Black Panther (2018) - Review
Director: Ryan Coogler With: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis.
Black Panther is the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler.
Black Panther picks up right after the events of Civil War as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) goes back home to inherit the throne of Wakanda, following the death of his father King T’Chaka (John Kani).
For those unfamiliar with Wakanda's origin, it goes something like this. Wakanda is a fictional nation in Africa, a technologically advanced utopia, beyond anything that even Tony Stark could dream of. The source of all this wonder is vibranium, a precious extraterrestrial element that crashed ages ago into the land that would become Wakanda . Realizing that others would try to manipulate and dominate Wakanda's most valuable resource, T'Chaka (John Kani ) with the use of his nation's technological capabilities creates a hologram that has concealed Wakanda's identity from the rest of the world .
No sooner is T'Challa appointed king, that an opportunity arises to capture of one Wakanda's biggest threats, that of Ulysses Klaue. Klaue (Andy Serkis) is the only man from the outside world to smuggle vibranium out of the country and live to tell about it. After his escape, Klaue dedicated his life to extorting the Wakandans' technology and rich resources, exposing their existence to the rest of the world.
T'Challa thus teams up with Okoye (Danai Guirra ) , the head of the Dora Milaje aka. the Black Panther's personal bodyguards, and his former lover turned Wakandan secret agent Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o ) , to track down Klaue and stop the black-market arms dealer once and for all. While trying to apprehend Klaue they cross paths with Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) an American black-ops soldier who earned the nickname “ Killmonger “ in the field. Stevens has his eyes set on taking over Wakanda and using its advanced technology to conquer the world.
18 films in, and Marvel is still going strong. Black Panther manages to combine some of the best elements of past Marvel films including: the Shakespearean royal family drama of the Thor movies, the political thriller elements Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and even the futuristic, sci-fi tech aspects of the Iron Man / Guardians of the Galaxy films. Coupled with rich world-building that embraces the rituals, cultures, music of this hidden nation located in Africa. Black Panther is a strikingly beautiful and unique film that breathes new life into the formulaic Marvel Universe without skimping on the spectacle that the fan base has come to expect.
I saw an advance screening for Black Panther, but I was in the second row, which made the film hard to watch especially the 3-D aspect. Still, regardless there is so much to celebrate with this film, and I am still having a hard time putting it all together, because this film will be talked for about years to come. Not because it is a simply good movie, but the film will be remembered for changing the landscape for not only superhero films, but all films to come.
Without getting too political in my review all I will say is this. Nearly all the film takes place in Africa, with a near all black cast, Black Panther marks a significant step for diversity in Hollywood….and it is about time !!!
Now with that out of the way here are some of the things that I enjoyed about Black Panther.
First, I really liked that the film spent most of its time in Africa, rather than the usual superhero hangouts like NYC, Gotham or Metropolis. Wakanda's green landscapes with spaceships and futuristic structures is like nothing we've ever seen before. if you are going to watch Black Panther, do yourself a favour and go see it in IMAX.
Second, the story arcs of our two main protagonists is a very entertaining watch. That the battle between Killmonger and Black Panther is not only physical but political. With both hero and villain fighting for what they believe is right course of action for the future of Wakanda. On one side you have T’Challa who is struggling with the idea changeling Wakanda’s tradition and revealing itself to the world as a beacon of hope—curing diseases, offering foreign aid, accepting refugees—across the continent and beyond. On the other side you Killmonger who wants to reveal Wakanda's existence by using its vast superior weaponry to start a global revolution to overturn the existing racial order.
Third, there are so many standouts in Black Panther, but if i had to choose it would be a tie between Michael B. Jordan’s 'Killmonger', who is easily the best villain since Loki. Jordan commands the screen and steals every scene that he is in. Then there are the women in T’Challa’s life, especially the characters of Okoye and Nakia, along with T’Challa’s tech genius younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). The ferocity of these women in the main cast is simply amazing to watch-they aren’t afraid to step up and lead the fight, and they are just as lethal with a spear as they are with technology. These women are not simply placed in Black Panther as lip-service, they are fundamental to this film and to the survival of Wakanda.
Black Panther is without a doubt one of the strongest additions to the MCU to date. The film has it all, outstanding acting, breathtaking art direction, fascinating royal intrigue, memorable action sequences, and surprising depth.
My only minor issue with film is that the final battle sequence was a little too CGI heavy for my taste. Other than that Black Panther delivers, now go and witness history. Long live the king.