“… exactly what the franchise needed to liven things up.”
Last night I saw Black Panther which is a movie I was kind of worried about if we’re being honest. Black Panther’s introduction in Civil War didn’t make me immediately go “Wow, that guy needs his own movie”, so I was a little apprehensive at how well a solo film of his could do. That, coupled with the fact that Black Panther to me was just a guy in a cool suit, made the idea of a Black Panther movie a little worrying. But as the great reviews started coming out my excitement grew ever so slowly, but steadily. As it turns out, that excitement was warranted becasue Black Panther was fucking awesome.
Marvel movies for me have been getting a little stale recently. They have been evolving since the beginning, moving to more serious storylines as opposed to ‘fun’ ones, but the problem is they have been evolving together which doesn’t leave so much room for differentiation. The only outlier I can think of is the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and I specify the first movie becasue the second one is pretty much the same as the first (not in content, but in style). So things have been getting a little tiring as of late for Marvel movies. So I wasn’t excited for another “dude in a suit kills some other dudes who may or may not have suits” movie. Luckily Black Panther took those expectations and threw them out the window.
The one thing Black Panther has going for it over all of the other Marvel movies is the setting. Black Panther takes place in Wakanda, an African country that on the outside looks terribly impoverished but past the secret mountain-curtain it’s actually a high-tech haven thanks to their almost endless supply of Vibranium. What we get when we are in Wakanda is a wonderfully designed, deeply cared about world where every detail has something to behold. The closest thing I could relate this to would be the planet in the more recent Thor Ragnarok, but this felt a little different to me. Wakanda obviously had a lot of thought of culture during its creation, and it shows. The outfits that are worn, the layout of the city, the fact that skyscrapers still have thatched roofs; all of it comes together to create this beautiful picture that you struggle to pry your attention away from.
And the care for culture doesn’t stop there, becasue we have yet to talk about the music in Black Panther. Once again when I heard of the concept for the music in Black Panther, especially the fact that Kendrick Lamar would be curating a lot of the film’s soundtrack, I was a little worried. Not that I don’t like those ideas separately, but they seem like they were going overboard a little bit. Once again I’m prepared to eat my words (or, more specifically my thoughts) becasue the music in Black Panther was amazing. Not only was it, much like the Wakanda design, a great mix of cultural and modern styles, but it was just good. The songs with vocals didn’t feel too forced, the music in general fit what was going on onscreen, and it gave Black Panther its own feel compared to all of the other Marvel movies.
So as far as the story goes everything is pretty much how you’d expect. One thing I really liked was that they took the character of Black Panther and not only explained him a little better for the audience, but they also made him James Bond-esque. The inclusion of his sister as a ‘Q’ type character creating all of his gadgets was brilliant, and she also added a lot of comedy to the film as well. I also really appreciated the motivation of the villain in the film. With movies like this it’s easy to kind of throw the villain to the side as just someone who needs to get the shit kicked out of them for the credits to roll, but in Black Panther they did a really good job of making the line between good and evil kind of difficult to distinguish. Like even after the movie ended I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the villain in Black Panther was a villain at all, he was essentially what Black Panther would be like if he were brought up in the real world instead of sheltered (for lack of a better term) in Wakanda. This created a very interesting storyline, and it made the film that much more impactful in its latter half. Also, the villain looked like a cooler Black Panther. His suit was fucking awesome.
As far as gripes with the movie I actually only have one. I found the CGI in Black Panther to not be bad, but be really apparent. I know that it’s difficult to have a man dressed like a cat rip a hole in the roof of an SUV and it look believable, but I’m just saying they probably could have done a better job. This issue becomes really prominent during the fight sequences where it appears that everyone turns into rubber for at least part of the choreography. I don’t know if the actors couldn’t nail the moves, or if the CGI was there to accommodate for the wild camera movements, but wither way I found it distracting. There was even a hint of the ‘Iron Man bobble-head’ syndrome during a moment in the film, but luckily that moment passed and it was the last I saw of it. The only other thing I can mention, and I believe it has to do with CGI, was Black Panther’s father having a messed up eye. I honestly thought the movie was messing with me, becasue the more I looked at it the more I felt like it was moving slowly down his face. I’m not sure the cause of this, but it was really prominent in the scenes with him and also very distracting. I don’t want to be rude, but I feel like you could have kind of shot around it a little bit. I don’t know dude.
Overall Black Panther was a genuine surprise. Marvel movies have been getting stale and Black Panther was exactly what the franchise needed to liven things up. Everything about Black Panther (save for the CGI) was great, and it is a movie that I would definitely see again.
I give Black Panther an A