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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!