Let’s dump the garbage before we go to lightspeed, hm?

Anyone who makes Black Panther out to be some kind of bastion of social justice, some kind of beacon of hope for kids, or some sort of end to human oppression is so far off base that they run the risk of making themselves into a loud mouth parody.

Morton Downey Jr.
“Did someone say my name?”

The kind of language being used right now in internet society to describe this movie is truly incredible. I could spend all day listing the ridiculousness but here’s one tweet about the movie that made me genuinely laugh out loud:

“You will exit forever impacted.” ~ Brie Larson (Marvel employee)

Holy hyperbole!

So, anyhoo, tell me I’m wrong in the talkback below. Let’s belabor the whole social justice angle some more.

The Boast And The Starkness

So many folks are falling all over themselves to herald this movie as a deliverance from evil. It’s as if they’re bragging on an accomplishment that they had a hand in creating.

God bless Ryan Coogler for at least being honest about the stark reality of the issue:

(MINOR SPOILER BEGIN)

A sleek Wakandan aircraft touches down on a small asphalt basketball court in the middle of Oakland, California. King T’Challa is ushering in a new era of Wakandan influence on the world and this aged neighborhood is where it all begins. How touching and uplifting! A small group of children marvel at the craft, cautiously approach it, and then amongst themselves conspire to chop the aircraft into parts and sell them.

(MINOR SPOILER END)

I laughed out loud only twice in this movie, despite the movie containing quite a few jokes. Most of the jokes fell flat thanks to Chadwick Boseman being simply unable to light up the screen, but more on that later.

This was one of those times that I laughed.

Those children embody the truth of the human condition in that scene. Put race aside. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

The plain truth is that ALL humans are fuck-ups. Show us something beautiful and we will figure out how to tear it apart and make it into a gain for our own selfish goals.

If we must, I will gladly engage you all on this point in the talkback. I don’t want to spend any more time on this social justice angle in this review because it’s fucking distracting and quite frankly it detracts from what is otherwise a damn good movie experience.

Ranking The MCU

Iron Man is my favorite movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I must confess that I know almost nothing about comic books and when Iron Man was announced as the lead-off character in a planned series of movies, I thought it would flop miserably.

I was astounded and delighted to be completely wrong. I loved it.

I won’t bore you with what I consider to the top movies in the MCU. Suffice it to say that I appreciate when a movie makes an effort to be different or outstanding.

Iron Man. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Guardians of the Galaxy. Ant-Man.

All stand-outs in terms of tone, direction, scope, and outcome. All while playing within the larger story arc of the MCU. All good movies.

And now we can add Black Panther to that list.

Legend Has It

The story goes that T’Challa (Boseman) is the new king of Wakanda, as well as the man to bear the mantle of the Black Panther. Being an honorable monarch, T’Challa’s position as king is open to challenge by any man with a legitimate claim and the power to defeat him in single combat. Such a man arises.

Michael B. Jordan
Challenge accepted

As if this wasn’t enough to think about, a villainous arms dealer (Andy Serkis) is making life for T’Challa and his loved ones into a series of misadventures and near-death experiences.

Get In Where You Fit In

This movie is an outstanding addition to the MCU, both technically and as part of the overall story arc.

The costume design and the production design immediately impressed me.The Wakandan people and their hidden city pop off the screen and are just fun to look at.

In defense of Wakanda
The beauty of Africa

The panther suits themselves are brilliant. I could rarely tell when the suits were practical and when they were CGI.

Ryan Coogler’s direction is almost flawless. He has a great sense of action-scene logistics and motion. What I mean is that the actions scenes flow beautifully and the moving pieces always seem to be where they should be, when they should be there.

I say almost flawless because he tends to let his camera linger when it’s unnecessary. The movie needs to be about 15 minutes shorter.

Again I say almost flawless because he was unable to coax a leading-man performance from Boseman.

Blank Panther

Chadwick Boseman isn’t quite up to the task of carrying a superhero movie.

Thankfully, he isn’t asked to do that here. This movie is packed with interesting characters and good actors, so the movie only drags when he is speaking.

Boseman as T'Challa
Evacuate the city, engage all defenses, and get this man some charisma.

Please understand that I think Boseman is a decent actor. There are scenes near the end of the movie where T’Challa shines, especially one opposite his father in their ancestral version of the afterlife.

He’s just missing that x-factor. His face doesn’t light up. His body language says, “I’m bored.” Even his fight scenes early on look like a kid doing karate in the garage.

In short, he comes across like a Muppet.

Infinity Worse

The nation of Wakanda is a beautiful, idyllic place. Almost a utopia. I enjoyed the way it was portrayed almost as a garden of Eden into which evil slithered and changed it forever.

It also made me aware of where it might possibly fit in to the Infinity War movies.

It’ll hurt to see this nation damaged or even destroyed by Thanos.

Black Panther has me psyched to see more of the MCU, whereas before I was lukewarm on the Infinity War trailer.

There And Black Again

There ya have it. I loved the movie, based on its own merits as a piece of entertainment, and I recommend it.

Adiós, amigos y amiguitas!

HTR

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105 COMMENTS

  1. Great review! The only area I disagree is Boseman. I think he has charisma, it’s just that the character of Black Panther has to be so darned earnest and noble all the time. This character needs to be allowed to lighten up (just a bit), or some sort of character flaw.

