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Black Panther

BlackPanther2

There’s a whole lot going on in this latest Marvel chapter. And boy, are we all the better for it.

As Jordan Peele used horror with Get Out, Ryan Coogler tells us what’s on his mind through the structure and characters of the superhero genre. While he has appeared in comic books since 1966, it’s taken until recently to get the Black Panther character serious screen time. Maybe now is the right moment for him to take the lead, not just because of the Black Lives Matter movement. Through Coogler’s now assured (this will be his third critical smash film) and even more ambitious eyes, the script also takes on even deeper dive issues of interracial strife, sexism, heritage, patriotism and the burdens of leadership. Not to worry, though: we’ve still got the neat toys, high speed action and very cool soundtrack. This is, after all, a blockbusting mass appeal entertainment, even as it throws a few very potent punches along with the super heroic ones.

If all that doesn’t get you, the sheer look of the piece will. Production designer Hannah Beachler and cinematographer Rachel Morrison have helped Coogler fill each and every scene with breathtaking visuals, be they set in Seoul, Oakland or the mystical Wakanda. While the fight scenes may not have the visceral impact that Coogler gave us in Creed, the more intimate scenes hit their marks deftly. And, for that, we must also thank the terrific supporting cast, including Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, a dandy Letitia Wright and a spectacular Danai Gurira. The heaviest lifting, naturally, comes down to Michael B. Jordan, glorious as the tortured Erik, and the Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, who manages to win our hearts even as he wrestles with the less flashy responsibilities of ruling his own fate as well as the world’s.

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