Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Black Panther


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been on a huge roll lately. They just keep churning out better & better films, with bigger & bigger box office results.

Black Panther not only continues this trend, but cements itself as the best Marvel film yet. The film follows T'Challa, AKA Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman), who has returned to the supposed Third World country of Wakanda, which is secretly one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world due to their abundance of vibranium, to assume the throne & the power of the Black Panther after the death of his father, T'Chaka (played by John Kani). He returns with Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong'o), T'Challa's ex-girlfriend, & Okoye (played by Danai Gurira), the leader of the Dora Milaje regiment.

In Wakanda, T'Challa's mother, Ramonda (played by Angela Bassett); his sister, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright); his best friend W'Kabi (played by Daniel Kaluuya); & elder statesman Zuri (played by Forest Whitaker) await his arrival. Jabari Tribe leader M'Baku (played by Winston Duke) challenges T'Challa for the throne, but is defeated.

Meanwhile, half-Wakandan, half-American ex-black ops soldier Erik Stevens, AKA Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan) teams up with South African arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis) to steal a Wakandan artifact. They plan to sell it to CIA Agent Everett K. Ross (played by Martin Freeman). Now, T'Challa must face off against Erik, but not without T'Challa pondering on the future of Wakanda.

The cast is excellent. Chadwick Boseman is powerful & commanding as T'Challa. Michael B. Jordan is absolutely phenomenal, turning what could have been a run-of-the-mill villain into a villain that you could sympathize with. And Letitia Wright is the breakout, with her performance being so light-hearted & full of life.

Ryan Coogler's direction is amazing. Coogler, who has previously directed 2013's Fruitvale Station & 2015's Creed, has directed his best film yet. Coogler has transcended the superhero film tropes & created something more than a superhero film: a cultural masterpiece.

The screenplay by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole is brilliant. The dialogue & plot are both excellent, & the story is so incredibly told, being so much more intricate than you may think.

Rachel Morrison's cinematography is astounding. Morrison, who has worked with Coogler on Fruitvale Station & has recently become the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography for Mudbound, is cementing herself as one of the best cinematographers of her generation with her work here. There are so many majestically wide shots in the film, including one that is just jaw-droppingly astounding.

The editing by Debbie Berman & Michael P. Shawver is excellent. Berman, who co-edited Spider-Man: Homecoming, & Shawver, who has edited all of Coogler's films, keep the film on the right track without any terrible cuts.

Ruth Carter's costume design is absolutely beautiful. The costumes are realistically modeled from African clothing, & the costumes are just so colorful & respectful to African culture.

Hannah Beachler's production design is breathtaking. Beachler, who has worked on all of Coogler's films, has designed such spellbinding sets that look so awesome.

The sound design is incredible. From the sounds of the battles to the sounds of Wakanda, the sounds are loud & sound crisp & clear.

Ludwig Göransson's score is excellent. Göransson, who has worked on all of Coogler's films, composed a score influenced by local music from Senegal & South Africa that is a treasure to listen to, & doesn't sound like a generic superhero film score.

The visual effects are breathtaking. The CGI looks flawless, & the effects are just so absolutely colorful & beautiful to look at.

And the soundtrack is awesome. Led by Kendrick Lamar, one of the best rappers of our time, & also featuring songs by The Weeknd, SZA & Vince Staples, is not only a great film soundtrack, but a great rap album by itself.

This is the best film of the year so far. It's Marvel's best achievement so far, & has broke ground in terms of cultural significance. This may just be the best superhero film ever made.

Black Panther was seen by me at the MJR Troy Grand Digital Cinema 16 in Troy, MI on Friday, February 16, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 134 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, & a brief rude gesture.

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