Marvel Studio’s eighteenth film in the decorated and praised Marvel Cinematic Universe is Black Panther. Highly anticipated and hyped with good damn reason. An impressive cast of talent and known actors and actresses, a director in Ryan Coogler who has an eye for great story telling and getting the best performances from his cast and of course, the house Kevin Fiege built in Marvel Studios, a production company who gambled and took a chance to create the MCU and made comic movies go from being a novelty to being big business and creating a genre of film every walks of life can enjoy.
It’s an important movie. And it took me seeing with my own eyes and with a sold out crowd of moviegoers to fully understand why. Everyone who mentions Blade or Spawn to having leads in their own movies, probably need to step back and see a greater picture. Not just the black lead hero, but a majority black cast the likes we don’t see in modern cinema. You simply can’t take that away and you do when you bring up old films that have no relevance in the current landscape.
Where I didn’t expect the film to go was the comedy throughout. Every joke landed and they were in the right places. The word play and physical gags didn’t take away from the story or slow it down. There are connections to the MCU itself with characters returning from other films in the universe, but Black Panther stands on its own. No fan service cameos or forced in easter eggs or relics. Which we sometimes reach for when it isn’t there.
The cast is perfect all around. There is not one bad performance in Black Panther. Side characters with very little screen time make pretty significant marks on the story. But Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) just blows you away. You get into the layers of his character and see someone doing what it takes to take back a world that was taken from him. A big con of Marvel films for the most part have been the villains. Of course, these movies are more about the heroes’ journey, but Black Panther is as much Killmonger’s story as it is T’Challas’. Also, he is just a man. He isn’t a god or an extraterrestrial or even injected with super serum. Just trained well as a black operative for the United States and driven.
My three stand outs for side characters are T’Challa’s sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Knowing how bratty little sisters can be, she played off Boseman rather well and reminded me of how my own little sister and I act towards one another. She also acts as his Q from the James Bond films, improving his Black Panther suit and equipping him with gadgets. M’Baku (Winston Duke) was going to be a standout for me and he delivered. A powerful opposing presence against T’Challa, but with sensibilities. He even has a few moments of levity and power. And Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) stood out like a sore thumb, not because he is white, but because he showed it was good to be bad. We a had a very small glimpse of the character’s potential in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but we see him in action plenty here.
I have very small grievances with the film. There are a few action scenes that do the way too familiar shaking action camerawork. That does take you out of the movie a bit. It’s not every action scene, but they are there. As much as I liked Killmonger, Klaue exits the film in a rather forgettable fashion, but I hope we see him again. There are also some scenes that bring the films pace not to a halt, but feel much like filler.
The final battle between Black Panther and Golden Jaguar looked awful. Very last generation video game cutscene awful. There was one shot in the very first trailer that showed Black Panther jumping from a crashing car that didn’t looked finished, but seemed fixed in the film. So it puzzled me why this big scene looked the way it did. There are 2 post credit scenes. One I thought should have ended the film, but looking back, I understand why it was placed here and it ended in a certain way. No points taken away for that.
I know what you are thinking. 4 geeks like you has been pushing the hype train for Black Panther since it’s announcement and more so when we got to see what we were getting through stills and trailers. It’s undeniable that Black Panther is a huge step not just for filmmaking, but for the people who can no longer be ignored.
- Fantastic cast performances
- Well done character development
- High entertainment value
- Bad CGI in an important scene
- Shakey camera work in some action scenes
- Some scenes don't move the story along