‘Black Panther’ Review by B. Gunn
Wassup, y’all! He’s the King of Wakanda, there are none higher. Sucker super heroes should call him sire!
“Black Panther”, the eagerly anticipated film from Marvel Studios, stars Chadwick Boseman, Micheal B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira among others whom I’ll highlight a little later on. Marvel Studios has been churning out superhero movies for ten years now with an impressive track record. While all those flicks have been mega entertaining and mega successful, I feel like those movies have been steadily reaching maturity and finally in 2018, they have given us a full-grown adult called “Black Panther”. The production company truly lives up to its name with this one, y’all; “Black Panther” is an undeniable Marvel.
The film takes place one week after the events in “Captain America: Civil War”. Following the death of his father, T’Challa is poised to take throne as Wakanda’s new King. The transition isn’t easy, however. Many residents aren’t exactly welcoming him and he’s not even sure if he’s ready to lead. That’s my simple synopsis. This movie is much deeper, though – deeper than a Nas/Rakim collaborative album.
Director Ryan Coogler secured the Marvel Studio bag with a $200 million-dollar budget, some of the greatest actors on the planet, and produced one of, if not THE, greatest superhero film ever. Let’s start with the cast. Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther is unlike any protagonist you’ve seen. He’s trying to maneuver between running an elite country and running after bad guys. There’s constant inner-conflict as well as outer-conflict. If the villains don’t kill him, the stress will.
Now, the title may be “Black Panther”, but black girl magic reigns supreme in this production. Nyong’o plays Nakia, a Wakandan spy. The world is cut off from Wakanda, so she goes out, gathers intel and brings it back home. She’s the female James Bond. Seeing her character perform throughout the film reminds you of the woman you spend all your income tax money on in the club without her even asking, and the next thing you know, she and her friends are off riding through the city in your car while you’re still waiting like a trained dog because she said she’d be “right back”.
Letita Wright plays Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister and genius, who designs all the new technology for Wakanda. In the comic book, she’s actually smarter than Tony Stark, but she’s also a typical little sister. If you have one, you know what I mean! Shuri is the movie’s bright spot, the lovable character, but don’t cross her!
Angela Bassett’s elegance shines as she plays Queen Ramonda. Imagine your husband dying and you having to remain strong because a nation is counting on you for guidance. Her determination exudes onscreen.
The baddest chick isn’t Trina, it’s Okoye, played by Danai Gurira. She is the leader of the Dora Milaje, an all-female special forces unit who are also T’Challa’s bodyguards. If you thought she was hardcore on “The Walking Dead”, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Okoye is an absolute beast. She has a couple of scenes where she gracefully and brutally gets down! She might be making a case for her own movie. Forest Whitaker’s role as Zuri is essentially vital to the story. I can’t say anything without spoiling the plot, but the movie would definitely suffer if his character didn’t have the arc that it did. My man Andy Serkis as Klaue is back and boy has he gotten an upgrade. Klaue didn’t get a lot of shine in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but we get to see what he’s really about in “Panther”. He’s not the typical bad guy although he’s a badass. He gives Klaue life.
Ok, I had to save the best for last – Michael B. Jordan. We’ve seen many villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but hands down, Eric Killmonger is the best antagonist ever created for this genre of film. When you give a character layers like he has, you as an audience member become conflicted. You know he’s the bad guy, but once you understand his motivation, it will be hard for you not to feel empathy. His performance is mind-blowing.
The CGI in “Black Panther” is on another level. The world of Wakanda is magnificent. It parallels Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscira in its reclusiveness to the rest of the world, but the difference is Wakandans are fully aware of the outside world’s existence but they are centuries ahead. Wakanda is a character unto itself; a thriving land rich in technology and tradition. Wakanda is “The Jetsons” while the rest of the world is “Green Acres’. It’s on my imaginary bucket-list along with the kingdom of Zamunda. Set design and wardrobe are beautiful. There is so much attention to detail regarding African clothing. Tribal customs and outfits are well-represented. The culture is rich within this film. As with any Marvel joint, action is paramount.
“Black Panther” is full of action! You’ve literally NEVER seen fight sequences like this because you’ve never seen a movie like this. They are astounding. It’s like watching art move across the screen. Battles are fierce, special effects are furious. What makes “Panther” one of the greatest spectacles ever, though, is the storyline and directing. This script is so poignant, you’ll have a hard time believing this was written for a superhero flick. It’s a story of struggle, betrayal, celebration, and point-of-view…all in a superhero movie, y’all!
“Black Panther” flows like the Nile River from beginning to end. It roars with exuberance.
This is a historic moment in filmmaking. No film with a predominately black cast has ever been given a budget of this magnitude. When your imagination meets the money you need for execution, the result is “Black Panther”.
For 2 hours 14 minutes, along with watching a superior movie, I had a sense of pride and belonging. I wondered what my life may have been like in Africa. I envisioned unity here in America, free of racism and bigotry. It will do the same for you. Are there missteps in this film? Yes. Lulls in action here and there, two scenes of questionable CGI – so what?
“Black Panther” is a first, and will be first place at the box office. I’m proudly giving it a Co-Sign CLASSIC, for the culture. Definitely check this out, in IMAX if you can, and stay for the TWO end credits. T’Challa for President! He’ll never freeze.