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Black Panther Movie Non-Spoiler Review
Movies: Jay Cochran on 2018-02-14

Black Panther is a movie of multiple layers. The top layer delivers the basic super hero flick concept with your hero T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vs the villain. The movie actually features two villains, Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis) first introduced in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). With this top layer we see T’Challa, now king of the fictional African nation Wakanda (thanks to the events seen in Captain America: Civil War) trying to apprehend Klaw for past crimes against his country (i.e. stealing the Vibranium seen in Avengers: Age Of Ultron). Lots of action-packed fight scenes filled with tons of special effects fill out the super hero story. Some of the action scenes are sharp and exciting. Others, like Black Panther using his claws to turn a car, are so overdone they are almost cheesy.

Beyond that initial layer is something we generally don’t see in a Marvel movie, a commentary on modern day social issues that tries to shed a light on real-life issues that you might not think about during a super hero film. For this layer of the story you have a somewhat sympathetic villain in Killmonger. A highly advanced technological city that hides itself from the rest of a world in crisis. A country balancing tradition with new ways of thinking. A young, newly crowned king struggling with the burdens of leadership to balance doing what is best for his people and what is right for the world, while learning that his father and former king wasn’t as perfect as he once thought. While this layer also includes lots of action and special effects (some cool and some not), it also brings tension as themes of social injustice are felt on both the large and small scale.

The final layer of the movie focuses on relationships. A new king and his mentors. A son learning to step away from his father’s legacy. A man seeking to heal the boy hurting inside of him. A warrior struggling to balance the bonds of friendship and loyalty with a thirst for revenge. A couple facing conflict against a backdrop of love. While action abounds, villains are battled, and rallies for justice scream, the individual relationships balance this film with emotion.

It is hard to go into more specific details without spoiling the movie. Suffice it to say, while I found the end solution T'Challa comes up with a bit simplistic, the overall message the movie tries to convey is one I definitely applaud. Everyone on this planet regardless of race or skin color has more in common with each other than different, and when we come together as one, we can accomplish great things. I am sure this view will be put to the test for our movie characters in a couple months when Thanos comes to visit during Avengers: Infinity War.

In the end, this is a movie containing the technology and gadgets you would find in a Iron Man movie with the ideology found in a Captain America one. Mix in a few light hearted moments for laughs and three female characters Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okaye (Danai Guria) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) who come close to stealing the show and you end up with an entertaining Black Panther movie that might even make you think a little bit when you come out of the theater.

Grade: B+


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