Hail to the King: “Black Panther” Review

By Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer

Black Panther Chadwick Boseman Poster
Official poster for “Black Panther.” Photo by Marvel Studios.

Black Panther made his return to the big screen this year with his eponymous solo movie. While the hype surrounding the film is immeasurable, a pang of concern does come with it. The directing style of Ryan Coogler, especially regarding cinematography, differs greatly from that of Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has not put out a bad film, just some that were not as memorable as others. Some hope that this film may turn out great, as they may be looking for a Coogler movie like “Creed” or a Marvel movie like “The Winter Soldier;” “Creed,” while still part of the ongoing “Rocky” franchise, is distinctly a Ryan Coogler film.

Another concern is the track record for superhero films led by a black actor. “Hancock” is an average film, and the “Blade” movies have their own charm. However, “Steel,” “Spawn,” and “Catwoman” are, in my opinion, three of the worst comic book movies ever made. Therefore, cautious-optimism is understandable.

Fortunately, the film is well-worth the price of admission. Chadwick Boseman does a great job with the titular character. His accent has been more refined since “Captain America: Civil War,” and he even has a sense of humor behind his regal visage. He did well in bringing the character to life, as did other cast members in their respective roles.

Aside from the above concerns, people were also doubtful of the decision to cast Michael B. Jordan as the main villain. The concern arose as he is not known for playing outright bad guys on screen. Therefore, how good the character turned out is even more relieving. His motivation for what he did is clear, and given some of his traits, he presents a legitimate challenge to T’Challa (the Black Panther). While his character could have had a more defined personality than simply that of a relative with a grudge, he served his purpose in the story rather well.

There is one caveat to consider upon viewing the film. Though he is the film’s eponym, Black Panther is not the main focus of the film. That distinction belongs to Wakanda. The film immerses viewers into the world as if it were tangible. The film is filled with wide shots that clearly detail the country and how it stays hidden from the rest of the world. The Wakandan culture is also explored in detail through combat rituals, interacting with ancestors, even the makeup of the military. The roles of each tribe are well-defined. The mix of traditional African life with that of a futuristic metropolis is exquisite. Should one find themselves wanting to live in Wakanda after seeing the film, it would be completely understandable.

Given that Top Dawg Entertainment handled the music, there is no surprise that the music of the film is phenomenal. Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, SZA, and many more brought their best to the collaboration. However, the most recognition should be given to its musical score; Ludwig Göransson nailed it. The world felt as grand and mystifying as the music made it out to be. Also, the seamless coupling of traditional African music with modern composing, hip-hop, and R&B elements makes for a great listen both in the film and separately.

As for flaws with the film, there are only two that detract from the film. The first has to do with the action scenes. The camera work filming the scenes did not turn out well. The fights were not filmed steadily, and there were sometimes too many cuts. Anyone who saw the last film Coogler directed, “Creed,” will notice that the fight scenes are nowhere near as well-helmed as they were in that movie. The camera work was honestly a bit jarring. The other flaw in the film was how it ended. If the film contained one or two more scenes in Wakanda dedicated to this resolution, the ending would have been more satisfactory.

At earliest convenience, this film should be seen. It is a strong eight-out-of-ten rating. Head to a local theater and enjoy. “Black Panther” is in theaters nationwide, now.