胡巴真的很可爱。

故事情节非常简单,甚至肤浅:一对慈父虎母外加一群人人妖围绕着胡巴这新生儿历尽风雨到处奔波,本来男女主角照顾好它就为了最后可以卖个好价钱,怎么知道小妖孩卖掉没多久,两人就来个大反悔后势必救回胡巴不让它被葛老板众人宰吃了。当然最后,小妖王胡巴和它“父母”天荫小岚再怎么被折腾,最终必定安然脱险(即使死了也会起死回生的)。完美总结着善良必是战胜邪恶的不变概念,故事大都如此。但人们似乎都挺喜欢这不变的主剧情,也说不上这是好事还是坏事,反正放轻松去看待欣赏这电影还是可以的,没亏了票钱。


真人演员方面就男女主角人设较新颖逗趣,妇男宋天荫一瘸一拐一心一意承担照顾村子里的一切只为不辜负大众和奶奶的心意,这让人发自内心地喜欢这样温柔善良的角色。当小瘸子宋天荫被牵涉进入重重危机甚至阴差阳错怀上了小妖王,后遇上了霸气女主霍小岚而被逼接受她的出手相助和引导,两人之间所插出的火花定是电影的看头之一。直到后来小妖王胡巴出生了,一家三口的亲密互动更是叫人心暖暖的。可惜的是,出生后的胡巴虽然萌得大家一脸狗血,但是故事却没解释为何这小妖王的存在如此重要?它究竟凭什么让坏妖紧追他不舍,它的生死会到底会给妖界带来多大的影响?它又能怎么拯救现在已经是暴乱中的妖界?无奈电影里没做出任何说明,毕竟这些细节内容能帮助观众更投入并期待其角色和接下来故事的发展呀。整体来说电影里除了妖怪外的各个演员诠释演活了自己的角色,虽然有人会说演员们演技夸张太浮夸,个人却觉得这承托出彼此的不一样,为电影注入了更多生命和欢乐。

 Main Characters in the movie: Song TianYin (Jing Boran; standing) and Huo XiaoLan (Bai Beihe)
电影里男主角宋天荫(井柏然饰)
与女主角霍小岚(白百何饰)

观完《捉妖记》后,还特地上网找寻相关的资讯欲了解为何这电影可以创下24亿的票房。后来得知,当时柯震东吸毒事件波及这电影无法上映;角色换为井柏然扮演之后,制片人江志强决定投入七千万重新拍摄,而影片前后的投资高达3.5亿。 这样的一举动,让不少当地人拍手叫好,赞美这是良心制作之举,我想这决定不止带来了的强大宣传效果,还激起不少人民想要赞颂并支持如此“高尚”的诚意制作吧。
《捉妖记》并不完美,相反它有着明显的瑕疵,但这不代表这电影不值得一看,反而特别推荐给有小孩成员的家庭合家观看。


捉妖记2》剧情简介 《Monster Hunt 2》(2018) Movie Synopsis 

上一部与胡巴分别后,天荫(井柏然饰)带着小岚(白百何饰)踏上寻父之路,在义薄云天的天师堂堂主云大哥的帮助下,二人得知天荫父亲宋戴天的护妖轨迹;而重回永宁村的胡巴再度被妖王追杀,颠沛流离逃亡时结识大赌徒屠四谷(梁朝伟饰)和一只妖怪,三人一起过着相依为命的生活,但又因屠四谷欠下的巨额赌债横生诸多波折。与此同时,江湖盛传小妖王胡巴的重金悬赏令,妖界大军、天师精英、绿林草莽闻风而动,多方势力为抢夺胡巴在清水镇掀起腥风血雨。千钧一发之际,念子心切的天荫和小岚通过天师堂找到胡巴并一起逃离险境。岂料,一场更大的惊天阴谋尾随而至,伺机而动。

The story continues with Wuba after he parts way with his human parents Tianyin and Xiaolan for his own journey. Peace has not been restored in the monster world after the death of the evil monster king as a sinister lord has ascended and seized the throne. A heavy bounty is placed on Wuba dead or alive, forcing him to go into hiding again. He encounters an ill-famed gambler Tu (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) who's deep in debt and seemingly up to no good. Together, they form a reluctant alliance in order to escape from their predicament.
Source: Wikipedia



