"Black Panther" Review
Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther was one of the best characters in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. He was the ultimate hero; cool, confident, and determined to stop evil. Two years later, he’s starring in his own film that shifts him into the leading role. While not being the best superhero film or even an overall good film, Black Panther is still a solid experience that makes for another adequate chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The film follows the reign of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), aka the Black Panther, over the country of Wakanda. On the surface, Wakanda is a poverty-stricken country, but behind smoke and mirrors, it is revealed that it is actually the most advanced civilization on earth. This advancement comes from the extraterrestrial metal vibranium, which landed in Wakanda thousands of years ago and allowed them to advance further than anyone else. Fearing the outside world, they isolated themselves inside a hologram projection system, never allowing themselves to open up to the rest of humanity.
T’Challa is a firm believer of isolation, but his views are challenged by a new wave of Wakandans, ones led by the villain Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, marking his third collaboration with Coogler). They see the world as weak and ripe for conquest. A rebellion soon breaks out that threatens to tear families and ties apart, as well as the whole of Wakanda.
For boasting a revolutionary cast and director of newcomer Ryan Coogler, Black Panther never really feels original. It very much follows the typical superhero formula where the hero saves the day at first, a villain emerges and beats the hero, hero and his team regroup to fight back, and finally, hero returns and overcomes previous obstacle to beat the villain. I know almost every superhero film follows this formula, but this film was sold on the message that it would be different than the rest, when in fact it's the same as everyone else.
Black Panther also has trouble with inconsistency when it comes to dialogue. The range of quality is all over the place as some lines are delivered really well and some are really poor. The script felt like it was written a couple years ago and never updated. Some of the jokes fall flat because they rely on trends that have faded away, such as the “What are those!” joke that was old a few years ago.
Where the film stumbles in writing and storytelling it makes up for in its wide range of characters that piece everything together. There’s a rule that no hero can truly work alone and that rule definitely applies to T’Challa as he is aided in his journey by his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), a tech whiz that serves as the Q to his 007, and Okoye (Danai Gurira), a fierce warrior that never backs down from a fight. Also acting as support is T’Challa’s queen mother Romonda (Angela Bassett) and his spiritual advisor Zuri (Forest Whitaker).
Technically speaking, Black Panther does have some of the highest production quality of the MCU films. Having the setting of Wakanda allows the film to embrace colorful and lush natural locations. The visual effects used to create the world are really well done and the expert cinematography by Rachel Morrison really adds to the experience.
About every actor brings their game here. Chadwick Boseman is the standout as T’Challa. He delivers on making his character believable. He’s a king and hero, but also just a man thrust into a hard position very quickly. He has his flaws and Boseman highlights those perfectly.
Playing his polar opposite is Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, who is probably the most complex character. He’s an outcast Wakandan who was abandoned in America during the 90s. Now after becoming almost a living legend among criminals, he’s come to take his revenge on Wakanda. Jordan brings the rage and molds his character really well to fit the circumstances.
The rest of the supporting cast fill in nicely, except for Forest Whitaker who is caught here trying too hard as always.
Many will find Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther to be a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. It’s an aesthetically pleasing film, but it’s not one to jump and clap for. It never lives up to the hype but the film still never has below average quality. Avengers: Infinity War is boasting one of the biggest casts of all time, and having the Black Panther and Wakanda included is something that is going to be great to see.