All Hail The King - Black Panther (REVIEW)
The hype going into this film has been huge. Starting with a scene stealing turn in Civil War, announcing Ryan Coogler as director, starring an almost entire cast of black actors, getting a Kendrick Lamar produced album inspired by the film, and a push to get young african american kids to see the film in theatres everything was pointing in the direction that this film was going to be something special and unlike any superhero movie we have seen before. With all that expectation it mostly succeeds.
The main draw for this film is the incredible world building it is able to achieve. The culture is full of mythology that is unlike anything Marvel has put out with a sense of regality and tradition that feels special while also managing to fold it into the real world in places that feel organic. This could have easily been cheesy with over the top theatrics but Ryan Coogler keeps a respectful subdued tone that works well for the film and the fictional people it is trying to present. The film also challenges these traditions in ways without knocking their existance. The tech of Wakanda was also impressive with T'Challa's sister Shuri being the Q to his James Bond creating an array of gadgets to use that included a wonderful joke about shoes made for the suit. The music has a distinct African influence to it that only further envelopes you into the world. That combined with the lush cinematography lending a stunning beauty to Wakanda as you travel through it's jungle and into it's buildings showcasing something special about the country as this hidden paradise that is not without it's problems too.
The performances from the supporting cast were all good to great, with Danai Guira as Okoye being the stand out. I could have done without Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, he was a scene chewing bad guy in a non-scene chewing movie. Michael B Jordon as Erik Killmonger however was a fun and deadly villain aimed at shaking things up within Wakanda and presented a valid if flawed argument for his cause like any good villain. The action was intense during some of the high stakes fights Between T'Challa and Killmonger but does wear down during the final climax of the film which feels like a Marvel checkbox rather than something high stakes. The stakes are there, they just lack some of the emotional punch that made Civil War so good in it's final sequence.
The hype has been huge and the box office predictions reflect that there is a hunger for something different in the MCU and with Black Panther there is plenty new and exciting things to enjoy showcasing a cultures people and especially traditions that make the film special even if it can't quite stay away from Marvel's own.
A royal welcome to Wakanda makes for an intriguing film