Thursday, October 25, 2018

Movie with Abe: Black Panther

Black Panther
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Released February 16, 2018

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably the most successful film franchise, beginning ten years ago with “Iron Man” and showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down with increasingly frequent releases and mega-films featuring dozens of superheroes uniting in epic battle against any number of threats. As the universe has expanded and looped in more characters from the comics, those introduced are then given origin stories, allowing them to become something altogether unique and impressive in their own right. Released at the very beginning of this year, “Black Panther” is perhaps the strongest example of a film that comes from this universe but exists in its own world.

After his father dies, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is crowned the new king of the African nation of Wakanda, a land of riches and technological advances that cloaks itself from the world as a small, poor country. When arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) attempts to steal vibranium, the element that helps power Wakanda, T’Challa, better known as the Black Panther, must team up with military leader Okoye (Danai Gurira), his ex-lover and spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), his brilliant sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and CIA Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) to defeat the greatest threat Wakanda has ever faced: Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a powerful, vengeful operative with aims to transform the peaceful nation into a violent empire.

This film has enjoyed tremendous popularity and unrivaled box office success since its release for a number of reasons. This reviewer missed the last few films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe sequence, and this first experience with Black Panther feels like a complete one more than capable of standing alone, ignoring the few explicit references to events and characters from past and future films. The spotlight on this incredible African nation is a revolutionary idea, something that shouldn’t have taken this long to happen in Hollywood but which feels authentic and exciting, especially since it encompasses action and science fiction films within to create a broadly appealing, totally engaging thrill ride that could easily be experienced for double its two hour and fourteen minute runtime.

Boseman, who impressed as the future Supreme Court Justice in “Marshall,” has the right energy and swagger to play T’Challa, confident in his skills and his success but exceedingly humble and generous when the moment calls for it. This film offers a tremendous showcase for its three leading women, who kick ass and demonstrate their abilities many times. Gurira in particular offers a departure from her more subdued role on “The Walking Dead” and Nyong’o follows up her Oscar-winning turn in “12 Years a Slave” with a totally unrecognizable and awesome part. Serkis, Freeman, Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, and Sterling K. Brown offer support in a rich ensemble fitting for its surroundings. The visual effects and set design are marvelous, and this action adventure is easily one of the more exciting and enjoyable chapters in the never-ending Marvel cinematic saga.


No comments: