*Some spoilers ahead (honestly don’t know if I can call them mild or not since every person is different, but I consider them mild)*
I finally got to watch Black Panther this week! I tried my best to lower my expectations considering its record-breaking streak, great buzz from viewers, and general acclaim. I think I failed to do so, but fortunately, the move did not disappoint! To be completely frank, it wasn’t the most freaking amazing thing ever and I’m already forgetting pieces of what happens in the film, but it was definitely worth the watch and overall a good movie.
Firstly, I absolutely loved the fact that it was pretty much an all-black cast with only Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis as the notable White characters. Also, kudos to Martin’s American accent. It was pretty good and natural (so much better than Benedict Cumberbatch’s). But also, side remark, I am amused he still plays the sidekick in a Marvel movie while Benedict continues to play the titular hero. Moving on, I also loved the amazing female cast (Although I have to note that with all the female warriors, the focus was still on a male hero and male antagonist, but that’s neither here nor there… just a passing remark… Hi, bye). The female crew cannot be forgotten, either, as director Ryan Coogler thanked them for their hard work.
Secondly, the music was great, matched perfectly, and lent the movie a lot of its energy to further hype up the viewers during action scenes. Now, talking about the action scenes, I have to say they were not the best I’ve seen. They weren’t the worst, but I wished for more. I thought there could have been cooler shots, more intricate choreography, and generally better effects. A lot of times, the cam was shaky, the spinning effect was dizzying, and there were too many cuts and edits, so I couldn’t follow the action sequence fluidly, which is a shame because I could tell they all trained hard for the scenes.
The acting was generally good by all parties. No complaints there. Some of the comedy was timed a bit off, but still appreciated. However, the characters and relationships in Black Panther were a different story. For example, I couldn’t understand what purpose the council served. They seemed to really have no say in the matter. They would disagree with T’Challa, who would do whatever he wants in the end anyway with the council being like, “Oh, well ok then, cool”; frown at Killmonger; and look worried most of the time.
W’Kabi’s motives were very confusing. At first, he is obviously very chummy with and close to T’Challa, but with one mistake by the king (who doesn’t even explain what happened very well), W’Kabi immediately does a 180 and turns completely against his lifelong friend. To the point he literally wants him to die. WHAT? Plus, he apparently has some love line with Okoye, who calls him “my love,” and that’s basically all we get of this relationship until they stand off at the end. When that happens, I don’t particularly care, even with their intensely heartbroken gazes, and most people probably forgot that they’d even been a couple in the first place. I think they were in, what, three short scenes together?
This was a general problem with all love lines, meaning with T’Challa and Nakia’s, as well. It seems as if we missed a movie before this one in which their romances were settled and portrayed in more depth because here, their relationships are brushed over like we should already know what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong–I love that the romance was subtle. It was clearly not an important part of the movie, nor was it forced in there for the sake of having some sappy romance. However, it was too subtle to the point I wondered what the point even was of including the love lines.
It isn’t hard to tell T’Challa and Nakia had a prior relationship, but it is hard to get invested in them when we don’t see them often together or knew what happened back when they dated. Just like with W’Kabi and Nakia, near the end they have their moments with Nakia declaring her love for him and their sweet kiss, but these moments, while acted out well, seem inserted at random. I felt no emotional investment in them. Both couples were cute enough and an action movie like this doesn’t need a great love line or anything, but I was a bit perplexed by the awkward insertion of two different love lines that did nothing for the plot or for me as a viewer (engage shipper mode, please).
The other relationships were generally well-established. I liked the parallels between T’Challa’s relationship with his father and Killmonger’s relationship with his father, especially seen in the visions when both sons are tearfully rocking the bodies of their murdered fathers. They were the unfortunate successors to the unresolved conflict and consequences of their fathers. T’Challa and his sister Shuri were adorable and believable. I also liked the beginning stages of Shuri’s friendship with Everett K. Ross; the respect as well as tension between woman warriors Okoye and Nakia; the frenemy relations between M’Baku and the royal family; the love between parent and child; and more.
My last criticism for this review is that… there was no closure at the end. Firstly, I don’t get T’Challa’s intention with the announcement and program in the States, and a more epiphanous moment would have been nice to see for his change in mind. We do see him questioning the tradition and starting to want change early on, but the self-doubt is completely gone–and so suddenly–near the end with his decision that it all came off underdeveloped to me. That was not a big problem for me, however. The big problems were: 1) What happened to traitor W’Kabi, 2) Does T’Challa forgive his father in the end, and 3) What about the herbs that are meant to empower future generations that were destroyed by Killmonger?
Okay, enough with the nitpicking! Overall, I did think it was a pretty awesome movie! Even though I am criticizing this and that, I do think it was a movie that had to be made and was well-made, which is a relief. I did often compare it to Wonder Woman in my mind because that was a good precedent for representation of another minority, women, in the superhero genre within the last year, with lots of powerful female warriors akin to the Dora Milaje warriors of Wakanda.
As an extra review, (unpopular opinion alert) I’d say that Wonder Woman was a letdown for me (yes, I had high expectations for this one, too, so I was really trying to lower them for Black Panther out of experience). I was majorly disappointed by the lengthy dragging out of the plot which was highly unnecessary, Gal Gadot’s cringe-worthy acting for the dramatic scenes (I mean, she tried…Otherwise she was PERFECTLY cast in my opinion), silly antagonist, and rough draft of a script. However, I liked the action scenes, love line, and cinematography in Wonder Woman more. I thought the women warriors of Themyscira had much cooler moves, but the warriors of Wakanda had more charisma overall. I may do a more full review of Wonder Woman in the future. Let me know below in the comment sections if you’d like to read one in greater depth!
Anyway, that’s it for now! Did you watch Black Panther yet? And if so, did you enjoy it? Check out other reviews here!
(Side note: I am so relieved they barely show Killmonger’s torso. Okay, I’m definitely in the minority here. My reason is that the trailer shows scarification all over his torso and that gives me the willies. It just creeps me out, so I was worried, but thankfully, he is covered for the most part in the film.)
(Side note #2: How did no one make a gif of Nakia at the challenge yet? Where her tribe is being introduced and she’s jumping or dancing or something all hyped up? That was so cute! And I loved that she had the choice to be a challenger. Someone make that gif for me now, please!)