Black Panther: Film Review

Just like last year, 2018 is go­ing to be a huge year for comic book movies. And when you think about it, it’s shock­ing that we never had a comic book fo­cus­ing on Stan Lee and Jack Kir­by’s cre­ation Black Pan­ther. If “Black Pan­ther” does­n’t get peo­ple ex­cited, I don’t know what will.

After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a 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.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)

There’s no deny­ing that Black Pan­ther’s in­tro­duc­tion in “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War” was one of the best as­pects of the en­tire film (along with Spi­der-Man), and it meant that we could be get­ting a sweet stand­alone movie a cou­ple years later. “Black Pan­ther”  was my third most an­tic­i­pated movie of 2018, not only be­cause it’s from Mar­vel, not only be­cause of the great en­sem­ble, but also be­cause of writer/ di­rec­tor Ryan Coogler. In his early 30s, he be­came one of the most tal­ented African- Amer­i­can di­rec­tors work­ing in Hol­ly­wood, and any­time his name is at­tached to any pro­ject, I’m so there. His last two films, “Fruit­vale Sta­tion” and “Creed,” were some of my fa­vorite movies of 2013 and 2015, re­spec­tively. And while it’s not quite in my top 3 MCU films, there’s no doubt that “Black Pan­ther” was still amaz­ing through and through.

Al­though this is a su­per­hero movie, with all the stan­dards of the genre, Coogler does go for a unique take on the hero it­self. Some mo­ments started to feel like the first Thor in terms of sto­ry­telling. The screen­play that Coogler and Joe Robert Cole wrote took the time to show char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment through the world of the Wakanda cul­ture, a na­tion filled with high tech that the world does­n’t know about. Though I’m don’t know much about the lore from the comics, by the looks of it, the film’s pretty ac­cu­rate.

The world build­ing of Wakanda is as­tound­ing. You can clearly tell that it’s Coogler be­hind the cam­era do­ing a pro­foundly great job with helm­ing this. It re­minded me of “The Lion King,” but set in the MCU. Coogler’s di­rec­tion is beau­ti­ful, cap­tur­ing some ac­tion set pieces with stun­ning cin­e­matog­ra­phy shot by re­cent Os­car-nom­i­nee Rachel Mor­ri­son (“Mud­bound”).

Chad­wick Bose­man is per­fect as T’Challa/ Black Pan­ther. We’ve seen that he was on the path of re­venge in “Cap­tain Amer­ica: Civil War” for the death of his fa­ther. Now, he must be­come the leader of his coun­try, but also has to wear his Vi­bra­nium cos­tume to fight. T’Challa also strug­gles with his legacy. Bose­man crushes his role, ce­ment­ing him as one of my fa­vorite comic book char­ac­ters. He to­tally en­cap­su­lates me.

Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and Sydelle Noel in Black Panther (2018)

When I heard Michael B. Jor­dan was go­ing to be play­ing the main vil­lain, I was over the moon. Jor­dan is one of my fa­vorite ac­tors, and when he’s work­ing with Coogler,  such as with his pre­vi­ous two films, noth­ing can go wrong. And with his per­for­mance as Erik Stevens/ Kill­mon­ger, he turned out to be one of the best MCU vil­lains since Loki or The Vul­ture from “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing”. Un­like some of the weaker vil­lains in this uni­verse, Kill­mon­ger has an un­der­stand­able mo­ti­va­tion and rage, and you ac­tu­ally be­lieve it with this kind of con­flict. Also, this is a per­fect mul­li­gan af­ter “Fan­tas­tic Four.” We all want to for­get any­body was in that mess.

The ac­tion se­quences and fight senses were very slick and ex­cit­ing, play­ing like a James Bond film set in a comic book world, es­pe­cially the se­quence in a casino that heav­ily sug­gested “Sky­fall,” I’ll ad­mit, the first se­quence was a lit­tle hard to see, but it was still cool.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)

The film’s di­verse en­sem­ble is per­haps my fa­vorite in any of the Mar­vel films by far, be­cause it’s mostly African-Amer­i­can. Be­sides Bose­man and Jor­dan, there’s Lupita Ny­ong’o as Nakia, “The Walk­ing Dead”’s Danai Gurira as Okoye, “Get Out”’s Daniel Kalu­uya as W’K­abi, Leti­tia Wright as Shuri, Win­ston Duke as M’Baku, An­gela Bas­sett as Queen Ra­monda and For­est Whitaker as Zuri.

Andy Serkis re­turns as Ulysses Klaue, last seen in “Avengers: Age of Ul­tron,” and he has a great time in his role as the other vil­lain in the first half. You can never go wrong with Serkis and a ro­botic hand. Mar­tin Free­man’s Everett K. Ross also makes a re­turn in the MCU, and I was sur­prised by how much his char­ac­ter got to do this time around.

Wright and Gurira, in par­tic­u­lar, were the scene steal­ers in ba­si­cally every scene they’re in. Guri­ra’s Okoye serves as T’Chal­la’s body­guard and leader of the Dora Mi­laje, and fights like a true war­rior. Wright’s Shuri, T’ Chal­la’s smart lit­tle sis­ter, is my fa­vorite new char­ac­ter in the MCU, bright­en­ing any mo­ment she’s on­screen. And she’s ba­si­cally the Q to T’Chal­la’s James Bond, work­ing with all the tech. Pe­ti­tion for a spin-off for Shuri, please? Every­body is talk­ing about her.

Letitia Wright in Black Panther (2018)

Still, there were a few flaws I per­son­ally had with the film. Though I love Jor­dan’s Kill­mon­ger, he had a sweet in­tro­duc­tion…and then he’s gone for al­most 50 min­utes. I re­ally missed his pres­ence. In ad­di­tion, some of the CGI was a lit­tle no­tice­able, and there were a cou­ple scenes that started to drag.

We’ve all seen African-Amer­i­can su­per­heroes on the big screen be­fore, such as in the “Blade” tril­ogy, and Wes­ley Snipes’ plan to do a “Black Pan­ther” film in the early ‘90s. But it has­n’t shown this much achieve­ment in a long time, re­leas­ing a fan­tas­tic movie with a black su­per­hero as the lead, lend­ing the film a unique view­point. “Black Pan­ther” has a lot go­ing for it, es­pe­cially dur­ing these dif­fi­cult times right now. “Black Pan­ther” might be on the same line with “Won­der Woman” with mak­ing an im­pact in the comic book genre (hope­fully with no back­lash later on).

With Black Pan­ther al­ready slated to ap­pear in “Avengers: In­fin­ity War” in a few months, who can’t be ex­cited? This just goes to show that Coogler is three for three as a di­rec­tor, and I can al­ready pre­dict that his next film will be an­other hit. “Wakanda For­ever” in­deed.

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)

The way “Black Pan­ther” was con­structed was near per­fect. It’s a per­fect stand­alone film; you don’t need to re-watch any of the other films in the MCU to en­joy it. As the first huge block­buster of the year, “Black Pan­ther” is a film that many peo­ple will be talk­ing about for months to come.

Ryan Coogler’s take on an MCU film lends “Black Pan­ther” a cool and styl­ish vibe, with killer ac­tion se­quences, a sweet en­sem­ble and one of the coolest he­roes cap­tured on screen.  Grade: B+

 

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