Black Panther Review- The wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.
So let’s talk about Black Panther. Super short version: it’s a solid Marvel movie in the upper echelons of their franchise. A lot of love and passion went into it. It’s got strong writing and the visuals are literally like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Solid A. There are 2 credit scenes.
Want to go deeper? Well I’m going to do this in a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” format. I’ll be avoiding spoilers (I’ll do another post in a week or so).
- The movie. Oh, wait, you need more? Fine.
- The afro-futuristic aesthetics… I can’t begin to describe it. It’s refreshing, creative, daring and it WORKS. If you go into it for nothing else it will be more than worth the ticket price.
- The costume design can only adequately be described as “costume porn”. Just everything is on point and it is a visual treat.
- Danai Gurira is my goddess. She portrays Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje (“the bald chicks”), and she absolutely steals every goddamn scene she is in. Like Chadwick Boseman is amazing but Danai Gurira is electric. When do we get our Okoye film?
- The story is like a fine liquor, it has a bite up front but goes down smooth. They managed to navigate so many pitfalls that could have sunk this ship. This could have been a black wish fulfillment film and, despite being that, it manages to avoid being “against” anyone else. It embraces the plight of blacks world-wide while being a role model for us all. Martin Freeman could have been “token white guy” but they subvert that a bit.
- The characters are very well realized and clearly have more going on with them than we see on screen. While that’s a bit of a “bad” bit, they have a LOT more to explore for them in future films (and I hope they do). It gives them a more “real person” aspect to them than “generic character B”. This works as it is a kinda political drama (or at least that is woven into the tapestry).
- The first act of the movie hits a little weak in the narrative sense. However, this is largely to set up some gangbusters stuff later on.
- Character development on T’Challa is a but muddled in the first half. He comes into his own later. This was kind of required to get across the more complex identity he has (the empathetic king who still has a hard and traditional side- often at war with himself).
- There is a LOT to unpack here storywise. It’s a 2 hour political intrigue story (among other things) with a lot of people involved. It is a bit hard to follow at times and I knew their relations from the comics.
- There is a LOT of story here. I heard there was like a 4 hour cut somewhere and I believe it. Some of the scenes, particularly early on, feel a little rushed or maybe clipped. Please give us that 4 hour cut or whatever the director wanted. It’s an A right now but no doubt would be an A+.
- Ulysses Klaue is… kinda weird. I get what he’s going for but he mostly fell flat.
- You will either love or hate Shuri… probably both at the same time.
- The first few scenes were REALLY poorly lit. I get that it was supposed to be dark but we’ve seen this done before. I felt like I was going blind.
If there is a core message from the film it is in a speech given by T’Challa:
“We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.”
This movie means something. To me it is about seeing our obstacles, acknowledging them (and our past) and moving on to build a better world despite them. It is about forgiving those who cannot be forgiven, being the better person. It is recognizing the pain in others and helping them. It is about understanding differences, acknowledging them, and still working with that person to build a better world. We need the Black Panther now more than ever.
This is a story about the black struggle and I am unqualified to speak on that. I can, as me, say that this movie espoused a philosophy I adore and seek to emulate. The world would be better if we could live up to half of it.
Now, let me get off my high horse and stop moralizing. This is a complex story that blends elements of science fiction, superhero flicks, political dramas, and straight up action and even war movies. It is a movie about T’Chala taking over as the leader of the nation of Wakanda, trying to fill his father’s shoes, and guiding it through what amounts to a war for succession. Overall the first act is the worst of the film from a narrative perspective; a lot falls flat despite some awesome scenes. Once it settles in it is amazing and I’m super pumped to see where it goes next.
A Few Easter Eggs (Spoilers)
- When they are talking about where they will attack they list places where the Sanctum Sanctorums are.
- So they refer to Bucky as “the White Wolf”. He’s actually a character from the comic books. Basically he was T’Challa’s older, adopted, brother. He was a white dude who survived a plane crash into Wakanda. He becomes the leader of some Wakanda elite soldiers named the Hatut Zeraze. I dunno, could be cool to see Bucky fill that role kinda.
- In N’Jobu’s apartment there is a Public Enemy poster.