Director Ryan Coogler whose previous works include “Fruitvale Station” and the impressive reboot of the Rocky Balboa franchise “Creed”, takes on the challenge of one of Marvel Comic’s many superhero character in the way of the highly anticipated “Black Panther”. Coogler cast includes versatile actor Chadwick Boseman, Oscar winners Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Oscar nominated Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It”) and Michael B. Jordan.
The “Black Panther” story delves in two time periods. The first very briefly in 1992 Oakland, California with the rest of the bulk of the film’s 2:05 minute running time in the fictional nation of Wakanda in contemporary time. And it’s here in the current time frame we discover the mysterious Wakanda African country that we are introduced to its young new leader named “T'Challa” (Boseman) who is ready to ascend to his rightful place as king after the death of his father which occurred in the previous 2016 Marvel Comic film titled “Captain America: Civil War”.
But shortly after “T'Challa” has taken the throne a powerful old enemy named “Klaw” suddenly reappears testing T'Challa's mettle as its king and as Black Panther. “Klaw” is a mercenary looking to get control of a rare, powerful and healing substance called Vibranium that fell to earth centuries ago and is only found in their native country. “T'Challa” also discovers a family secret that his father took to his grave that will also come to beset terror on his land with it potentially leading to global conflict with nations both friend and foe. With the fate of his beloved Wakanda at risk the new king uses his powers as Black Panther to rally his nation and allies to fight off treachery and personal conflicts to hopefully defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.
REVIEW: “Black Panther” is marvelous, stunning, spectacular, magical, mystical and a lot, lot more. Figuratively speaking it’s less about brute strength and superhero capabilities and more of an original complex masterpiece of reimagining of the super hero character’s composition. A new super hero genre if you will with more recognizable, believable and appreciated qualities of human decency and human intellectual prowess that are adroitly interwoven into displays of physical strength and cutting edge special effects. Director Coogler has skillfully stripped away the typical format of showcasing the latest Marvel Super hero’s story line of endless destruction without any consequence. No more one note one man wrecking crew of indomitable strength conquering enemies for some greater good. Instead Coogler has infuse his “Black Panther” character with real human virtues and real human depth with subplots dealing with morality, ethics, decency, integrity and goodness. All it tightly crafted into a truly imaginative new cinematic universe where the look and feel of this film stands solely on it’s on as a game changing piece of work like no other. Think of a film that is at intersection of previous films like Star Wars, Avatar and Braveheart all meet. It’s a complete new story line approach of telling the tale of good versus evil.
Yes, it’s a unique transcendent film who’s plot lies in the integrated crossroads of a futurist modern technological society and also where that same society maintains a respectful celebration of one’s ancient heritage, cultural traditions, tribal clothing and the transcendent lessons learned from parents who have moved on to the hereafter. A wonderful land of sweeping vistas of uninhabited open spaces, cascading waterfalls and high majestic mountains that share the same space of a city scape filled with electro magnet trains, hover crafts and modern technology.
As the performances go all of the actors have equal time on the screen to great effect. But one of the more surprising and enjoyable elements of “BP” was the development and realization of the women characters in the film. Collectively they are all smart, appropriately funny, endearing, fearless, intelligent and on par with their male counterparts in every way to the core of the film’s overall plot. Especially the characters “Shuri” played by Letitia Wright who was the chief science officer of Wakanda and “Okoye” played by Danaid Gurira who is also on the acclaimed “The Walking Dead” as the dreadlock sword wheeling “Michonne”. Both of them give genuinely fine performances as women of intelligence, some humor, physical strength and complete modern womanliness.
Going forward I cannot imagine you will see ten better films for all of 2018. And while the film is largely an ensemble effort cast, Director Coogler is truly deserving of some Best Director considerations in 2019, as well as Best Picture and a boat load of technical categories considerations in Special Effects, Production Design, Lighting, Editing, Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling.
On the subsurface Black Panther delves mildly into issues of modern colonialism, mercenary exploitation and institutional systems of corruption. But it’s much larger, broader and more redeemable themes are about the importance of preserving ways of life. A way of life that is more about the pursuit of peace and personal harmony while moving forward with the use of science and technology. A way of life that looks at the first option being quality over any concerns of quantity. A way of life where the importance of acquiring knowledge for the greater good and human healing take precedent over seductive pursuit of profits and material conquest. A way of life where the responsibilities of leadership should be filtered through a prism of modesty and humility verses personal ambition and greed.
While I am certain that Director Ryan Coogler will be a force in film making for decades to come it maybe a little too early to make any similar proclamation about his “Black Panther” and how it will eventually settle out with its obvious 2 sequels to come. But at a minimum something tells me from a cultural point of view this film may end up being remembered the day both the consciousness and the collective appetites of film fans and Hollywood producers changed for generations to come. Maybe, just maybe even in the same triumphant changing way Star Wars did 40 years ago with its array of actors we didn’t know much about with a story that was refreshingly new.
Yes, just maybe “Black Panther“ will have the same impact of Star Wars offering something refreshingly new for generations to come that is joyfully, groundbreaking, dazzling, cool, modern, thrilling, epic, formidable, beautiful and a lot, lot more.
"Don't freeze"............................SEE THIS.
"Don't freeze"............................SEE THIS.