Friday, February 23, 2018

Movie Review: Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler

After the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War, Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to the African nation of Wakanda to assume the role of king (who is also known as The Black Panther). Part of the ceremony involves an invitation for any citizen from the five Wakandan tribes: Challenge the current king in combat for the throne. Naturally, being a Marvel superhero movie, he takes on a tough challenger who comes close but can't beat him. Other challenges arise afterward. Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), an American mercenary, wants to claim the throne (and not without some justification). Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis at his scenery-chewing best), a weapons dealer who stole vibranium from Wakanda and killed many citizens in the process, has surfaced in South Korea. The Wakandans have a small window of opportunity to catch Klaue and bring him to justice. Killmonger has aligned himself with Klaue in hopes of making it to Wakanda.

Wakanda has been a secretive nation. It's technologically far advanced thanks to the vibranium mine in the heart of the country. They use vibranium technology to cloak themselves and preserve the utopian peace and prosperity that they enjoy within their borders. Such comfort comes at a cost--they have to ignore problems in the larger world, and even in their neighboring countries. Refugees from other African nations have no welcome there and Wakanda provides no humanitarian aid. The Wakandans treasure their secrecy.

The movie works well on many levels. T'Challa has to face personal problems caused by his father's secrets that have caused a political crisis. He faces the royal problem of governing his people well, which includes the nation's standing among other nations--again their secretive nature belies their ability to help other nations and peoples. He's also the Black Panther, a cool action hero who could capture criminals like Klaue on foreign soil. He protects Wakandans and others as well. The action scenes are exciting and distinctive. He deals with problems not always perfectly, but with dignity and integrity. He works to right the wrongs not only of others but also in his own country and his own family. He is a great example of manhood.

Beyond the character of T'Challa, the movie also builds a fascinating and fully-realized world of Wakanda. It is beautiful to look at and has lots of interesting technology and cultural depth. The five tribes have distinctive looks and tech. The major and minor conflicts among the tribes and the people are believable. As the Lord of the Rings movies were a great travel ad for New Zealand, this movie makes viewers want to visit Wakanda (which is sadly fictional and CGI).

The women of Wakanda are amazing too. T'Challa's sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is a technological wiz who serves so much more than the Q role to his James Bond. Ex-girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) is a successful spy and powerful agent for Wakanda. The elite forces of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje, are an all-female fighting force featuring Okoye (Danai Gurira) who is dedicated more to Wakanda than to T'Challa. The movie features a lot of strong female characters who are distinctive and admirable, each in her own way.

The villains are well-developed too. Klaue is an unlikely mixture of gleeful brutality and intelligent strategy. Killmonger's backstory is very sympathetic, showing how he sees his ultimate goal as justified, though really it is destructive revenge that will destroy Wakanda's peace and harm the rest of the world too. The performances by the whole cast are top-notch.

It's hard to find flaws in the movie. The big battle at the end is occasionally over the top but hardly the CGI overload like Wonder Woman's or Guardians of the Galaxy's endings. The movie is action-packed, intelligent, and well-developed.

Highly recommended.


  1. We went last weekend and also loved it. What a treat it was!

    1. I was a little worried the movie was being overhyped by everybody but it turned out awesome. I can't wait for more!

  2. Replies
    1. Hey, you're off Facebook for Lent, right? Did you see the meme--"In Black Panther, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis are the Tolkien white guys." I thought that was pretty hilarious, and right up our alley.

    2. I am off Facebook for Lent ... and didn't see the meme. That is so funny! Thanks for telling me! :-D