Solo Review: Black Panther | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Solo Review: Black Panther

Film Critic Emma Curzon takes an impartial look at Black Panther, one of the biggest comic book movies of all time

Unlike, it seems, almost everyone else in the known universe, I am almost completely unacquainted with superhero movies and so went into Black Panther essentially blind. Rather than giving a toss about the MCU I was more drawn to its excellent reputation, the promise of female and BME characters who could actually pass the Sexy Lamp Test for once (Google it), and also Martin Freeman. (Don't judge me.) Fortunately, this film proved to be a perfect introduction to its universe.

Wakanda itself is as amazing as the trailers promised, both in terms of the set design and the special effects used to bring much of it to life: realistic enough to be believable, but more than futuristic and fantastical enough to make an outsider character's wonder entirely relatable.  The soundtrack fully deserves its popularity, being a great asset in either tugging at the audience's heartstrings or just getting them to root for the heroes and absorb the sheer amounts of Attitude that came off it in waves.

I have no idea what T'Challa is like in the original comics, but Chadwick Boseman seemed to embody him really well
The costumes are all fantastic, including T'Challa's iconic suit (we've come a long way since Green Lantern, clearly). And all this is part of a well-crafted story with (thank god) believable dialogue that ticks every box along the spectrum from 'hilarious and entertaining' to 'that cracking noise is the sound of my heart slowly breaking'. Additionally, director Ryan Coogler deserves credit for, without it being at all didactic or coming even close to defining the film or its characters, the addressing of (as Buzzfeed puts it) 'the black experience, Pan-Africanism, and the history of colonisation'.

Lesser actors might have been in danger of being overshadowed by all of this going on around them. Not to mention, as many directors have learned the hard way, dumping CGI on a film like Nutella on a crepe does not mean you can half-arse everything else. Luckily there was no danger of this; both the cast and the lines they were saying were excellent. I have no idea what T'Challa is like in the original comics, but Chadwick Boseman seemed to embody him really well- the kind of dignity and intimidating presence you'd expect from a ruler, but with plenty of emotion and vulnerability to match. Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman and Forrest Whittaker also gave solid performances.

As for Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger his performance as a bitter, merciless, yet also sympathetic and occasionally funny battle-hardened villain was- in one word- brilliant. Sadly, I can't say that for Andy Serkis. As Ulysses Klaue (stupid name, by the way) he did an excellent job... if that kind of manic theatricality and borderline insanity is what you like in such characters. Unluckily, I don't.

However, for me the best cast members were Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett. All four assured that Shuri, Okoye, Nakia and Ramonda won't be leaving the Strong Female Character Hall of Fame anytime soon.

Letitia Wright, in particular, was brilliant. As Shuri, she brought a combination of strength, solemnity and general coolness
It can be difficult to find on-screen women who can kick arse while still having an actual, personality but they all managed it; all four had the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability that I think is key to making a character (of any gender) truly believable. Wright, in particular, was brilliant. As Shuri, she brought a combination of strength, solemnity and general coolness- giving her an appropriate, believable resemblance to her on-screen brother. Even in Boseman's most light-hearted moments, however, Wright stole the show with a bubbly, infectious, Weasley twins-esque charm that was always guaranteed to get a laugh out of the audience.

So while it wasn't quite enough to convert me into a genuine fan of the superhero genre in general (there's a post-credits cameo I really didn't need) it was a funny, entertaining, genuinely heartfelt and excellently-made film that was more than worth the price of the ticket.

Verdict: What else can I say? It's really, really good. Now leave me alone and go watch it.

Rating: 9/10

(@RedbrickFilm)



Published

5th March 2018 at 9:00 am



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