BLACK PANTHER – REVIEW – Ryan Coogler’s new film is very good.
The new Marvel film Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler is pretty good. There’s really no way to disentangle the movie from the phenomenon that it has become and, actually, why would you want to? It’s the first major black superhero movie – if you don’t count Blade, Blade II, Hancock, Blade III, Cat Woman and Meteor Man. The movie blew up at the box office and critical success and provided a generation of young kids with a role model and hero that looks like them for once.
And the film is very good. I’ve loved Chadwick Boseman since the criminally under-rated Get On Up. Here, he evinces a cool charisma as King T’Challa AKA Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan makes a convincing villain and Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira are each funny, smart and strong. The location of Wakanda is well realized, bringing Afrofuturism to the screen in a big way.
Does the film have problems? Yep. A few. The action wasn’t great. The casino fight seemed particularly difficult to follow. And the three tier showdown at the end, especially guy in one colored suit fights guy in identical suit of a different color smacked of formula. Although I like that the film isn’t about the death of the entire universe, the battle for a small hill between a handful of fighters seemed almost ridiculously small. Plus politically, although the film dipped its toe, surely the monarchy idea hampered its more progressive urges. In response to Killmonger’s dangerous revolutionary politics, T’Challa becomes a Bill Gates philanthropist, literally dropping in on the neighborhood and buying up real estate.
With the success of Wonder Woman and now Black Panther, studios hopefully will follow up with even more diversity. This can only be a good thing.