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Overall Rating
3.71

Awesome38.1%
Worth A Look38.1%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 4.76%
Sucks: 19.05%

2 reviews, 9 user ratings


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Black Panther
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Pretty darned good for a Marvel movie."
4 stars

The entire bloated, interlinked, resource-eating Marvel Cinematic Universe may have justified itself by having made possible 'Black Panther.'

It’s a rich and shining tapestry, in deep African reds and golds and purples. Being a Marvel movie, it is unavoidably corporate and Manichean — might makes right in the eternal war of Good and Evil. Fortunately, the artists behind Black Panther are interested in how one defines good and evil. Is it that hard to be good if you’re a royal, a member of the warrior elite of a technologically advanced society? And if you grow up the resentful, brutal product of living in a much poorer society that resents and brutalizes you, can you truly be described as “evil”?

Director Ryan Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole make Black Panther a battleground of philosophies — isolationism vs. generosity, revenge vs. justice. It is never at any point black vs. white, or African vs. Caucasian, even though one of the villains is white (he is shown to be an equal-opportunity slimeball who will ally with and then betray whoever can most benefit him in the moment). Unlike the unredeemable adversaries of the DC universe — the unreachable anarch the Joker, the megalomaniacal Lex Luthor — the rogues’ gallery at Marvel tend to have some shading, some humanity, even if appalling humanity. And the heroes are often impeded by guilt, doubt, hubris. Thus, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), newly crowned king of Wakanda, represents a kind of naïvete born of privilege; his opposite, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), came up outside Wakanda’s embrace and has a more bitter view of the world. Erik often makes good points, and T’Challa sometimes sounds fatuous.

Wakanda represents what the whole of Africa might have been without colonizers — an African-American’s warming daydream of a black Shangri-La, unmutilated by whites. It’s a dream of superiority, too; Coogler and his artists take command of a medium that has spent far more of its history demeaning people of color than not, and they make sure this example of the medium gives us people of color who are demonstrably smarter and tougher than anyone else. (There’s a white CIA agent, played by Martin Freeman, who is generously made a brave and competent fighter.) That an empowerment fable on this level — a $200+ million sci-fi fantasy opening in 4,000 theaters nationwide — is only thinkable due to its association with a larger, otherwise pretty pale-skinned corporate concern is probably not the sort of irony Marvel fans would appreciate. Yet Black Panther may ultimately stand apart from its wider mythos the same way Wonder Woman did.

Considering the strain he must have been under — here you go, a massive blockbuster all your own; try not to disappoint Marvel, Disney, or the black audience; no pressure or anything! — it might be too much to have expected Chadwick Boseman to manage anything other than a noble performance, with occasional brushstrokes of rage and grief and one or two fleeting bits of humor. (I look for the sequels — don’t worry, there’ll be some — to let T’Challa and Boseman have more fun.) Michael B. Jordan, on the other hand, knows he has a juicy wounded-martyr role and rips into it with gusto, thoroughly enjoying playing a large-scale villain on an enormous canvas. Boseman more or less gives the movie to Jordan and to the many beautiful, brilliant women surrounding him: Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright. The Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female special forces, could give the Amazons in Wonder Woman a rough time of it.

Wakanda is heaven, a dream of unity and equality of all kinds — though I imagine we’d have to wait for Black Panther 3 or 4 to find out how LGBTQ people or the disabled are treated there. Wakanda feels like the perfect land we all should have had, a gleaming utopia (though one ruled by a techno-warrior class). The place has great beauty, but it doesn’t look like much fun, truth to tell; it looks like a stolid land of solemn traditions and tests of strength, its loyal subjects pledging to defend its borders from the outside world. (And a benevolent monarchy is still a monarchy, no?)

In a much-discussed quote at the end, T’Challa tells the United Nations, “In times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.” It’s hard not to hear in that a rebuke to … well, you know. Somebody.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27587&reviewer=416
originally posted: 05/16/18 19:46:59
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User Comments

5/19/18 Nate O`Hanlon I dont understand all the fuss, i thought this movie was garbage. 1 stars
5/15/18 morris campbell i thought it was good had a great cast 4 stars
4/28/18 the sayer of the truth This film is rubbish when compared to the majestic magnificence of Avengers: Infinity War. 1 stars
3/24/18 Tommy Ekblom The action sequences are laughably bad when compared to The Avengers movies. 1 stars
2/26/18 Space Filter black ninja! 5 stars
2/21/18 Bob Dog Overhyped, typically dull superhero movie cashing in on its setting. 2 stars
2/18/18 the giver of the law Political hogwash masquerading as mainstream entertainment. 1 stars
2/18/18 Captain Jack Whoa wasn't expecting that! Great film! 5 stars
2/17/18 The Big D. A Sundiata-style epic and allegory for MLK / Malcolm X rift. Sequel needs Kiber the Cruel. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Feb-2018 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Feb-2018




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