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BLACK PANTHER

SYNOPSIS:
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy (Michael B. Jordan) reappears on the radar, T'Challa's rule as King and Black Panther is tested as he becomes drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.

Review by Louise Keller:
The trouble with the highly anticipated Black Panther is that it doesn't know what it wants to be: super hero extravaganza, activist action flick, James Bond wannabe or Coming to America. Yes, writer director Ryan Coogler has much to answer for. But will the fans care? Probably not. First and foremost it is championed as the first black superhero movie. In that it succeeds.

Dialogue heavy with a confused sense of place, this mega-budget Marvel marvel might be a misfire for anyone beyond the fan-base, but it does have colourful moments. Rhinos in armory, athletic warriors with stunning profiles and nippled breastplates, traditional African lip plates, spectacular waterfalls, intense battle scenes and two passionate contenders for the throne of Wakanda, who represent good and evil. Hell hath no fury as a crazed African...

The first challenge is the screenplay. Patience is required to sit through the stilted dialogue as the exposition tries to find its rhythms. The 134 minute running time drags. When the rhythms of Africa kick in, things start to look up. Looking down the cast list there is no shortage of talent, including Forest Whitaker as the Black Panther's mentor, Lupita Nyong'o as a free-spirited beauty, Andy Serkis as a nasty arms dealer, Martin Freeman as a CIA agent, Angela Bassett and Letitia Wright as the mother and sister. The locations (Atlanta and South Korea) look impressive, although Coogler flits from one location to the next; we are not sure where are supposed to be. In the battle scenes I was confused as to who was fighting whom. As for Ludwig Goransson's music score, it is dirge-like, weighing down the action instead of giving it the desired lift.

One of the funniest lines of dialogue - and certainly the most incongruous - comes when the two rivals come face to face after a long absence. 'Wassup?' Michael B. Jordan's Erik Killmonger spouts to Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, As a hero, Boseman delivers admirably (we first met him in 2016's Captain America: Civil War), although the character is a tad earnest. Jordan makes a fine villain. He has attitude. And dreadlocks. There is no shortage of action; on display are the Black Panther's superhero skills and the power struggle for the amazing vibranium: a miracle fix-it that acts as everything - from weapon to healer.

Where Wonder Woman soared, Black Panther struggles, but there is plenty of potential for more next time around. Perhaps the script will flow better.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

BLACK PANTHER (M)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Sterling K. Brown, John Kani

PRODUCER: Kevin Feige, David J. Grant

DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler

SCRIPT: Ryan Coogler

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rachel Morrison

EDITOR: Debbie Berman, Michael P. Shawver

MUSIC: Ludwig Goransson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hannah Beachler

RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: WDS

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 15, 2018







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