Black Panther

REVIEW: Black Panther (2018)

Still reeling after his father’s death, T’Challa (Chadwicke Boseman) returns to the secretive country of Wakanda to take up the mantle of King. Soon his judgement and resolve are tested when old enemy Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) resurfaces and brings with him a perhaps even deadly foe – Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

Black Panther is a lot of firsts – first film in the MCU with a black superhero as the titular character, first film in the MCU not directed by a white guy, and first big budget superhero film in general that brings this many talented black actors into a place in our world that’s never been colonised nor had any outside influence throughout its history.

Wakanda is a vivid and fleshed-out country – so much so it’s like it’s its own character. The buildings, the vehicles, the technology and the clothes are all a mixture of the future and the traditional. Merging the real and the imaginary helps make Wakanda feel like a real, lived-in place and overall special effects in Black Panther are incredibly well-done. Subsequently when there are those moments where the CGI isn’t to the same level as the rest of the film, it’s more jarring which is unfortunate. Wakanda is a place that has been left to thrive by the rest of the world and thanks to its many scientists and inventors, including T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Shuri is a character who steals just about every scene she’s in with her humour and relatability. She and T’Challa feel like proper siblings, and with their mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) are a strong family unit.

In some ways Black Panther feels like more of an ensemble film because there are so many great, fleshed-out characters surrounding T’Challa. There’s Okoye (Danai Guria) the head of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all female security force, who is such a badass, Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) a spy for Wakanda, and M’Baku (Winston Duke) leader of the Jabari Tribe who is a surprisingly layered character. Every single one of them have their moments to shine but T’Challa is rarely upstaged thanks to Boseman’s stoic yet compelling performance as a man trying to be both a king and a superhero. Killmonger is a great villain and a worthy adversary for T’Challa. He’s a fascinating villain because while it’s clear he’s the bad guy, the way he states his reasoning makes you get where he’s coming from. His actions are in no way condonable but the reasons for his actions are understandable.

The pacing in Black Panther is a little uneven at times. There is a lot to set up in showing Wakanda and introducing this society and its people which is great and very enjoyable, but there’s something’s that could either have had more detail or have been briefer and have still gotten across the same information.

Black Panther is a great film. It’s exciting and surprisingly funny – it perfectly balances the humour, which is mostly character-driven, and its serious moments. Black Panther covers a lot of genres, it’s political, it’s like an espionage thriller in some ways, it’s about family and legacy, as well as being an action-packed superhero movie. 4/5.

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TRAILER REACTION: Black Panther

The first teaser trailer for Black Panther was released overnight and it was the first thing I watched this morning.

I LOVED IT! It’s a teaser so you don’t get it explicitly explained who each of the many characters you see snapshots of are or what the conflict in this film will be but that’s more than fine. I love seeing so many awesome women fighting, Michael B. Jordan looks cool and kind of hot and scary at the same time and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa still looks super regal and amazing.

I love the conversation at the start of the trailer between Klaw (Andy Serkis) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), how Klaw says that Wakanda is this all powerful and advanced country and the front they put out to the rest of the world is exactly that, a front. It’s great world building of this fictional country, a country which should (and by the look of this teaser I think it does) be just as much a character to the story of T’Challa and his people as any other character.

Wakanda looks beautiful. It’s an African nation of the future, today. I love the mixture of technology and skyscrapers with the African landscape. It all looks amazing.

This trailer is all about setting up the look and the feel of this movie and I couldn’t be more excited. All the characters with their costumes and weapons look amazing, everything is so bright and colourful and when there is a quick shot of a fight scene featuring Black Panther it’s exciting. The final shot of T’Challa jumping from one flipping car to another was kind of jaw-dropping.

I like the voiceover talking to (I presume) T’Challa, saying how he is a good person but it’s hard for a good person to be a King. I really hope the film explores the political difficulties of a country’s King being its superhero protector, and this line makes me think it will. T’Challa is such a different character compared to the other heroes in the MCU (and in superhero movies in general), he won the mantel of Black Panther and is a king, he isn’t an average guy who got his abilities in an accident like so many of the other heroes we see. Yes, Thor is a prince but he does not have the same level of responsibility that T’Challa has.

I love the feel of this film and everyone involved. The director is brilliant, the entire cast are great in just about everything they’ve ever been in and I’m so excited to see this new chapter of the MCU. I feel like Black Panther along with Thor: Ragnarok are going to bring something unique and vibrant to the MCU and I’m so looking forward to it. Black Panther has been my most anticipated superhero film ever since it was announced a few years ago. Seeing Boseman as T’Challa in Captain America: Civil War made me even more excited because he brought the regal gravitas as well as a bit of impulsiveness to the role. Black Panther has been one of my favourite superhero characters ever since I watched the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon (great series, definitely recommend it) and I can’t wait to see him leading his own film.

Only eight months to wait!

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books I Picked Up On A Whim

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. This week it’s all about books you picked up on a whim, I’m going to take this as books I bought on a whim – so books that I’d never heard of, hadn’t read reviews for and books that I may have seen in passing on the internet but knew very little about. On to the books!

sudden death coverSudden Death by Alvaro Enrigue
I bought this book in Any Amount of Books, a lovely second-hand book shop off Leicester Square, the last time I was in in London. I had never heard of it before and when I read the blurb I was still none the wiser what it was actually about. It’s something to do with a tennis match and it mentions a lot of different historical figures and time-periods. I have no idea what it’s about or whether I’ll like it but that’s what made me pick it up.

the secret fire coverThe Secret Fire by CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
I bought this one during the London Bookswap Crawl and I had never heard of it before. The striking cover was what drew me to it and then it was only a couple of quid so I ended up buying it. I haven’t read it yet but I have a feeling I’m going to get to it sooner rather than later.

 

asking for it louise oneilAsking For It by Louise O’Neill
So I had heard about this book through murmurings on the internet but I hadn’t read any full reviews. Then one day I was browsing Amazon, clicking from book to book and I saw Asking For It again and it wasn’t that expensive so I bought it. My review is here. (more…)

SPOILER REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I posted my spoiler-free review of Captain America: Civil War a few days ago and you can read that here. This my spoiler review and it’s kind of ended up in any old order where I mostly talk about each character and what I liked about them. Be warned this is a long post – it’s over 1,800 words! Now below is all my spoiler-filled thoughts on the movie so once again you have been warned! I really advise you not to read any further if you haven’t seen the film. (more…)

REVIEW: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

captain america civil war posterAfter a string of dangerous and deadly missions that put the public at risk, the Avengers are told they must be regulated by the U.N. While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) agrees with these measures, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) doesn’t trust them. This causes a divide between the team that’s only exasperated when Steve’s best friend and former assassin Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) resurfaces.

Anthony and Joe Russo return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe after directing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the way they put together this film is great. The action sequences are well-shot, there’s only a few instances of shaky-cam and most of the time fight scenes are framed in a wide shot so you can see exactly what’s going on. Also the way they manage to film multiple characters fighting but you never lose focus of where each character is and what they are doing is truly commendable.

A big part of the film is obviously this conflict between Steve and Tony and the sides various characters choose. The great thing about Captain America: Civil War is that you understand why these characters disagree and as the viewer you can see it’s not black and white and there’s pros and cons to both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the film there’s a sit down discussion between a lot of the characters and you get why the stakes are so high and what these regulations mean to them all.

The tension builds between all the characters as the film progresses and in many ways it’s similar to a Bourne thriller as characters go on the run and try to figure out the truth. While I won’t go into any depth of the different characters motivations, I can’t not mention Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). He is a guy who has the weight of a country on his shoulders but he is still fallible. He isn’t particularly on anyone’s side, he is on his own side and it makes him an interesting third party to this conflict. Civil War gives Black Panther a brilliant introduction and there’s going to be many people excited about his solo film.

There are a lot of characters in this movie but thanks to a great script, they all get their moment in the spotlight though some may have that moment longer than others. Really while Civil War is in a way both a sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at the heart of it, it is a Captain America movie. It’s the relationship between Steve and Bucky that drives a lot of their character motivations, and the motivations of a lot of the characters around them. the two of them are the heart of the film and it’s a good job Evans and Stan have such a good understanding of their characters and give such great performances because if they didn’t, Captain America: Civil War really wouldn’t be as good as it is.

Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal film. While there’s all this conflict and amazing action sequences, at the heart of the film is the characters and their relationships. It’s what drives the plot and makes the film so great. 5/5.

REVIEW: Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.

FullSizeRender (62)The reclusive country of Wakanda is under threat by a deadly team. The Black Panther must protect his family, his home and his nation as outside nations look to take advantage of any weakness.

