BLACK PANTHER – A Review by John Strange
Sometimes you hear and see so much about a film that your expectations are not met when you see it on the big screen. In the case of Black Panther, that is NOT the case. The story of the people of the African nation of Wakanda and their ruler and protector, Black Panther, is a perfect story for our time.
The backstory of this larger-than-life character from the pages of the marvel comics is worth spilling to those of you who may not have heard of T'Challa aka the Black Panther and Wakanda, his home. The country, located near the heart of Africa, is considered by the rest of the world to be a third-world country with nothing worthy of notice.
This perceived reality couldn't be further from the truth thanks to a very large meteor, largely made up of vibranium, which crashed into the region centuries ago. The five tribes in the region fought wars over ownership of the strange and alien metal. This kept going until the discovery that the mineral had leached into the earth, changing a "heart-shaped herb", which when ingested, gave someone superhuman strength, reflexes and instinct. The man who discovered this plant's special properties was able use these powers to stop the wars and bring peace to the tribes.
The peace allowed the Wakandans to advance their civilization well in advance of that of "the colonizers" (what they call most other people in the world, especially white men). To protect themselves, they hide their advances behind shields and holograms. They also sent people out into the world to spy on everyone else.
In 1992, one of those spies, assigned to Oakland, California, was one of the king's sons, N'Jobu. About this time, someone gave an arms dealer, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), the information he needed to sneak into Wakanda and steal a load of vibranium. The King chose to confront his son in his apartment in Oakland to discover his guilt or innocence in this situation.
The discussion gets heated, especially when N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) finds out his friend, Zuri, isn't American but is, in fact, a fellow Wakandan spy. The King is forced to kill his son to protect Zuri's life. The King and Zuri leave following the death. What they leave behind will later come back to haunt them.
In present day, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) inherits the throne when his father is killed in a bombing while speaking at the U.N. His ascension to the throne is marred by the discovery that an artifact made of vibranium has been stolen by Klaue. T'Challa and his people make arrangements to stop the sale of the artifact.
From this point on, the similarities to films like Mission: Impossible, are obvious. There is lots of action in exotic locales with wild fights and vehicle chases. Like Doctor Strange, the film is loaded to the hilt with amazing CGI. Unlike Doctor Strange, the CGI enhances our film-watching experience, pulling us into the wondrous futuristic world that is Wakanda without forcing us to constantly try to figure out what it is we are seeing (don't get me wrong, I LOVED Doctor Strange, but the CGI was rough enough that some folks got dizzy watching it).
The power of T'Challa and Black Panther lies in his spirit and his courage. It is obvious to me that a least part of this is due to a family that is very strong. His father, for all of his possible faults, raised his son to be a true leader. His mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), is the epitome of a strong Queen Mother. His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), is one of the country's leading scientists, constantly working to improve the devices that Blank Panther uses. Her relationship with her brother shows that they aren't just siblings but best friends as well.
This is a film that you should certainly watch unfold on the big screen for your first viewing. I see this film spawning more "solo" films (as opposed to the character’s next outing in Avengers: Infinity War due out in May, 2018). There is simply too much to explore in one or even two films. They simply MUST give us more films centered upon Black Panther and Wakanda. On our scale, I have to give Black Panther an A+!
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture)
Selig Rating: A+
Runtime: 134 Min.
Movie Site: https://marvel.com/blackpanther#/
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.