BLACK PANTHER IS…? (SPOILER FREE REVIEW)

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Evan Brown

LAKE MICHIGAN CATHOLIC – I, Evan Brown, being of sound mind and soul (hopefully), am reviewing the film, Black Panther (2018). Black Panther was released February 16th, 2018 and was received highly positive reviews, including a a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film raked in money at the box office and broke many records. It currently holds the second highest opening for a superhero film and is the 21st highest grossing movie of all time.

The film stars Chadwick Boseman, as the titular Black Panther/T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan, as the villainous Erik Killmonger, and it was directed by Ryan Coogler. It also features Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, and many more.

The film is the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa who, in the wake of his father’s death, is set to become king of Wakanda. Soon after he is crowned, a villain appears who challenges his crown, his position as Black Panther and his country.

I would like to preface my review by saying, as an avid lover of both cinema and comic books, I am growing tired of these Marvel films. They are all beginning to feel the same and although they aren’t bad, they lack the individual spark and nuance that make them interesting.

With that said, I loved Black Panther. It is by no stretch a perfect film, but I loved it. Set to a wonderful soundtrack featuring original tracks from Kendrick Lamar, 2-Chainz, Anderson Paak, and many others, the tone for the film is set up perfectly.

One of the things that Black Panther does masterfully is world building. Wakanda is a technologically advanced african country that is rich with culture. Thanks to its access to vibranium, the world’s strongest metal, it is leaps and bound ahead of the rest of the world in most areas.

The set design on this film captures that perfectly; Wakanda seems like a real place. With vibrant colors and future african culture infused, Wakanda is a joy to look at and it makes me sad I cannot visit.

The performances are great across the board, but there is one stand out. Michael B. Jordan is an incredible villain. He is nuanced and terrifying and all around amazing. The average Marvel villain lacks substance, is uninteresting, and usually goes crazy for unclear reasons. When it comes to motivations that make sense and just being an interesting character, Jordan’s Killmonger picks up the slack left by most previous Marvel villains.

Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther/T’Challa) brings all the gravitas and charisma necessary as the The King of Wakanda and Danai Gurira is a stoic and intimidating, yet likable as Okoye. Also, Andy Serkis was an absolute blast to watch. All things considered, the whole cast does a great job and there isn’t one character that seems out of place or ill-fitting.

While the story was a standard, by the books superhero story, the settings and characters, and motivations of said characters, made it more interesting than say, Ant-Man or Wonder Woman. Yeah, I said it. Wonder Woman is just okay. Fight me.

Maybe I just like the world it’s set in and that makes me more forgiving of its faults, but the bland story didn’t really bother me.

I only had a couple of real problems with the film. For one, there were moments where the special effects were just too rubbery to overlook. Near the beginning of the film there is some information given to us in the form of exposition that is repetitive and unnecessary.

Another thing is the average fight choreography. For a high budget action film it was about average, but not bad enough to be noticeable, yet not good enough to be praised. This isn’t a huge flaw, but it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Lastly, there is one joke in the movie that is just unbearably awkward and unfunny.

I would like to end this review by talking about Ryan Coogler, the director. He did a masterful job in every way. The cinematography, imagery, and character choices were a perfect fit for this film.

Coogler has not disappointed and he definitely made a movie on par with his previous two. Full disclosure, I mostly just wanted to bring him up because Creed and Fruitvale Station are excellent and everyone should see them.

In summary, Black Panther is an incredible superhero film, featuring an incredible cast, and lead by a director whose future in cinema is sure to be great. It is easily within my top five favorite MCU movies, and probably within my top three. So if you haven’t already, and let’s face it, you probably have, go and see Black Panther. Wakanda Forever!