By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Black Panther is a great film, and a phenomenal Marvel film, even if the plot is a little predictable and formulaic at times.
After his father is murdered, ‘Black Panther’ T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to the African state of Wakanda to take the crown until Erik ‘Killmonger’ (Michael B. Jordan) challenges him for the throne and demands that the vibranium rich and technologically advanced country reveal itself to the world and save their fellow men from hatred and persecution.
First and foremost, the film touches base with important social themes and political issues that we clearly need right now. Erik Killmonger is a memorable villain. Despite having killed a lot of people in America’s wars and being a bit of a brute, his pain is still relatable for many. Motivated by police brutality, racism, poor living and working conditions and much more, you can’t really blame the guy for being a bit upset. Michael B. Jordan, who also starred in director Ryan Coogler’s Creed and Fruitvale Station, is a powerful on screen presence, especially where muscles are concerned.
It would have been nice however, to flesh out Killmonger a little more. I felt as if we saw more of the character’s rage and aggression rather than his history. I also would’ve liked to have seen him break down a bit more in the finale, but maybe that’s just me. It is hard to get the Marvel movie villain right after all. There have been so many forgettable ones over the years, and he’s certainly not that.
The film has a fantastic cast overall. Royal warrior Okoye, played by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, is a force to be reckoned with and could probably even give Wonder Woman a run for her money. Boseman is a decent superhero and leader, and really has the opportunity to kick some ass this time thanks to his happy go lucky and sister, and comic relief, Shuri (Leticia Wright) who’s the Wakandan equivalent of James Bond’s ‘Q’. Lupita Nyong’o also makes a mark, and so does Angela Bassett as mother Ramonda.
Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya was also a perfect fit for the role of the bitter W’Kabi, although the character’s motivations were a little out of left field at times. There were actually a few moments where I felt confused about some characters’ sudden and unwarranted actions, especially in the final act.
It was an absolute pleasure though to see the talented and vibranium-hungry Andy Serkis outside of the creature suit. The same unfortunately can’t be said for Martin Freeman whose horrendous American accent and incredible on-screen awkwardness made me wonder how or why he was cast in a role like this at all. There were rumours in the past that the actor might portray ‘Captain Britain’ in the Marvel universe. That would’ve been a much better fit.
Visually, this film is absolutely stunning and a memorable IMAX 3D experience if you have the opportunity. The impeccable style, colour and texture throughout sometimes reminded me of the recent Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. It’s good to see Marvel taking care of things in the artistic department. The vivid costumes and influence of African culture fuse so well with the futuristic tech. The waterfall ‘challenge’ scenes led by the charismatic Forest Whitaker were particularly memorable, also because of the haunting and percussive rhythms of Ludwig Goransson’s superb soundtrack.
Despite a couple of flaws, this is a great film and will inspire countless. I’m looking forward to see where they’re going to take these characters in Avengers: Infinity War, due for release this spring.