Me and ‘BLACK PANTHER’: part 1 — Initial reaction

2019/01/22

 

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 2.16.32 am

As the ending credits song “All The Stars” pumped through the theater speakers at my advance screening, I, somewhat in a state of shock, had the following thought:

“Was … was that movie actually better than ‘Avengers’ and ‘Winter Soldier’ …?”

Until this point, those two movies were my clear favorites in the Marvel Studios canon. As much as I liked it, Black Panther’s MCU debut movie, “Captain America: Civil War,” was a distant third behind them.

But here I was, trying to convince myself that I was simply biased in favor of this movie because I liked the character. Also, I was at the screening for work and needed to write a fair review for audiences who, unlike me, might not be fans of the superhero or the genre. Still, I couldn’t deny: This was top-notch in the genre at minimum, as my eventual spoiler-free pro review indicates on Feb. 13, 2018:

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/entertainment/movies/movie-review-both-rousing-and-political-black-panther-a-most/article_e619698e-650f-55d9-b237-fb5706019ada.html

In case you don’t want to click through, here’s a key paragraph or two:

… “Black Panther” is more than just a comic book film. As noted earlier, Coogler has crafted a slyly political commentary here on all levels. From the almost entirely African or African-descended cast to the king’s female-led royal guard to the running commentary on the never-conquered Wakanda to the motives of Jordan’s character to even the Afro-rhythm-tinged musical score by Ludwig Göransson, this movie stands in every manner as both a rebuke and redemption of the standard set a century ago by D.W. Griffith’s racist “Birth of a Nation.”

It also asks bigger questions: Does might make right? Or, perhaps, should might make right? And what happens when tradition fails and the wrong hands use that might? Coogler uses the superhero genre with a degree of sophistication not seen in these films since “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “The Dark Knight” in 2008.

Four out of four stars on that professional scale doesn’t indicate a perfect movie. And as mentioned in my opening, I wasn’t initially willing to favor BP over my two favorite MCU films, 2012’s “Avengers” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” in 2014.

But then I saw “Black Panther” again later that week in a normal screening with film professional Angela, an old friend from college I hadn’t seen in more than 25 years. And not only did the film hold up under the repeat screening, but I found that certain moments of the film were now far more affecting than before.

Killmonger’s exit moved me the first time I saw it. This time, I ugly cried.

(Silently. I did not want to embarrass myself in front of Angela. 😀 )

“Black Panther” has proven to be more than just a comic book film. As I noted in my review, director Ryan Coogler has crafted excellence here on all levels and many layers. So I wanted to go in a bit of depth on some of those layers and levels:

I’ll be posting all month until the Oscars, when we’ll see if Black Panther won in the categories it was nominated for honors:

  • Best Picture
  • Original Score
  • Original Song (“All The Stars”)
  • Costume Design
  • Production Design
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing

And I’ll be arguing that it SHOULD have been a candidate for

  • Best Director
  • Adapted Screenplay
  • Supporting Actor
  • Visual Effects

Hope you’ll bear with this highly self-indulgent look at an excellent film and its effect on one black man.

(Post-Oscars and series mea culpa: OK, I did a lot less arguing about the above.)

———

The rest of the series:

PART 2: Wakanda — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/me-and-black-panther-part-2-wakanda/

PART 3: Blackest Film Ever? — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/me-and-black-panther-part-3-blackest-film-ever/

PART 4: The Women — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/me-and-black-panther-part-4-the-women/

PART 5: Killmonger — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/me-and-black-panther-part-5-killmonger/

PART 6: The Score — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/me-and-black-panther-part-6-the-musical-score/

PART 7: Yes, this is a king of a picture — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/me-and-black-panther-part-7-black-panther-is-the-best-picture/

And an epilogue: My Oscar Screening Party 2019 — https://kharisampson.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/personal-oscar-screening-party-2019/

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