A witty, action-packed epic, this adventure, like Thor: Ragnarok before it, delivers a vibrant twist to the comic book movie formula while remaining true to the Marvel Universe it belongs to.
We first met Black Panther – aka T’Challa (Boseman) – in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, where he reluctantly became king of the secret African nation of Wakanda following the assassination of his father. This movie opens by giving us a bit of back story to their technologically advanced homeland – a vibranium meteorite crashed there, and it is this special, powerful stuff that they keep hidden from the world (although Andy Serkis’ nasty arms dealer Ulysses Klaue knows about it and wants to get his hands on it).
The Wakandans have also kept their eyes on the outside world, placing spies around the globe, including T’Challa’s friend Nakia (Nyong’o), whom we first meet as she rescues a group of women held hostage by soldiers. All their best efforts will be needed as there is a new threat to Wakanda’s resources in the form of a former US soldier named Killmonger (Jordan), who wants to get his hands on the vibranium himself.
There is so much more to Black Panther than Killmonger’s plan, however. Director Ryan Coogler has woven an impressive tapestry of a movie that features science fiction in the form of the stunningly realised kingdom of Wakanda, a taut family saga as seen through the relationship of T’Challa with his mother (Angela Bassett), late father, sister Shuri (Wright) and best friend (Kaluuya), a superhero movie (a Wakandan flower is what gives T’Challa his Black Panther superstrength) and an action adventure thanks to a jaw-dropping chase through the streets of South Korea, hand to hand combat scenes and battle sequences led by the head of the royal guard, Okoye (Gurira). And, of course, his film is also a cinematic first, delivering a blockbuster, big budget comic book adventure with a predominantly black cast. It was worth the wait.
While there is one wobble – an early scene in a British museum (that isn’t the real British Museum) that is at the same time silly and rather violent – it is small enough not to detract from what is otherwise a fast-paced, snappily scripted and visually jaw-dropping film. And complementing the mesmerising Wakandan scenery are the unmissable performances – everyone is terrific, from Martin Freeman’s bewildered CIA agent to Forest Whitaker’s Wakandan religious leader Zuri.
Boseman and Jordan are superb and perfectly matched as the noble king and his rough, tough nemesis, but it is two other actors who steal the movie from the rest of the talented ensemble. Danai Gurira is tough, cool (and gets the best fight sequences) as Okoye, while Letitia Wright delivers the right amount of humour, geekiness (she’s the tech whizz in Wakanda) and sheer enthusiasm in her role as Shuri.
A stunning addition to the Marvel Universe, and the first must-see movie of 2018.
Is Black Panther suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The movie is a 12A certificate in the UK and PG-13 in the US and is aimed at older children and adults.
It features battle sequences with swords and weapons, as well as hand to hand combat. These scenes may be too intense for younger children (under age 10).
Some injuries are shown but not in great detail.
One character is thrown off a cliff to the swirling waters below which may upset younger viewers.
A character is covered in scars (one for each person he has killed) which may frighten very young children.
As a guide, this has a similar level of violence to other films in the Marvel universe such as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
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