Black Panther


King T’Challa surveys the kingdom of Wakanda that the world sees.

(2018) Superhero (Disney/Marvel) Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Andy Serkis, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, David S. Lee, Nayibah Be, Isaach De Bankolé, Connie Chiume, Dorothy Steele, Danny Sapani, Sydelle Noel. Directed by Ryan Coogler

 

It is not accidental that Black Panther was released during Black History Month. It is a movie that has gone on to make history and brought huge crossover appeal to the segment of African-American audiences who aren’t necessarily going out to see superhero movies – although obviously a large chunk of them are. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is Shaft in spandex though – this is a superhero movie that is going to set the bar for superhero films that follow it.

T’Challa (Boseman), King of the African nation of Wakanda, also carries the mantle of the Black Panther, the protector of his country who is mystically endowed with superpowers. He inherits a country that is technologically advanced but has chosen to hide its true nature so that they don’t become targets. Their isolationism is a sticking point with Erik Killmonger (Jordan), nephew of the recently deceased King, who was raised in America after the murder of his father. He sees things from a much more global point of view and thinks Wakanda should be sharing their technology – particularly their weapons – to help oppressed people of color to rise up and throw off the yoke of colonialism.

There’s a lot more to the film than that but this is a short review. Sure, it’s got the eye candy and jaw-dropping action sequences we come to expect in a superhero film – and they are well done here, make no mistake about it – but also, they are not the be-all and end-all of Black Panther. Rather, they are a jumping off point to discuss more weighty matters – racial relations, colonialism, turning a blind eye to suffering, sexism – things not normally a part of the superhero film equation. It should also be mentioned that the Dora Milaje – the King’s army – are all women and  are the most badass fighting force to turn up in a superhero film ever, even more so than the Amazons of Wonder Woman.

It should also be mentioned that this might be the most talented ensemble ever in a superhero film. The crème de la crème of African-American actors do their thing on this film and none of them turn in anything less than their best. Gurira from The Walking Dead brings the badassery of Michonne and bringing onto the big screen and giving it an African twist. Nyong’o plays a spy and the ex of T’Challa and she plays a fine love interest. Whitaker lends gravitas to his role as T’Challa’s mentor. Best of all though is Wright as the king’s kid sister – a scientific genius responsible for many of the gadgets used in the film. She steals nearly every scene she’s in.

All in all, this is a movie that lives up to the hype and re-confirms that the superhero genre is not just for fanboys but for fans of all sorts. Just for the record, Black Panther isn’t a great superhero film because it has an African-American hero – it would be a great superhero film no matter who the lead was. Come to think of it, Black Panther isn’t just a great superhero film – it’s a great film period.

REASONS TO GO: This is a benchmark for all superhero films. Jordan and Boseman are both terrific in their roles. Coogler hits the director’s A list with his big and bold vision.
REASONS TO STAY: Some of the CGI doesn’t quite work.
FAMILY VALUES: There is lots of violence, superhero and otherwise, as well as a rude gesture.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Jordan has appeared in all three of the feature films directed by Coogler to date.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 4/6/18: Rotten Tomatoes: 97% positive reviews: Metacritic: 88/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: King Lear
FINAL RATING: 8.5/10
NEXT:
The Workshop

New Releases for the Week of February 16, 2018


BLACK PANTHER

(Disney/Marvel) Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis. Directed by Ryan Coogler

After the assassination of the King of the high-tech but isolationist African nation of Wakanda, his son T’Challa is set to inherit not only the throne but the mantle of the Black Panther, a super-powered protector of Wakanda. However enemies from both within and without want to see him lose both crown and claw. At stake is nothing less but the fate of the world.

See the trailer, a clip, an interview and video featurettes here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, 3D, DBOX, Dolby Atmos, GDX, IMAX, IMAX 3D, RPX, XD
Genre: Superhero
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG-13 (for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture)

Aiyaary

(Yash Raj) Anupam Kher, Sidharth Malhotra, Naseeruddin Shah, Rakul Preet Singh. Two police officers, close friends and in a mentor/protégé relationship, have a falling out. One has complete faith in the judicial and civic system of India; the other has lost that faith following a stint doing surveillance.

See the trailer and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Crime
Now Playing: AMC West Oaks

Rating: NR

Detective Chinatown 2

(Warner Brothers/Wanda) Wang Baoqiang, Liu Haoran, Michael Pitt, Rachel McPhee.  The investigation of the missing son of a Chinatown godfather turns into a murder investigation that threatens the peace in New York. Two bumbling detectives who have had some inexplicable success are put on the case.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Crime Comedy
Now Playing: Regal Waterford Lakes

Rating: R (for brief language)

Early Man

(Summit/Aardman) Starring the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall. It is the dawn of the Bronze Age and the Stone Age cavemen are certainly going to go the way of the Cro-Magnon. Still, a group of hunter-gatherers – who have had a spectacular lack of success on anything bigger than a rabbit – are determined to fight back against their more advanced cousins. It is the ultimate showdown of city versus country.

