Thursday, June 14, 2018
THE BLACK PANTHER
When his father dies, Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) will become the new king of the mysterious African nation of Wakanda, but first he has to face more than one challenger to the throne. M'Baku (Winston Duke) is defeated after a fierce struggle, but T'Challa has a tougher time with Erik "Killmonger" (Michael B. Jordan) -- a mercenary who is also T'Challa's cousin, raised in the states -- and there is a real danger that this peaceful, if isolated nation with its incredibly advanced technology (mostly stemming from its mountain of a metal called vibranium) will try to take over the world under Killmonger's regime. The Black Panther is based on a Marvel Comics character who first appeared in the Fantastic Four comic over fifty years ago. Although the ruler of a nation with its own troubles, he became an on again-off again member of the Avengers, a situation that is repeating itself in these movies. The Black Panther isn't a perfect film by any means, but it is absorbing and fast-paced and very well-acted by the handsome Boseman, Jordan, and Duke, as well as by Letitia Wright as T'Challa's sister Shuri; Angela Bassett as his mother, Ramonda; Lupita Nyong'o as his ex-girlfriend, Nakia, who wants to use her country's advances to help the rest of the world; and Danai Gurira as General Okoye, who leads an army of skin-headed warrior women. Andy Sirkis and Martin Freeman, the only Caucasians in the cast, are also good as the villainous Ulysses Klaue and the CIA agent, Everett Ross, respectively. Some of these characters appeared in the comic books while others are new. The picture has some fairly good action sequences (such as a fight on the edge of a waterfall), and boasts impressive and intriguing settings and costumes. The FX are also top notch, showcasing some remarkable aircraft and other devices. Even the Black Panther's costume is a device.
Of course, we have to contend with the fact that Wakanda is not a democracy, and despite the fact that women have contributed a great deal to this society, they apparently can not challenge the king for the throne, adding a misogynous tone to the proceedings. One also has to wonder how this advanced country can choose who rules the nation by having one challenger beat the crap out of another! Perhaps these very things will be addressed in future movies or at least in the comics!
While I agree that The Black Panther has been over-praised, I was amazed at the sheer hatred it got as well. Some viewers may well have been reacting to the far-fetched concept (Wakanda apparently has an express subway line in the underground), but, sadly, others were undoubtedly bothered because the black characters dared to be intelligent and technologically superior. It's a movie. Get over it!
Verdict: Very good to look at, often exciting, well-acted, and somehow stirring. ***.