期待《捉妖记2》 What to expect in《Monster Hunt 2

第一部电影里没交代清楚的事物,想必是为《捉妖记2》预留下伏笔。而在拥有了制作第一部电影的经验和成功获取了高票房的收入的基础下,导演在这次还投资了9亿血本请来了工业光魔参与特效制作 ,就为了呈现出更壮观华丽的特效场面。导演依旧是曾在著名的电影制作公司梦工厂(DreamWorks Animation)工作并且前后执导过的《怪物史瑞克》系列和《穿靴子的猫之萌猫三剑客》的许诚毅,深信他对怪物题材和卖萌题材是特别拿手的,要不然也不会在《抓妖记》里创造出大家那么喜爱的萌妖们。
而第二部电影照旧是同一批制作班底,奠定了第二部的基调与第一部不会有太大的区别,这也同时保证影片质量。《捉妖记2》演员阵容也很强大,聚集了影帝梁朝伟、李宇春、黄磊、柳岩、大鹏等多位大牌明星,阵容豪华升级。而《捉妖记2》既有实地选景也有特别搭建以重现出第一部的奇幻色彩。根据网上所报导,该片的音乐和舞蹈加入很多异国元素,电影中的很多歌舞桥段都是由日本、印度等国专业舞蹈演员精心设计编排。

Wuba's "parents" -- Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) and Song Tianyin (Jing Boran)

The return of PangYing (Sandra Ng) and ZhuGao (Eric Tsang)

New characters  that everyone is looking forward to see on screen: 
Tu Sigu (Tony Leung Chiu-wa) and Zhu JinZhen (Li Yuchun a.k.a. Chris Lee)



The main theme of this movie will probably still relate to that of first movie about acceptance -- to accept differences by seeing through another person's perspective to foster greater understanding between groups of people. Sounds like an inspiring movie for all Malaysians to watch, yes? 

The man behind Monster Hunt 2 is Raman Hui, a Hong Kong animator and film director best known for co-directing Shrek the Third. Director Raman hired back the same production team of the first movie to ensure consistent quality of the sequel and further invest 9 million RMB (MYR5.6 million) into the VFX production, aiming to bring more elaborate fight scenes.

The original movie's younger stars, Bai Baihe and Jing Boran, have also both returned. New cast members in this sequel include Chinese pop star-turned-actress Li Yuchun and well-known actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai.

Check out the official weibo page for more behind the scene clips and photos from Monster Hunt 2

In China Monster Hunt 2 has already pre-sold 70.6 million RMB (MYR43.9 million) tickets a full 2 weeks prior to its opening day on 16 February 2018.

相信《捉妖记2》也会如其第一部一样,是个适合一家大小一块儿观看的春节喜剧电影。所以假日时不妨考虑带上家人一同去电影院观赏这个2月16日会在本地电影院上映的《捉妖记2》吧!让我们一起来摒息期待寻父中的宋天荫和胡巴能否再次重逢并且利用小妖王的力量为两界带来久违的和平吗?

Isn't Wuba just adorable?
Outpost intel reliably says that Wuba will be appearing LIVE! at selected Malaysian cineplexes this coming Chinese New Year on festive weekends. Stay turned to social media channels for GSC, TGV and MBO Cinemas announcing when & where to meet Wuba.


Meet Wuba live! at Malaysian cinemas in conjunction with Monster Hunt 2.
捉妖记2》电影宣传
TGV Cinemas have announced Wuba will be appearing at their cinemas over CNY as follows:


Also expect Wuba at MBO Cinemas at the following locations:


In addition watching Monster Hunt 2 at participating MBO Cinemas may win a Wuba plush toy. Get the link from their Facebook post to participate.




For the chance to win official Monster Hunt 2 movie premiums (pictured above), goto KLIPS by SAYS Malaysia to join their online contest by 19 February 2018.



GSC Cinemas is giving out Monster Hunt 2 Ang Pow packets with purchase of any two movie tickets at all GSC cineplexes (while stock last)! For more information refer to the GSC Website.


So let's look forward whether the super-cute baby monster Wuba can continue to fulfill his prophecy of bringing peace to the long-standing conflict between monsters and humans. What will happen next to Wuba and his "parents" Tianyin and Xiaolan? Catch 《Monster Hunt 2》 in cinemas this Friday 16 February to find out!


 Wishing everyone a 
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! 
在这祝福大家春节快乐,恭喜发财,财源广进,身体健康,万事如意!


Disclaimer: Monster Hunt 2 and other trademarks are copyright to 无锡影都传媒有限公司、安乐(北京)电影发行有限公司、蓝色星空影业出品 and distributed by Sony Pictures Malaysia, referenced here for fan service engagements without intent to infringe.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Black Panther welcomes Marvelites to Wakanda

2018 is going to be a BIG year for Marvelites (aka Marvel fans) with so much comic book movies being served from now until December. 20th Century Fox is contributing two movies in the form of Deadpool 2 in May and X-Men Dark Phoenix in November. Then there's the first Venom movie from Sony Pictures in October together with an animated Spider-man movie in December. Marvel Studios themselves will dish out three movies starting with Black Panther next week as a precursor to the ultimate superhero team-up in Avengers Infinity War this April, followed in July by Ant-Man & The Wasp. Plus there are whole servings of Marvel superheroes on TV from titles like Agents of SHIELD, The Gifted, Legion, The Runaways, Cloak & Dagger, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.


Kicking off Marvel-mania in the cinemas officially from 15 February 2018 next week is Marvel's Black Panther. Our titular superhero first appeared almost two years prior in Captain America: Civil War. In his debut, Black Panther was pursuing the Winter Soldier / Bucky Barnes who was wanted for the murder of Wakanda's King T'Chaka in a terrorist bombing of a United Nations conference. When Barnes was apprehended together with Captain America / Steve Rogers, it was revealed that Black Panther is Prince T'Challa of Wakanda, vowing revenge for the death of his father and King.

Black Panther as part of Team Iron Man in the awesome airport battle showdown against Team Captain America.
During the ensuing row between superheroes, Black Panther sided with Tony Stark as part of Team Iron Man against Team Captain America. The magnificent "airport battle" ended with the escape of Roger and Barnes though other members of their team were apprehended.

Subsequently, Black Panther secretly followed Stark to a Siberian Hydra base and learned the real culprit of the bombing was Helmut Zemo, a Sokovian seeking to fracture the Avengers who he blames for the death of his family during the incident with Ultron. Black Panther apprehended Zemo and ultimately provided sanctuary for Rogers and Barnes in his homeland of Wakanda.

First appearance of Black Panther in the pages of Fantastic Four #52.
Whilst elements of Black Panther in the movies are fairly consistent with the source comics, his first introduction back in 1966 was not in the pages of Captain America but inside issue 52 of the Fantastic Four. In the comics, Black Panther possesses super-human conditioning akin to the super-soldier serum but sourced instead from a heart-shaped herb associated with the Panther God Bast. In the movies, at least during the events of Civil War, no explanation of his powers was given although they could be conjectured as part of his vibranium enhanced costume. Other than this, his alter-ego as King T'Challa of the African nation Wakanda seems consistent with the comics.

Read more about Black Panther's comic book background from Star2.com.

Black Panther's vibranium costume provides immunity to bullets  and explosions.
Now Black Panther returns in this own solo movie outing taking place after the events of Captain America Civil War and shedding more light into the mysterious nation of Wakanda.



Movie Synopsis
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

Marvel's Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler with Chadwick Boseman reprising his role as Black Panther / T'Challa. Joining him is Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Angela Bassett as Ramonda &  Forest Whitaker as Zuri. Opposing our hero are Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Winston Duke as M'Baku, and Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue.

Marvel Studios Producer Kevin Feige and Black Panther co-creator Stan Lee share about developing Black Panther from comic book pages to screen.

Despite the fantastical worlds showcased in comic books, Marvel often created superheroes with very grounded human origins, many of which are credited to the legendary Stan Lee. Instead of aliens or gods (except for Thor and his entourage), many of Marvel's heroes are indeed regular humans that us mere mortals can relate to: the tech billionaire growing a conscience, the teenage kid rushing to grow up, a former felon who can't get a job, the arrogant doctor, etc.


However unlike most Marvel comic book superheroes, Black Panther does not originate from a particular locale in the United States based on our real world, but instead from a fictional African nation of Wakanda. Moreover, he holds the mantle of King and has to balance duty to his people against duty as a superhero. This forthcoming movie looks to be T'Challa's journey as the new King of Wakanda and his challenges from both internal and external discord.

