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Laramie Movie Scope: Black Panther

It lives up to the hype

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 17, 2018 – Black Panther is perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year, and it was preceded with as much hype as anticipation, but it certainly doesn't disappoint despite all that. It lives up to expectations.

The character of Black Panther was introduced in 2016 in “Captain America Civil War,” which is also one of the best Marvel Studios films ever. I was expecting another film along those lines, but this is different. While the film has some scenes set in South Korea, most of it is set in a mythical high-tech kingdom called Wakanda, in Africa.

This ambitious film, directed by Ryan Coogler of “Creed,” creates an entire civilization, complete with its own history, language and culture, which all revolves around the Black Panther, who is not just a man in a costume, but a hero with superhuman powers bestowed by exotic chemicals and high tech gadgetry.

This is a film directed by a black man, with black heroes and a largely black cast. Race is not window dressing, it is integral to the film. This is black pride on full display. This is something so rare in American films that it seemed like I was watching a foreign film, made in Wakanda, rather than Hollywood.

The Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman of “Captain America: Civil War”) becomes King T'Challa of Wakanda by defeating a challenger to the throne, M'Baku (played by Winston Duke) in personal combat. M'Baku and others criticize Wakanda's long tradition of non-interference with other nations and keeping its advanced technology hidden from the rest of the world.

A new challenger to the throne who agrees with these criticisms arrives later, Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan of “Creed”) the son of a Wakandan prince who has grown up in the United States under an assumed identity. Erik is a mercenary and an assassin. He takes over the Wakandan government and takes it on a path towards war.

A small band of rebels, led by a spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o of “12 Years a Slave”) scientist Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and an outsider, Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman of the Hobbit movies) and a few others, including a revived Black Panther, embark on a desperate mission to stop Erik's plans, remove him from the throne and stop the wars before they begin.

Although there is a lot of high-tech gadgetry and futuristic weaponry in the movie, most of the action in the movie involves hand to hand combat with primitive weapons like spears, shields, swords and knives. I saw this in 3D, sitting close to the screen and some of the camera movements in one fight scene were disorienting. There is a lot of action in this, including car chases, air-to-air combat and big animals attacking people.

The Black Panther character is portrayed by Boseman as a noble hero with a strong sense of honor, tradition and morality. He sometimes does the wrong thing because he thinks he is right, but he does learn from his mistakes. Erik is a complex villain who also does the wrong things for what he thinks are the right reasons. He could have been a great leader, but he has been warped by a bitter, tragic past.

This film has some strong female characters as well as strong male characters. It is a character study as well as an action movie. Oh, yeah, and there a couple of those post credits scenes that foreshadow future movies, if you want to stick around to see those. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2018 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]