It’s been ranked on several lists as one of the most — if not the most — anticipated movie of the year, and thankfully it did not disappoint. There are some flaws in it, but for the most part “Black Panther” is a good movie that seemed to please everyone in the theater. Whether it’s the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far is up for debate, but it is undeniably a contender.
I’ll start by talking about the weaker points of the movie, because there are a lot more strong points. The main problem that people seemed to have in the initial reviews that I read was Michael B. Jordan’s antagonist character. I don’t think he was half-bad, but I could see why people might not like him as a villain. Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is also pretty weak as a villain, even though the threat he poses is pretty good.
The introduction of the characters and their relationships is another weak point. There are a decent amount of minor characters that are featured throughout, and it would have been nice to give a little more attention to them early on and clarify their roles a little better. The only other small problem I have is that the Wakandans’ manner of speech is too formal. Yes, they’re a tribal country that is supposed to speak English as a second language, but it still seems like they should have been less uptight.
Even with those problems, it is about as good as I’d hoped it would be. The visuals and set design are obviously really good, but the movie doesn’t get carried away with showing off cool fictional tech or other CGI eye-candy at any point. Superhero movies are not generally considered art, and this is no exception, but there are several shots that seem deliberate and motivated in a way that informs the story.
T’Challa isn’t the most interesting character, but he’s definitely an active and human protagonist and there are several really good moments when he has to make tough decisions and face hard truths. Tied in with this is the political argument, which is very reminiscent of the one in “Captain America: Civil War.”
My three friends and I thought that the political conflict is handled really well and is possibly the best aspect of the film, which is a pretty rare thing for a superhero action movie. It’s relevant to some timeless and even a couple of current social issues, especially immigration.
However, this does not mean that fans of traditional superhero action will be disappointed. While there are not a ton of action scenes, there are three or four big set pieces that are pretty good, and one early on that features some of the best action I’ve seen since “Fury Road.”
The characters are not the strongest here, which may be accounted for by the fact that almost all of them are new. Even the familiar faces of T’Challa, T’Chaka and Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) were given minimal attention in “Civil War.” The characters are written well in that their motives are clear, plausible and create good conflict in each scene, which is something that many movies like this do a poor job with.
There was some decent humor in the film as well. A couple of the jokes fell flat or were annoying, but there was definitely a quality over quantity strategy in terms of comedy here. I must say that the soundtrack was a bit of a letdown, featuring none of the music that I loved from the trailer. The score wasn’t bad, but I had been hoping for some more good beats and jams, and I don’t think I was alone in that.
You’ll understand things a little better if you’ve seen “Civil War” already, but you can really follow the movie just fine without having seen any of the MCU movies preceding it. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth the ticket price. Regardless of your expectations walking into the theater, you are not likely to be disappointed walking out.