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Marvel Black Panther
3.5/5
dir Ryan Coogler
b>prd Kevin Feige
scr Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
with Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Winston Duke, Sterling K Brown
release US/UK 16.Feb.18
18/US Marvel 2h14
Black Panther
Game of thrones: Boseman and Jordan

nyongo gurira kaluuya
See also:
Captain America: Civil War (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Black Panther Packed with awesome characters, there's plenty in this action blockbuster to keep an audience whooping and laughing. It's a superhero movie with an unusually skilled cast and a filmmaker who knows how to tell a strong story and handle much bigger themes. So even if it's overrun by too-elaborate designs and animation, the plot, characters and ideas are strong enough to overcome the digital onslaught.

After being crowned king of the African nation Wakanda, which includes becoming the supercharged fighter Black Panther, T'Challa (Boseman) immediately faces a challenge. Old enemy Klaue (Serkis) as re-emerged with fierce American cohort Erik (Jordan) to steal the vibranium that fuels Wakanda's secretive high-tech society. T'Challa has the support of security head Nakia (Nyong'o), General Okoye (Gurira), his mother Ramonda (Bassett), sister Shuri (Wright), high priest (Whitaker) and even CIA agent Ross (Freeman). But his tribal leader friend W'Kabi (Kaluuya) admires Erik's more strong-armed approach.

Each character bursts with attitude, creating a fantastic collision of intriguing, engaging people who add complexity to each of their encounters. Even the heroes and villains have surprisingly nuanced layers. This helps paper over some wobbly elements in the narrative, including illogical twists and under-defined motivations. And the digital tomfoolery is another distraction, as everything is bigger and messier than it needs to be, which leaves action scenes feeling choppy and incoherent.

Thankfully, the actors are on peak form. Boseman carries a terrific sense of duty as a sharp young man struggling with the weight of destiny. The excellent Jordan has a strikingly raw edge. Duke is a stand-out as a challenger and reluctant hero. And all of the women are superb, adding textures of earthy grit, emotion and jagged humour. Bassett is first-class as always, while Nyong'o and Gurira are particularly strong in meaty, surprising roles. And Wright steals the film, effortlessly throwing away the best lines.

It's great to see a studio tentpole so throughly African in nature. With its sharp offhanded dialog, the film has a lot to say about the continent's history and culture, as well as the colonists who have done so much damage over the centuries. These things are clear all the way through, but never feel heavy-handed. Instead, they add to the weight of the story. If Marvel execs had more confidence in the material, they might have abandoned the overblown action slickness and made a grittier, more urgent movie. Because you can see it in there fighting to get out.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 8.Feb.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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