View Full Version : Marvel's BLACK PANTHER (2018)

03-10-2018, 03:52 PM
Setting aside what it represents for the moment, let's just say that Ryan Coogler's BLACK PANTHER is a good solid superhero movie. Just like WONDER WOMAN last year, that should be first and foremost the most important thing to consider.

What sets PANTHER apart from most superhero origin movies is that it is largely content with 'just' being an origin story. Ever since SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE set the template, most first movies in a franchise begin with the background tale in the first half, and then proceed to the title character's first adventure. Save for a brief epilogue (and the now de rigeur Marvel credits sequence bits (two, here)), PANTHER ends with Chadwick Boseman's T'Chala fully earning the right to his moniker. No second act.

For the most part, the strategy works. Writer-Director Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole have concocted an original enough tale (based on the works of Jack Kirby and a cameo-ing Stan Lee, of course) to keep this a backstory-only adventure. Even though there is a bit of sci-fi to spark the story (a meteorite with a magic metal substance called vibranium), this plays out almost like a tribal sword and sandal tale full of magic kingdoms (Wakanda) and god-like leaders. And, of course, there are the usual warring factions. Bringing the legend to the present day involves a seemingly unrelated theft of a Wakandan weapon in a British museum. The robbery is carried off by a cheeky villain named Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Killmonger (Coogler fave Michael B. Jordan). Getting the weapon back involves international intrigue which includes the involvement of an American spy Ross (Martin Freeman). Family secrets are revealed, battles fought including double-crosses before all is settled.

The spins on the usual origin story work for the most part, although there are some points where the pacing sags, and the story-line gets a bit murky. Placing the ancient Wakanda in the context of the modern world gets a bit awkward at times with some cringe-worthy dialogue and even a character flipping the bird. It's not that some of these intrusions of modernism wouldn't intrude on their world, but, it's sometimes an uneasy mix with all the somber respect for past rituals and a certain reverence to mysticism. The acting is solid with stalwarts like Angela Bassett and Forrest Whitaker on hand to add gravitas. The production design and special effects work are solid with some intriguing twists in keeping with the story's more offbeat themes. The music isn't bad, but, one thing the D.C. films have over the Marvel universe are the scores. It's as Marvel purposely doesn't want the soundtracks to compete with their 'vision'.

BLACK PANTHER's success - both critical and commercial - is worth noting. Even more so, because the actual movie earns that respect. And, the sight of the all those warrior kings and, especially, queens is sight to behold on the big screen.

Alex K.
03-10-2018, 04:26 PM
I thought it was a completely average movie.

03-14-2018, 09:51 PM
Of course it's successful- there's no other big budget blockbusters running against it, and Disney has hyped it more than their equally boring Star Wars films.

03-14-2018, 10:56 PM

Dom D
07-07-2018, 04:00 AM
Marvel sure got a lot of good press for this. Of course to really give them a good pat on the back you have to ignore the fact that they managed 17 films in a row before this without a single non-white/non male lead. Which is a hell of an effort in this day and age. Looking back I find it hard to remember why there wasn't an outcry. Anyway, hopefully that's the kind of streak no studio will go on again after Black Panther raked it in at the box office and Disney's killing it with their female led Star Wars films.

So this ones kind of required viewing as an historically significant film. It's also one I want to like though I knew the odds were against it because as a rule I don't get superhero movies at all.

Ultimately I struggled with Black Panther even more than I do most superhero movies. It's hard to get your head round the set up. We're in a supposedly poverty stricken African country. It has heriditary rulers who can be challenged by trials by combat. It's people are still wandering around with spears. They are also most technologically advanced nation on earth with invisible spaceships, laser guns and the ability to heal just about anything. That's tough to get your head around. On every level. It's all just incongrous. The kicker of course is while they have all this amazing tech they keep it to themselves and hide away from the rest of the world. They do this while, to pick a couple of examples, most of Africa is in a pretty grim state and kids are dying of cancer around the planet. These are our heroes? Fuck these guys. They're the villians. And I know the Wakandan's coming round on that is the central moral quandry of the film. And that people praise this film for tackling "big themes". Well maybe that is a big theme but it's also a very simple one and our heroes are very clearly in the wrong. So screw them.

I just can't find my way to engage with the material and that's before we get to the obligatory 20 minute fight between two invulnerable characters who proceed to kick each other through walls. I don't get the appeal of these scenes. Now the fight on the top of the waterfall, that was pretty gripping. Sharp weapons, soft flesh, big fall off a waterfall just around the corner. Scenes like that work because we can see jeopardy in every moment. But why do you want to watch a fight where two guys can take a tumble from a few hundred metres up and immediately jump to their feet? There's no stakes in that. No consequences because we know whatever blows are dealt to our hero he can endure them because there's no rules here.

So yeah, disappointed I hated it, but then I was always going to. I'm very glad it made so many people happy though.