Edward Kivlahan February 26, 2018

I recently viewed Marvel’s new blockbuster hit: Black Panther. The cinematography was effective; the storytelling was meaningful and impactful; the movie combines powerful performances, rich characters, difficult choices, and intense action. Overall, I rate it five stars. I highly recommend this for all audiences.

In the interest of preventing spoilers, plot details in the synopsis will be kept vague. It begins in 1992, with the apprehending of N’Jobu (Sterling K. Brown) and builds from there a complex story that drives an effective villain in Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) It then fast-forwards to the present day after the loss of King T’Chaka (John Kani). The prince, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), is nearing his coronation as the new king. He passes his rites to claim his seat on the throne, and is met with an urgent mission. He must hunt down a terrorist, Ulysses S. Klaue (Andy Serkis), who threatens life for Wakanda alongside Killmonger. Action ensues, and it ropes Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) in to the combat that is growing between T’Challa and Killmonger. As the tension builds, the incursion mounts and the battle ensues.

The nature of the conflict between the opposing ideologies is one that intrigued me while watching the movie, and indicated a lot more depth to the character writing than is typical of Marvel’s cinematic villains. While many follow the conquer-for-its-own-sake formula with a few individual elements of cleverness and evil, Killmonger’s motives are more true to a relatable perspective. The traditionalist methods of Wakanda and Killmonger’s progressive extremist methods clash in a way that people can understand from both sides of the discourse, and this way of instilling ideologies of modern concern makes Killmonger more than just an evil villain and makes the Black Panther more than just a hero. Hence, I rate the character development as the best element of Black Panther with five stars.

The plot overall is good, although some elements seem convenient. I won’t spoil the plot points in question, but there are a couple points that struck me that way. That said, I admit that it would have been difficult to make some elements of the plot happen any other way, so my point on convenience is more of a note than a criticism. The ignition of the plot was impactful, as was the twist, and both felt genuine. Overall, I rate the plot four stars.

The cinematography is beautiful. The film was shot primarily in Korea and Australia, but it still conveyed the scenery one could theoretically expect in Africa. The location of Wakanda is never specified in a coordinate sense, so that allows for some freedom in that respect. The land, animals, rivers, and sunsets all feel authentic and completely enamor the audience in its breadth. Throughout the movie there are also various angles of moments that convey careful thought to the power of the scene and lend additional drama to the scenes that demand it. One such scene is in the garden, and another is the final visit to the ancestral plane. I rate the cinematography five stars.

The soundtrack is unique compared to other marvel movies as well. It has a lot of rap artists including Kendrick Lamar, Logic, 2Chainz, and Khalid. The different tone of the soundtrack from other Marvel movies also do Black Panther a service in making it a standout success and overall improving the MCU with additional quality and diversity. I rate the soundtrack four stars.

One more element on which I would like to comment is the costume design. Many of the costuming choices for Wakandans were based on traditional african styles of garb. The detail of the tattoo designs and different clothing for different tribes showed diversity and unity in their convention. The black panther costume itself is also quite beautiful and I look forward to its further evolutions. I rate the costume design five stars.

The cinematic experience that Black Panther provides is thrilling throughout. From start to finish the viewer is immersed in the story and the action. The universe of Black Panther is well told and displayed, the characters are well-written, and it leaves the audience with a lasting impression of the collective experience. Once again I rate Black Panther five stars and highly recommend anyone to go and see it.

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