Posts Tagged ‘Wakanda

06
Mar
18

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.  😉

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