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February 14, 2018

Black Panther Deserves a Superhero Movie Crown

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Written by: Byron D. Zero
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Marvel Studios’ maiden voyage into 2018 starts out with an incredibly strong outing in the form of Black Panther. It’s a film that has garnered a heavy amount of acclaim and controversy even before it’s premiere, but does it live up to the hype? Well, let me tell you a little story!

Black Panther is story of T’Challa aka the superhero Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) as he struggles adjusting to life as the newly christened king of his home nation of Wakanda, and how he deals with a variety of threats including Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

As the last movie before Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther has a lot to prove. This includes not only following up the character’s cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War, but also following the footsteps of hits like Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I am happy to report that this movie stands firmly and regally among that crowd, as one would expect from a king.

The acting was without a doubt strong; Chadwick Boseman proved he was worthy of the mantle, handling the role of T’Challa with intensity and dignity. The cast overall was very strong; Lupita Nyonga is as brilliant as ever, as are Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, and Winston Duke. Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker as always bring their A-game.

 
Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger.

Michael B. Jordan kills it as Killmonger.

The villains were magnificent; Andy Serkis stepped out of his motion capture equipment and showed his on-screen character acting chops. He was the perfect maniacal sociopath as Klaue, and honestly it almost makes up for how he was handled in the 2nd Avengers movie. But Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger was the true villain — there was never a moment where he didn’t feel like a threat, but his motives were clear, and by the end you understand why he ended up on the path that he took.

The writing was solid, but not perfect. The movie’s 3-act structure was predictable but that is to be expected from a story about a king dressing up like a giant kitty cat. There were many points where I thought, “oh they will probably do X, Y and/or Z” and I was right.

I applaud director/co-writer Ryan Coogler for subtly discussing racism in this narrative, to go into detail would be spoilery though. So go watch it for yourself!

The message of progress vs. tradition never gets old for me either, especially considering the state of the world. Black Panther touches on the topic a lot as well.

The humor was enjoyable; often breaking the tension in a plethora of conflicts, with some very smart and subtle jabs at racism and sexism.

The score and soundtrack were exquisite; every African drum-inspired orchestral beat had me really hyped. The fact that this movie has one of Marvel’s most memorable movie scores is due in part to using long-time Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, and the soundtrack is just as amazing because of Kendrick Lamar’s dedication to producing a solid hip-hop album and not just another movie soundtrack.

The action was non-stop! You’d think car chases and explosions would be old for me at this point, but when peppered with a ton of hand-to-hand fight scenes it was anything but boring!

I really enjoyed the spear fighting and grappling most of all. Boseman really knows his way around a hurricanrana.

The visuals were astonishing and I absolutely loved all the bright colors in this film; Black Panther’s costume even looked vibrant. The beautiful cinematography and light made wish even more that Wakanda was real! The colors of the characters’ outfits conveyed various aspects of their personalities both in scene and just overall. It was a nice touch to say the least.

Black Panther is a great way to start this year of comic book/superhero flicks. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s damn near close, and you bet your sweet bippy I’ll be watching it again!

I give Black Panther (Marvel Studios, PG-13, 2hr 14min) a 4.5 out of 5.



About the Author

Byron D. Zero





 
 

 
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