Black Panther (2018): Is the Revolution Worth the Hype?

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“Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) and stars Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up), Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Danai Guira (All Eyez on Me, The Walking Dead), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Sherlock), Angela Basset (Olympus Has Fallen, Contact), Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Arrival), and Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers).

This is the, I can’t believe I’m saying this, EIGHTEENTH, installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the whole story hasn’t even been going for ten years yet! Nevertheless, in this next chapter, it’s main focus is directed towards the title character of Black Panther, or T’Challa. Wakanda, an African nation with isolation and advanced technology, needs a new king. Why? Well, T’Challa’s dad died. His father was a former king and now T’Challa is next in line for the throne.

Going into this film for the first time, I was terrified of what I’d end up thinking of it. I remember watching trailers for this film, and I watched the first trailer that came out and thought to myself, “What in the world did I just watch?” The music felt WAY off, the tone felt like something in between a slapstick comedy and a fantasy for all ages, and it didn’t feel like something I’d get invested in. The second trailer was an improvement over the first one, and it made the movie look more watchable. I will say though from both trailers, the movie looked like it was well directed and had some good action. However, I was still scared. Heck, even the teaser poster (the first image in this review) was giving me some weird thoughts! It felt stale and almost as if you could confuse the background as if it were Asgard in “Thor.”

Let’s also just get something out of the way… (sigh) I’m white.

Let me just say that none of my comments regarding this movie or review have to do with race. I don’t judge people by the color of their skin (unless someone is miscast in something and part of it has to do with skin tone and it doesn’t flow with material that came before something related to it was made or some other reason like that). I imagine A LOT of people were excited for this movie for reasons having to do with a lack of white people, and I get that. Let me just say, if this movie had all white people in it, I’d probably give it a lower verdict than I would in this current review. Why? Read the extended parentheses statement above. A LOT of people are giving this movie some of the most positive reviews I’ve seen for a film recently, and it has become one of the best reviewed superhero movies of all time. What are my personal thoughts on the movie itself? It’s good, but it’s overhyped.

Before you call me a racist for not giving the movie a 10/10, let me state once again, IT’S GOOD. If that’s not positive enough, I’m sorry, that’s my personal opinion. You can have your personal opinion, we’re still friends. I’ll actually state if you want to know who the real racists are, I will provide a link down below to a tragic story about this movie and what happened before it released. Either take a break from this review and click the link, continue on and come back once you’re finished with the review, or if you hate reading, don’t click it at all. Also, if you hate reading, what are you doing here? YOU’RE LITERALLY READING THIS! Go do something else! You know, unless this is your punishment and you hate reading!

TRAGIC AND RACIST “BLACK PANTHER” STORY: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/white-supremacist-groups-plan-tank-black-panther-rotten-tomatoes-score-fails

Also, regarding that article, no matter what your views are, why would you rate a movie before you see it? Did I give “The Emoji Movie” a 1/10 on this blog or IMDb without even taking a look at it for myself? Nope! I went to the theater, paid $5.99 at the ticket line, which is ultimately money I was robbed of, and then I destroyed every last trace of life it had!

I will say though, “Black Panther” might actually be better than I thought it would have turned out. I thought it was just gonna be a middle of the road movie, but it turns out, it’s just slightly above that range. Now, I gotta become Mr. Movie Reviewing Moron, and tell you some things I found wrong with the movie. Wait a minute, I’m missing something. I’ll be right back.

*MAKES TRIP TO MEN’S WEARHOUSE, BUYS EXPENSIVE CLOTHING, RETURNS HOME, REMOVES GREY RALPH LAUREN SWEATSHIRT, BLACK “YOU’RE NOT GROOT” (FEATURING WHITE TEXT) T-SHIRT, BLACK (WITH WHITE STRIPES) ADIDAS SWEATPANTS, BLACK SKECHERS AIR-COOLED CLASSIC FIT MEMORY FOAM SHOES, AND ’47 GREY AND WHITE BOSTON RED SOX SOCKS, SOME HINTS OF BLACK ARE FEATURED TOO, INCLUDING THE COLOR OF THE RED SOX LOGO. PUTS ON WHITE DRESS SHIRT, BLACK SUIT, BLACK TIE, MATCHING DRESS PANTS, BLACK SOCKS, AND BLACK LEATHER SHOES, I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT THE BRAND NAMES FOR THOSE FOUR RECENTLY MENTIONED PRODUCTS, USE YOUR IMAGINATION. USE OF IMAGINATION IS SOMETHING I’M TRYING TO PROMOTE, SO UTILIZE IT!*

Alright, I’m back. Let’s get cracking.

This movie ended up being two hours and fourteen minutes long. Honestly, it felt a tad longer. It wasn’t like watching “Downsizing” which came out last December, but it still felt long. Some of the stuff that goes down in this movie, most notably the climax, takes forever and a half to conclude. I get that the movie needs a grand and epic feel during the climax, but it can have the same feel without being too long. Just saying.

While I will admit that the climax felt long, I will also mention that at various points of the first half, the movie itself felt a bit draggy. It’s not like I was watching “The Last Jedi” during its first half, but it still felt like it could have been improved.

This next part is part positive and part negative. This movie barely has any humor in it, which completely worked for what I was watching. TAKE NOTES, “THOR: RAGNAROK!” However, I won’t ignore how cheap the humor in the film happened to be. There were parts where I chuckled, but that’s probably how most of the humor went down for me. It wasn’t like “Doctor Strange” or “Ant-Man” where it felt like I was gonna die from laughter, it felt more like a disposable comedy starring you people know, people you liked in other movies, let’s blurt out such names like Will Ferrell and Ed Helms, and they’re there for the paycheck, much like every other actor in the picture. And it’s not just them. The whole movie is just gonna come off as a cash-grab. Maybe the writer(s) happen(s) to be trying their absolute hardest, maybe the director, and while the studio doesn’t think it’s a total masterpiece, they think it’s “good enough.” How good enough is good enough? Good enough to make money. Some people will think it’s funny, some will be in the middle, and others might just roll their eyes the entire time.

This film for the most part is very well written. I don’t have many complaints but when it comes to a couple scenes that tried to come off as emotional, I don’t really think I felt anything. Maybe I felt a tad of something in one moment, but for the most part I really didn’t feel much of anything aside from things such as my popcorn bag, my clothes, and my reclined seat.

My next complaint is somewhat personal, and it has to do with the film and how it’s color graded. There are a lot of scenes shot well, directed well, and a number of them also look great in terms of their wide range of color, but I will admit, there are some that look rather cheap just because, personally, the grass looks kind of pale. The grass is green, but not the green I want it to be. Maybe I’m imagining things, maybe I’ll change my mind, but this is how I feel for now.

You know one place grass can be found? The forest! And happily, not on Forest Whitaker, because that would be beyond terrifying! Forest Whitaker is in this film, he plays Zuri, and I’ve seen him play a number of characters prior to watching this. Those characters can be found in movies such as “Arrival,” “Taken 3,” and sadly, “Battlefield Earth.” Another film you can find Whitaker in is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which is a great movie in my book. Although the thing is, Forest Whitaker is in this movie, and in it, he just comes off as another version of Saw Gerrera, which is the name of the character he played in “Rogue One.” Not exactly in terms of what he does, but watching the movie, I couldn’t help but pick up on certain mannerisms and how the character behaves and compare it to Saw. It’s almost like the movie’s director, Ryan Coogler, saw “Rogue One,” loved it, and said, “Your character in ‘Rogue One,’ he’s awesome, best part of the movie, so do me a favor, and play the same character but with different clothes and keep your tentacle porn business out of any scenarios.”

This film also contains what may qualify as the most forced kiss in cinematic history.

 

Enough said.

 

I could get into some writing problems, but they’re mainly just diction complaints that will end up coming off as nitpicky at best. I already got personal with the colors, but I feel this will come off as a bit more personal than that, and I say that because I have perhaps a greater knowledge when it comes to writing than I do color grading despite color grading various videos.

Now let’s move away from the negativity and talk about some of the stuff I really appreciated during the film. First off, the visuals. Pretty much every single Marvel movie I see has competent visual effects. Some more than others, but it’s very hard to say that a Marvel movie hasn’t given me some sort of impression from a visual perspective. I will say from a visual standpoint, at times it very much reminded me of last year’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” And no, this movie did not remind me of “The Fifth Element” all that much.

Some of these visual effects are part of what made for some of the best shots in the entire film. A select number of shots pertaining to what I’m talking about came from the trailer, but even some of those I have just recently discovered stood out to me. With that being said, the cinematography in this film actually was really impressive overall. It might actually add up to be some of the better cinematography I’ve seen in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. There’s actually this one shot where a character is walking forward and the camera is slowly rotating 180° from an upside down point of view to a normal point of view. It’s one of the best shots of the entire movie.

Speaking of cinematography, some of the action was also very well shot. There were actually some parts that feel like they came out of a Marvel movie from the Russo Brothers, such as “The Winter Soldier.” The action was also very well directed and well choreographed. I was able to believe it for what it was, although there’s one part of the highly promoted car chase, or as I like to call it, an excuse to get people to watch a Lexus commercial, that felt kind of jarring. I remember the Lexus going at a blazing speed at one point, and I don’t know if it actually was going at said speed, but it almost felt like it was a computer-enhanced effect. It probably wasn’t, but that’s just “what it felt like.” The whole thing kind of threw me off.

There’s one more mega-plus this movie has, what was it again?

Oh yeah right, Bilbo and Gollum reunite.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about T’Challa, AKA Black Panther. This is not the first movie in the MCU featuring Black Panther, that happened to be “Captain America: Civil War.” In that movie, I thought the character was cool, but not completely memorable. Although the first action scene with him was a total blast. Here, he’s cool and memorable. To be fair however, the movie literally has his name as the title, so it’s kind of hard to get him out of your head. His rise to becoming king invested me, and I will also say that you probably don’t have to watch “Civil War” to understand some of the stuff that’s going on in this film. I say that partially because the movie actually cuts back to “Civil War” during some key moments that way you don’t have to. I was able to root for the character, I truly cared for him, and I was able to buy Chadwick Boseman as this hero.

I buy Chadwick Boseman as the hero, so it’s super duper that I also buy Michael B. Jordan as the villain. Michael B. Jordan plays the character Erik Killmonger (as if you didn’t need a bigger hint as to whom this movie’s villain is, just read the last name) and with him, we’re getting yet another rare case of a great Marvel villain. I’ve had my history of viewing Marvel Cinematic Universe villains to be underwhelming (Red Skull from “Captain America: The First Avenger”), cliche (Ronan from “Guardians of the Galaxy”) unmemorable (Wait, What Was His Name? from “Doctor Strange”), or just plain stupid (Malekith AKA Mr. Dumbasadoornail from “Thor: The Dark World”). Erik is yet another surprising addition to a recently formed chain of fantastic Marvel villains. This is due to his motivation, his mannerisms, and how whatever he does is essential to the plot. As a viewer, it is clear that you’re supposed to hate the villain as a character, and that’s exactly what I did given Erik’s actions.

A lot of characters in this movie, you know, ones that happen to be Wakandans, they’re all super fierce and warrior-like, they reminded me a lot of “Wonder Woman’s” Amazons. They often appear organized, they’re somewhat rowdy, and often shout “Wakanda forever.” The actors who played them all did a very good job, from major roles to extra roles, and I’d trust these folks to help everyone survive, I don’t know, say a zombie apocalypse.

Also, let me just say, at one point during the movie’s first act, one character gives the finger, I’m calling it right now, it’s not gonna take too long for that to become at the least, a somewhat popular meme. It might take some time, but I’m willing to bet some people might make a GIF out of it or just spread the GIF somewhere. If not, they might just use a random screenshot. And maybe I’ll use it one day, if it’s not popular enough, maybe I’ll change its popularity.

One thing I’m still debating however, is whether Black Panther himself was more of an action delight in “Captain America: Civil War” or this movie. On the way home from the theater, I was asking that question to myself. It’s been over a year since I actually watched “Civil War,” but I still remember the chase scene where we first see Black Panther in his suit. It was well shot, fast-paced, very well done. The action scenes in this movie can also qualify to be up around that caliber, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t think I’d usually go and point out a scene from this movie to show off the awesomeness of Black Panther in action as opposed to the chase with him in “Civil War.” Although as I say for a lot of things on here, only time will tell.

In the end, I was actually somewhat pleasantly surprised by “Black Panther.” Sure, it’s overhyped, but ultimately enjoyable. I must say, as a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, it’s not the best, I’ll be completely honest with you and say I’d rather watch “Iron Man 2” than this, which a number of people don’t seem to like. Ah well, opinions are opinions. I can see why people are hyping up the movie in ways, but what matters is the execution, and in some senses of the word, it partially felt off. However, I’d probably watch “Black Panther” again and I’m gonna give it a 7/10. Also, remember, IT’S GOOD. I LIKED IT. YOU CAN STOP TELLING ME TO GO SCREW MYSELF. I’m actually going to see this movie again a number of hours after this is posted, so my opinion could change, but I figured why not get this review up while I can. Plus, a majority of movies I’ve seen have been reviewed after just a single viewing, so it might as well be fair to give that sort of treatment to this one.

Thanks for reading this review, on February 23rd, a couple of movies are coming out and I really want to see both of them. The first one is “Game Night,” which is a comedy where a game night turns into a murder mystery. The second one is “Annihilation,” Alex Garland’s second film he ever directed, which I’m hyping up like crazy because he directed “Ex Machina” and that movie is not exactly perfect, but just… beautifully made. So yeah, I can’t wait to see how this new film turns out. Stay tuned for more reviews and other great content! I want to know, did you see “Black Panther?” What are your thoughts? Leave your comment below! The next Marvel movie’s “Infinity War!” Woohoo! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

WAKANDA FOREVER!