‘Black Panther’ a ferociously good time


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The best flicks the Marvel Cinematic Universe has offered, like “Iron Man” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” have depth and layers of meaning that complement the awesome characters, humor and action. “Black Panther” is one of these movies, giving audiences a little depth and weaving some compelling new strands into the tapestry of the MCU. In short, it’s a really good movie!

“Black Panther” takes us into Wakanda, the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, thanks to its proximity to a deposit of the fabulous metal, vibranium. To protect themselves from exploitation by foreign powers, Wakandans disguise their country as the third-world nation.

The movie opens with T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) taking the Wakandan throne after the death of his father. Almost immediately, he has to thwart a plot by Ulyssess Klaue (Andy Serkis) to steal and distribute vibranium weapons. He also has to fend off a challenge to his throne from Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan). Meanwhile, he has to learn how to make the difficult decisions a leader of a nation must make.

It’s almost Shakespearean in tone and execution.

Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman and Janeshia Adams-Ginyard in “Black Panther.” | Courtesy Disney/Marvel Studios

If that was all there is to it, “Black Panther” would be a perfectly functional action adventure yarn. But this movie is about more than what it’s about. First off, it gives us a good look at how Wakandan government works. From that, you can infer quite a bit about how average Wakandans live.

The movie also broaches a few themes that seem relevant in the current geopolitical climate. Subjects like the practicality of isolationism and how events in one corner of the world can spread like a disease are explored. And the makings of a good leader is studied in depth.

But, to my eyes, the main theme is family strife, and how the sins of a father can come back to haunt his children years later. T’Challa has to overcome obstacles and make the decisions that allow him to step from his father’s shadow and become the leader Wakanda needs him to be. It’s almost Shakespearean in tone and execution. Good stuff!

Of course, that stuff doesn’t work without good acting, and “Black Panther” has plenty of that. Boseman is a home run as T’Challa. He gives a very restrained performance, but he’s an actor who can portray strength with stillness. Jordan is fantastic as Killmonger. He’s the kind of villain who has motivations you can understand, even if he chooses to employ the wrong methods.

Serkis and Martin Freeman also do very solid work. Lupita N’yong’o brings softness and determination to the mix as T’Challa love interest, Nakia. Danai Gurira gets a big shout-out for her portrayal of Okoye, a warrior woman who’s skilled, beautiful, and most of all, wicked cool.

Then there’s Letitia Wright, who almost steals the whole movie as Shuri, T’Challa’s genius 16-year-old sister. She’s funny, quick-witted and seriously brightens every scene she’s in. Wright’s chemistry with Boseman is a highlight of the movie.

A ferociously good time that will get you cheering.

Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright in “Black Panther.” | Courtesy Disney/Marvel Studios

Ryan Coogler sits in the director’s chair for this one, and he does a fantastic job. He brings together the plot, acting, and thematic material in a way that’s touching and extremely entertaining. I look forward to seeing what he has coming for movie fans in the future.

There’s so much more to talk about with “Black Panther”: The soundtrack weaves pounding drums together with symphonic bombast in a way that sets this movie apart from the other Marvel movies sonically. The humor works but isn’t overdone. So much good stuff in “Black Panther.”

If I have complaints, they are fairly minor. The movie leans really hard on a particular plot device that other Marvel flicks have completely run into the ground. Some of the blue screen shots look phony, and the animation feels wonky in places.

Most of my complaints are nitpicks, however. “Black Panther” is a ferociously good time that will get you cheering and might give you a thing or two to think about.

4 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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