  2. Second time was better. I’d move it up to 2.5 / 5. Helps to go with an authentic African woman, if you can find one.

  3. I agree that the only time Boseman’s performance really seemed genuine was in the final dream sequence where he was taking his dad to task. The Wakandan ladies carried the movie, especially the general and little sis. Can BP 2 be just about Okoye and Shuri? Sis had charisma to spare!

  4. Great work HTR! Mirrors how I felt about the movie almost exactly. I’m genuinely shocked at the push for how “important” this movie is, I kept sitting there thinking where is the depth? The entire finale is just a big battle with CGI, like every other blockbuster movie of the last couple of decades. It was hard to believe that they went with something so mundane and common for a finale. And the social aspects of the film didn’t feel all that different from what IRON MAN offered up ten years ago: a very powerful man learns the hard way that he can/should do more for the world and does. It’s a nice theme, but it’s not new and it’s certainly not groundbreaking.

  5. African-Americans are really embracing this because it showcases their heritage in a way that a superhero movie has never done before; traditions, music, clothing…for thier culture it’s a first and deserves points.
    But the movie comes first, is my philosophy. As a film it works; good plotting, characters, very nice dialogue. Pacing could have been tighter and the last battle was a CGI headache. The entire cast was great in their roles, and the hand-to-hand combat was outstanding. And it didn’t lean on the MCU setup and pretense very much and really stands alone.
    Top 10 MCU but not Top 5.

  6. Thanks HTR. You nailed it. After watching the film I ignore any political agendas frok left or right wing sides. The movie does the job of establishing Wakanda for Thanos to threaten in Infinity.

  7. Great review, enjoyed reading it.
    As an Irish white guy, I don’t care what race is in what film. I seen it in a packed cinema with 99% white guys and 1% their girlfriends.
    I just go see movies. Honestly I’m color blind.
    On its own, as a film only, I found Black Panther no better than Ant Man or Dr Strange.
    I was pretty bored by the whole thing and the effects were poor. A harmless forgettable 5 out of 10.
    I was dragged to The Death Cure two nights before hand and the effects work was absolutely incredible from start to finish.

    • Thanks, Marmot!

      I loved the characters, most especially Killmonger and M’Baku, and the ideals they espouse are certainly insane in one way or another, so that was enough crazy for me. They only added to the fun, whereas the ideals of these fools on Twitter only detract from the fun.

  8. I saw this last night and I’ll comment on the ridiculous hyperbole later, but I’ll say this: it was a fun above average Marvel movie. One thing I was pretty shocked at was that some of the CGI was pretty godawful. I mean shockingly bad. I thought the cast was pretty solid though. Most of these Super Hero movies don’t make me care about the characters, but these characters were pretty well fleshed out and interesting. I’d say a solid 2.5 stars out of 4. It did its job.

    • My old excuses of “parent logistics” and “limited budget” are a thing of the past.

      My wife and I go during matinee hours on Tuesdays, while out daughter is at school and the tickets are $5 each. Our son will watch for about 5 minutes and then my wife rocks him to sleep.

  9. I’m pretty dumbfounded at the crazy claims of this movie being “earthshattering”, “life changing”, or even having a deeper meaning. It certainly touches superficially on political and racial issues, but it’s so superficial that I just flat out don’t get where people are getting this stuff from. I’ve seen some articles and comments suggesting that Wakanda sharing it’s technology is an allegory for what the United States should do for the 3rd world. So, let’s unpack this. Wakanda is a fictional country with exclusive access to a magical resource that can somehow end poverty. The US has no such magical resources. We also have a lot of poor people of our own that we are struggling to get out of poverty. I have no idea how these people think the United States would be able to solve all the world’s problems even if it tried. The other thing I’ve seen is people alluding to Wakanda as some kind of Utopia that should be emulated. An interesting twist that I haven’t seen discussed, is the fact that when given the opportunity, a large number of Wakandans decide to try to conquer the world, slaughter innocents, kill their king, kill their friends – without even thinking too much about it. This is Nazi level stuff people. THIS is supposed to be a model for how we should behave in real life? In short, I think the hype and hyperbole are crazy and it’s proof positive that ALOT of people are incredibly stupid.

  10. Even this proud Marvel zombie has grown weary of the MCU formula. Most of them pits the hero against his clone. Iron Man fights guys in armored suits. Cap fights supersoldiers. Thor fights royals. Doc Strange fights sorcerers. Antman fought a guy that shrank too.

    Even the movies have become remakes of each other. Iron Man was the story of two CEOs in high tech armor fighting for control of a company. Black Panther was the story of two royals in high tech armor fighting for control of a country.

    I was initially intrigued when I heard Ghost was the villain in Ant-Man 2. Yet the cynic in me quickly noticed it’s just a variation on now you see me, now you don’t.

    Why can’t Baron Mordo be the villain in the Black Panther sequel?

  11. Was it just me or did the Rhinos’ movements look “wrong?” I have to confess to not really knowing what a running rhino looks like but the ones in Blank Panther just looked off. And the missing arm of Klawe? The shirt hung like what it was. A shirt with an arm in it that was digitally erased. The way the cloth hung (or more accurately DIDN’T hang) look all wrong.

    Overall I did enjoy the movie. I can’t imagine it changing the world in any meaningful way but it was quite enjoyable.

  12. right so for the sequel it would be best if they can get Boseman a daily blast of piracetam,cold brew coffee and maybe a couple of shots of his spirit of choice so he is both kinetically energetic and mentally relaxed

  13. I saw it last night. It was not your typical Marvel movie which is good but I don’t see the hype. I’d give it a 8/10. It’s no Oscar award winning movie.

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