Black Panther, movie review


Chadwick Boseman might be the rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda, aka the Black Panther, but Michael B. Jordan, aka Killmonger, steals the show as a wounded heart and fierce rival in Black Panther, the latest Marvel Studios cash monster.  While this is being pitched as a tremendously ground-breaking film for “blacks” and women, alike, I did not find it that astounding but did find some subtle, convenient political undertones.

I’d like to start off by mentioning I have been a casual Black Panther fan since I could afford a comic book at the local discount book store.  I have three issues of the original comic book series, enough to inspire me to draw countless similar characters for comics I aspired to but never completed.  Even with such a meager collection and knowledge of the character and his enemies, I had my expectations, going into the film.

I expected a down-to-earth, tough-as-nails martial artist/street fighter, a Batman with a cat mask and certain jewelry accessories, facing a crazy dude in a reddish, skin-tight costume with a distinct face/mask design and a megaphone for one of his hands, along with another madman capable of flying like the Vulture from Spider-Man comics/cartoons.

That’s not exactly what I garnered from the ads/trailers, and, thus, was a bit concerned.  But, go figure; it’s been Disney-fied and “updated.”  I didn’t want another juvenile-humor-infused romp in which everything runs on some kind of AI or nanotechnology.  Iron Man could get away with that.  And, I get Wakanda is supposed to be more technologically developed than all other parts of Africa, and then some.  But, Black Panther has always been more of the street/jungle brawler than the wealthy “playboy”/heir to the family fortune.

On the plus side, this movie gets major points for fashion design and its soundtrack.  [Jewelry left something to be desired.]  No other Marvel movie, thus far, has kept me grooving through the whole thing like this one.  I am not much of a RnB or Hip Hop fan.  I didn’t grasp most lyrics.  But, the beats really soothed and carried me along for the ride, all the way through the credits.  Boseman and Nyong’o consistently had slick outfits; Lupita had some nice hairdos and face painting to complement her wardrobe changes.

There was a touch of a Lion King division of “brothers” which bubbled and boiled with tension nicely.  As I said at the beginning, Michael B. Jordan makes one intriguing Killmonger.  Boseman is more of a straight-forward script reader, playing his part to the letter.  But, Jordan is conflicting and conflicted, more tempting to join the dark side than Darth Vader.  He almost convinced me to root for him.

Winston Duke, as M’Baku, the monkey tribe leader, was both amusing and inspiring.  Danai Gurira (Okoye) was fierce and proud enough to play one bad-ass Storm from the X-Men.  Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi) and Andy Serkis (Klaue) get respectful nods, as well.

And, what would a Marvel movie be without a Stan Lee cameo?  The man is just priceless, even if his quip and character didn’t “wow” me this time.  [Can anything top the mailman in the first Fantastic Four film?]  I had completely forgotten Jack Kirby had a big hand in the original comic series.  He has been a big source of inspiration for me, as well.

The technology factor was remotely impressive but inadequately explained.  [Or, maybe I was distracted by something/someone.]  It wasn’t as bad as I expected but still rather convenient.  And, the Wakanda fleet of vehicles were mostly silly and alien-looking.  What respectable wealthy nation thinks ships shaped like grasshoppers or locusts is more sane than, say, a simple flying car/pod?  But, cool points for the “car simulator” technology and the voice command? suit that can absorb and reuse energy.

Casting was adequate.  The only weak spot, other than what I’ve already discussed about Boseman, was Martin Freeman, as a rather silly white guy on the set.  He serves one vital purpose in the whole story, and it’s not until the final big conflict.  Beyond that, he’s like that piece of luggage you wish you didn’t need to check at the airport.  [Which is a shame because I usually like Freeman’s work.]  Ironically, I suppose, he takes the “token” spot a “black” actor/actress would have in just about any “white” film.  But, I think a Korean “agent” would have been more fitting, considering Korea was a country of focus in the movie…which is rather convenient, when you consider what’s going on in world politics and the most recent Olympics.  [‘Makes you go “hmm,” doesn’t it?]

Possibly the worst aspect, next to the bug-shaped airships, was the camera work on the fight scenes, other than the big brawl near the end between two armies of warriors.  That was Lord-of-the-Rings-worthy.  But, the casino fight?  There was so much going on at break-neck speed (ha); too hard to follow with the camera.  [Of course, my seat wasn’t the best.  And, I did not anticipate such a full theater.  But, I didn’t go at my usual movie-viewing time, either.]

