Tag: black panther

REVIEW Black Panther (2018)

Fair warning: considerable spoilers follow – read after watching.

As a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I consider Black Panther a triumph, one of the best origin stories the film series has produced, packed with engaging and enjoyable characters, and boasting a story that deftly balances comic-book action and political machinations to create something wholly unique in the MCU.

As a fan of the comic books on which it is based, and particularly the most recent run by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I consider Black Panther a triumph on every level, utilising what I love best about the character – his internal conflict between what is best for his people and what is best for the world, and his shoot-last approach; see more on that below – to bring him to life in a way that very few of the other MCU films have managed.

But most of all, I consider Black Panther a triumph because this is a film that isn’t for me.

Not necessarily, at least. And I feel a little uncomfortable even venturing into the territory of race because of what it means, on all sides. I’m just trying to say that I was proud to go into a theatre, and watch, and love – LOVE – a film that was made to celebrate a man, a people, a race, that does not look like me.

Or to put it another way: this film obviously means much more to people of colour than I could ever understand. Last night, I went into a sold-out movie theatre, packed to the brim with Maori and Pacific Island men, women and children. And they cheered and clapped all the way through the film. They saw themselves on screen, portrayed in a way that people of colour are so rarely shown, celebrating culture in a way that is so rarely shown.

I mean, I’ve never cheered at a white superhero. I guess I’m kind of blaise about them by now.

None of that is to say that I felt discluded or left out. To the contrary. And this is the thing that I notice about films that are truly representative: when you go and see a film that is primarily about white people, they are invariably middle-upper class, and invariably having white people problems. Even characters that are not white are having the same issues. They are reduced to the social norms of the white people in the film.

But you go to a see a film that offers true social representation, that is about an ethnic or racial group that is not white – those films are always about something much more resonant, much more universal.

I don’t know what it is like to be oppressed in the way that black people have been, and are, racially oppressed in the United States, but I can start to understand and I can empathise. I haven’t been forced to persevere through anything like what black people – or, really, any racial group that has suffered through slavery or colonisation – have been through, but I get it. I understand, even if just in the smallest of ways. I can empathise.

It seems a contentious thing to say, but white people do enjoy a position of privilege. And you can’t always see it clearly in today’s society. We’ve deluded ourselves into believing it doesn’t really exist. “I have friends who are Maori, and I work with a Fijian, I’m not better off than them.”

But I’ve nevered cheered for a white superhero simply because one finally exists.

Black Panther is a triumph on so many levels. It is a pitch-perfect adaptation of the comics, particularly the Christopher Priest run on the character from 1998 to 2003. Ryan Coogler gets T’Challa in the same way I do: this is a man who values culture and tradition first, who is a politician before anything else, who approaches violence as a last resort, and who is trying to be a good man – and you really get that in both Coogler’s writing and Chadwick Boseman’s performance. This is a very nuanced character who appears fully-formed on the screen.

T’Challa comes up against an antagonist who is almost as complete as he is. Michael B Jordan takes Erik Killmonger and makes him sympathetic in a way that few Marvel Cinematic Universe villains have managed. Sure, a lot of that is possible because we’re so well versed in how this universe works. But a lot of credit, again, goes to Coogler: the character of Killmonger is complex, but easy to understand, and you kind of start to side with him a litttle bit.

I also have to give a shout-out to the supporting cast, too. Andy Serkis does some great work as Ulysses Klaue – last seen  during Avengers: Age Of Ultron – but the real stars here are Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira, who play T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri and the head of the Dora Milaje, Okoye, respectively. These two steal every scene they are in, and I can’t wait to see them explored further in Avengers: Infinity War and beyond.

Oh, and stay till the end of the credits for a well-earned cameo.

All in all, Black Panther is a true success in blockbuster film-making – and, I hope, a financial success that starts to swing the tide in Hollywood. And I can’t wait to see it again.

Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler, from a script by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, and stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. It is in cinemas now.

18 films I’m looking forward to in 2018

Now that 2017 is in the bag, let’s take a look forward at some of the films I’m most looking forward to this year …

The Shape Of Water (Jan 18)
Guillermo del Toro is at his best when he tackles a more intimate story like Pan’s Labyrinth or Crimson Peak – or like this period piece starring Sally Hawkins as a maintenance worker who falls for a captive sea creature.

Downsizing (Jan 25)
Alexander Payne directs Matt Damon and Hong Chau in this film about a future where humans can be shrunk to around 15cms tall in the name of conservation. Several outlets called this the best film of 2017. Colour me fascinated.

Cloverfield Movie/God Particle (Feb 1)
The less I know about this going in, the better. All I can tell you is that I love Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Black Panther (Feb 15)
Avengers: Infinity War (Apr 25)
Ant-Man & The Wasp (Jul 5)
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe hits the first of its closing chapters in April when everybody gets together in Avengers: Infinity War – but before that, Black Panther returns for a solo film set in the fictional country of Wakanda. Panther is one of the best comic books in production right now, and I have high hopes for his solo flick. Plus, the Ant-Man sequel in July should be a lot of fun too.

Annihilation (Feb 23; mid-March on Netflix)
Natalie Portman plays a scientist who investigates a mysterious (and likely alien) phenomena after the disappearance and reappearance of her husband. A visually splendiferous film from the team who brought you Ex Machina – and thanks to producer fuckery, we get to see it on Netflix!

Ready Player One (Mar 29)
If you can name all the references in the below trailer for this film – directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the pop culture-heavy sci-fi novel from Ernest Cline – I will give you $50. I feel sure that you can’t.

The New Mutants (Apr 12)
Deadpool 2 (May 31)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Nov 1)
The line-up of X-Men films from Fox suddenly got a lot more interesting last month when Disney purchased Fox, with talk that the X-Men would be rolled in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will these form the final chapters of this franchise? Will Deadpool reference the MCU in any way? Will New Mutants – a horror film – be used as a jumping off point? My guess is that Deadpool will tie-in down the track, and New Mutants will remain a standalone.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 24)
Also suddenly an intriguing proposition given the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, lacklustre response to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the recent backlash to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Plus, this film is coming out in like five months, and there is no trailer yet? Hmm.

Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom (Jun 21)
You know what? Jurassic World was fine – it was fine! And Chris Pratt is charming. And dinosaurs! DINOSAURS, MAN!

The Incredibles 2 (Jun 28)
Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (Dec 26)
A sequel to one of the greatest superhero films ever made, and a sequel to one of the most-under-rated pop-culture-heavy animated films of the last few years? I’m in.

The Predator (Aug 2)
Shane Black is one of our best action writers/directors – Lethal Weapon 1 and 2, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, to name just a couple – plus he has a link with the original Predator film, which is still one of the best action/sci-fi films ever made. And an intriguing cast: Sterling K Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen … okay, okay, I’m keen.

Mortal Engines (Dec 13)
Peter Jackson produces this dystopian/cyberpunk epic about a world in which entire cities are mounted on wheels and hunt each other across the globe – it sounds insane, but it also sounds (and looks) insanely good.

Aquaman (Dec 26)
No film in 2018 has as much riding on it as Aquaman: following the reception to Justice League, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Suicide Squad and Man Of Steel, it needs to be a critical and financial hit, or else it risks sinking DC/Warners’ movie plans. Luckily, they’ve proven they can make a good solo flick (Wonder Woman), so there is at least some hope. No trailer yet, but enjoy this GIF:


What films are you looking forward to in 2018?

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