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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Black Panther

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4 Chicks Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Black Panther | Chadwick Boseman, Luptia Nyong'o, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke | Review

Good, good, good, good Vibranium.
 
Tiny, fictional African nation Wakanda is full of the meteorically delivered element which allows its inhabitants to enjoy extreme technological and sometimes, physiological advantages over the rest of the world.  The country does not share its gifts for fear of exploitation, choosing instead to hide in plain sight as a Third World nation.

Vibranium is a powerful mutagen and permeates much of Wakanda’s plant life, most spectacularly the Heart-Shaped Herb which is fed to each new Wakandan King in elixir form, giving them superhuman abilities.  As an element, Vibranium can absorb and store vibrations and kinetic energy, releasing it later in a powerful burst of whoop-ass.  Imagine having a suit made of this stuff.

MCU’s Captain America:  Winter Soldier (2016) sowed the cinematic  seeds for Black Panther with the death of King T’Chaka (John Kani), and the introduction of his son T’Challa/Black Panther  (Chadwick Boseman) who ascends to the throne amid challenges that come from within Wakanda and from a faraway city on another continent  – Oakland, California.

Returning home to Wakanda, T’Challa is surrounded by devoted allies like the spear-toting Okoye (Danai Gurira) and ex-love Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) members of the elite, all-female Dora Milaje (Black Panthers personal bodyguards). T’Challa’s mother – Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and teenage sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) round out T’Challa’s formidable posse.  Shuri is an inventor of hyper technological equipment and the inventor her brother’s Black Panther suit.

Meanwhile on Earth…

Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Erik Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) steal a Wakandan artifact from a British museum. Klaue tries to sell it to undercover CIA Agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman). T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye intervene in a violent episode at a South Korean casino that sets the stage for Stevens AKA US black ops soldier Killmonger AKA N’Jadaka to wreak havoc on Wakanda’s peaceful people, challenging T’Challa’s right to the throne after discovering his own surprising identity.  No spoilers here.

There’s an overload of back story that I won’t go into except to tell you that all of it plays out with clarity, integrity, and the dignity of regal beings caught in ethical dilemmas and struggling for humanitarian solutions.  There is a splendor and a visual richness to this character-driven effort that feels very personal.  Evocative and family-centered, the film takes the high road and values honor.  It is rich with mythological history juxtaposed with real world problems and old perceptions; it is, if you will, a new view.

Assorted trivia:  Stan Lee shows up in a strange, non-humorous cameo.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of Easter eggs.  Look for two, one mid-credits, one post-credits.  The joke that’s been going around the internet is that Serkis and Freeman (both in The Hobbit) are the Tolkien white guys.

Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) co-wrote the script with Joe Robert Cole (TV’s American Crime Story).  Expect a rhinoceros or two.  Expect a message of empowerment and pride.  Expect the best from Black Panther – you’ll get it.

With Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, and Winston Duke.