Movie Reviews

Black Panther – A Timely Superhero Film (Early Review)

Let’s see what T’Challa has been up to since Captain America: Civil War.

Synopsis: Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. (Marvel Studios)

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o

Writers: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Director: Ryan Coogler

Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 134mins

Trailer: 

For showtimes and more, check out Black Panther on movietimes.com.

Similar to what Wonder Woman did for the DC cinematic universe, Marvel hopes that this film will have the same outcome with a new superhero film featuring mostly black actors. After the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Boseman) is thrust into taking his rightful place as king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Wakanda was a technologically advanced nation thanks to its bountiful reserve of vibranium, one of the strongest metals on Earth. Fearing influence from the outside world, the nation chose to remain isolated.

Probably one of the biggest differences between this film and other MCU films, let alone superhero films, was the political element. Because of how much time was spent in Wakanda, it became another character within the story. The film did an excellent job at bringing its sheer vastness and technological nature to life through some impressive cinematography and special effects (this also carried over during a short stint in South Korea). T’Challa had to struggle not only being the Black Panther but also with having to lead Wakanda into the future. There were plenty of conflicting ideologies in play here, sparking an important debate about issues mirroring today’s society.

World building can sometimes be risky in films as they sometimes fail to find the right balance building the film word and whatever story it’s trying to tell. This film finds a decent balance between the two with the wanting to do right for his family and nation acting as T’Challa’s primary motivation for his actions. All of this soon gets turned upside down once an outsider (who may not be an outsider after all) named Erik Killmonger (Jordan) shows up to engage T’Challa in a power struggle of Shakespearean proportion. In terms of other MCU villains, Killmonger became easy to empathize with because his tragic story felt the most real.

Even with everything else going on, it was also a great action film, featuring well shot and choreographed action sequences culminating in a larger battle sequence at the end. While they were exciting to watch, it was the more intimate moments between these characters that were even better. The script was very smart in the way that it would often play with stereotypes and common misconceptions about people from Africa. Just like most MCU films, there were plenty of comedic moments with many stemming from this.

We already kind of knew about T’Challa, however, this film surrounded him with a group of strong characters who just happened to be female. They included T’Challa’s feisty love interest Nakia (Nyong’o), T’Challa’s general Okoye (Danai Gurira), and T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). They were all fun to watch together with each character stealing scenes of their own against the low key T’Challa. Another character that we’ve seen before in Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) also stole scenes with his caricaturish persona.

The film had a lot going for it production wise, however, what brought it all together were the performances. Boseman continued what he started in Captain America: Civil War as the low key T’Challa. He may seem a little subdued but he still conveyed strength while letting his actions do the talking. He was compelling to watch though he sometimes didn’t feel like the star of his own film because of the great performances from his female co-stars. Nyong’o, Gurira, and Wright definitely held their own alongside Boseman and Jordan. Jordan was stellar as Killmonger, bringing plenty of charisma to the role although it would’ve been nice to see more of him.

You can expect two post-credit scenes with the second coming at the end.

Overall, this was a great, well-written superhero film that was beautiful to watch thanks to some beautiful visuals and cinematography, featured some exciting action, and had something different to say compared to other superhero films thanks to its timely themes that will surely resonate with today’s society.

Score: 9/10

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7 replies »

  1. One aspect of the film which I believe is more of a flaw of the character than the movie. Is the fact for the most technologically advanced nation in the world, they form of governance is very primitive. Meaning that in order to be king, you simply have to beat the King in a fistfight. For a country far more advanced than any other country, Michael B Jordan, an outside nearly takes down the country overnight. Even M’Baku almost beats him and becomes King. It’s a flaw in the universe of Black Panther that makes it hard to believe how a Monarchy system can achieve technological advancememt without involving into a Republic form of governance because that flaw can easily lead to the demise of Wakanda which it almost did.

    • I just thought that they may be technologically advanced but they still have some evolving to do. The primitive government doesn’t quite match up but culture played an important role in the film and that’s what it was at the time. It may change later on.