Movie: BLACK PANTHER
Rating: PG-13, prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief nude gesture
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Jeanne: After the exciting and successful appearance of Black Panther in "Captain America: Civil War", it was deemed essential that this intriguing character have his own Marvel Comics Universe movie, "Black Panther". T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Black Panther, has returned to his African homeland, the nation of Wakanda, following the death of his father, to reign as king.
What T'Challa doesn't know is how his uncle died in Oakland, California in 1992, and nothing about his young son, who was left behind. Now, that son, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) has grown into a mercenary --- a warrior who disposes of Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), Wakanda's sworn enemy. Transporting Klaue's dead body, Killmonger arrives in Wakanda to lay claim to the throne.
Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), a War Dog --- a Wakandan spy and ex-girlfriend of T'Challa, along with Okoye (Danai Gurira), leader of Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan Special Forces, and Shuri (Letitia Wright), T'Challa's brilliant little sister, band together to help T'Challa maintain control of Wakanda following Killmonger's unnerving appearance. Aided in their efforts by Ramonda (Angela Bassett), T'Challa and Shuri's mother, and Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), a CIA agent who is now an ally to T'Challa, this group of loyal Wakandans must battle the dark forces within their ranks who wish to follow Killmonger and take over the world.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, "Black Panther" is everything one would expect from Disney and MCU. Coogler and Cole have constructed a terrific storyline with richly developed characters. Boseman and Nyong'o are beautiful together --- and both are such good, solid actors. Choosing good actors always helps with the believability factor when portraying comic book characters.
Wright and Winston Duke, who plays M'Baku, leader of the Jabari, a neighboring tribe on Wakanda, will be fan faves as they provide much of the comic relief. They infuse their roles with joy and panache, and manage to steal more than a few scenes each.
Of course, many of the major attributes of these movies are their spectacular special effects, set designs, costumes, cinematography, etc. --- and "Black Panther" doesn't disappoint. It is splendidly endowed with awesome wizardry --- one of my favorites is highlighted in the trailer, but it's even better sitting in the theater.
I'm describing Black Panther car surfing through the streets of South Korea. It's rather entertaining and crazy fun --- in the vein of Ansel Elgort's opening getaway chase in "Baby Driver". I love a great car chase --- it it's not too long. David, however, does not.
There is much hype surrounding "Black Panther", and well deserved by my estimation. Disney/Marvel has big plans for this cast of "Black Panther" --- so we will be seeing them many times again.
Opinion: See It Now!
David: Yet another super hero movie from Disney/Marvel is here, but this one is a bit different in that its cast is almost exclusively African-American. The brightest young black actors of this generation carry "Black Panther", an exciting fantasy about T'Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and those who would usurp his crown. (A note to Chicago readers of "K vs K": it was difficult not to think of Wauconda every time Wakanda was mentioned!)
Rife with some unique special effects, and some we've seen before --- most notably in Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man" films --- "Black Panther" features Chadwick Boseman as the title hero. The 41-year-old actor is probably relieved to be portraying a fictional character after dealing with the innate pressure of playing real-life icons Jackie Robinson ("42"), James Brown ("Get On Up") and Thurgood Marshall ("Marshall"). Boseman again proves his prowess as a leading man.
"Black Panther" also reunites Michael B. Jordan with Ryan Coogler, his director from "Fruitvale Station" and the highly acclaimed "Creed". Here Jordan plays Erik Killmonger, the chief antagonist in the film who tangles with the Black Panther in a couple of perfectly choreographed fight sequences that, unlike most films of this genre, do not drag on too long.
Rounding out the main cast members are Lupita Nyong'o (Oscar winner for "12 Years A Slave"), Daniel Kaluuya (most notably from 2017's smash hit "Get Out"), and the prolific Forest Whitaker. Old pals Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis have major roles; Freeman a CIA operative with no trace of a British accent, and a burly Serkis actually playing a villain in his own persona --- no motion capture here.
Despite its two hour plus running time, "Black Panther" skims along seamlessly. The set designs are extraordinary, and the movie features a surprise ending --- especially for those who left the theatre prematurely --- with a timely message about international togetherness. "Black Panther" is easily one of the best made movies of its class, and should be seen on the big screen.
Opinion: See It Now!