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Wick's Review

Created Mar 04, 2018 01:02AM PST • Edited Aug 29, 2020 04:36PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Black Panther joins Wonder Woman as the second cultural-phenomena superhero blockbuster in half a year, each a terrific specimen of the superhero genre, yet transcending it in social impact. Females saw themselves anew in Gal Gadot; The African diaspora gains a new and fantastic folklore in Black Panther.

    Oh yeah, Black Panther is also a really great movie, instantly enshrined in the pantheon of the vaunted Marvel canon. Frequently funny, pleasantly witty, often quite moving, occasionally thought-provoking, not to mention genuinely thrilling, it deserves its hosannas from across the political spectrum and racial divide.

    Ryan Coogler’s movie from Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s comic book creation never buckles under the freighted weight it must bear: racial, cultural, commercial and artistic. Of course, Coogler & cowriter Joe Robert Cole benefit by following the same playbook as dozens of Marvel writers and directors before them: Hew close to the proven storyboards laid down by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, and you can hardly go wrong.

    Onscreen star power brings their creations to life, starting with Chadwick Boseman’s chill T’Challa / Black Panther, the king of Wakanda. Boseman has already inhabited more African-American heroes in his short career than Denzel Washington and Will Smith combined: the sainted Jackie Robinson in 42, the Godfather of Soul in Get On Up, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, and now the coolest king ever in Black Panther.

    His costars often outshine him, Lupita Nyong’o as his future queen, Michael B. Jordan as the Malcolm X to his Martin Luther King, Florence Kasumba as general of his praetorian guard, and Andy Serkis as a floridly heinous arms dealer, to name a few. Classic Marvel: mix in some proven stars with a bunch of breakouts.

    Bottom Line
    It’s not just Wakanda and the African diaspora that are in good hands with Chadwick Boseman as their cinematic king. Marvel is too, with Boseman ready to take over as their biggest draw now that Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has reached the sunset of his storied cinematic career. Long live the King!

  3. Really Great 4.5
    • Chadwick Boseman brings a self-effacing elegance to the role of king of Wakanda. He’s easy to spend time with and to admire. Plus, he doesn’t upstage the tremendous supporting cast.
    • Michael B. Jordan richly fulfills the most important role in an action movie: the villain. His aggrieved black-man-from-Oakland shtick rings true to the political Black Panthers of the movie’s beginning. Jordan is growing strongly as a moviestar. Seth Carr plays his character as a young boy.
    • Lupita Nyong’o jumps offscreen as a spy and future queen. She’ll be a treat in the sequels.
    • Florence Kasumba carries herself with great gravitas. Let’s see more of this German actress.
    • Danai Gurira is an impressive bodyguard.
    • Letitia Wright also jumps offscreen as the 16-year-old princess of Wakanda and resident genius, sort of the King’s Q.
    • Winston Duke as the leader of Wakanda’s mountain tribe, the Jabari
    • Angela Bassett emanates regal dignity as the Queen Mother of Wakanda.
    • Forest Whitaker is less affecting than usual as an elder statesman and shaman. Perhaps his act is getting old.
    • Sterling K. Brown sets things in motion as a Wakandan spy sent to Oakland during the 90s.
    • Daniel Kaluuya is soulful per usual, somewhat as he showed in Get Out.

    Euro Men

    • Martin Freeman ably plays a CIA operative.
    • Andy Serkis is a revelation as a heinous arms dealer, mostly because we’re not used to seeing him as human. After all, Serkis is the actor who played Caesar the ape in Planet of the Apes and Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
    • Stan Lee’s cameo in a South Korean casino is quite funny.
    • Sebastian Stan cameos in a post-credits scene. It looks like the Winter Soldier and the Black Panther will be allies in a future episode.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this outstanding Marvel movie, with Joe Robert Cole as his cowriter. Of course, they worked from the Marvel Comics by the great Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

    The film ably sets up dramatic situations in eye-catching settings (e.g., the martial coronation ceremony for the new King of Wakanda) and then later picks up on or returns to the same setting, albeit with a profound difference from earlier. This rewards the viewer and is therefore very pleasing to the filmic erogenous zone.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0
  10. Play Really Great 4.5
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2
  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Brutal 3.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.8
  18. Supernatural 3.7

    Conservation of Energy is the law of nature most egregiously violated, as with most superhero movies.

    Reality liberties aside, Black Panther is most interesting for its sociological reverberations.

    For instance, this font of folkloric fantasy has spawned many metaphorical interpretations. Yet it falls to me to first observe that the State of Wakanda, a fantasy from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, bears quite a resemblance to a real world country: the State of Israel. Both are small, technologically advanced and wary of the wider world. One difference: unlike Wakanda, Israel has nothing to mine or pump (till recently). Yet, Eretz Yisrael had to be on the minds of two nice Jewish boys like Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0
  20. Biological Supernatural 4.0
  21. Physical Supernatural 4.0


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