Movie Review: “Black Panther”

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“Black Panther” was directed by Ryan Coogler, who also directed the seventh film in the Rocky series, “Creed” in 2015. “Black Panther” has been a box office success and wildly popular, with a 97 on Rotten Tomatoes. It has earned $756.5 million with a budget of $200 million.

The plot of the film focuses on Chadwick Boseman as the titular Black Panther and king T’Challa of Wakanda, a fictional country in East Africa, as his sovereignty as king is challenged. The film introduces Wakanda as a technologically advanced civilization hiding in plain sight. Wakanda consists of five East African tribes determined to protect Vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth, from the world. The film adaptation of the comic book is a visually stunning masterpiece. T’Challa first made an appearance in Captain America Civil War in 2015.

The film is supported by many well-known and skilled actors. Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman have acting experience together as Gollum and Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Serkis portrays the villain Ulysses Klaue, and Freeman portrays a C.I.A. agent who is becomes familiar with Wakanda. Serkis and a group of mercenaries, including Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), steal Vibranium, alerting the Black Panther of upcoming complications. Forrest Whitaker portrays Zuri, an important elder statesman of Wakanda.

The film shifts from Wakanda to South Korea but maintains the visually stunning backdrop while T’Challa is tasked with capturing Klaue and returning him to Wakanda to be punished for his theft. Vibranium is central to the film’s background as it is used in everything from Black Panther’s armor to clothing, transportation, technology and a means to heal injuries. Vibranium has created a moral conflict in Wakanda and its place in world politics. The debate is: what does Wakanda owe the rest of the world, and should they share their technology and resources to help other African descendants?

The film’s visuals immerse the audience in a rural farm nation with technological advances of spaceships, hover trains and a seemingly endless Vibranium mine. The contrast of rural landscape with futuristic technology creates a technological empire and a visually stunning masterpiece from interior and exterior shots to clothing and CGI. The shift from car chases in South Korea and fight scenes in a casino and Wakanda add to a new visually stunning chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The main conflict between T’Challa and Killmonger occurred after a dispute on who has the right to be king. The conflict mixes identity, ancestry and two contrasting ideologies wanting to expose Wakanda to the world and the second to maintain the lie to protect their technological democracy.

The supporting acting is another strong reason for the film’s commercial success. T’Challa is supported by Danai Gurira as a female Wakandan General and Letitia Wright as his sister who creates the Black Panther suit and other technologically advanced equipment. Additional supporting female cast members include Angela Bassett as the royal mother Ramonda and Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, a Wakandan spy and T’Challa’s love interest.

Wakanda embodied the film’s strength in its visually stunning landscape and portrayal as a country of only textiles and farmers while immersed in dazzling clothing and technology because of their seemingly endless Vibranium mine.

The “Black Panther” soundtrack includes music by a variety of artists such as Kendrick Lamar and SZA. The soundtrack includes other artists such as The Weeknd, Schoolboy Q and 2 Chainz.

The main story of Black Panther is one of race and empowerment. It’s about how our past shapes our present and future. The central conflict is about how to use the power that we are given. The film depicts freedom and origins to create a better future. Boseman and the supporting cast highlight past African American struggle and hardship in America and Wakanda that influence the titular character and the antagonist. The film’s strong points come from a strong female cast that in some areas steal the show and the importance of how different races and origins can come together combined with stunning views and an all-star cast to create the nation of Wakanda. The film solidified itself into the Marvel Cinematic Universe while maintaining itself as a stand-alone film about race, origins and the importance of cultural identity.

Photo courtesy of NME.com

Dylan Jones

Dylan is a senior history and political science major. He is a staff writer for the Hilltop Monitor as well as Scholastic Chair for Lambda Chi Alpha at William Jewell, a member of Christian Student Ministries and a member of Phi Alpha Theta and Pi Sigma Alpha academic honor societies.

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