Black Panther (2018) Review: Game Changing Masterpiece.
It seems the phrase “Best Marvel movie yet” loses it’s meaning more and more. It’s something that’s proclaimed with almost every iteration in the cinematic universe. Mostly for different reasons. This creates a constant one-upmanship among the films. As a viewer, it’s seemingly great that. We’re treated to great films at a near constant rate, but there does exist the potential for that greatness to become old news real fast. Basically, if every movie is special, no movie is.
There’s no way to know how it will affect ‘Black Panther’. It’s certainly a test of time. I will say that objectively speaking, I believe ‘Black Panther’ to be Marvel’s best achievement in filmmaking. I don’t think that’s likely to change due to how realistic this work of impossible science fiction feels.
The Marvel Universe has shown us many unbelievable things. The Norse God of thunder? Real. Robots that can walk through walls? They’ve envisioned it. A talking raccoon guarding the galaxy? Make it so. They’ve even shown us the realm of magic. However, if you thought the world was finished growing, the franchise is about to expand even further with its latest film, ‘Black Panther’.
At the centre of it all is not the Black Panther himself, but rather his home, Wakanda. The country is a rich and vibrant world all on its own. It’s also fully realized. Wakanda feels more lived in than Asgard has in three Thor films. The set and costume design in this film does a tremendous job of giving the environment and its inhabitants a history. You feel as though every striking fabric has a purpose.
That level of immersion goes a long way in making ‘Black Panther’ a great film. It makes it easier to swallow when the movie goes to some complex and emotional places. For an action movie, it takes on concepts that are often shied away from in the films typically nominated for Academy Awards. Bringing them up is one thing, but having your character’s actions be driven by very real world motivations gives this film a palpable resonance. It simply speaks to the audience on a deeper level than these films tend to.
The characters are not simply avatars for action. They’re breathing, thinking personas that you come to know intimately, even if they’re given just a morsel of screentime. So much so that anyone from Lupita Nyong’o’s ‘Nakia’, to Daniel Kaluuya’s ‘W’Kabi’, could’ve taken centre stage and delivered just as fulfilling a film.
With such realism and depth, it’s no surprise that the film moves with glorious purpose. Pacing is paramount for the panther. The greatest type of script is one that has each line serve a function, and that’s on display with this film. You either learn about the characters, the story, or both with every moment on screen. Nothing feels wasted in ‘Black Panther’. That’s a relief in a film with less action in it than ‘Thor’.
Of the action scenes here, they range from good to great, with only a few minor issues. Graphically they’re mostly solid, but now and again you are reminded that nothing on screen is actually happening. There is one James Bond-esque sequence, in a casino no less, that has the best action in the film. Trouble is, it happens so early on and is never really topped in the rest of the film.
The movie will have you not just engaged but deeply invested. T’Challa’s plight becomes that of theaudience. Fitting, considering much ofthe audience is seeing themselves on the big screen in a way they never have before. As kings, heroines, and brimming with intelligence, charm, and oozing with intense and well thought out character development. In fact, the only characters lacking development are those not from Wakanda, which, I have to hope was intentional.
Very rarely is a film able to do what ‘Black Panther’ does. The women are not sexualized, but their feminity is never questioned. Instead, it’s portrayed as a thing of strength. The men are granted moments of weakness, and an opportunity to express doubt, struggle and emotion. The cast is allowed to play roles that there ought to be more of. Danai Gurira plays a general, Letitia Wright plays a supergenius inventor. ‘Black Panther’ is one of the best cast movies in a long time, with actors that know their roles and play them exceptionally well.
Normally, for a comic book movie, you hope for a few things. You hope it’s well balanced, with good action, and maybe makes you want to see it at least a second time. ‘Black Panther’ supersedes all that, and delivers perhaps the best superhero film of the decade. I’ll put it this way; when leaving ‘Black Panther’, any excitement I had for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ dissipated. I only wanted to know when I was going to experience ‘Black Panther’ again.