The movie leaves you with two little scenes during the credits which did nothing for me.  [But, I haven’t seen Civil War, yet, either.  So…]  And, there’s the question about what is really next for the Black Panther after solving juvenile delinquency…well, not quite (and after what becomes of his enemies which I shall leave you to see for yourselves).  [In fact, the condition of the theater I shared with roughly a hundred other viewers, after the movie, was deplorable.  Broken seats and food debris everywhere.  More savage than the Wakanda jungle.  Not a good impression left by a black-dominated audience.  I was the Martin Freeman in the crowd.]

Give Black Panther a try in 3D if you can spare the extra bucks.  If you wait to rent it, be sure to have a big enough screen to appreciate the visuals though they aren’t as impressive as, say, one of the Thor movies.  Many of the scenes are dark and crowded.  Don’t expect to earn “minority cred” for seeing the movie.  Again, it’s not the end-all-be-all film that’s going to boost “blacks” and women into the top one percent of the wealthy.  It’s not going to make the next Denzel or Halle.  [Although, Lupita (Nakia) was rather stimulating…but, so far, she always is (with a slight hint of arrogance in her smile).]

Buy the soundtrack and groove your way to work or school.

On a scale of 1 (lousy) to 5 (awesome), I give Black Panther a 3.5.  Take out Freeman and the bug ships, and I’d maybe bump this up to a 3.75.

And, Lupita?  Call me.  😉

11 Responses to “Black Panther, movie review”

  1. March 21, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Hahahah. Loved “Lupita call me.” Too late, she called me first lol. Seriously though, nice review. I didn’t read the issues since we didn’t have them when I grew up in Africa. But I most certainly identified with some of the thematics and nuances of cultural adaptions. It didn’t blow me away as I expected but it was soothing at the very least. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a pleasure reading them.

    • March 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Dude, she is as striking as she is agitating with that snobbish sneer she sometimes gets. [And, if she ever reads this…eep!] I knew and worked with a girl like her, once. I kept finding myself melting in her presence, and then she’d flash that haughty smile and cackle, and I’d suddenly bristle before walking away. I have no patience for “haughty beatches.” [But, ya never know; it might be a defense mechanism to prevent jerks from offending her.]

      You didn’t have Black Panther comics in outer Wakanda? 😀 Or, wherever you were outside the magical barriers of Wakanda.

      It played up to the activist groups, which is why it’s getting further played up as the big box office grossing machine. Soothing enough that you rolled with the beats and the tribal elements, made you want to don some of those costumes/clothes and strut through some dimly lit club or practice some Capoeira. But, Martin Freeman’s part soured the milk just a little.

      • March 22, 2018 at 4:01 am

        Hahaha. Yeah…she is in fire man. Well, I do capoeira already so that was part of the thing in us. I donned those costumes already. It’s the clothing I grew up in. And I loved the beats – I played them through out my youth. So it was soothing enough for me to identify with several elements. No only the rich could afford comics way then. When it came around, I was already grown up and in boarding school where we didn’t even know cool stuff like that existed. But overall the movie was ok. Not bad and not mind blowing. The story line was the typical good guy gets beat and returns to beat bad guy type. Not too moved by that. I expected many twists. But I guess it’s okay for a first run of Black Panther

      • March 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm

        You do? What are the odds.

        So, for you, in a way, the movie was a return to your youth in cultural/everyday terms while, for me, it was all rather new with a touch of what I remember from the comics.

        Well, I dunno what they were charging for comics by you, but I got mine for roughly 10 to 25 cents (American) at the local comic book store. I suppose the dollar to (your currency) exchange rate at the time might have been severe.

        No one I knew even cared to talk about Black Panther. He was someone I was drawn to when I went to the shop. I liked how he resembled Batman but was without a cape, more like a cat-ninja. And, I liked how Kirby laid out the panels. There was one issue which ends with this flying thug getting knocked out of the sky. His body remains on the ground as the heroes enter Panther’s manor. And, I dunno, there was just something awe-inspiring about that layout that impressed me like a sweet final shot in a movie.

        I really only knew one other kid who collected any comic books when I reached 5th or 6th grade, and he turned out to be another Iron Man fan who had the “new” red and silver suit in his issues. I was upset because I thought Iron Man always was red and yellow with the round shapes I knew. I had to come to terms with Iron Man being an ever-changing hero costume.

