Thursday, February 22, 2018

Black Panther review

"With great power comes great responsibility" has been a theme from Stan Lee's Marvel Comics since Spider-Man. It is also one of the themes in Marvel Studio's film, Black Panther.

The film starts off with a couple of flashbacks. We're introduced to the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It has been secretly thriving due to the inhabitants use of a meteor that fell in its territory. It contained a raw material which is a power source called vibranium. The people were able to use the vibranium to power their high technology  society.   The movie then flashes to the early nineties where Wakanda King T'Chaka is investigating a theft of vibranium in an Oakland neighborhood. It's here where we get our introduction to the antagonist N' Jadaka who will later be played as an adult by Michael B. Jordan. I'm not going to go into the details regarding him since that's  a spoiler.

The movie then moves forward to the events right after Captan America: Civil War (2016). And no, you don't have to watch that film to get the plot but it would help. Anyway, T"Chaka (John Dani) is assassinated. This causes his son, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to inherit the throne. He's protected by a couple of bad ass female warriors, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira). And his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) assists the new king as a "Q" type scientist. In the movie she's lovable and steals the show.

Director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole have created an epic, legendary script.  However, Director  Coogler's direction is way too busy.  He relies a lot on fast cutting which along with the branching battles at the end of the movie create confusion.  And I do appreciate the use of real African languages, that gave the film a realistic feel.   At times though it added to the confusion as it could be difficult to track the fictional names of the characters.   I suppose its being raised as an English speaking American so that could be my fault. 

That being said, this film is much like The Post.  (2017)  The last half of the movie is where it really shines.   That's because Coogler and Cole add more to their story than just a good guy fights a bad guy.  At first, the oppression of African Americans comes off heavy handed but the writers deftly turn that into one of the motivations for N' Jadaka.  He wants to use Wakanda's might to establish his form of justice on the world.  There's more to N' Jadaka's motivation which makes this antagonist, more three dimensional than most movie villains.  T' Challa is faced with governing as a compassionate man while trying to address the conflict of his country being isolationist versus helping mankind.  Yes, that's the "With great power comes great responsibility." 

Black Panther is an interesting and exciting type of cinematic fusion of comic book action, and Shakespearean drama.   It's King Arthur on the African continent.  The grade is A minus. 

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