Black Panther's costume showcased during San Diego Comic-con.
One of the most intriguing aspects to this upcoming movie is the nation of Wakanda itself. As shown in the trailers, Wakanda is very much a mysterious and reclusive African nation. It is soon revealed as the most technologically advanced nation on Earth and the source of vibranium, a highly sought after mineral for its unique properties, i.e. vibranium was used to make Captain America's "indestructible" shield.


Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) looks to be intricately fleshed out from the trailers, its people mixing cutting edge high-technology with age old tribal rituals. An ensemble cast reflects the Wakandans featuring Golden Glode award winner Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Queen Mother, and Letitia Wright as Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister and Princess of Wakanda.

Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther / T'Challa fulfilling his father's legacy.
 Angela Bassett as Queen Mother Ramonda (left) and Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri

The royal family is protected by the Dora Milaje, an elite special forces of warrior women led by "Wakanda forever" Okoye (Danai Gurira). T'Challa's love interest Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is also a member of the Dora Milaje.

The warrior women of Wakanda (Left to Right): Okoye (Danai Gurira) head of the Dora Milaje, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o).


Also supporting T'Challa is W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), his best friend and head of security. Academy award winner Forest Whitaker dons Wakandan robes as Zuri, an elder statesman and religious figure.

 Other key Wakandans (L to R): T'Challa's best friend W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), and tribal figure Zuri (Forest Whitaker).

Unsettling the peaceful nation and opposing King T'Challa's rule are M'Baku (Winston Duke), a powerful warrior of a Wakanda tribe, and Erik Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan. Killmonger in particular is seen to challenge T'Challa directly for the throne and looks legitimately bad@$$ enough to go toe-to-toe with the Black Panther when he morphs into his own presumably vibranium suit. Allied with them is arms-dealer and smuggler Ulysses Klaue played by Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) reprising his role from Avengers Age of Ultron albeit less an arm.

 Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger (left) seeks the throne with support of Wakandan tribal leader M'Baku (Winston Duke).

Face-off between rivals T'Challa (left) and Killmonger in tribal combat.

Motion-capture master actor Andy Serkis returns as arms-dealer Ulysses Klaue, but NOT as a CG character.
Another alumni from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies is Martin Freeman as CIA agent Everett K. Ross. He was last seen during the events of Captain America: Civil War as  Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Counterterrorism Center, reporting to US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross. In the trailer Ross is seen interrogating Klaue (Editor: wonder if the actors felt dejavu from their scene as Bilbo and Gollum, although in different shoes so to speak) about Wakanda, which ultimately leads him to the hidden African nation and providing us an outsider's view to that world.

Martin Freeman goes on another unexpected journey as Everett K. Ross.
Marvel's Black Panther has already had its World Premiere and press screenings, receiving rave reviews amongst critics and fans. Check out non-spoiler reviews by Star2.com with rating of 8.5 out of 10 and Den of Geek scoring 4 out of 5. At the time of this post, it rates 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 86 on Metacritic. That's ample reason of us comic book geeks to rush to cinemas as soon as possible and fortunately early sneak previews of Black Panther begin on Tuesday 13 February from 7pm onwards at the major Malaysian cinema chains.

Source: TGV Cinemas.
Like all Marvel movies, post-credit scenes are expected therefore stay in your seats for two (2) such scenes. If you find yourself starting to miss Wakanda then worry not as in just over two (2) months away the Black Panther will return alongside Steve Rogers and his comrades in Avengers Infinity War scheduled to release on 26 April 2018.

T'Challa returns for Avengers Infinity War together with Steve Rogers and friends to combat the forces of Thanos.
Now for Marvelites who must bring home some stuff, the Outpost Movie Recon Team (M.R.T.) has tracked down a whole slew of movie memorabilia and merchandise to worship the Black Panther. Starting with the movie exhibitors, GSC Cinemas is throwing out a whole lot of Black Panther merchandise for their customers:

Purchase of any two (2) movie tickets will be given Black Panther angpow packets.
Firstly, purchase of two (2) tickets for any movies will entitle redemption of Black Panther angpow packets from all GSC cineplexes. Find out how to redeem and other terms & conditions from the GSC official website.


