Cast - 90%
Story - 85%
Music Score - 85%
Effects/Quality - 83%
Originality - 88%
Marvel Studios delivers a bright, vivid and visually rich Wakanda with 'Black Panther'. Packs all the entertainment and heroics of a superhero movie while also presenting an familiar yet fantastical, troubled yet hopeful version of Africa than we've yet seen on the big screen. Thought provoking but not in-your-face preachy.
From the studio that brought you ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Doctor Strange’ and about 13 other entertaining and action packed films comes ‘Black Panther’; another stunning and thoroughly entertaining movie from Marvel Studios who continue to gain greater acclaim, fans worldwide and momentum with each successive film; delivering something new and original all within the framework of the same overarching genre and interconnected film universe.
The pre-release hype for this movie has taken on a life of its own and the release is being seen a cultural touchstone moment for many people not just in the United States, but around the world as well. And if the unexpectedly vocal and lively reactions of many present at the well attended multicultural advanced screening are anything to go by, this will be a very special film that is near and dear to the hearts of many South Africans too.
Set largely within a previously unexplored corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), ‘Black Panther’ is a coming of age film of sorts that sees T’Challa return to his native Wakanda (a fictional isolated country containing the extremely rare metal Vibranium) following the events of Captain America: Civil War to deal with the pressures of the succeeding the nation as King, the pressures and responsibilities associated with the throne and fulfill his potential as both warrior and ruler…King T’Challa and Black Panther alike. Thus being a grand origin adventure without the obligatory origin story, the defining moment of which was briefly glimpsed in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ two years ago. Luckily for those who have not seen that movie or are not interested in the larger MCU, this film functions perfectly well as a standalone movie and give you all the important information you need to enjoy this movie in a perfectly contained vacuum, while also incorporating brief allusions to other characters and events in the larger MCU, without detracting or distracting from the events of the movie itself, for those who appreciate that aspect of the experience as well.
Wakanda itself is visually breathtaking and looks as spectacular as one can imagine, bringing a different visual flavour to the MCU and most big budget Hollywood blockbusters than we’re used to seeing.
Wakanda almost becomes an unofficial character of sorts in the film with a rich visual palette and futuristic look while keeping a distinctly African aesthetic that remains familiar to those in this country and much of Africa too. The term “Afrofuturism” has been thown around. Taking much of the geographical and clothing design inspiration from South African tribes like the Xhosa, Zulu as well as numerous others from Lesotho and the rest of the African continent; Wakanda’s people, along with most visuals in the movie, are brightly coloured and vividly depicted much like the comics that spawned them, looking like an artist’s dream, and give many of the different tribes and locations that comprise Wakanda a real sense of identity and give the land itself more a lived-in realized feel (more so than even Asgard in three films) that I’d personally like to see more of going forward.
Under the directing of Ryan Coogler who brought us movies such as ‘Creed’ and ‘Fruitvale Station’, all the principle and supporting cast really bring it in this movie. There’s hardly anybody that doesn’t stand out or get a moment to shine in this deep ensemble regardless of the size of their role. Chadwick Boseman brings poise, regality and heart to his reprising role of T’Çhalla and portrays a relatable hero despite his royal heritage and one you’ll want to cheer for throughout the film. As good as he is however, the rest of the cast also brings great performances, so much so that T’Challa himself is almost outdone and sometimes overshadowed in his own movie. Much has been said about the villains in previous Marvel Studios movies, but Michael B. Jordan slips into it effortlessly as Killmonger and presents an interesting point of view that adds an extra layer of complexity to the story and is not entirely beyond our ability to empathize with. He unfortunately disappears for an extended period of time early on but when he appears again he makes sure that he’s there to stay.
The surprise of this movie is definitely the female supporting characters who are so good, I’d be disappointed if they didn’t at least cameo in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in a few months, if not further films in the future. Lupita Nyong’o depicts a strong a confident Nakia who holds her own against TÇhalla, Danai Guerira commands the screen with her entertaining portrayal of Okoye (The head of the female special forces: Dora Milaje and fierce warrior in her own right); and perhaps the biggest breakout star of the film is Letitia Wright who stars as TÇhalla’s younger sister Shuri. As Wakanda’s designer of new technology, she was an enjoyable character and one who would be entertaining to see share screen time with the likes of Tony Stark in future movies.
Forest Whitaker as Zuri, Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda, Andy Serkais as Ulysses Klaue, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross and Winston Duke as M’Baku were all good in their supporting roles too. There are even appearances by local actors as John Kani returns to the role of the late King T’Çhaka and his son Atandwa Kani plays the younger version of King T’Çhaka in the films prologue.
The music of Ludwig Göransson is both striking and unique, combing a 132 piece western classic orchestra with African percussions and 40-person choir while infusing the score with a distinctly African sounding flair that will set the sound of ‘Black Panther’ apart from any other Marvel Studios and blockbuster movie we’ve heard.
Highly recommended for any fan of Marvel Studios’ movies, Superhero movies or action adventure movies in general as not only does with deliver heroics and action as you’d come to expect, it also contains hints of political drama thrown in for good measure. One wondered if it could match the level of hype surrounding this release, especially with rather lackluster trailers compared to other Marvel Studios films, but the final product does a great job of living up to that hype and delivering a solid movie that is good by the standards of genera and movies in general. It also does a good job of capturing a hopeful and inspirational vision of what Africa could be for those who stay long enough to see it, much in the spirit of a Nelson Mandela, if not plagued by dictatorships and political instability. This is definitely not a movie to be missed. Go out and enjoy this one as soon as possible to be able to talk about it with your friends, and remember to stay until the very end for the mid-credits and post-credit scenes.
Reviewed on: Cinema 2D
Available on: Cinema 2D, Cinema 3D, 4DX, IMAX 3D, 3D Prestige, D Box 3D
Genre: Superhero, Action, Adventure
Age Rating: 10-12 PG V
Estimated RRP: R50 – R175
Release Date: 16 February 2018
- The vivid, bright colour palette and visuals of Wakanda
- The cast
- Injects a message without preaching or talking down to the viewer
- Killmonger disappears for much of the first half
- Great CGI could be tightened in some shots