Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free movie reviews.
Set immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War and after the death of his father, T’Challa (Black Panther) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king but finds his sovereignty and right to be Black Panther challenged by a new adversary, in a conflict that puts not just the fate of Wakanda, but the entire world at risk.
Firstly, I really enjoyed the look of this movie. Granted some of the CGI is a little bit ropey in a few places but the production design is excellent and the combination of African tribal designs with a futuristic science fiction universe was awesome. It really made the film look unique in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new and improved Black Panther suit though, it was a little bit too super suit for my liking.
The early scenes suggested a lot of promise, particularly the museum scene in London and the entire section in Korea including the black market trade den and the car chase, which I thought were really well done. The film really lost me midway through the second act when the action returns back to Wakanda. It’s at this point that I felt all of the early promise disappears and everything becomes quiet sluggish, obvious and predictable.
One of the main problems I found with Black Panther was that most of the characters are barely developed or fleshed out. Do not get me wrong, I thought Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, who is basically an ultra smart, cool and cocky Q type character, was good and I enjoyed Michael B. Jordan as the main villain. Meanwhile Chadwick Boseman as the lead protagonists oozes cool and confidence. Yet for the majority of the supporting cast once you get past their basic character description there isn’t much going on there.
I found Ulysses Klaue, a South African black-market arms dealer played by Andy Serkis, to be the most interesting character but that was mostly because he’s insane with a laser canon built into his arm. However he’s in the movie for a criminally short amount of time.
The main issue with Black Panther for me however is that, despite the stakes set up during the movie, I didn’t feel any actual tension. This was especially obvious it the 3rd act with the final battle and showdown between the two Black Panthers, I was numb to it. Maybe this was because I hadn’t become fully invested in the characters for the reasons I’ve already mentioned or perhaps knowing that everything would be more or less fine for Avengers: Infinity War killed a lot of the drama and risk. Perhaps just the classic trope of good guy versus bad guy evenly matched, wearing the same suit is just boring? Either way, not even the ridiculousness of War Rhino’s appearing could bring me back on board.
I do rather believe that with that with all of the focus on the nearly all black cast as well as the African-American writer director (Ryan Coogler) and co-screenwriter (Joe Robert Cole) that critics have gotten distracted in praising the movie for its cultural landmarks. Without a doubt this is a culturally important film, a game changer, and it tries to tell an important message to its audience. However, putting all of that aside, ultimately the story being told in Black Panther is a very predictable, basic and simplistic. As a superhero adventure there are many better than this one.
Overall I found Marvel’s Black Panther to be a distinctly average, paint by numbers plot that make this one of the few Marvel films that I probably won’t ever watch again. In the end I found it to be over hyped and lacking. It is certainly not in the same league as recent Marvel hits such as Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok and it surprises me to see people suggested that this is perhaps the greatest superhero film of all time and the new standard barrier.