What it's about:
After the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, T’Challa returns home to the isolated, but technologically-advanced, African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
What we thought:
Black Panther is one of the best movies ever made - to start off this review without stating this would be a great disservice to all parties concerned, from the audience to the cast and crew behind the scenes. I hope that this film brings a new dawn and a new day to the industry that has so often underrepresented people of colour, and Africa as a continent.
Zooming in on both the big narrative and on the film’s nuts and bolts, it features amazing direction from Ryan Coogler and has stand-out performances from Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Letitia Wright as Shuri as part of a cast that all kicked ass in their respective roles and as an ensemble.
Coogler is a once-in-a-generation kind of a talent. This convention-busting comic book film – that he co-wrote and directed - is only his third movie, following the critically acclaimed films Creed and Fruitvale Station. In Black Panther, he has created a visually vibrant world so lush and breathtaking in its detail that it is easy to forget its scale, until the camera pans and you realise that Wakanda is so much more than you get to see in 133 minutes.
There were moments where I looked behind the actors and wondered what Easter eggs await me in the great (imaginary) African kingdom. There are not enough words to describe Coogler’s tradition-breaking universe, you must just see it yourself. And I know there will be Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans who say that it is too different for their palates, which is fine, because change will always have its haters.
Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger is the best villain I have seen on screen for a long time, because of the way his character is written and because of the way that he portrays a man who is driven by what he knows he must do, not only to survive, but to thrive. I found myself empathising with him even though he lives up to his name. Killmonger is the type of man people follow because he reaches his objectives by any means necessary.
Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia is the beautiful thread that ties all the characters together when they’re about to fall apart. When she partners with Danai Gurira as Okoye I found myself wishing they had their own series of comics that left Black Panther out for a little bit. They are so badass.
Among all these great performances, Letitia Wright as Shuri was my favourite. She delivers biting one-liners and steals scenes with such ease that I can’t wait to see her as Shuri again.
South Africa’s John Kani as T'Chaka and Atandwa Kani as young T'Chaka give solid performances as well, the elder Kani even makes me wish we could do a prequel with him in it, to unpack the family saga storyline that features in the film’s flashback scenes.
Go see this movie on the big screen and at a nice cinema, the kind of cinema with screens and projectors that will do this fucking incredible film justice. Then, go watch it with your entire family and all the kids you know. Then, buy the stellar soundtrack packed with South African artists and blast it in the car on the way home. Loud as hell. Wakanda forever.