The latest superhero movie to enter cinemas, Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” dazzles with its cinematography, costuming and beautiful representation of African culture. It’s so inventive, so fresh and so incredibly good; this reviewer simply had to write about it.
“Black Panther” chronicles the struggles of King T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, fresh to the throne in the wake of his father’s death. As he begins his reign over the fictional African country of Wakanda, he’s challenged by shadows of his father’s past and forced to decide the future of his country and his people.
Joining Boseman is an all-star cast. Lupita Nyong’o lends her talents as Wakandan spy Nakia and T’Challa’s former flame. Danai Gurira shines as the charming and fierce General Okoye. Both actresses bring enrapturing performances to the movie, but the true star was Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri. Her intelligence and humor brought the dynamic shared between her and T’Challa to a memorable height.
The film’s greatest strength is the setting of Wakanda. The kingdom is brought to life by the film’s amazing costume designers, who evoked the rich and diverse cultures of the continent to weave a tapestry of color and beauty in ways few movies have ever attempted.
“Black Panther” is a joyful celebration of African culture, whether in the amazing costumes donned by the warriors of Wakanda, the honored tradition in Wakanda or the architecture of the city itself.
“Black Panther” is very different from the other films Marvel Studios has presented to viewers in the past. Playing more like a political drama about what it means to be a true and honorable king than as a superhero movie, T’Challa is challenged by threats to his throne and his people more than super villains.
The antagonist of the story, Erik Killmonger, bucks the flaw that has plagued Marvel films since their beginning: memorable villains. Quite the contrary, Killmonger, played by the unstoppable Michael B. Jordan, dominates the screen whenever he appears. His intense performance demands the attention of the audience member as much as the main characters.
Accenting every moment of the film with poignant grace is the film’s soundtrack. Representing the film’s central themes of modern struggling versus ancient magnificence is the outstanding collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Ludwig Goransson. Between the two, the score never bores, never lulls and never disappoints.
If this reviewer has one complaint regarding the movie, it would be the lackluster final conflict. With so many amazing characters and conflicts building towards the climax, much of the story seems thrown together without much thought in the final act. However, this is a small complaint lost in a film that dazzles and amazes throughout its entire runtime.
Coogler has truly delivered with this film. With the largest opening week of any MCU film to date, fans have loudly spoken out in support of the first superhero movie with a predominantly black cast. This is a victory for fans of Marvel and cinema alike.
Earlier, this reviewer mentioned he has one complaint about the film. This wasn’t entirely true. If he could change one more thing about the film, it would be the runtime. Coogler has said that the first cut of “Black Panther” was four hours long. If that released in theaters tomorrow, this reviewer would see it at premiere. Audiences should see “Black Panther” as soon as they can.