Ah, Black Panther, the movie that makes me ask the question, “wait, didn’t I review this already?” Also, “What is in their mouth? does anyone see anything different about any other mouth? I don’t get the mouth thing.”
This is a movie about the king of the nation of Wakanda. A nation powered by Vibranium, a super metal that can also make all technology come straight out of the future. They didn’t explain that when they gave Captain America his shield. Anyway, Killmonger shows up, tries to monger-kill Black Panther, action and adventure happens, we know the formula.
I’m gonna complain about a few things. For one, I think the first act of this movie is too long. I get that they’re setting up Wakanda and how it works but then they also have to set up Killmonger and his deal. It becomes a bit bogged down switching between these two things and makes me aching by the end of it for the second act to start. Really I think they either should have shortened both parts or maybe just focused on one or the other. Also, some scenes are clearly unnecessary. For example, when setting up Wakanda, it shows us they’re isolated with the entry through a hologram showing nothing but wilderness only to reveal a thriving society. We don’t need then a scene dedicated to a conversation about their isolationism. It’s all shown to us in 3 seconds, show OR tell, not BOTH movies!
My other complaint is how invincible the Black Panther is in his suit. I’ve read some of his comics, and he’s kind of the Marvel Comics, African Batman, and one of the great things about Batman and Black Panther comics is the stakes are always really high because they can get hurt, sometimes really, really hurt. Here though, they like supe him up, make his suit bulletproof, apparently super strong and give him tons of gadgets (in a way, he’s better than Batman in the comics I’ve read because he doesn’t really use gadgets, unless you count melee weapons). So here, instead of having a cool story about a warrior king with high stakes it becomes akin to a self-insert story where the cool protagonist can basically pull any power out of his ass and is basically invincible until he has to sacrifice himself heroically. Okay, that isn’t quite what happens here, at least not in the way it might in a Gary Sue story, but the essence is there, especially in some of the overblown, no-stakes-whatsoever, action scenes.
It gets better once Killmonger shows up and ruins everything, as villains do, but it’s an exceptionally long first act to get there…
The stuff I like in this movie are actually the parts where it’s a political. Asking questions about what a nation and its rulers should do with the power they have. Should they use it to stay safe in their own borders, use it to take over other countries but then protect those countries, or use it for the good of all people in all nations without going to war? Some might seem selfless or ruthless or cowardly but none are easy and none are truly the right decision.
Also, I really like Wakanda in general. A country that has both Star Wars’ technology and keeps its African roots. I think this makes it both distinct as a location and makes it feel more real and maybe more possible than it actually is. Also Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan do an amazing job as Black Panther and Killmonger respectively. As an added thing, that stood out but I haven’t mentioned, the music in this kills it, being mostly original (but don’t quote me on that) and works amazingly well for the setting and matching the mood of every scene.
Why you should watch it: It’s a good Marvel movie and the most action-packed, political-drama I think I’ve ever seen. Though the first act could have been trimmed, the second and third act are so well done it makes you forget about it.
+7: Good superhero movie
-1: First act is way too long
-0.5: action has no stakes
+1: Great acting from main characters
+1: Great music
+1: Good political drama
-1: A few unnecessary scenes