BLACK PANTHER – Someone Had to Dislike it!!

Why oh why Kernel Blake did it have to be us!!?? BLACK PANTHER is currently sitting on 100% after 61 reviews and for the love of Wakanda I am glad for once RT has yet to approve us as a standing critic – there would be death threats by now!! Kernel Blake is entitled to an opinion and we mostly agree on movies, so I am curious and somewhat desperate to now see this myself so I can agree or heavily judge Blake haha. He didn’t hate it but he didn’t get on the Wakanda train to idol worship the latest offering. 

BLACK PANTHER is out next week, Thursday 16th, in Australia from the fine folks at The Galactic Empire, oh, I mean Marvel Disney. It is rated M and runs for 134mins. Enjoy Blake’s review and be kind, it’s just a movie………………..all the best…………………..Salty.

BY

10 years after the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with the brilliant IRON MAN and after a fantastic introduction in CIVIL WAR, Marvel’s first African character, BLACK PANTHER, finally has his own standalone film. In today’s current political climate, especially in the US, this is a huge event, giving people of colour their first major cinematic superhero character since BLADE over 20yrs ago. Cultural impact aside, is the film itself actually any good?

 

The Black Panther Chadwick Boseman image

 

BLACK PANTHER STORY:

After an introductory montage of the tribal African country Wakanda and its access to the most valuable metal on the planet, Vibranium, we pick things up directly after the events of CIVIL WAR. Black Panther aka Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), still mourning the loss of his father, the king T’Chaka, returns to his home country, with a brief stop along the way to kick some ass.

Upon returning to the technologically advanced, hidden-from-the-world, homeland, he is reunited with his family and must now ascend to the vacant throne of King. To truly become the Black Panther, T’Challa must prove himself in combat against challengers from rival tribes within the African country, to solidify his reign of the advanced culture.

Haunted by a brazen theft of the precious Vibranium by Ulysses Klaue (, reprising his role from AGE OF ULTRON), which led to the deaths of innocent Wakandans, the BLACK PANTHER vows to track this criminal down and bring him to justice. T’Challa heads to Busan, South Korea, to thwart the sale of his country’s precious metal and to stop it getting into the wrong hands. Along with his badass head of security, Okoye () and ex-girlfriend & Wakandan spy, Nakia (, STAR WARS EP 7 & 8), Black Panther steps on the toes of CIA agent Everett Ross (, CIVIL WAR) also looking to take Klaue down.

 

The Black Panther Andy Serkis image
Andy Serkis

 

Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger has perhaps the best villain name since Jean Claude Van Damme’s, Jean Vilain in THE EXPENDABLES 2

BATTLE FOR THE THRONE:

However, when a mercenary with a secret from the Black Panther’s past comes to Wakanda looking to lay a claim on the throne, T’Challa faces his first real threat as king, one that could change the Wakandan way of life and the world as a whole. This mercenary, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, CREED), has perhaps the best villain name since Jean Claude Van Damme’s, Jean Vilain in THE EXPENDABLES 2. He’s also built like the proverbial brick outhouse, believes he has a legitimate claim to the kingdom and the BLACK PANTHER suit, and will wipe out anyone who stands in his way.

Threatening to supply oppressed factions across the globe with Wakandan tech and weapons, which could wipe out most of the planet, it’s up to T’Challa to stop Killmonger and truly become king and lay claim to his Black Panther responsibilities once and for all. Cue epic tribal warfare and much CGI infused ass kickery to see who takes home the biscuits.

 

The Black Panther Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan image
Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan

 

THE VERDICT:

While the plot outline and the trailers make the promise of an action-packed thrill ride, BLACK PANTHER is anything but. Sure, there are some action sequences spread out across the runtime, they are fewer than expected and at times not at the level we have come to expect from previous Marvel entries.

There are quite a few stretches of the film that slow right down and while never dull or boring, seem to be building towards something big that never really eventuates. Being a Marvel Studios film, BLACK PANTHER is still entertaining and gives us a whole new world to explore with the African setting and characters.

The cultural significance of this film can’t be stressed enough with BLACK PANTHER giving us strong black leads. The only two white characters in the film, Klaue (the smuggler) and Ross (the CIA agent), are minor supporting characters. The African theme continues to the soundtrack which is a highlight of the film and provides some great accompaniment to the action happening on screen……when it does happen.

 

The Black Panther Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o and Florence Kasumba image
Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and Florence Kasumba

 

THE CAST:

Boseman is great as T’Challa/Black Panther showing the strain of becoming King and balancing that with being a protector of the downtrodden as his alter ego. Paired with his tech genius sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright, THE COMMUTER), these scenes deliver some of the funnier moments throughout the film, with their playful ribbing of each other. Jordan plays the crazed Killmonger on the borderline of manic and completely over the top, with some of his earlier line deliveries seemingly coming from a character in another film. While out of place, he does settle into the role and delivers a strong, emotional performance.

Also worth mentioning are other members of this huge cast that deliver small, but strong performances. Forest Whittaker’s Zuri, a spiritual elder and ’s Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother, bring heart and emotion to their respective roles.

Director (CREED) delivers a mostly enjoyable film that unfortunately feels like it has been reigned in. From action scenes that are at times hard to follow and some questionable CGI effects, there just seems to be a lack of polish to the final product, which was surprising. There was a lot riding on this entry into the MCU, so maybe Marvel have played things a little too safe, a shame after the refreshing originality of THOR: RAGNAROK a few months back.

 

The Black Panther Chadwick Boseman image
Chadwick Boseman

 

IN CONCLUSION:

Although it sounds like I’m really down on BLACK PANTHER, I still enjoyed it. It just didn’t live up to the expectations that I had for it with all the hype leading up to the film’s release. There is a lot to like here, its just unfortunate that the story wasn’t tighter and the final act descends into staid, genre clichés. At times this feels like one of Marvel’s Phase One origin films and not of a studio brimming with confidence after 17 mostly fantastic superhero movies.

As a Marvel superfan, I left the screening feeling like I hadn’t wasted two hours of my life but at the same time I wasn’t pumped and excited to watch the film again. I have no doubt this film will be a huge success, and with its content and characters, it should be. It’s just a shame it isn’t a better film overall, one that it deserves to be. Not great, but not terrible either. Just OK and that’s a bit of a disappointment.

 

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life. Like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. He can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.