I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I actually saw Black Panther, and I could do with giving it a rewatch. However, I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, and have kept my ‘notes’ in the back of my mind; plus, my job gives me the benefit of being able to catch little snippets of the film when I’m at work.
So with that in mind, here’s my review of Marvel’s most recent movie, Black Panther.
RELEASED: February 16th 2018
DIRECTED BY: Ryan Coogler
WRITTEN BY: Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Ludwig Göransson
STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman & Andy Serkis
Black Panther is a pretty awesome film. And being the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to star a black superhero, I feel like we (both black people and society as a whole), really lucked out. And in that regard, I can see why people are so fond of this film.
However, while it is very good, I don’t believe it’s as good as everyone else seems to think.
Black Panther starts mere days after the events of Captain America: Civil War, and see’s T’Challa return home to his hidden African nation of Wakanda in light of his father, the king’s, death. However, as T’Challa ascends to the throne, he’s beset on all sides by enemies of the state, forgotten heirs and treasonous subordinates, all of whom threaten to make his rule an extremely short one.
I think the main reasons this film does deserve praise is the aesthetic. The whole Afro-futurism vibe they’ve got going for them really works. The film looks amazing, whether that’s the setting of Wakanda or the dreamscape that the titular character occassionally ventures through, every shot of this film has been beauifully crafted. Similarly, the music is also great; a strong blend of your traditional superhero theme music and tribal African tunes, which feel both deeply authentic and incredibly rousing.
The characters, mostly, are also well done. It has, perhaps, the best female characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s quite impressive that director Ryan Coogler can make you care about side characters like Okoye (T’Challa’s guard) just as much as you may already about other, more prominent, heroes. Each supporting character, brought to life by a marvelous supporting cast that includes the likes of Angela Bassett, Forest Whittaker and Lupita Nyong’o, makes you wonder why you don’t get more films featuring such a predominantly black cast.
The villains too, are also great. Everyone goes on about Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger in this film, and for good reason, but the truly impressive thing about this film is that where some of these flicks have no good villains, Black Panther features two of the best. Both characters are either relateable, or, in cases when they’re not, beautifully menacing and both are characters I’d like to see again in the future.
However, if you’ll ignore all of that for one second (which, I know, is hard, as that is a good chunk of what’s gone into the film) then you’re left with a middle-tier, basic Marvel movie. The plot, while hitting some good notes, at times feels somewhat uninspired and predictable, and the story of the titular Black Panther feels like it’s a background story – it’s not all that interesting, and the character himself is given very little to do.
And you can’t even rely on the action to at least make the Panther seem cooler, because one of the better action scenes is staged at night time, so you can’t really seem what’s going on, and the others, frankly, are a bit underwhelming.
In fact, a certain plot point seems to go out of it’s way to make the action worse – as the Panther gets a new suit of armour at one point, one that works by absorbing the kinetic energy from the villain’s shots or punches, only to let out an energy blast that takes them all out. Now, that could be pretty cool if done well, but if I recall correctly, it’s used about three times, and with each usage it makes the action seem even more boring. Which is pretty disappointing considering this is A) an action movie and B) how cool the character of Black Panther was in Civil War.
But alas, the pluses and the monumental achievement that this film presents boost its score, and as a result, I give it: