Black Panther Review

Black Panther

Hopefully the last casualty of the “not being able to afford to go to the cinema” period, I finally saw Black Panther on blu-ray over the weekend. It certainly lived up to the hype, both being a really good film and the impressive cast, including a lead villain in an MCU film that’s actually good and well-fleshed out! Hooray! Let’s have a look…

Synopsis:

After the death of his father, T’Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Black Panther 1

Black Panther himself, in front of a very black background…

T’Challa / Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – T’Challa, after having brought his father’s killer to justice, is now ready to accept his role as King of Wakanda. Little does he know what baggage will come with him…

N’Jadaka / Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) – Killmonger had his father taken from him as a child, knowing full well it was the then-current Black Panther that did it. Ever since then he’s wanted revenge, but more importantly, he wanted the means to end the injustice levelled at people like him all around the world.

Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) – Nakia is a “war dog”, a spy planted in a foreign country by Wakanda. She is currently in Nigeria, and is unaware of the recent events that have unfolded in her home country, and to her close friend T’Challa…

Okoye (Danai Gurira) – Okoye is the head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces. She is often right next to T’Challa, making sure he’s not only safe, but well-informed of all that goes on in their home country.

Shuri (Letita Wright) – T’Challa’s sister, who is also a technological genius. She has increased Wakanda’s tech level beyond the incredible state it was already in…

Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) – Ross is a CIA agent who has had dealings with the new King of Wakanda before…

W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya) – Head of the security force for the Border Tribe, and therefore Wakanda’s first line of defence. He is also a good friend of T’Challa.

Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) – Klaue is a black market dealer from South Africa. He is the only person to have successfully broken into Wakanda before, though he has no wish to ever do so again. He has a false left arm after a run in with Ultron a few years ago…

M’Baku (Winston Duke) – M’Baku is the leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari. The only one of the five tribes to not ally under the original Black Panther, the Jabari are on the outside looking in, and aren’t happy with how the rest of their country is ran…

and many more!

The Good:

Black Panther 2

An interesting and believable lead villain? In an MCU movie?!

Thanks to telling most of T’Challa’s backstory in Captain America: Civil War, we can pretty much jump straight into the action with him, which is helpful. Instead the world of Wakanda is what is truly developed, and developed well! The high level of technology and the design of the city and its people, as well as the unique weapons and vehicles are all great. T’Challa’s love interest and spy Nakia is well-rounded, with a strong sense of moral justice, and his head of security Okoye, as well as the rest of the Dora Milaje, are interesting visually and unlike anything else I’ve seen. Okoye has a good sense of humour to go with her sense of honour and fighting skills. All the other characters and tribes in and around Wakanda are fun to watch as well, it just makes for a really good unique feel.

Killmonger, our lead antagonist, has got a strong head on his shoulders and as valid as a reason you can get for wanting to invade a country and commit a bit of the old regicide. His father betrayed Wakanda and ended up dead for it by the hands of his brother the king, now he not only wants revenge, but he wants to use Wakandan technology to help those less fortunate who are under the heels of oppressors all over the world. He had to grow up even rougher than he was already when he father was killed and he was left behind, so he has a valid grudge really, but what’s great is that isn’t his only motivation. He wants to help people who grew up unfairly treated like himself using Wakandan technology that they’ve hoarded for themselves. He may be vicious, but he believes he’s right, and he’s not far off (he just needs less… killy methods…) so he makes for a compelling villain.

Martin Freeman is good in the role of Ross, it’s not the usual average joe role that he normally plays, but he still pulls it off well. A scene towards the end where he remote pilots a Wakandan ship because he was a top pilot back in the day was good fun.

As for the action set pieces? A long car chase in Korea, the first showdown between T’Challa and Killmonger, and the final battle between warring Wakandan factions (including a great rematch between our lead antagonist and protagonist both wearing Black Panther suits) are all a visual feast as well as thrilling rides. Much can be said about the acting, character development and plot, but at its root it’s still a great comic book / action film.

Oh and yes, there is something nice about an almost entirely black cast and with so much focus on African culture. Kind of goes without saying, but there you go.

The Bad:

Black Panther 3

He may have been the low-light of the film, but at least Klaue has his sonic gun arm, even if it’s doesn’t resemble a satellite like in the comics!

I think my only negative is the usually great Andy Serkis going overboard with his performance as Ulysses Klaue. It’s odd to call something in a comic book film “overboard”, but that’s the only way I can think of describing it. Hammy, maybe? Either way, it stood out like a sore thumb amongst a lot of more serious or reserved characters, especially the lead villain. I was happy to see Killmonger, well, kill him.

Overall Thoughts:

Black Panther 4

The sight of a Wakandan civil war is an odd one, alright…

Black Panther broke the billion mark in the cinema, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s culturally significant, yes, but it also has great action set pieces, and most importantly, its full of interesting and layered characters (both good and bad) and in a unique world that hasn’t really ever been seen in the cinema before. Much like with Guardians of the Galaxy and Antman, it’s weird and brilliant to say that a Black Panther film is properly a good film, able to stand on its own and add to the overall universe. Top marks.

5 Star Watch

 

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