Black Panther Movie Review: Always Bet on Black

by Brandon Matzke

Rating: PG-13

Well, I finally saw a new movie in theaters this year! Yay! You see, I avoid the movies during January and February, due to the low-quality material usually put out. But the moment that a great new movie comes out (or at least a pretty good one), my film-going experience kicks off once again. But back on the subject, how was Black Panther? Well…

Plot

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to his nation of Wakanda to claim his throne, as his father died in Civil War. However, royalty isn’t easy for T’Challa, especially when you’re dealing with Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a power-hungry man who will do anything to get that throne, and right all the wrongs he sees in this society.

Positives

This movie is awesome! The direction from Ryan Coogler (director of another fine movie Creed) breathes life into this culture, making Wakanda feel like a thriving nation. And one thing I am so glad about this movie doing is making it feel less like a “save the world!” movie, yet having me care so much more than if the planet was at stake. I cared about these characters, and I genuinely wanted to see them succeed. Even Michael B. Jordan’s antagonist Killmonger is a sympathetic villain, who does raise some excellent points about this sort of society, along with societies in general. Is it Oscar-worthy? Heck no. But as far as a villain in the MCU goes, it’s one of the better performances the franchise has to offer. And Chadwick Boseman as the lead isn’t a bad lead either; he might not exactly have the charisma seen in most of these Marvel movies, but he doesn’t need it either. He plays his character extremely convincingly, and I do feel like he had one of the best character arcs seen in the MCU. The action is amazing of course, but I felt equally invested in the dramatic side of the film, and I found myself genuinely caring for these characters. If you’ve seen 2015’s Creed, you’ll know that Ryan Coogler has a talent for that. However, this film wasn’t perfect…

Negatives

Of course, no film is flawless, and I did find some issues I have with the movie. For one, Martin Freeman’s character. Freeman can be a good actor (watch films like The World’s End for proof), but I did not care for his character at any point in this film. And Andy Serkis, again, talented actor (downright Oscar-worthy in last year’s War For The Planet Of The Apes), but his character just felt extremely misdirected. He just felt like a Joker imitator. By that, I mean trying too hard to recapture Heath Ledger’s incredible performance in The Dark Knight, but completely failing. But, those are the biggest issues I had with this movie.

Overall

The MCU is still giving us good content, a rare accomplishment for a franchise that’s turning 10 this very year. And Black Panther is another one of their best, blending drama and action perfectly, the characters were compelling (for the most part), and this film receives a 9/10. If it weren’t for Freeman or Serkis, I might have given it a much higher grade. But alas, a 9/10 it still is. Of course I recommend this movie, it was a great start for my 2018 film-going experience, and I can’t wait to see what Coogler and the MCU do next.

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