Randy’s Review: ‘Black Panther’

Thursday, February 22, 2018

In the aftermath of his appearance in “Captain America: Civil War,” during which T’Challa’s (Chadwick Boseman) father, T’Chaka (John Kani), king of Wakanda — a Third World country in Africa — was assassinated by someone disguised as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), the son returns to his home country to assume his new mantel as king of the five tribes which make up Wakanda.

We quickly learn that Wakanda is far from a Third World country. Using the advanced technology available to them from the huge amount of vibranium embedded in the country’s landscape, the kingdom has managed to shield itself from the outside world, hide its wealth and protect its people. As part of the protect Wakanda stance, the country has remained disengaged from world conflicts and kept to itself. As a result, the rest of the world has just assumed the country was a poor farming land.

Upon his return to the kingdom, the removed mountain tribe Jabari’s leader, M’Baku (Winston Duke) challenges the next-in-line to ritual combat. As is tradition, T’Challa must surrender his Black Panther power and fight M’Baku in hand-to-hand combat. In a brutal battle, T’Challa earns his place on the throne, regains his Black Panther power and his rule begins as secrets begin to unfold.

Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), an arms dealer who previously escaped Wakanda with vibranium, who first appeared in “Avengers: Age Of Ultron,” returns to assist a young man, Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) to steal a Wakandan piece from a museum. We also learn of Klaue’s history with Wakanda, working secretly with T’Chaka’s brother N’Jobu, undercover in Oakland, California, in the 1990s, to help secure the stolen vibranium.

T’Challa, his girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), the general of his army Okoye (Danai Gurira) and his technological genius sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) learn of Klaue’s plan to sell the museum piece in South Korea and head out to take him down — dead or alive. When they make their way into the secret club, T’Challa runs into CIA agent Ross (Martin Freeman), who previously handled the initial arrest of Winter Soldier following his alleged murder of King T’Chaka. When a firefight erupts, Klaue and his team escape into the streets with T’Challa and his crew using their technology-enhanced vehicles to chase them down.

Klaue is eventually captured by the Black Panther and handed over to Ross for questioning. Klaue reveals to Ross the truth about the “poor nation” of Wakanda and is freed from captivity by Stevens, whom we learn is a U.S. Black Ops soldier, now calling himself Killmonger.

Killmonger is now bent on getting to Wakanda to challenge T’Challa for his throne, convinced that he has a right to the throne of the country.

While the acting is solid, it’s the story itself, offering a bit of a look back at the history of this Wakandan world, while remaining in the present for the most part, mixed with brilliant colors and landscaping which bring the world to life. And like most Marvel films, which use many crossover characters, even characters in smaller roles, the story stays very unique and independent to its own story. Despite the crossover involving previously revealed characters, make no mistake, “Black Panther” is very much its own film in its very own style.

Also, two great actors lend their support in smaller roles. Angela Bassett plays Ramonda, mother of T’Challa; and Forest Whitaker portrays Zuri, kind of a tribal religious leader and shaman.

Although I don’t know if I would call it Marvel’s best as other critics have, I will confidently say, you won’t be disappointed and it will certainly count among your Marvel favorites.

On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, “Black Panther” loads up 4 tubs of deliciously seasoned and expertly popped corn. Strong story combined with beautiful visuals help audiences learn more about the defender of Wakanda’s struggle as he ascends to king. Great message about powerful country using its resources to impact the world. MPAA rating: PG-13. Running time: 2 hours, 14 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.