Rewarding advance ticket purchases, a Black Panther keychain will be given away for four (4) tickets purchased from selected cinemas. Find out participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions from the official GSC website. Redemption begins from Tuesday 13 February, 6pm while stocks last.


For fans who can't wait, GSC is already making available concession combos offering a limited edition Black Panther collectible coin at selected cineplexes. The combos are priced at RM21 for West Malaysia comprising one large popcorn and 2 regular drinks plus the Black Panther coin. Again goto the official GSC website for list of the participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions.


Finally, an exclusive Limited Edition Black Panther tshirt is available from part of another concession combo priced at RM45 with one large popcorn and two regular drinks. As mentioned before, check out the official GSC website for participating cineplexes and other terms & conditions.


Over at MBO Cinemas, they are offering a Black Panther popcorn container which is sculpted like the titular heroes' head. Popcorn is included in the combos priced at RM30 for 1 drink, or RM33 for 2 drinks. The combos are already available so check with MBO Cinemas Facebook Page for cinemas offering them.


For the chance to win movie premiums, LFS Cinemas has posted a Facebook contest on their Page offering Black Panther tshirt, keychain, earphones, notebook and more. Act soon as this contest closes on 15 February 2018.


Premium-X Cinemas in OneCity USJ is also offering similar Movie Premiums via their online contest. Goto their Facebook Page for more details on how to participate and submit your entries by 25 February 2018.



Official Black Panther movie premiums up for grabs.

Lastly Klips by Says.com has these same movie premiums available via their website contest taking submissions until 19 February 2018.

Marvel collectors will be happy to get their hands on toys from Hasbro now available at major toy retailers and hobby stores. Various role play toys like Black Panther mask and claws will delight kids together with action figures priced from RM49.90.

Hasbro role-play toys with Black Panther masks, claws and gauntlet.

Kids action figures of major characters priced at RM49.90.
For more discerning adult collectors, the Marvel Legends products should be of keen interest. The 6in series offers Black Panther, Erik Killmonger and Nakia as seen in the movie. Other Marvel characters from the same set include Black Bolt the King of Inhumans, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Invincible Iron Man. Parts are included with each character, except Iron Man, to assemble Dora Malije leader Okoye. These action figures are premium priced at RM139.90 each. For more detailed review of the Marvel Legends Black Panther set, head over to our associate Pop Culture-FUN Malaysia blog.

Characters in the Marvel Legends 6in Black Panther series.

T'Challa as the Black Panther in Marvel Legends 12in scale, although availability may be limited in Malaysia.
LEGO has also released two building sets for Black Panther from scenes inspired of the movie. Set no. 76100 Royal Talon Fighter Attack priced at RM179.90 presents Wakanda's futuristic aircraft with a high ratio of four mini-figs including Black Panther himself, Killmonger, Nakia and Klaue.


The Black Panther's ride is pretty cool.
Set 76099 Rhino Face-off by the Mine is priced at RM129.90 includes both mini-figs of Black Panther and Killmonger in their panther costumes, plus Okoye and a rhino. Should we wager that in Wakanda the Dora Milaje ride rhinos to battle or this is just a gimmick that looks cool to kids?

Funko POP! vinyl figurine of Black Panther unmasked from the upcoming movie.
Collectors of Funko POP! cutesy vinyl figurines will be either delighted to extend their collection of Marvel characters into this movie, or despair with some characters available only as retail exclusives to hunt down. Read-up the official Funko POP! blog to find out what products are being made, although at this time we have yet to source availability in Malaysia.


That's a wrap for our special intel on Marvel's Black Panther covering what movie goers should know before entering the cinema, plus recon on where to find movie memorabilia at our local shores. Also follow Marvel Malaysia for latest updates on the MCU. Black Panther will be in cinemas nationwide 15 February 2018 as alternative fare to Chinese New Year movies.


Advance sneak previews begin Tuesday, 13 February from 7pm which offer an earlier option to catch the movie which may not be so appropriate for Valentine's Day consumption on Wednesday, 14 February.

Now as Stan Lee would say,
Excelsior!

Disclaimer: Black Panther and associated trademarks are copyright to Marvel Entertainment, referenced here for fan service purposes only without intent to infringe.