Movie Review: Marvel's Black Panther

Review by Philip Clark

Well. Disney can stop the production of their live action Lion King, as they can just use Black Panther instead. That's not to say the film isn't great in it's own right, because it is. I just found a lot of similarities between it and Lion King. I'll be getting into that later, but first let me give you my opinion on the film. As spoiler free as I can be.

Black Panther is, as to be expected, a fantastic movie. It has everything we've come to expect from our superhero films, especially our Marvel Cinematic Universe ones. The action scenes are intense and well-paced. The humour's light-hearted and well timed. The emotional moments are gut wrenching and genuine.

While it ticks all the right boxes, it doesn't really add anything new to the genre, but it's a more than worthy continuation of the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That being said, I would highly recommend seeing the film, as I don't think you'll walk away disappointed.

Plot

So, this is where things might start getting a little spoiler-y. So I would suggest you go watch the movie before reading any further. That being said, let's get into it.

On the whole, the story of the movie makes sense. Unfortunately this is something that many films nowadays can't always claim. The plot's momentum keeps rolling, and follows a coherent thread that evolves and adapts as the film moves on. This'll be where I make all the Lion King connections.

The main, overlaying theme of the film is T'Challa's conflict and struggle of being King of Wakanda. Very similar to Simba and his conflict as to whether or not he is suited for ruling the pride. Both of these conflicts happen to the characters after their father, the previous great ruler, dies. T'Chaka, meeting his end in one of Marvel's previous films. While Mufasa, Simba's father, dies at the beginning of Lion King.

Then there's the plot thread that allows the characters to overcome their conflicts and become the rulers they were supposed to be. In both films, Lion King and Black Panther, an unruly and estranged family member takes control of the power from the respective main characters. This then gives the main character direction and reason to overcome any doubts in their mind, as to whether they are indeed the right ruler for their land.

Overall, the story of Black Panther is easy to follow, without being over simple, nor over-complicated.

Characters

Now if there's one thing I can say about this film, is that every single character is brilliantly written and fabulously acted. From the lead, Chadwick Boseman's portrayal of T'Challa all the way to Sterling Brown's performance as N'Jobu, T'Chaka's brother. Each character has their role to play within the story.

There are however, some performances that stand out amongst the others.

The previously mentioned Chadwick Boseman is, yet again, incredible in his role as T'Challa. Boseman plays a man in conflict with both tradition and the future incredibly well. He puts heart and emotion into the character, especially during moments with T'Challa's friends and family. The T'Challa that Boseman portrays is very close to that of the confident, unwavering character from the comics.

Michael B. Jordan's character, Erik Killmonger, is quite possibly the stand out performance amongst a plethora of stand out performances. I've seen a few of Michael B. Jordan's films and he's always done well with what he's been given. In this role however, he excels. Jordan is simply fantastic, he brings a real gravitas to the role and pretty much steals every scene that he's in. This is no easy task with a collection of talents as stellar as the cast of Black Panther.

Walking Dead superstar Danai Gurira does a fabulous job as General Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje. She is the most bad ass woman, in a cast full of bad ass women. She is heroic and loyal to a fault. She is strong and powerful, in both her actions and her mindset.

There are, of course, comedic characters within the film as well, who help lighten, and warm up the feel of the movie. The most prominent two are M'Baku and Shuri.

Shuri is T'Challa's younger sister and, from their first interaction with each other, the pair have a typical sibling relationship. Shuri makes sure she takes every opportunity to put T'Challa back in his place, King or not. Giving the audience some good laughs as she does so.

M'Baku on the other hand, is probably one of the only characters from a Wakandan tribe that doesn't treat T'Challa with the reverence that the others do. This leads to M'Baku treating him as more of an equal, with humorous results.

Conclusion

Overall Black Panther is a fantastic film, even if the plot is a bit thin. But the characters.. oh my, the characters. The interaction between the different personalities in this film is simply brilliant. Then there's the culture; this is a piece of art that is packed to the teeth with heritage and tradition. The production design, and cinematography are truly wonderful too. Honestly, this film probably has some of the best visuals out of all the Marvel productions. It is vibrant and lively, much like life in Wakanda. Go and see it, I'm sure you'll like it.


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