TV Review: Ms. Marvel (2022)

Title: Ms. Marvel
Release Date:  June 8 – July 13, 2022
Creator/Head Writer/Showrunner:  Bisha K. Ali
Episodes: 6
Production Company:  Marvel Studios
Summary/ReviewMs. Marvel, one of my favorite comic series, comes to life in this limited series from Disney+.  Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is an ordinary teenager in New Jersey, obsessed with the Avengers (especially Captain Marvel), the child of Pakistani immigrants, and a faithful Muslim.  A magical bangle reveals that she has powers and she begins to learn how she can be a superhero while uncovering her family history back to the Partition of India and Pakistan.

Vellani is perfect as Kamala capturing the conflict and joy of teenage life.  The rest of the cast, including Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur as Kamala’s parents, Matt Lintz as Kamala’s best friend Bruno, and Yasmeen Fletcher as Kamala’s good friend Nakia are also perfectly cast.  The style of the show is great with colorful, comic book animations in the credits and backgrounds of the show, and magnificent soundtrack of American pop songs mixed with Pakistani music.  Some people have criticized that Kamala’s powers are different from the comics but I like the change because 1) I don’t want to see the exact same story recreated, 2) I love how it ties in her powers to her family and cultural history, and 3) Marvels shows The Inhumans bombed so I can understand why they’d want to avoid that.

This was a delightful series and I look forward to Kamala Khan’s return in The Marvels next year.



Movie Review: For Sama (2019)

Title: For Sama 
Release Date: March 11, 2019
Director: Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
Production Company: PBS Frontline | Channel 4 News | ITN Productions

Journalist Waad Al-Kateab filmed her everyday life for five years as she finishes her university studies, falls in love, gets married, and has a baby.  The difference from other personal documentaries of this sort is that she filmed this in Aleppo during the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, and the ultimate fall of Aleppo to the forces of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Her husband Hamza was one of the few doctors to remain in Aleppo during the civil war and Waad’s film is unflinching in its depiction of the traumatic violence suffered by the patients brought to the hospital. And yet the movie is also a portrait of hope and perseverance of the people of Aleppo who somehow retain good humor under constant attack.

The movie as framed as a message to Sama, Waad and Hamza’s baby born during the war, explaining why her parents needed to stay.  You may question why anyone would keep a small child in the war zone, although we know the fate of Syrian refugee children was one that also could end in death.  At times I  feel that Waad might have gone to far in filming the brutal violence on people’s bodies and the grief of people watching their family die.  But it is nevertheless necessary to demonstrate the full horror of war and tyranny.  I think this is an important movie that everyone should see but be prepared as it is not easy to watch.

Rating: ****1/2