Long live the king.
Black Panther is a 2018 superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler, written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is based on Black Panther comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Sound Mixing. It won Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design. This is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film acts as a sequel to Captain America: Civil War and is followed by Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It will also be followed by a direct sequel, titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
"Hey, auntie." -Killmonger
After the death of his father, T'Challa assumes the mantle of king of Wakanda, as well as the title of the Black Panther. As his home rests in peace, an old enemy of the country resurfaces. When T'Challa realizes that his country hides more secrets than he realized, a powerful and vengeful new enemy threatens the future of T'Challa and his country.
The first thing is the acting. This movie has some of the best acting that I've seen in the MCU, and considering that it was nominated for Best Picture, I'm surprised that Michael B. Jordan was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor. That said, I think he is the highlight in the film. He really isn't in the first hour and a half of the film, but when he comes in, he just completely steals the spotlight. He has this very aggressive and violent demeanor that fits his character, but he does a good job of adding on layers to Killmonger. He has a sentimental side that he barely puts on display, but it is present whenever he is on screen. Chadwick Boseman is also amazing. He has this very leader-like presence, and he puts forward tons of confidence and charm in this role. He is, in some ways, the opposite of Michael B. Jordan's performance, because he has an angry and spiteful side that he doesn't really show off entirely, but it is definitely present. Lupita Nyong'o delivers a solid performance. She does a more emotional performance than the other two, and it works as a perfect foil to Boseman. Danai Gurira does this portrayal of her character that acts very commanding and loyal to her country. It works very well, as she is the voice of reason between everyone. Letitia Wright and Winston Duke are the comic relief in the film. Wright has more of character, but they are both consistently funny and charming. Andy Serkis, Daniel Kaluuya, and Angela Bassett are much smaller roles, but they still are great. Kaluuya is the best of them, taking on an incredibly serious performance as W'Kabi, and giving a face to vengeance and hatred.
The story is great. It is very inspiring and darker than most of the previous films in the MCU. Now, mind you, this movie came out before Infinity War and Endgame. But this still stands as one of the more intense and heavier movies in the universe. It has a dark tone from the get go, as the film revolves around T'Challa becoming king because his dad was killed. Then we get the first act, which is definitely the lightest and happiest part of the film. T'Challa is crowned king and starts ruling Wakanda. The second act starts as soon as Ulysseus Klaue pops up on Wakanda's radar. The thrill of the casino fight and Klaue's escape are astounding. When Klaue escapes, you feel the gut-punch that Black Panther feels. The third act focuses mostly on backstory and flashbacks, as you see what truly happened with Black Panther's father and uncle. This suddenly makes Killmonger a sensible and motivated villain, giving the audience a sense of intrigue in the middle of the film, which has already excited them and satisfied them. The fourth act really kicks off the fast-paced ending, as Killmonger enters Wakanda with Klaue's body. It makes him some kind of hero for Wakanda, and it makes the movie even more interesting. Even though Killmonger is a violent and evil villain, he has a reason to be. And his intention is to help Wakanda. Killmonger "kills" T'Challa, and the fifth and final act starts. I thought that bringing the Jabari tribe into the mix at the end was a clever idea from the writers. It makes Wakanda a more diverse country and uses all the different tribes and ideas that Wakanda represents. The story delivers emotion, twists, leadership, and just a fun ride for everyone.
This has, hands-down, the best group of characters in an MCU film besides the Avengers movies. Obviously, Black Panther is a fan-favorite superhero, and this movie solidifies him into the greats. He is the perfectly flawed leader. He isn't perfect, but he cares about his country, people, and family. Even if his family member is a psychopath that tries to murder him. Killmonger is, behind Thanos and Loki, the best villain in the MCU. He is evil, but he has good motive and good intentions. He changes the culture of Wakanda at the end. His goal, which is to open Wakanda up to the rest of the world, is accomplished in the after-credits, which makes him so fascinating. Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri represent badass women warriors. Okoye is also a harsh and great leader. Nakia is a bit of an activist, but also works as a warrior and fights for her country. Shuri is hilarious and a genius, and she really does all the important work, like the Black Panther suits and stuff.
I think that this movie has an emotional weight and a tone that outdoes the rest of the movies in this franchise. The N'Jobu storyline shows the flaws of the people that we are rooting for. It also shows how a hero's mistakes can lead to the creation of a villain. The challenge between Killmonger and T'Challa is incredibly dark, as we see Zuri die, and then Killmonger throws T'Challa off of a cliff, presumably killing him. Obviously, he isn't dead, but it is somewhat unexpected and shows the ruthlessness of Killmonger.
I think that most of the action is fabulous. The casino fight is so cool, especially with that one long take that happens in the middle of the sequence. The hand-to-hand combat that we witness with both challenges can be gut-wrenching and exciting at the same time. The first fight between M'Baku and T'Challa is not nearly as cool as the second fight between Killmonger and T'Challa. Ryan Coogler decided not to use any music, making every punch, kick, and hit heard and felt by the audience. The sky is noticeably darker during that second fight, and that is intelligent directing.
The music is also fantastic. The "Wakanda" theme rivals the "Avengers" theme in greatness. It is so outspoken, loud, and confident, fitting the tone of the country and its fighters. It is also very fast and catchy. It makes me smile every time I watch Black Panther's ship enter the Wakandan dome and I hear those insanely sick couple of beats.
I do think that the CGI in this film is really lazily done. For a movie that is so well done, the post-production feels like it was rushed. The rhinos and suits in the final battle look really dumb, and it makes that sequence feel like a rock bottom point in a movie that shouldn't hit rock bottom in any category.
That said, I do not like the final fight sequence. It looks cartoonish and silly, like it was pulled out of a Pixar film. The movements that Killmonger and Black Panther make look so unrealistic and animated that it gave me a headache near the end. I was really disappointed that a movie with such high praise and mostly good action ended in this fashion.
I think that the Everett Ross character feels out of place in this film. No, it is not because he is American and literally out of place in Wakanda. I think that the writers either should've done more with him or less with him. It feels like he is just kind of there in every scene that he's in, and he doesn't do much until the final battle. They never really care to develop him, and he feels like a forgotten piece of a jigsaw puzzle. The writers knew that they wanted him for the finale, so they wanted him in Wakanda to form small relationships with every character, but he doesn't actually contribute until the end.
Finally, I think some of the writing is bad. Some of the lines that Killmonger says are surprisingly cliche and uninventive. It makes the character look like an idiot and it makes Michael B. Jordan look bad saying these lines. I think that the majority of the writing is good, but not all of it. There are some other lines that Okoye and Black Panther say that just are inconsistent with the way they speak in the rest of the film.
Despite a bad character, bad CGI, and some strange writing, Black Panther delivers a dark and entertaining adventure with great acting, characters, and an inspiring story.
I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 12+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 9.5/10
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Released on February 16, 2018
Rated PG-13 for superhero action and violence, language, disturbing themes and behavior
2 hours and 14 minutes
Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan as N'Jadaka/Killmonger
Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia
Danai Gurrira as Okoye
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Andy Serkis as Ulysseus Klaue
Winston Duke as M'Baku
Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda
Daniel Kaluuya as W'Kabi
Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Stan Lee as Man in Casino