A king is crowned- Black Panther Review
I will start off by saying this: yes, you should go watch the movie this weekend! With Black Panther being one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, if not the most anticipated movie of the year, I was not disappointed, even with the ticket being more than ten dollars and the fact that I spent even more money on overpriced refreshments. The combination of pristine graphics, colorful and traditional-inspired outfits, an epic soundtrack, and the outstanding cast made the movie great, not to mention the refreshing plot of the movie along with the amazing directing abilities of Ryan Coogler.
First we will talk about casting. Sara Finn, the casting director for the movie, did an excellent job selecting the actors to best fit each role. It appeared to me that the personalities of each actor, in conjunction with their own mannerisms, fit the character that they were portraying. In comparison to the characters in the original cartoon, the physical appearance of the actors seemed to match that of their cartoon counterpart. Seeing familiar faces of actors who were kings and queens in Black Panther was empowering as I have seen these same actors play the roles of gangsters and drug dealers in past TV shows and film. I can imagine the effect this has on young children seeing the movie. It makes a big difference to see your role models as heroes and authority figures in the media as opposed to criminals.
The apparel seen in the movie was a success as well. In the film, there are five tribes involved in the country of Wakanda. Throughout the whole film you can see the distinct style of each tribe shown throughout; whether it be the colors they wore, their hairstyles (which were all natural- whoop whoop), or jewelry, every tribe stood out in their own unique way. I appreciated the fact that the apparel featured in the movie was not just procured by Hollywood but was actually inspired by African tribes that exist in real life. Some of the most obvious of these inspirations were seen in the gold neck rings that Okoye (Danai Gurira) wears; these rings are traditionally worn by the Ndebele tribe in Southern Africa. The mask that Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) wears in the movie is a masculine mask worn in the Igbo tribes of Nigeria. I am sure everyone noticed the lip plate that one of the elders in Wakanda wore; this body modification is common in Surma people. Again, the costumes were reminiscent of those found in the original comic, with a bit of a modern twist. Ruth E. Carter, the design director for the movie, knew what she was doing when choosing the designs for the outfits of the movie. Representation is always appreciated!
As for the actual plot of the movie, I was impressed. I am not an avid comic book reader, and like most people, had little knowledge of this Marvel character prior to the media attention Black Panther got this year. With that being said, I think that Ryan Coogler, the executive director of the film, did a good job capturing the major background information on Erik Killmonger and T’Challa that could fit into a two hour and fifteen minute long movie, but I will not lie…I wanted to know more! Why did T’Challa and Nakia break up? How did Erik get involved with Ulysses Klaue? Knowing that Black Panther is a lesser known character in Marvel Comics, I was surprised that Coogler decided not to give us more background on the lives of the characters prior to T’Challa being crowned as King. This was one of the few critiques I had of the movie. The other critique I had was of the soundtrack. Now do not get me wrong, the soundtrack was a hit: the songs they did choose were all good, but I saw this as a bit of a disappointment. I think this was a missed opportunity to feature music by lesser-known African musicians and singers, but maybe we will see this in a future appearance of Black Panther? Another aspect that was greatly appreciated were the cultural references to African and American black culture. The theater erupted in laughter with the “What are those?” reference; T’Challa’s ugly sandals at Warrior Falls remind you of at least one of your older male relatives, and the subtle rebuttal T’Challa gives at the United Nations meeting on what African Nations provide to the world, a clapback to some disrespectful comments made earlier this year about developing countries.
Lastly, it is important to talk about my overall experience seeing the movie. In my many years of movie-going, I have never seen a crowd so excited for a movie. The excitement began when we pulled into the parking lot of the theater, and it was completely filled. We got to the ticket booth with prepaid vouchers, and the line was completely filled. There were retractable stanchions directing the crowd in a semi-organized fashion. You could look into the crowd of movie-goers and see generations of families ready to be part of this monumental event. This was a Sunday night, but the people there were dressed in the finest of garments. Dashikis and bold prints ran through the crowd, all of us anxiously waiting. The movie began and the crowd clapped, when our favorite characters were accomplishing their goals the crowd clapped, and this was something I had never seen. How many times have you seen a movie where the crowd is so excited that they are clapping during the movie? I cannot imagine it is very often.
Go out and see the movie! You will not be disappointed. You can look forward to more of the Black Panther in Avengers: Infinity War.