See the trailer and an interview here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG (for rude humor and some action} 

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

(Sony Classics) Jamie Bell, Annette Bening, Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave. Hollywood legend Gloria Grahame was in the twilight of her career when she took up a relationship with Peter Turner, a young Brit twenty years her junior. Not long afterwards she would also be fighting for her life against a particularly devastating strain of cancer.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: AMC Universal Cineplex, Rialto Spanish Springs Square

Rating: R (for language, some sexual content and brief nudity)

Samson

(Pure Flix) Taylor James, Jackson Rathbone, Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer. The story of the legendary Hebrew strongman is told in greater detail here than the 1949 Victor Mature version.

See the trailer and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Biblical Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for violence and battle sequences)

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Awe!
The Music of Silence

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE:

1945
Awe!
Double Lover
The Female Brain
First We Take Brooklyn
Have a Nice Day
Honor Up
Manasuku Nachindi
Monkey King 3
Monster Hunt 2
Smoke and Mirrors: A History of Denial

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG:

Awe!
Golden Exits
Idhi Naa Love Story
Manasuku Nachindi
Monster Hunt 2
Naachiyaar

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

Awe!
Manasuku Nachindi

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Black Panther
Early Man
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Pick of the Litter – February 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Black Panther

(Disney/Marvel) Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira. T’Challa has succeeded his murdered father as King of Wakanda, an isolated but technologically advanced African nation. Factions both from within his country and without challenge his leadership and threaten to drag Wakanda into a war they do not want. T’Challa must take up the mantle of Black Panther – guardian of his nation – to keep his country from tearing itself apart. February 16

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Above & Beyond Acoustic: Giving Up the Day Job

(Abramorama) Tony McGuinness, Jono Grant, Paavo Siljamaki. One of the world’s biggest electronic dance music bands, Above & Beyond have been able to sell out venues like Madison Square Garden and headlined festivals like Lollapalooza. Starting in 2014 they began experimenting with doing acoustic versions of their own songs, regressing back to their earlier days as musicians rather than DJs. This would lead to a watershed concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 2016. This film documents that journey from the dance clubs to the acoustic stage. February 2

Bomb City

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Entanglement

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Double Lover

(Cohen Media Group) Marine Vacth, Jérémie Renier, Jacqueline Bisset, Myriam Boyer. A beautiful but fragile young woman falls in love with her psychotherapist. Eventually she moves in with him but soon discovers that he has been hiding a part of himself that he didn’t want her to see. This is the latest from director François Ozon who also helmed the erotic thriller Swimming Pool.  February 14

Tehran Taboo

(Kino-Lorber) Alireza Bayram, Sasan Behroozian, Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, Arash Marandi. This animated feature (which uses the technique of rotoscoping – drawing the animation over live-action film) follows the lives of four young people in Iran who are forced to break the taboos of their restrictive Islamic culture in order to find their own happiness. February 14

The Millionaires’ Unit

(Humanus) Bruce Dern (narrator).They came from wealth and privilege; everything had been handed to them their whole lives. Yet when the First World War loomed on the horizon, the members of the Yale Flying Club took it upon themselves to enlist. They became the first air unit to fly for the United States in the war; one of their members would be the first American airmen to die in the war. They were dubbed by the New York Times as The Millionaires’ Unit and their story is told through amazing archival footage, thrilling air combat re-creations and the recollections of their descendants. February 15

The Housemaid

(IFC) Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko. In 1953, a Vietnamese orphan is hired to work as a housemaid on a rubber plantation in French Indochina. She hears about tales of ghosts and haunting but she is too busy falling in love with the French Captain who owns the plantation. However their feelings for each other have awakened angry ghosts – including the vengeful first wife of the Captain. The trailer looks damn scary. February 16

Hichki

(Yash Raj) Rani Mukerji, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Ivan Rodrigues, Asif Basra. A young teacher with Tourette’s syndrome takes on a position at an elite prep school in India. First she must win over her students with her positive attitude; then she must win over the administrators. February 23

Mute

(Netflix) Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Seyneb Saleh. A bartender in a Berlin of the near future has been without a voice since a childhood accident. When the love of his life disappears, he goes up against the criminal underbelly of the city to find out what happened to her. This is the latest from director Duncan Jones and is said to be set in the same universe as Moon. February 23