        True. Yet, the Panther had to fight a bit harder and longer than usual to win the final fight which, to me, dragged on a bit like he couldn’t figure out what to do to win. And, maybe, that’s a good thing; maybe it made him more realistic by not having a quick solution. I think I would have been a little happier had one of the warrior women struck down the escaping ship with her spear rather than having Freeman do it with that ship simulator system (although there was good tension with him sticking in the fight til the last second before he was under fire).

        I suppose you could compare the Panther giving up his super strength to Spider-Man giving up his suit/heroics or Thor losing his godly powers with the hammer when he was banished or the Hulk being robbed of his ability to take over Banner’s mind or Captain America being frozen to rise and fight another lifetime against the same Red Skull.

        What sort of twists did you want?

        I’d say the twist was having two key villains “dealt with” by the end. “Klaue” was the guy in the comics I knew best and from whom I expected more; I expected him to flee and fight another day. [But, then, they DID kill the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man film of the millennium and sort of end Doc Ock in the second…and reduced Venom to a shred of his former self.]

      • March 22, 2018 at 11:20 pm

        Wow. You are well informed on your comics. I wonder which other topics you may be well versed in.

        I’m not sure about twists. As an African, a son of the soul, I expected something a bit more fierce. The ferocity in character, and ferocity in attitude. The severity of commitment and passion. The relentlessness of pursuit of justice and in battle. A little less smiling.

        What I saw was the American perspective of African royalty and warfare. While they got some of it and matched it with sound, the sensitivity and nuances were gravely under represented. Bc as a son of the soil, when a warrior king speaks, it shakes the devil out of anyone listening or walking his jurisdiction. Emotions my friend are far less but still there…this evident…still passionate…still fierce.

        As for pricing of comics, I don’t know. I think folks who travelled abroad brought them back. But it would have been in the hundreds or thousands for us

      • March 23, 2018 at 3:30 am

        I am? Don’t try to give me a big head. 😛 I’d say I am a novice or amateur guru on comic books. I’d maybe get 2 out of the Jeopardy category right. I do better with Greek mythology, astrology and video games before PlayStation’s era.

        I thought Killmonger was pretty bad-ass. And, that monkey? tribe guy was both witty and tough enough to stand up to the others. I don’t know how fierce you want things to get. More bloodshed? Plus, the casino fight was so fast and intense that it was a bit of a blur to me. As I said in the review, Chadwick was a bit low-key compared to some of the other actors.

        Who was smiling too much? Most of the characters smirked, if anything (including that Lupita smirk). I think only the tech-savvy sister and maybe W’Kabi (Kaluuya) were smiling more apparently when the former was excited/elated and the latter was just mildly pleased/content.

        Well, duh. It was most likely an American-made film with some support/financing from Korea (Olympics) and a small contribution from Africa. And, I am not sure, but I would not be surprised if it was filmed in Canada. 😛

        Well, you be sure to get your name on the roster of writers for the next film. Okay?

        Ah, so there were not even comics for sale in your area.

      • March 23, 2018 at 3:35 am

        Hahahah…I’d like to write something in the right. It would be amazing. The entire movie was filmed in S.Korea. At least, that’s what I got from a source. Interesting fit. I didn’t mean more
        Bloodshed. But there is a level of intensity and tribal nuances that bring out the ferocity. Plus, though they had some African traditions and dances down, they missed the history and passion that come with it.

      • March 23, 2018 at 3:39 am

        I wasn’t sure. And, now I look dumb for not researching that fact. I knew Korea played a part because they talked about Korea in the film and I saw mention of it in the credits.

        Sooo, more grunting and snarling? More HOO-HA! and BOO-RAH! BA-LI-BA-BAH! ?? Shield smacking and feet stomping? Dust fighting? What?

        Well, I am guessing they rushed the film a bit and missed some of the history as if they went to the Sistine Chapel, bought the 15 euro tour and only spent twenty minutes reading up on or looking at the artwork before leaving. I know a couple who did that while I took my time and couldn’t even begin to process all that was around my eyes.

        Passion? Was there supposed to be more tussle in the jungle? 😛 More jungle boogie? hehe

      • March 23, 2018 at 5:19 am

        Hahahah…matter of fact, yes! I like the tussle in the jungle. More boogie.

      • March 23, 2018 at 10:44 pm

        Bom-chick-a-wow-wow. Undergarments made of leathery leaves and such. Don’t touch the apples.

      • March 24, 2018 at 2:05 am

        Hahahaha. Loved “don’t touch the apples.”

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