2018, Movies

Black Panther (2018, Ryan Coogler)

So, before I get to the actual film, I think there is the film’s importance to discuss, and it’s hard to ignore. This is the only blockbuster film to have a majority black cast. It is an absolute landmark and it’s hard to believe it took so long. (It’s a testament to both systemic racism and the general human fear of the unknown that nobody was willing to take a risk on this type of film before 2018. The latter can be said about the big budget female-dominated movies that have come out recently as well.) Regardless of the film itself, it’s an important movie.

Mild spoilers.

But it is a Marvel comic movie and so it hits many of the same notes that these films usually do. Only this time there feels like there is some novelty because so much of what happens in the film is through the lens of this country and its people, That adds a fresnhness to things that would otherwise feel rather stale, such as the villain’s origin story, or the big final fight scene that feels straight out of any other Marvel movie.

The movie is entertaining – I laughed more than once and I enjoyed most of the sequence in South Korea. And I must say i didn’t feel the film’s runtime like I usually do with Marvel movies. Maybe it’s just the novel setting or maybe the pacing was legitimately better, but it didn’t feel quite as interminable as these films usually do.

But, like all Marvel movies, this one has some major issues. The biggest issues is how the big conflict isn’t really set up properly. We believe the challenge happens at the ceremony but suddenly it can just happen whenever. But far worse, tribes that have been living in harmony for years (decades?) are willing to kill each other due to a ritual and their leader deciding they need to do more Peace Corps work? That doesn’t pass the smell test. Nor does Killmonger flying from South Korea to Africa in that plane. Did you look at that plane? As is always the case with these films, they just can’t be bothered with the small stuff. If the spectacle is big enough, nobody will care. (Except me!)

But I will say that I think this is one of the better ones, overall. It ranks in the Top 5 for me. (Keep in mind, i haven’t seen all of these movies, just the vast majority.)


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