Black Panther Movie Review



Black Panther is more than just a superhero movie

My Lord! I exclaimed with elation after the credits had started to roll. The row in front of me abruptly turned around to see what the fracas was about, yet turned back around slowly with pronounced disappointment, as it was just another member of the audience of a packed house who found this edition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe wildly compelling. Because this is not another film to come off the Hollywood Marvel Blockbuster conveyor belt, it's wholly original as it boasts fresh visual material and basks in political coalition and swagger. There have been black superhero movies before, the flashy and lifeless Wesley Snipes in the 1998 Marvel action extravaganza 'Blade', and the equally forgettable and dysfunctional 'Hancock' that was about as immature as the kids who had a field day with the title on the internet. Yet unlike past "heroes", Chadwick Boseman embodies the same suave confidence of Sidney Poitier that inspired millions of struggling African Americans over half a century ago. Now this generation of black adolescents has a Poitier to look up to, a hero who elucidates above all liberty in equality and justice, it just helps that he kicks a ton of ass.

The movie opens to a little black kid in 1992 Oakland, as he and his buddies competitively go three on three, playing on an improvised basketball court that was hardly an improvement from the first baskets originated from Dr. James Naismith. This place is important because Oakland holds nostalgic sentiment in director Ryan Coogler's heart, his breakout debut featured the same dark-skin impoverished neighborhood in 'Fruitvale Station'. More importantly, one of the kids who spotted the ornate spaceship in the sky that day would grow up to see Wakanda, the complex high-tech nation nestled somewhere in Africa between Uganda and Rwanda. Although no one on "the outside" knows of its existence besides the boisterous arms dealer who goes by Klaw(Andy Serkis) and the very same kid as seen shooting hoops before. Who now is the stylish and cunning Killmonger(Michael B. Jordan), who thankfully is a villain escorted with a reasonable motive that gives the character depth, making him feel human. Future Marvel directors, please take notes.

The plot follows the death of T'Challa's(Black Panther) father as seen in the muddled mess 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'. Being the supreme ruler of an empire that's technology makes Tony Stark's mechanisms seem as clunky and repugnant as the brick phone does not make a kings job easy. Especially when a rightfully braggart Killmonger is after the throne. In hopes of restoring peace, the audience is sucked into an adventure that grabs us by the paws, as we are enamored by car chases, duels, and a grand civil war that cultivates both sides, while never losing sight of who it wants us to root for.

The battle sequences are stunning and grandiose, thanks to the staggering cinematography of Rachel Morison. Every punch and bullet is greeted with the same attention to detail as the stunning world of Wakanda, as Technicolor creates an explosion of aesthetic, and the woman behind the camera expertly knows how to capture it. The gripping sequences vary from Japanese Samurai esque duels for social classification to T'Challa acrobatically leaping from car to car in breathtaking slow motion to prevent evil from stealing otherworldly tech. The film, however, paces itself expertly as it convey's the shape of comic book spectacular, intimate family drama, with hints of James Bond casino and gadget class, and expert modern comedy. This is made in part by Ryan Coogler, who has stapled himself with the best of up and coming directors. He, like in past work, gives his protagonist obstacles and demons that the everyday man faces, making his characters especially responsive, despite having to save the world or face the best boxer on the planet(Creed). Here, Similar to 'Creed', we have an underdog story, with a man who hopes to make a name for himself and not be shaded by his father's success. And he like us all, no matter where you stand sexually has feelings and aspirations to fall in love.

Coogler luckily gets plenty of help from his cast who has ambition to spare. As the rest of the characters are greeted with the very same depth and background as Black Panther. Of course, Chadwick Boseman's plays his hero with expert innocence and likableness, which contrasts flawlessly off the ever immoral Killmonger played marvelously by Michel B. Jordan, who's chiseled confidence intimidates. But it's the supporting cast that really comes to play. Andy Serkis camps it up, not just because his face appears on the big screen for the first time since he played Caesar in the 'Planet of the Apes' saga, but also because he plays an off the walls lunatic who is as ridiculous as he is skilled with a gun. Those who fight alongside the new king, are men and woman empowered alike. The always wise Zuri is played by Forrest Whitaker, although such a statement could be stated about the actor himself. Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Sterling K, Brown, and Martin Freeman, all throw their own personalized ingredients to the mix. As for the strong females, no one is as humorous and can flaunt the way they defeat enemies in the brazen style quite like Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright, and Danai Gurira. The likes of which are what female equality and independence should really look like at the Cineplex. The entire ensemble comes together by the final fight, orchestrating emotion towards every single character so that the audience isn't just viewing extraordinary beings clash, but human beings.

Chadwick Boseman has played African American excellence before, as Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown, but here, as T'Challla he doesn't just play the role, he embodies a character that surpasses the silver screen. He embodies a hero that's super-powers per say are not just for defeating bad guys, but for defeating the barriers of equality. Whether you view this as the journey in serendipity of a king to be, or prophetic insight on today's climate and stance on race, or a combination of the two, it is a quintessential movie for the now. It is equally as important as it is fun. To rephrase the rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose music is featured in the picture, "this doesn't just make you put your hands in the air, but your fist".
4.5/5