This is the perfect comic for someone to be introduced to the world and character of the Black Panther. You learn about T’Challa’s backstory, his family and the history of the Black Panther name. I’d never read a comic about or featuring Black Panther before – I’d only seen the awesome TV show Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which Black Panther was a part of and that’s where I first thought he was a badass.

T’Challa is indeed a badass. He is the leader of his people so he is smart and resourceful as well as being full of honour and a sense of gravitas that you can feel through the pages. He is a badass when he is dealing with nosy bureaucrats and he is a badass when he is fighting bad guys.

T’Challa’s whole family (and the Wakandan’s in general) are pretty amazing. His sister Shuri wanted to become the Black Panther and even though she didn’t get that chance she can still fight and protect her country. She is also very clever and not afraid to go against her brothers orders when she thinks something isn’t right.

I loved the scenes where American politicians are discussing Wakanda and the history of it keeping invaders from various countries out – it’s an interesting insight in racism and imperialism as these Americans can’t believe a country in Africa can be more technological advanced than themselves. Wakandans are freakin’ awesome!

Who Is The Black Panther is action-packed and the art is great. It also has the first issues that the Black Panther ever appeared in, way back in 1966 where T’Challa beats the Fantastic Four – he is that awesome. It’s a nice, complete story arc that anyone with any amount of knowledge about the Black Panther can pick up. 5/5.

Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange? Not for me thanks

I shall start this by saying I’m a Marvel fan. From the animated X-Men cartoon in the 1990‘s to the films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’m now branching out into the comic books. Also my two dissertations have been on comic book movies and one was specifically all about Marvel and how it became an independent film studio to a subsidiary of Disney. So besides from being a fan, I also have at least a vague knowledge of how Hollywood studios work and how Marvel has worked for the past decade.

So now onto why I’m writing this post – Doctor Strange and why I’m not particularly happy.

Yesterday it was reported that Benedict Cumberbatch was in talks to play Doctor Stephen Strange. His was a name rumoured for the role for weeks and other names floating around were Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto – though to be honest, just about every white, middle-aged actor in Hollywood has been rumoured to be up for the role at some point or another.

Now talks of a Doctor Strange movie has been going around for a while but it especially kicked off when the name was dropped during Captain America: The Winter Solider. Fans were choosing who’d be their pick and mine was (and is) Oded Fehr from The Mummy. Fehr along with Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) turned out to be a popular choice among fans. A popular post on Tumblr of Doctor Strange fancasts include Fehr, Pascal, Alexander Siddig, Naveen Andrews and Godfrey Gao. One thing all these actors have in common is that they are not white.

Doctor Strange vs Oded Fehr - the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

Doctor Strange & Oded Fehr – the similarities are astounding. Courtesy of @BlackGirlNerds

One problem that the MCU (and Hollywood blockbusters in general) has is that all its leads in its franchises are white men. Yes, The Avengers was an ensemble cast but of the six major leads, only Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow was the only female character and she has yet to get her own movie. The lack of a female led film in the MCU is a discussion for another time.

Doctor Strange (like the Guardians of the Galaxy before the film came out) is more of an unknown character, this would then allow the filmmakers to do something different with it. So why not cast a person of colour as the lead? Also, why does the actor have to be someone who is so well known – both in the world of fandom and in the industry? Benedict Cumberbatch is part of some major franchises with Sherlock, The Hobbit and Star Trek under his belt, if Thor taught us anything, casting two relatively unknown actors as the leads can work out really well. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have both gone on to be well loved by fans and critics alike. Casting unknowns can be a cheaper way to make a movie and not detract from the character with their “star power”.

In short my dislike of Benedict Cumberbatch being Doctor Strange (a character I know pretty much nothing about bar the animated movie) comes down to two things. Over exposure to him as an actor and him being white. There are too many white male leads in the MCU and I’d love to see more diversity in the superhero comic book movie genre.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw also wrote a great piece about why there’s such a backlash towards Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting.

As I was finishing writing this, Marvel has announced that there will be a Captain Marvel film in 2018 and a Black Panther film in 2017 and I’m excited about both (Black Panther especially) but I’m still a bit upset that there’s no Black Widow movie though there’s still no definite announcement about Doctor Strange. Who knows, maybe Benedict Cumberbatch won’t sign on to it and there will be fresh hope for a person of colour to play Doctor Strange once again?