Back in 2016, we were given our first glimpse of the Wakandan hero, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). In “Captain America: Civil War”, King T’Chaka (John Kani) is assassinated and we see his son, T’Challa, don the all-black Black Panther suit to establish revenge. In Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther”, the film opens in 1992 Los Angeles as a Wakandan spy is exposed as committing treason, causing King T’Chaka to act swiftly and justly. Fast forward to the present. T’Challa is headed home to his beautiful (and hidden) homeland of Wakanda, to receive the crown as King of Wakanda officially. On his way, he recruits a Wakandan spy and former girlfriend, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) to come home from her assignment and support him during the ritualistic ceremony, alongside his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and his sister and the nation’s “Q”, Shuri (Letitia Wright). While most films make the crucial mistake of “speeding-up” the process, Coogler explores and explains the culture of Wakanda and their great tradition with expert precision and detail; a wonder of its own. Overseen by the keeper of the Heart-Shaped Herb (Zuri, played by Forest Whitaker); the ritual explores the magic of the Black Panther and even visits the ancestral plane. Whether it’s the beautiful landscapes and backdrops or the ritualistic challenges for the throne, “Black Panther’s” attention to detail is what sets it apart from the rest!
After being crowned King, the unanimous Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) has resurfaced as he attempts to steal vibranium from the most unlikely of sources. It’s abundantly clear that Serkis is having the time of his life, which is never more apparent than during his rendition of “What is Love?”. Alongside him, a young former black ops agent named Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan). After the attempted capturing goes wrong, T’Challa alongside Nakia and Okoye (Danai Gurira), the head of the Dora Milaje, must save CIA Operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) by bringing him back to Wakanda to use the vibranium-powered medical equipment. While back on Wakanda, an unnamed threat to the thrown arises, causing T’Challa to not only question everything he knows, but his ability to protect the entire nation of Wakanda as well. The action set pieces are stunning; very well-choreographed with some very cool locations utilized as well. Not enough to get you excited? “Black Panther” is as aurally stunning as it is visually! Not only did hip hop King Kendrick Lamar cure a 14-song album of all original songs for the film (a few of which are heard during the film), but the film’s score is truly groundbreaking! Composed by Ludwig Goransson, the music could not have provided a better fit to film’s aesthetic. Made-up of drums and bass, the music provides a beautiful rhythm; it serves as a homage to African tribal and African-American music that continues the celebration of “Black Panther”. Coogler combines the story and the music and paints a beautiful portrait full of vibrant colors; the purple “pops” off the screen! “Black Panther” also boasts an insanely-impressive cast, led by Chadwick Boseman. However, Jordan, Nyong’o, Gurira, Wright, Bassett, Serkis, and Whitaker are all at the top of their game; adding to the overall tone and soul of the film. Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Florence Kasumba also have roles in the film. Not to mention, Stan Lee’s best cameo yet!
Never has there been a more important superhero film. With “Black Panther”, Marvel once-again outdoes themselves and gives us a beautiful, exciting, and multi-layered superhero story full of African-American culture with impressive performances and an incredible cast! At 134 minutes, the film flies-by and moves at a constant pace. Not only does the film work on every level, but it blows-past any and all expectations I had going-into the film. Ryan Coogler’s expertise and precision is on full-display as he conducts this masterpiece; I would bet that he will soon be announced as a Director for an upcoming Star Wars film. In a time and World that is so divided, there has never been a more appropriate time for “Black Panther”. Not only is it something that fans of all races can love and enjoy, but the film also celebrate the heritage and culture of Africans and African-Americans. It should come as no surprise, but Marvel has done it again (through Ryan Coogler). Bravo! Make your plans now and go see “Black Panther” this weekend!
STAY UNTIL AFTER THE CREDITS!
BLACK PANTHER is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture, in theaters FEBRUARY 16TH!