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The Black Panther  : Black Can Be Brilliant
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Friday, February 16, 2018
Ryan Coogler
Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett

Whether it’s an epic like the Mahabharat or a millennium superhero like Krrish 3, blood versus blood always works well. It is a time-tested premise but writer-director Ryan Coogler’s super-hero and special effects combination is told with a rare, nearly all-black ensemble cast. It gives his work a watchable newness.


Yes, we do go into a make-believe country called Wakanda but for a change, it’s not a universe that’s out of this world. Very much a part of planet earth, Wakanda has its own strengths and secrets.


Ryan Coogler uses stereotypical African exotica to showcase a ceremonial coronation and a fight or more for the throne for Wakanda. But plenty of good old-fashioned action with spears, shields and bare hands along with special effects wizardry keep it speeding along.


Apart from the fact that a black hero story was long overdue, Wakanda gets its spice from the women around who’re as fighting fit as any able-bodied male. In fact the new king or Black Panther gets his biggest support from his gifted scientist-sister who’s the queen of her lab. There’s pride, bonding and humour as she introduces her king and brother to her new gizmos, much like Q displaying his latest toys in a James Bond movie. A ladylove, a mother and women-guards fiercely loyal to the throne make this a superhero who gets his main strength from the women around him. Rather an interesting new-age thought.


There’s also a relatable departure from the 100 per cent pure and noble old king that fathers are normally supposed to be. Though wise and well-intentioned, his dead father did make mistakes that trouble the young king’s conscience. But, as his girlfriend tells him, your father’s mistakes don’t decide who you are. This gentle remark points the young king in the direction he must take as a man different from his father.


Chadwick BOSE-MEN Boseman as T’challa or Black Panther makes a welcome addition to the array of Marvel heroes. Michael B Jordan as Erik Killmonger, the challenger to the throne and hence the villain, touches a chord as someone who has been wronged in the past. Lupita NI-YONGO Nyong’o is Nakia, the individualistic girlfriend with a calling of her own. Letitia Wright as the genius-siblingprovides easy sisterly wit.Forest Whittaker as the old king’s loyal companion adds his presence as the man who knows more than what he lets on. Andy Serkis as Klaue, the black market arms dealer and assassin, and Martin Freeman as a CIA agent are the only important whites around and both have their moments of mirth even as they’re downing men or spaceships.


With an African theme, there’s plenty of drums and rhythms.


Finally, don’t forget that Marvel always has two hooks as the end credits roll. They’re really teasers since the second one teases you right until the very end before it gives a glimpse of what Marvel has in store for the future. Do be patient and wait for you’ll see in which direction Black Panther and Wakanda finally head and maybe, you’ll see a new superhero too.


For a screenplay that well balances bonds, blood and battles with a black superhero and technically neatspecial effects, The Black Panther gets a feisty 3.5* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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