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Film/TV Black Panther

Published on February 13th, 2018 | by voxx

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Black Panther

Out: Now
Cert: 12A
Length: 134 minutes
Rating: 4/5

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman

Plot: Following the death of his father, T’Challa (Boseman) is crowned the new king and super-powered protector. The new Black Panther is defending his secretive nation from a notorious arms dealer (Serkis) and a soldier with a mysterious past (Jordan).

With only a few films to his name, director Ryan Coogler has taken a real turn in the world of cinema. First was tough-bearing directorial debut ‘Fruitvale Station’, which was only a small indie project, but after that it didn’t take long for his name to be on the map. It was, inevitably, a few years later when he made his second feature ‘Creed (Rocky 7)’, where the illegitimate son of the late Apollo Creed would take his turn in the boxing world. Finally, his third and latest film ‘Black Panther’ is his chance at a big budget feature. However, not only is black power a main symbol in his features, there’s only one actor who has collaborated with the director in every one of his films; Michael B. Jordan.

‘Black Panther’ opens not long after the death of his father, King T’Chalka, which would then conjure up his revenge in ‘Captain America: Civil War’. Here he has swapped being a supporting player to being the main feature. He’s just about to be crowned King of Wakanda, the fictional African nation which has made an occasional entry in other MCU movies. For the ceremony, he has to take on a challenger in gladiator-style combat. There’s African-drum music in the air and the Wakandan natives are chanting to the beat. This is an important scene, one that changes the world of cinema in an excellent way. Granted, on occasion, there have been a few films that make a few homages to a homely place. For example 2009’s ‘Avatar’ had the main character going to meet other tribes and there would be different designs to their clothing. Coogler follows that same insight. Though Taika Waititi before him payed energetic homage to his home of New Zealand by adding his Antipodean style humour in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, Coogler is the polar opposite. He swaps the humour for the colour of the country and their natives, who dress in African-style colours from bright reds, through yellows to the bright greens – even through the Africani accessories, Coogler’s attention to the detail is exquisite.

With that in mind, it’s also an important film in showing how much the 21st century has changed cinema, and you could argue that it’s for the better. After becoming king, T’challa (Boseman) has to face his biggest challenge, to protect his country against the invasion of a former soldier with a mysterious past, Jordan’s Erik Killmonger (which sounds like a gaming profile), who wants to overthrow the king. So that’s your average Marvel movie storytelling right there. However, Coogler doesn’t make it the average Marvel film. Apart from his exquisite hand in the Africani detail, it’s perhaps the most visually stunning comic-book movie, and the Panther’s suit changing colour, the sand-like holograms and the amazing cityscape all shine thanks to Rachel Morrison’s gorgeous cinematography.

There’s so much good in ‘Black Panther’ - excellent action, stunning visuals, gorgeous cinematography and a director who pays an energetic homage to Africa – but the real standing point here is the female characters, from Danai Gurira through Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, to T’challa’s mother played by Angela Bassett. They all put in excellent performances, along with another standout performance by recent award’s darling Daniel Kaluuya. Boseman and Jordan are excellent too, but here they’re made into supporting players by these brilliant performers. In short, Coogler’s go at the MCU and his third feature is a brilliant entry to his growing filmography, one that takes an important scratch in cinema.

VERDICT: Like Waititi before him, Coogler pays energetic homage to his past life in the MCU’s latest super extravaganza.

- By Corey Denford


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