Black Panther

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday February 14, 2018

'Black Panther'
'Black Panther'  

Flat-out and forthright, "Black Panther" is spectacular. It is, quite literally, a spectacle. Its set pieces and camera orchestrations represent the work of a true visual artist, a reputation that co-writer/director Ryan Coogler has earned after one excellent motion picture after another (his debut was 2013's "Fruitvale Station," which was followed by one of the best films of 2015, "Creed").

In watching, I began to slowly realize I was seeing something that I knew would stand the test of time. With the Spielbergian pacing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and the all-encompassing grandiosity of something like "Game of Thrones," "Black Panther" entertains, emotionally stirs, and thoughtfully provokes its audience with the swagger and confidence of an instant classic. And a meaningful one, at that.

As the film welcomes us to Wakanda, the fictional East African nation where our hero lives and rules, we're immediately treated to an aesthetic feast of colors and patterns and textures that transform the setting into its own character. Contrasted against the ugly warehouse studios, CGI cities and vacant airplane hangars of previous Marvel films, Wakanda is an absolute wonder. From costume and production design to visual effects, "Black Panther" is one of the more (if not the most) beautiful-looking studio superhero movies to be released. The occupants of Wakanda include our line up of heroes: King T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Letitia Wright, who steals the show).

On the other side of the spectrum we have our villains, played with vigor and viciousness by Andy Serkis and Michael B. Jordan, the latter of whom has had a major role in all of Coogler's films thus far. Jordan, particularly, gives a menacing, formidable performance that would make Adonis Creed cringe. Jordan's character, Erik Killmonger, is where the film showcases its factually-rooted politics. "Black Panther" gives us a fascinating and unsettling exploration into a villain whose reasoning for violent revolution is justified by historical precedent, but whose execution against these issues is a radicalized fervor that would send an entire nation spiraling into war.

This is one of many reasons why "Black Panther" is so truly groundbreaking. The feats achieved by this film are tough to come by in the world of franchise filmmaking, but my ultimate response to "Black Panther" is akin to how I felt after seeing "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" a few months ago -- these are films in a line of many, but they forge their own path and stand tall above their predecessors to cement themselves as individual entities, separate from the commerce and chaos of "cinematic universe." You don't need to have seen "The Avengers" or "Captain America: Civil War" to understand and enjoy "Black Panther." You just need to be a fan of great, entertaining filmmaking.

Yes. "Black Panther" feels different in a cinematic sense, but there's a stronger thread to film's social commentary and representation that I strongly doubt I will ever be able to truly understand. For people of color, I can't imagine how it must feel for a film like "Black Panther" to exist, and the film has already ignited a fiery path towards better representation in the Hollywood blockbuster.

For this, the film is revolutionary.



Erik Killmonger :: Michael Jordan
Nakia :: Lupita Nyong'o
Okoye :: Danai Gurira
Everett K. Ross :: Martin Freeman
Shuri :: Letitia Wright
Ramonda :: Angela Bassett
Zuri :: Forest Whitaker
Ulysses Klaue :: Andy Serkis
Ayo :: Florence Kasumba


Director :: Ryan Coogler
Screenwriter :: Ryan Coogler
Screenwriter :: Joe Cole
Producer :: Kevin Feige
Executive Producer :: Victoria Alonso
Executive Producer :: Nate Moore
Executive Producer :: Jeffrey Chernov
Executive Producer :: Stan Lee
Cinematography :: Rachel Morrison
Film Editing :: Debbie Berman
Film Editing :: Michael Shawver
Original Music :: Ludwig Göransson
Production Design :: Hannah Beachler
Costume Design :: Ruth Carter
Casting :: Sarah Finn


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