@thearmageddon here with yet another movie review this time many of you have asked for, but yeah in general, none of you asked for this ever:
When you walk out of a movie and catch yourself saying “is this real life?” or at any point during said movie you also catch yourself being awestruck and saying outloud “woah” after the fact you know a movie did something right. And Black Panther is a movie that does nearly everything right consistently from start to finish.
A lot can be said about Black Panther because Black Panther is many things. On its surface it is a straight up comic book movie *obviously*, and it is a very very good one at that, but it also contains send-ups to some spy/thriller flicks like James Bond or Mission Impossible, something I wasn’t quite expecting but enjoyed thoroughly, (which included an amazing fight sequence.) But then, finally it settles into being where most of its energy and strength comes from, a film that plays heavily with fantasy elements that we’re used to seeing in the likes of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones but in a modern day context. Add to that a shout out to Oakland and Busan, South Korea and all of it still works. And that’s just the surface.
For the woke sect out there if you want to dive in there’s a discussion about race, tradition, identity, feminism, and heritage, both embedded in the narrative of the film and externally in terms of production and casting. The beauty of this movie though is that the story is able to touch on this without relying on it heavy-handedly which makes the entire endeavor feel light and inspiring instead of confronting and preachy. The story is the story. Everything just is. Your brain can be turned off and you can love it, but your brain also can be highly engaged and you can come away with quite a bit more than just explosions, running, jumping, and punching if you so choose it. There’s a message for every last one of us here and it’s pretty amazing that it was able to do so effortlessly. And if you’ve read any of my reviews, you know how much I love heart. Well, let me just say that a few times I had This is Us level feels. I’ll just leave it at that.
And yes, the rhinoceros in the room, sure there’s a lot of hype surrounding it, you know, because black people love it and I guess that implies a few things about it, but in my view many things can be true. If you find yourself being a detractor of this movie for these reasons, but have no similar complaints about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Jet Li’s Hero, then you have a whole lot of mirror looking to do for the next few minutes to hours, and probably years. It can have a lot of hype (hype in this context implies one’s takeaway is that it ain’t all that really), but it can also deserve every bit of praise it garners at the very same time. Objectively it’s an engaging and thoroughly entertaining movie experience.
It excels in so many different aspects from ridiculously strong supporting characters (so strong I absolutely want to see Okoye (Danai Gurira) Shuri (Letitia Write) and Nakia (Luita Nyong’o) in their own movies EACH. It has one of the strongest and most compelling villains that a Marvel movie has seen, pulling off the ultimate realized villian dynamic in literature aligned with characters such as Magua from Last of the Mohicans where you sympathize with their plight, and where they are coming from, just not their approach. And it was able to create a hero that doesn’t need to exhibit a fatal flaw for us to be engaged with his journey. He’s just awesome, so let’s do this thing.
In the end, there’s a togetherness message about family, brotherhood (hahaaaa, not that kind you racist), coming together, and holding to each other. Not one of exclusion. Something that is sorely needed in today’s world. And in that is Black Panther’s greatest feat in a film that pulls off many feats. There’s a reaction out there that would like to imply that this movie is exclusionary, but it isn’t. It’s a celebration of a culture and Ryan Coogler has opened the door and invited all of us to come in and take a look. There’s value and a worthwhile look for everyone. And as a person that has studied and written extensively about minstrelsy and the depictions of blacks in literature and film in my graduate school days, I can confidently say that it’s about damn time, and it’s long long past due.
So yeah, I liked it a lot. And that’s the short version.
I give Black Panther 5 Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” posters out of 5 … and can’t wait to see it again.