Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

I went in expecting Oscar bait and I got a really well executed movie about a hot button issue that I found to be extremely well made. Usually when I see movies like this get high reviews I just assume it’s because of the subject manner it covers, but this is genuinely interesting from a filmmaking perspective and kept me engaged throughout the entire movie. There’s a lot to this, that I feel if handled by a different filmmaker, wouldn’t nearly be as interesting or engaging.

All of the performances are fantastic in this, specifically Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are true standouts. They’re able to cover a wide variety of emotions and convey them across really well without saying much. There’s lots of small mannerisms in their performances that really made both of them stand out from the rest. Daniel Kaluuya is so good this, the way he delivers lines comes with so much emphasis behind it and really makes this character feel real.

The writing and story I found to be really interesting. Throughout most of the movie it has this moral ambiguity on what is right and wrong. It’s trying to find a proper justification for the actions LaKeith Stanfield’s character makes and for most of it really makes you question everything he’s doing right alongside the actual character, cause he’s conflicted about what he’s doing. 

The cinematography is great in this. There’s so many unique shots that use different types of techniques to help emphasize the tone of the scene. There’s lots of long takes that really build up tension, there’s lots of handheld that give the movie a more personal angle at times. There’s also lots of just really well choreographed scenes of characters walking in and out of frame without much camera work done at all. It really strikes a good balance between all of that and I felt it worked really well. 

My main issue with this movie is definitely the sound mixing/editing along with the score. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the score, it fits with certain scenes but then at other points it really feels like it’s taking away from the emotions of some of the scenes because of how it’s mixed. The music seems to have a different tone compared to what’s actually happening and doesn’t merge all that well in my opinion. There’s some times it’s mixed in well, but the other 95% just seemed really overbearing. I found a lot of the sound effects used to be poorly mixed into the scene.

There’s this one part where one of the characters is in a bar and he’s waving around this pool stick and when he swings it, it makes that stock “whoosh” sound effect. It really stood out in that scene cause it felt like whoever placed that in there just dropped it onto the timeline and didn’t mess with it. That was a very specific example of bad sound mixing in this, but there’s lots of other scenes like the one I just described. 

Overall this movie was really solid. Sorry if there was a lot of grammatical issues in this review I’m writing it really quickly cause I’m tired and just finished it. Check this movie out, definitely worth watching if you have HBO Max.

2021 Reviews: boxd.it/aMx3a