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Black Panther lives up to hype, provides an enjoyable, empowering experience

Kola Akinnibi

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So Black Panther finally came out last week and did it live up to the hype director Ryan Coogler set for it?

I think so, despite some minor pacing issues.

Acting

The actors were the best part of the movie, hands down. This movie gave some of the best acting performances a Marvel movie has ever produced. The hype around Michael B. Jordan isn’t for naught–when he’s in a scene, you feel how passionate he is about his cause. This is one of the reasons why people are saying he’s the best villain; he is so passionate about what he wants it’s easy to relate to his cause, while still disagreeing with the means.

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira played a huge role in the film’s fluidity. They offered different outlooks on the problems Wakanda had to face and they didn’t feel like they were forced female leads. Their characters are interesting, funny, and as entertaining to watch as the Black Panther himself.  

I feel like Chadwick Boseman got outshined a lot during important scenes in the movie, but I don’t see this as a bad thing. The other leads bring a lot of energy to the scene and I think it all complimented Boseman well. He takes somewhat of a backseat when it comes to eccentrics, but he is a king after all. I like that they weren’t afraid to let other actors outshine him in scenes; his sister in the movie Letitia Wright has so much personality, and the actors are good at making the relationships feel real without it being to cheesy or phoned in.

Andy Serkis was my personal favorite actor in the movie. It felt like he was pulled straight out of the comics. Not because it was close to the source material, but because he had the charisma and destructive attitude of a classic comic book villain. I felt like the accents in the movie were done pretty well, although Forest Whitaker’s character did make me cringe. He’s such a tremendous actor that I feel like he could have done better with his accent and inflection.

I also really enjoyed the fact that they weren’t afraid to let the actors say some controversial things. In the end it is a Marvel movie, but they were able to give the actors socially conscious lines without sounding preachy.

Cinematography/Visual Effects

The costumes in this movie were amazing because the juxtaposition of tradition and technology is shown in every scene with a Wakandan in it. The shots weren’t too crazy, but there was one scene early on that felt right out of James Bond.

I don’t think people understand how much effort Coogler put into making this a visually stunning movie. For example, when T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye are fighting together, the colors they wear represent the pan African flag. I thought this was a subtle, yet interesting way to make things pop out at you. All of the weapons also looked great and gave me a kind of James Bond, high tech feel, as opposed to the super futuristic feel of when Tony Stark uses something cool, but that was good because this movie is supposed to feel different.

Pacing

This is where my major issues with the movie pop up. I like how the movie starts up. It establishes a few things, but then it teases the most interesting character (Killmonger), who then disappears for almost an hour.

At the end, the action felt rushed and anti-climatic. The final stretch of the movie just felt like everything happened a little bit too fast. I really wish they would have used Killmonger even more and showed even more aspects of his personality. Coogler used him well, but I left thinking, “Dang, I wish he had more scenes.”

Other than that, the beginning of the movie really felt like a Bond movie. The villain was established, a love interest established, a problem arises, T’Challa gets some new gear and they’re right into a mission.

Soundtrack

Well guys I made a mistake. I reviewed the TDE soundtrack for the movie thinking every song was going to be used in the movie. Sadly and gullibly I was wrong, and have led my readers astray. “Opps” was used in the movie though during one scene to great effect.

However, throughout the movie mostly traditional music was used as a regular score. The drums match the traditional themes of Wakanda perfectly; it was cool to hear this kind of music in a movie and it’s interesting how they contrast traditional themes with the high tech aspects of Wakanda.

Overall Tone

Black Panther is so good because it kills a lot of birds with one stone. Not only is it a solid comic book movie that establishes Black Panther as the cool, powerful hero that he is. It’s also a very empowering black movie that addresses real issues without sounding like a preach fest. No black director has ever been trusted with this large of a budget to make a movie with, and I think Wonder Woman is the only other superhero movie that can compare when it comes to strong female leads.

Even if you don’t care about any racial or societal issues, you can still sit down and watch this movie as a regular superhero movie. Coogler could have left out all the things that made you have to think about racism and how injustices of the past affect us now–but he didn’t.  And that’s why this movie is so good: it can be more than a Marvel movie.

This is one of those movies everyone needs to see. It is definitely a huge step for minority representation in movies, and a step in the right direction for good Marvel villains with depth. Overall, I’d give it an 8/10 and a “Must See” recommendation.

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