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Black Panther (2018) - Movie Review

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Black Panther - Movie Review

Movie Review

5 starsLet’s get this out of the way quickly: this reviewer is white male from Australia in his early 40s. I have not, nor will I ever refer to another person or cast with a preface of black, Asian, jupitarian, or anything else, because to this small fry in the world, we are people. I am not ignorant of the fact that there has been a massive underrepresentation of the beautiful diversity this world provides, and that this is an all too (at least for now) rare and special event for those that have been underrepresented for too long. I will leave that side of the equation to the underrepresented and get on with my job: the review of Black Panther.

For those not steeped in the world of comics, or of the movie business, it may surprise you to learn that Black Panther has been in development for a film adaptation since the early 90s. Wesley Snipes had tried all the way through that decade to get this one made, but ended up making his mark with a different Marvel character: Blade.

Cut to a few years ago, and Marvel Studios had conquered the world with their world-building magnum opus: the MCU. Black Panther was introduced to great acclaim a couple of years back in Captain America: Civil War. It is no small achievement in a stacked movie that also introduced a new Spider-man that he stood out. And he did, worthily.

Black Panther picks up days after the events in Civil War with Prince T’Calla (Chadwick Boseman) ascending to the throne of Wakanda after the untimely death of his father. The new king had held a lifelong reverence for his father, but quickly finds out that this secret utopian kingdom he now governs, hidden away from the rest of the world, has been maintained by some short-sighted traditions and some heavy sins. It is the sins of his father that stroll into Wakanda and force T’Challa to question what has been, what is, and what shall be from then on.

Based on that short synopsis you would think the film is solely T’Challa’s and that a time old story is just being regurgitated with new veneer. But Black Panther is rich, both in characters and in history. There are no, and I mean NO characters that are not fully fleshed out (you reading this DC??), have something organic and mesmerizing to contribute to the story, and move the film along at a cracking pace. There are ritual themes, spiritual themes, espionage, and even sword and sandal-esque adventure—all blended together beautifully, through the amazing characters.    

Boseman is a delight from the opening frames, much as he was in Civil War. He is relatable and commanding; he can play the straight man to his kid sister, and articulate T’Challa’s unrelenting desire for his ex (Nyong’o) without falling into the sugar bowl. All the supporting cast is fantastic as well. The characters that appealed the most to me were Okoye (Danai Gugira from The Walking Dead), T’Challa’s militant and traditional bodyguard and his precocious genius sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) who will rival Tony Stark for her inventiveness. Also one of the strongest villains to come out of the Marvel pantheon thus far is Michael B. Jordan’s Kilmonger. This dude is the worst kind of villain, dangerous and worthy of some empathy, because there is a relatable point to why he wants to upset the apple cart.

Production values are first rate. This is golden ticket production that realises the fictional African city of Wakanda to great effect. There is a lot of African design and ritual melded effortlessly into a very futuristic city, and the excellent way that is handled is to portray it as every day. None of that on the nose, wow look at how flash everything is; these eclectic characters are just going about their day, doing what Wakandans do.

This film has very little connective tissue to other films in the MCU, and holds its own without that crutch, which again is a testament to its many compelling elements, one of which I hope continues beyond The Avengers into the new batch of stand-alone films. This is just a fun, brisk, adventure that follows a good man finding his voice in a very important role.

It boggles the mind that this is the eighteenth film in the MCU. That they continue to produce engaging tales with relatively unknown characters that don’t merely deliver the same old, same old, but instead offer new points of view that reinvigorate and propel the audience to want to know more. T’Challa is not really a superhero; he is a king, and a humble man who wants to see everyone prosper as well as his own people. With a character like his, you can unroll another 20 of these: I’m in.

Film Details

Black Panther - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.
Runtime: 134 mins
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Genre: Action | Adventure
Tagline: The Avengers have a new king.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What happens now determines what happens to the rest of the world."
Theatrical Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site: http://marvel.com/blackpanther#/
Release Date: February 16, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: T'Challa, 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.

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Black Panther - Movie Review

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