Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman
4 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: After the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) comes home to the isolated, technologically advanced nation of Wakanda to be coronated King. But the return of the country’s oldest foe Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) immediately tests his mettle, as does the sudden emergence of the mysterious Erik ‘Killmonger’ Stevens (Michael B Jordan).
Review: The continued dominance of the superhero genre, and the constant need to outdo any predecessor and rival, means that films of this ilk often go way bigger, but fail to actually get any better.
Familiar and repetitive themes and tropes, an overabundance of special effects and the forced meshing together and gentle banter between superheroes has depressingly dominated these blockbusters instead of characterization and world building.
“Black Panther” is the antidote to such films, though.
Wakanda lives and breathes. It feels rich, expansive and is clearly teeming with umpteen further stories, while it is also distinctive, authentic and has a vitality that you can’t help but become invested in.
Ryan Coogler manages to make this world so expansive by carefully incorporating scenes that both explore the spirituality and mythology of Wakanda and also make revelations about T’Challa and his father T’Chaka that truly impact the story and other characters. All the while Coogler makes sure that “Black Panther’s” subtext touches upon heritage, identity and representation, themes that explode at the exact right time.
“Black Panther” might have the spectacle and action to immediately dazzle, but it’s the pathos and thought-provoking exploration of the above that really makes it resonate.
Then there’s the cast, all of whom are stunning. Truly, truly stunning. Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther oozes a cool and charisma that any James Bond would be jealous of, all while teasing a vulnerability and empathy that makes him more appealing. Those qualities also help to elevate Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger.
Not that Jordan or the character needed any help in that regard, as he’s rightfully furious, imposing, skillful and always seemingly one step ahead of his opponents. Finally, we have a Marvel villain that is able to raise the stakes and create a peril that leaves you wondering how our hero will come through.
It’s the female characters that really thrive, though. Danai Gurira steals every scene she is in, Lupita Nyong’o is sumptuous and formidable, while Letita Wright is the most hilarious character of a film that uses its perfectly placed and pitched humor to enhance rather than impeach proceedings.
“Black Panther” doesn’t solve all of Marvel’s problems, as its action is still choppy and often lacks a moment of impact that really leaves you thrilled.
But it is gloriously original, relentlessly entertaining, leaves you instantly wanting to see more of Wakanda and its inhabitants and is, most importantly, going to genuinely inspire a whole generation.