Hero. Legend. King. (But No Spoilers)
“Big movie, big world… I had great confidence in this story that [Ryan Coogler] was trying to tell about Black Panther, and this universe… that he would make something notable and beautiful” – Angela Bassett.
“So, you like cats?”
Oh, YES! We love ’em! Especially the big, black and bossin’ kind like the Panther on glorious show here!
The story picks up straight after the events of Captain America: Civil War. In the wake of King T’Chaka’s death, T’Challa returns to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to tackle his own with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility-thing, fending off challenges to his sovereignty – cue some stunning waterfall fight sequences.
This character is rapidly becoming one of my favourite comic book characters, and this movie could not have arrived at a better time. Ryan ‘Creed’ Coogler has created an amazing African adventure.
As the 18th(!) MCU movie masterwork, in addition to the usually reliable fantastic fare of gobsmacking action, furious car chases, overwhelming drama, Black Panther instantly carves out a unique and distinctive niche within the MCU. In addition to its predominantly black cast, there are more strong female characters than any other recent blockbuster; moreover, it succeeds – thanks to first female Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison – in looking and feeling as magical and mysterious as the continent on which it is set for most of the duration.
Tell you the truth: while initially setting out this Review, the star-rating was loaded before any of this text, so certain that this cat would not – and could not – disappoint!
“Looking around and seeing a majority of black cast is something I haven’t had too many opportunities of being a part of. That’s another level of like, “Wow, this is crazy, man” – Michael B. Jordan.
Writers Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole have crafted an enjoyable script, imbued with plenty of groovy lines to keep this quote-crazy critic jolly for ages.
The production design – by Hannah Beachler – is suitably endearing; had to look up the genius responsible for costume design – Ruth Carver has created some stunning, quintessentially African threads here.
And wow – there are more scintillating performances here than you can shake an assegai at! We could be here all night discussing individual roles, so let’s talk ahout a select few.
Reigning supreme is Chadwick Boseman, allowed to reprise – and expand – his cool and dignified turn in Civil War to fantastic effect here. Danai Gurira is simply breath-taking – especially in one of the best MCU action scenes (set, unexpectedly in South Korea?!) we will ever see – as General Okoye, Chief Of Security. Can’t forget Lupita Nyong’o as superspy Nakia – even her ear-ornaments were hypnotising! 😉
After being needlessly wasted in The Last Jedi, it is SO GOOD to watch Andy Serkis being deliciously duplicitous and distasteful as token-white one-armed-nogoodnik Ulysses Klaue. His Afrikaans accent is just as entertaining as Martin Freeman’s hilarious American accent!
What’s that?! “Museum Of Great Britain?” Ha ha! Only in the Marvel Universe! 🙂
Michael B. Jordan creates an intriguing – and yet startlingly relatable -antagonist; not so much a villain, but a frustrated soul who fights for what he believes is rightfully his.
Got to give a special shout-out to Letitia Wright as Shuri – superb and funny as the scene-stealing cheeky younger sister:
“…It sounded too good to be true. I didn’t know a lot about Black Panther – it felt exciting and fascinating and amazing. Being a Zimbabwean American, my interest [is] in bridging the gap between two places. To actually become part of something that does that is unprecedented…” – Danai Gurira.
Yes! Wakanda looks every bit as enchanting and exhilarating as hoped – for once, CGI has been put to such stupendous effect.
It’s baffling when you consider that Warner/DC are incapable of producing a decent comic book movie to save their skins, and yet Marvel Studios continue to excel – almost flawlessly – with each of these quality productions!
My only niggle?
(Apart from that CG-armoured-rhino?): two important elements, vital to the MCU, failed to materialise as expected (if mentioned here, they would probably spoil your expectations/enjoyment too!) Watch out – as always – for that inevitable Stan Lee cameo! (Incredibly, he, and Jack Kirby created Black Panther 52 years ago!). And – oh yes – you know the drill: STAY for both post-credit scenes. (Only a lucky quarter of what had been a packed popcorn parlour remembered to remain and enjoy the second, charming scene!)
Grab as many return tickets to Wakanda as you can get your paws on, True Believers – trust me, this is one Afro-futuristic wonderland you’ll want to keep revisiting time and time again!
Happy, and confident, to report that my first trip to the cinema this year is looking also like a sure-fire contender for Best Movie of the Year.
No, have not forgotten about Thanos – undoubtedly Avengers: Infinity War is set to blow us all away, but on a much grander scale!
2018 is shaping up to be such an awesome year!
And, in answer to your question, Danai Gurira should play me in the film of my life. Have no doubt that Ryan Coogler could make someone reading comics and eating cake for three hours into a mesmerising masterpiece as well!
“He really is a groovy cat,
And what a gentleman, a scholar, what an acrobat!” 😉