Monday, 5 March 2018

Black Panther: a Review

Black Panther is the latest movie in the ongoing MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), which has already featured a number of incredible movies such as Iron Man, Thor and the Avengers. (There are more, you should go check it out)

The film is considered the best installment of the franchise, which is saying something considering its 18 movie long series, divided into three phases.

This movie is set a few days after the events of Captain America: Civil War, in terms of chronology, and overall takes place over the course of a few days since that.

The setting of this movie is primarily in Africa, in the fictional country of Wakanda, although there are scenes set in other parts of Africa, and other parts of the world as well.

You have returning characters, from Civil War, the Black Panther/T'Challa played by Chadwick Boseman, Everett Ross played by Martin Freeman, and from Age of Ultron we have returning Ulysses Klaue played by Andy Serkis. The rest of the cast are new and have succeeded in making their mark in the connected Marvel universe.

Since the movie is based in Africa, there are a lot of tribal elements that have been incorporated, successfully, I might add. They've done their homework and made it look authentic, and not some westerners idea of what African culture looks, especially in terms of clothing, rituals, location, and language.
Alongside this, in the comics, Wakanda is known for being a very scientifically advanced nation who's technology surpasses the rest of the world. The creators have managed to properly mix together traditional and modern together in a way that both hold together without friction.
There is none of the old trope of "Science Vs Tradition" in this one, and nor is that used as a plot device, leading or otherwise.

Speaking of location, the nation of Wakanda is spectacularly made, and the visuals make it seem like an entirely new world, even its own franchise in its own right. On certain occasions you feel as though you forget the rest of the MCU even exists, and that Black Panther is its own stand alone movie, so strong is the plot, and the ability to execute said plot without pandering, without need for any external agents.

It feels like the creators have done their homework with this movie, and made sure that it's come together naturally without looking or feeling forced in any way or form.

The characters in the movie were unique, and each had a well defined role to play. Now with the characters, the most important thing that has to be said is "representation".
It is done, but not in the way one would expect on hearing the word. Like with the incorporation of African society for the design of the movie, the representation has also been slotted in seamlessly to the point that you don't entirely realise it till it's pointed out by the characters on screen or due to plot.
Personally I prefer this method (as a viewer) as opposed to having something shoved violently in my face and forced to accept things as they are, as is the case with a lot of movies.

Now, coming to the characters themselves, we have the titular character, the Black Panther.
The Black Panther is said to be the protector of Wakanda and its people, and that's exactly how the king, T'Challa sees himself. He does what he thinks is right for his people, after being advised by the representatives and elders of the various tribes of Wakanda. Chadwick Boseman delivers some of the most brutal and important lines of the movie and does so with the authority of a king.
T'Challa's family and close friends are just as equally incredible in terms of utter badassery and ability.

The main antagonist, played by Michael B Jordan, Killmonger, is a uniquely polarised anti hero, than an outright villain. Killmonger, unlike the Black Panther, has lived outside Wakanda his entire life, and has been witness to the harsh realities of his people in the outside world, and this is what shapes his way of thinking and how he should help the people by arming them, and not empowering them.
His views on the situation are targeted in a single fashion: his way is the right way, and all others are weak and feeble attempts at absolutely nothing.

The really good thing about this villain is that he resembles some of the villains in the Legend of Korra series: they make the protagonist think, and understand the situation that drove them to become a villain, and this in turn helps the protagonist get a better idea (or a target) of how to fix a larger problem.

The rest of "Team Panther", are based off the characters introduced in the comics, and have an entirely different approach to their comic book counterparts.
The three main women in this team, Oyoke, Nakia and Shuri are all formidable in their own rights.

Martin Freeman's character, initially only a comic relief character in the comics has been reinvented for his role in the MCU as a capable agent who would be able to be diplomatic and combat ready as needed.
Martin brings a similar personality to his character from Sherlock, with a perfect blend of seriousness and humour.

The thing that stands out the most in this movie is the ground breaking technology and the fight sequences. I unfortunately cannot go into much detail regarding this since it is deep within spoiler territory, but what has been done is just well executed with proper blend of cinematography, music and CGI.

Overall, this movie is incredible. It does its homework and makes an African society that looks African, and not some idiots notion of what culture in Africa is.
The technology is impressive, and even puts parts of Ant Man's and Tony Stark's tech to shame, in parts.
The characters are spectacular, and well developed. Most everything is shown in morally grey terms, without it going into propaganda and political agenda.
This includes the representation of the characters and what they represent.

Well worth watching, even as a standalone film, in case you have yet to see major parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

No comments:

Post a Comment