Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Film Review: "Black Panther" (2018).

"The Avengers have a new king", and his name is Black Panther. This superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler, co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, and produced by Marvel Studios. It is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

Since 1992, a Black Panther film had been in the works with Wesley Snipes and John Singleton attached to star and direct, but the project never came to fruition. In September 2005, Marvel Studios announced a Black Panther film as one of ten based on Marvel characters and distributed by Paramount Pictures. In January 2011, Mark Bailey was hired to pen a script. In October 2014, it was announced that Black Panther would be making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, with Chadwick Boseman in the role. In May 2015, Ava DuVernay was approached to direct, but ultimately declined due to creative differences. By 2016, Cole and Coogler had joined to co-write and direct. In May, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, and Sterling K. Brown rounded out the cast, making Black Panther the first Marvel film with a predominantly black cast. Principal photography began in late January 2017 and concluded in mid April 2017. Locations included the EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and Busan, South Korea.

The film stars Boseman, Jordan, Nyong'o, Gurira, Kaluuya, Wright, Duke, Bassett, Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and Andy Serkis. Each cast members gave terrific performances and breathed new life in, what could have been, conventional roles. Boseman again delivered another compelling performance as the new king/superhero, but took it to the next level from Civil War. But it was Jordan who stole the show, and gave us the best MCU villain in its entire history. A villain more compelling and empathetic than the hero. The best villain since the Joker from The Dark Knight.

With Black Panther, director Coogler and star Boseman made this smart, high impact superhero movie one that comics fans of all backgrounds can enjoy. The result is something that, whilst hardly original or groundbreaking, is nevertheless refreshing in its earnestness to avoid dark dramatic stylings in favor of an easy-going, crowd-pleasing action movie with a sprinkle of political and social themes. The film contains emotional truth, pitch-perfect casting and plausibly rendered super-science that made it faithful to the source material while updating it – and recognizing what's made that material so enduring isn't just the high-tech cool of a man in a fantastical suit, but the human condition that comes with it.

Simon says Black Panther receives:

Also, see my reviews for Creed and Thor: Ragnarok.

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