Black Panther – Film Review

Rating : 3.5 / 5 stars

What’s it about?

Black Panther is a comic book superhero origins movie directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset, Lupita Nyong’o and Martin Freeman among others.

After the events of Captain America Civil War, T’Challa returns to his home nation of Wakanda to mourn the passing of his father and become King of the nation. Sitting atop a mountain of Vibranium, Wakanda has long been secluded from the outside world. But when a new threat looms that promises to destabilize the country and expose its secrets to the world, T’Challa must embrace his roots and step up to defend his nation. How he manages to do this is what makes for the rest of the film.

What’s Good?

Black Panther has to be among the best superhero origin stories of all time. It subverts all the clichés of the genre and is a truly unique cinematic experience. It manages to successfully set up the fascinating world of Wakanda and familiarize the viewer with the various cultures that exist within it. The story itself is very character driven with a strong emotional core. It also feels relevant in today’s times due to its political undertones and commentary. All the characters are realized well and have complete character arcs.

The technology shown in the film is new for the Marvel Cinematic universe and there are times when the film has a certain James Bond vibe to it. Humor is used sparingly and does not hamper the tone of the film. The film has a colorful visual palette with vibrant frames and truly feels like a comic book in certain places. Background score is good and enhances the cinematic experience in certain places.

What’s Not?

While it is good overall, there are certain smaller issues that stands out when the film is held to closer scrutiny. For a comic book film, there is not much action in it and whatever action is present is a tad underwhelming. The Black Panther fight scenes were much better choreographed in Captain America : Civil War as they were more fluid and well structured. Another minor issue is that the villain Killmonger is there in the film for only about twenty minutes. What also stands out is the sudden change in his character towards the third act, as he goes from being a complex and flawed character villain to a generic comic book baddie for the final fight sequence to again being a complex character in the end. VFX is patchy in places, especially in the climactic battle scenes.

Performances

Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa gives a stoic and soulful performance. He creates a character that is truly worth rooting for. Andy Serkis as Klaeu plays it a little over the top but looks like he is having a ball playing a full blown baddie. Michael B. Jordan has a surprisingly limited role, but succeeds in creating a villain who is not just a caricature. Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia gives an assured performance, although the Oscar winning actress could have done this role in her sleep. Letita Wright as Shuri brings an effervescent charm to the proceedings.  Danai Gurira and Sterling K Brown as Okoye and N’Jobu leave an  impression.  Martin Freeman as Everett Ross does not have much to do. Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi is below average and looks out of his depth. Rest of the cast is good in their respective roles.

Final Word

One of the best superhero origin films of all time, this is definitely a must watch for all comic book lovers!


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