Black Panther Review
After the death of his father, T'Challa 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.
Black Panther is the freshest taste of the MCU we’ve received since Guardians of the Galaxy, and in many ways, it’s more exciting and different than any of the other films in Marvel's stable, even though yeah, Black Panther is set on Earth.
The first ten minutes of Black Panther is the film at its roughest, but it’s a short flashback sequence and a trip into Wakanda away from opening up to its full glory. The moment 'Wakanda' appears on screen to tell you where you are, it’s a marvellous wonder to embrace. A city that embraces its history yet has grown with its technologic advancements. It's a jungle embracing the metallic future and pairing with it, not fighting it.
The combination of huge flying ships that rival the technical know-how of anything Tony Stark has worked, with the antiquated spears being held by the Wakndan guards, automatically gives Black Panther such intrigue. The film completely engulfs itself in African culture from the moment it flys into Wakandan air. Different tribes exist within Wakanda, each with fantastic African couture filling the frame of every scene. Ruth E. Carter has done sheer brilliance with the costume work and is an easy early 2018 call for an Oscar nomination. She took on the project like Wakanda was a real place, and looked at real African tribes and shaped each in Wakanda to be something so unique. The finished product with the attention to detail makes Wakanda, and the world of Black Panther feel and breathe with a historical realism.
From the design to the costumes and the music -- and even the cast and those involved behind the camera -- Black Panther is going to be a movie loved and adored for reasons I won’t be able to fully appreciate. But it’s worth taking the time to acknowledge: this movie will be some kids favourite thing ever, and the on-screen representation it offers, it is not to be understated.
T’challa, The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), has returned home to be officially crowned King of Wakanda. With it, as you may expect, comes many worries for T’challa. How can he be as strong a leader as his Father before him, and is he ready for all the challenges that he will face, and the decisions that he must make? One of his first is whether or not to chase after Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis, last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron), who is attempting to sell vibranium, the metal used to create Captain America's shield, and also the seemingly rare metal Wakanda uses to power and grow its entire city. Klaue is working with Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) an enigma who has a hidden agenda about Wakanda, and it's not just profiting off its metal export.
As far as MCU villains go, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger is up there as one of the best. It's a recent trend following Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming where villains emote motives you can feel for, or at least understand. The resulting conclusion of which is that someone named Michael must play all future MCU villains.
The entire cast is something special. The Black Panther himself is great, but under the glare of everyone else in the film being so grand, Chadwick Boseman isn’t the star. Michael B. Jordan does steal every single scene he is in, but the trio of the main females also stand out every time also, even stealing scenes from Boseman. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Letitia Wright as Shuri are all such unique and amazing characters with each actress giving standout performances. It’s great also that these characters in Black Panther add another layer of standout female characters in Marvel movies, which have been few and far between.
Black Panther does feature deeper political messages, but neither rides on them smugly trying to be clever or overbears them for the base plot. Given the comics origin story, or even simply the name 'Black Panther' and its connotations in our world, you'd be daft to not consider it would contain some sort of political statement on the world today. I can see one line offending those with deeper issues -- the type of people who find the show name 'Dear White People' offensive -- but it's great that a Marvel movie could have that effect.
The final act of Black Panther contains one of my favourite fights from any Marvel movie thus far. But it also has a several shots where the SFX didn't look finished and took me out of the movie for a moment like a sharp glare, which was disappointing. In general, I always find seeing even a slightly off SFX in these high budget comic book movies unacceptable.
The morning after I watched Black Panther I wanted to go watch it again, and that's the first time ever for an MCU movie I've had that happen. Several times mid-movie I'd have an "Oh, yeah I'm watching a Marvel/comic book movie" moment, and I loved that. I was so lost in this world, these characters and everything happening, it just felt like an amazing product of its own design. Marvel didn't screw director Ryan Coogler over like Joss Whedon on Age of Ultron and force in any big connections to Avengers, or any other property here, and it's allathe better for it.
Ryan Coogler was handed the keys to Black Panther and delivered not only one of the best MCU movies, but my favourite MCU film. With an amazing cast, a story with direction, a villain with purpose and well-directed action scenes in a world of wonder and beauty, drenched in African culture, Black Panther is nothing short of a mystical wonder and a new standard of quality within Marvels films. As for Ryan Coogler, it's nothing but hits thus far, and if you're not already -- keep your eye on one of America's most talented and youngest directors.
Directors: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel Comics by), Jack Kirby (based on the Marvel Comics by)
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis