Take a look at our review for ‘Black Panther’, a movie that is set in fantasy but deals with real world problems while still managing to inspire hope….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s easy to look at comic book movies as blockbusters that make a lot of money for a studio, usually feature an ‘A’ list cast and seem to get cookie cutter reviews from most critics as solid popcorn munching cinema fare.
In recent years, however, comic book movies can no longer just be tagged as cash cows with a lot of action, minimal story and a ton of CGI. Instead, films like ‘Logan’ have pushed the envelope for story telling and acting while a movie such as ‘Wonder Woman’ stands out for serving as a real beacon during a time where the world seems enveloped by darkness. Then you have movies like ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ that once again turn the industry on its head not only because it’s incredibly original but also might be the funniest movie of the year in a genre that’s not supposed to produce comedies.
Well the latest entry into that hierarchy of comic book films that transcend the genre — joining movies like ‘Logan’ or Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ — is Ryan Coogler’s ‘Black Panther’ that opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.
The movie might be one of the most original entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that’s saying something considering this is the first film released after ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ was hailed for the same kind of achievement late last year.
‘Black Panther’ ticks all the boxes of a great superhero film but there’s so much more to this movie than just great action scenes with a thumping sountrack playing in the background. Instead, ‘Black Panther’ is filled with heart and soul, sadness and loss, and finally redemption and inspiration.
It’s all those things rolled up into one and probably a reason ‘Black Panther’ should be a movie we’ll be talking about again next year when it’s time to discuss the latest Academy Award nominations. It’s just that good.
With that said, let’s get to our full review of ‘Black Panther’…
Picking up after the events in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, T’Challa returns to his nation of Wakanda — a technologically advanced country in the heart of Africa that is hidden from the rest of the world — where he will bury his father and take up the mantle of king over his people.
Following his coronation, T’Challa is attempting to deal with the traditions of Wakanda being hidden away from the world while his ex-girlfriend Nakia is attempting to open his eyes to the greater good that their country could provide to nations and people in need.
Add to that, T’Challa is immediately pulled back into the fray when an old enemy of Wakanda pops back up on the radar in an attempt to capitalize on their most valuable resource — Vibranium, the indestructible metal that makes up the Black Panther suit, Captain America’s shield and powers the technological advances inside the country.
T’Challa’s mission runs afoul when he is forced to confront an awful secret from his family’s past where he meets the main villain in the feature — a stone cold soldier named Erik Killmonger, who is on a mission to claim his rightful place in Wakanda.
There’s not a single bad beat when it comes to the acting in this movie with Chadwick Boseman leading the way as King T’Challa but he’s not the biggest scene stealer in this feature film.
Instead that award goes to Michael B. Jordan, who plays his rival Erik Killmonger, as he portrays probably the best and most complex Marvel villain since Loki first became a household name after his appearance in ‘The Avengers’. Jordan is ferocious as Killmonger but it’s the story that ties him back to Wakanda that really makes him a great character throughout this film.
Danai Gurira, best known for her role on ‘The Walking Dead’, shines as Okoye, the leader of the Wakandan royal guard while Letitia Wright provides a touch of comedy and levity as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, who also happens to be the one responsible for all the technological advancements in Wakanda these days.
Of course, the movie is called ‘Black Panther’ so Boseman gets top billing but you’ll come to find out that this film is rooted in strong female characters.
There’s even a surprise appearance from Sterling K. Brown, who has seemingly won every award available on television for his roles on ‘This is Us’ and ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’ and while his screen time is brief in ‘Black Panther’, he shows why he’s such a highly sought after actor these days.
Directing and Writing
Ryan Coogler has already made quite a name for himself with features such as ‘Fruitvale Station’ and ‘Creed’ so it’s not a surprise that ‘Black Panther’ is another incredible installment to his ever expanding resume but if he’s not at least nominated for a few awards, then just disregard those trophies being handed out in 2019.
Coogler crafts such an awe inspiring universe mostly encapsulated in the mythical nation of Wakanda, that is rooted in tradition yet sprawling with technological advancements. Coogler also manages to get the most out of every performance from the actors and actresses in this movie including another one-two punch working alongside Jordan as this becomes their third film together.
The story in this movie is original and easily relatable while also tying back into the real world issues that we are dealing with today like immigration and outreach to other nations in need of help. ‘Black Panther’ doesn’t beat you over the head with politics yet there are so many parallels between this film and what you’ll see on the news everyday that it’s nearly impossible not to take away something from this movie more than just enjoying two hours in a theater.
From start to finish, ‘Black Panther’ stands toe to toe with the best achievements in Marvel filmmaking.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
The funny thing is going into the movie, the run time seemed like the one problem that I might have with the film considering it goes for about two hours and 20 minutes. At first, that felt a bit excessive for an ‘origin’ story film but instead when the movie came to an end, I was sitting in my seat asking for more. The great thing about ‘Black Panther’ is that Coogler treats this movie very much like ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ where we aren’t bludgeoned over the head with a long, drawn out origin story but rather a quick exposition and then jumping head first into the real plot.
There really are no weak points in ‘Black Panther’ unless you just hate a good time at the movies.
In an age where so much seems hopeless, ‘Black Panther’ was a movie that was thriving with inspiration and good will. By the end of the film, there may have been a few tears welling up in my eyes because ‘Black Panther’ truly gives you a sense of hope by the time that it’s finished and honestly that’s a rare feat in the movie business these days.
‘Black Panther’ gets five out of five on the Skolnick Scale