Movie Title: Black Panther
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 14 min.
Who did I watch with?: Keegan
Where did I watch it?: Regal Stadium 12 – Swansea, MA
Black Panther is Marvel’s latest cinematic adventure and another origins story in its ever expanding catalogue. Black Panther has a great cast with turns from Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. For the most part, I didn’t know many of these people were going to be in the movie going in and it was a pleasant surprise. Andy Serkis featured prominently in the advertising campaign and it was great to see him in a role where he was not entirely CGI. While Serkis’s role is not exactly Bryan Cranston in Godzilla there is definitely some false advertising related to his character. Chadwick Boseman is great at chewing the scenery as the title character and his accent (as well as everyone else) is great.
The film opens in 1992 with T’Chaka, the King of Wakanda, visiting his brother in Los Angeles where he is on special assignment. Things do not go well. This spurs on the primary conflict for the rest of the movie. Wakanda has developed fantastic technology and a beautiful civilization while the rest of the world believes they are a bunch of impoverished sheep herders. Should they try and reach out to the world or remain hidden as they have for generations?
The movie then comes back to the modern day. King T’Chaka is dead and King T’Challa’s coronation ceremony opens the films. The lush landscapes and vibrant colors really help create a beautiful atmosphere at the coronation and for the rest of the movie. While not as visually imperious as Doctor Strange, it still looks damn good. At the coronation it is clear that not everyone is happy with the direction the kingdom has been following. There are contentious elements both within and outside the kingdom that are pushing them to change. Not the least of which is the wonderfully named Ulysses Klaue.
Klaue (Andy Serkis) is an arms dealer seeking to acquire and trade large quantities of vibranium, a rare precious metal from which Wakanda draws its power. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) assists him in locating vibranium and acquiring it by whatever means necessary. All the principle characters come together in the South Korean underground where CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) is attempting to acquire the vibranium from Klaue.
One of the large weaknesses of Black Panther is a subplot that develops out of this scene. It dwells on it for the majority of the first half of the movie as if it were not painfully obvious and then has a reveal designed to astound audiences. But, I had already figured it out within the first 15 minutes of the movie and most savvy movie goers will easily pick it out as well.
Black Panther has a lot of positives though. The battle scenes are inventive and one element introduced late in the movie made me have a nerdgasm. The technology is interesting and for the most part everyone’s screen time is well balanced. The women are also the real stars of the movie. Yes, a lot of the turmoil revolves around how to keep a king on a throne, but the women are the characters that make it happen. Wakanda is not quite a matriarchy, but it is not far off.
The first half is good, but not great. But the second half is excellent and the action scenes are everything you could want. If you are deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe be sure to stay for two credit sequence scenes.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Before I Wake (2016)