Marvel's best movie.
"Black Panther" is a quantum leap for Marvel's storytelling and truly something special in terms of blockbuster filmmaking. "Black Panther" is wholly unique in its design, look, and characters that it elevates everything about it. The first time the film showed Wakanda I was in complete awe of just how real and lived in this world looked. Wakanda isn't like Sokovia or any of the other fictional places in the Marvel universe. From your first glance to the small details in every scene you wholly believe and invest in Wakanda's history and traditions as being fully realized and fleshed out. The costuming and production design are so detailed and gorgeous that it's almost impossible not to fall in love with Wakanda. Not only that but Rachel Morrison brings her absolute A-game "Black Panther" is a massive achievement on just a technical level and that isn't even talking about the story.
This is the best MCU story *period*. Coogler has crafted a story that is dramatic and funny but all it feels real and carries actual weight. This isn't forced drama or just superhero cliches, this movie is steeped real-world drama and consequences. It's not about just a team or saving the world, it's about race, tradition, being a leader, and most importantly changing for the better. There is a scene in the film where T'Challa has to confront someone (no spoilers) about Wakanda's past and what to do next and it's truly the most moving scene in the MCU. Ryan Coogler is so genuine with these characters, the story, the world, and almost everything else and that is "Black Panther's" biggest strength.
It also helps when you performances where the actors care about there characters and do so much to fully inhabit them. There is not a single performance in the entire film that is sub-par or lackluster. Michael B. Jordan is menacing, heartbreaking, and wholly relatable in equal measures the films. Chadwick Boseman is regal, inspirational, and so incredibly likable as the titular character (the MCU is his now). Letitia Wright as Shuri is spirited, enthusiastic, intelligent, and has such great chemistry with Boseman that you quickly fall in love with this brother/sister duo. Lupita Nyong'o is so charming and determined as T'Challa's ex-flame and an agent who seeks to help change Wakanda for the better that you can't help but see why T'Challa would love her so. But the stand out is easily Danai Gurira as the Dora Milaje general. She is such a force and so badass that I almost wish she was the Black Panther. She is seriously that good and I want her to be killed off of "The Walking Dead" so she can become the movie star she deserves to be (Thanos better watch his back when he comes to Wakanda). The supporting cast (which consists of names like Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, and Andy Serkis) are all fantastic and help fill out the movie with so much life and humor. Especially Winston Duke and Andy Serkis who have small roles but big impacts. I'm honestly amazed at Coogler's ability to make this movie consistently entertaining and dramatic in equal parts.
But it's not a perfect movie and unfortunately isn't able to shirk some of the problems that plague the MCU as a whole. Thankfully most of these problems are all but absent from the first two acts of this movie, but when the third act rolls around those flaws become dreadfully apparent. My biggest complaint is that, with the exception of two decent hand-to-hand action scenes, every action scene in the film feels like a CG smash fest. There is no weight or impact to the action and that is doubly so for the big battle scene that populates much of the third act. There is a car chase scene that is alright but there's so much CG that it looks like plastic and it's so hard to truly invest in that action because of that. There's also a very od story choice that I understand but wish didn't happen as it made me divest myself from the movie towards the end. I honestly wish this was more a straight drama than an out and out superhero movie. But the good far outweighs the bad in this epic film that will be remembered for years to come. [A]
Al Pacino Rating: