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Black Panther


6.5/10

Being a HUGE Marvel fan, this movie has me torn. The nobility of the character and his supporting characters comes across wonderfully and does justice to the source material in that regard. It’s a well written and acted film no question about it.

Yet, judging it on two different fronts it is extremely lacking. In terms of pure entertainment, it’s on the EXACT same level as Iron Man 2. (And I found IM2 to be the MCU’s weakest effort) Like IM2, Black Panther features very weak action and a “universe building” narrative held together by interesting characters and dialogue. The fight scenes are atrociously shot and almost inept. They are choppy and disjointed and in the larger scenes very cartoonish.

Then, there’s judging it on its political social commentary. That’s where it gets tricky and is where most movie critics fear to speak ill of it. Bottom line is the movie takes a stance that anyone not black is or has been an oppressor. Black Panther agrees but thinks that Wakanda should be better than the enemy and not sink to their level. Killmonger is pure black militant thinking every African descendant everywhere should be armed and violently destroy anyone of a different race. THAT is the tone of the film. In an era of divisiveness, this movie sure seems to want to bring gasoline to the fire. It’s not blatant and tries to hide it in comic book sci-fi visuals and story but it really isn’t all that subtle. The irony is that with all the pandering to today’s “victim blacks” the movie ends up tripping on its own message. Embracing African culture means having everyone dancing around like bush natives but with 23rd century technology. The assumptions it makes is insulting if you think about it. They CAN’T get ahead in modern civilization WITHOUT a “magic metal” that puts them hundreds of years ahead of the rest of the world. The message is that without Vibranium they would have no ability to prosper as a culture??? It seems this movie is less about showing pride in African culture and more about trying to perpetuate the myth that everyone of non-African decent is on some level evil. That certainly has an audience in this era whether you buy in to the white guilt propaganda or are angry at society or your place in society in general.

Does all that make a great film? The answer here is clearly NO but it doesn’t make for a bad film either.