The Morning After: Feb. 20, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Black Panther

He may not have been the first black comic book character brought to the big screen, but it’s clear that Black Panther is a watershed moment in cinema. Following up the female-helmed Wonder Woman, it’s not hard to see how the voices of a new generation of filmmakers can have a positive impact when given the opportunity to infuse their own experiences onto the characters they present. To then have those experiences recognized and celebrated is a significant achievement.

Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to undergo the rite of passage that will install him as King of Wakanda. When past misdeeds inform present day drama, T’Challa must fight enemies both without and within to ensure that his people and his kingdom can survive while making sure that the world stays safe and doesn’t intrude upon their idyllic society.

At his side, T’Challa has surrounded himself with brave and courageous friends and allies to help along the way. Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia, a Wakandan spymaster and T’Challa’s former love interest; Danai Gurira is Okoye, the Wakandan general whose loyalty is unparalleled and whose fierceness and capabilities are unmatched; Martin Freeman is CIA operative Everett K. Ross whose wish to protect Wakanda as well as the world entire helps him create solid bonds with his new allies; Letitia Wright is Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, a tech genius who has improved the nation’s scientific advancements far beyond what they were already; Angela Bassett is Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother and strongest supporter; and Forest Whitaker is Zuri, the shaman who administers the ceremonies and whose friendship with T’Challa’s father has stood the test of time.

There are also loose allies whose dedication to the crown is tenuous at times, strong in others. These include Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, one of the tribe champions who wants nothing more than to annihilate the man who killed his father; and Winston Duke as M’Baku, leader of the only one of the original five tribes who refuses to be a part of the Wakandan civilization. All of them are tested by the machinations of Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, an abandoned Wakandan who seeks revenge for his father’s murder and Andy Serkis as Ulyssess Klaue, the formidable arms dealer who is the only genuine villain in the entire film.

That last sentiment is an important one in that even the most dangerous of enemies in the film have intense motivations that, when examined in context may be misguided or whose actions may subvert their own aims. It’s a compelling narrative on display here as none of the actors in the film have unqualified reasons to pursue the goals they have set for themselves. Some are intensely personal, but all come from a place of passion and purpose, the end goals noble even if excessive. Black Panther excels in ways that most Marvel Cinematic Universe films have not in making the movie not about the exterior forces that threaten the world entire, but the intensely interpersonal demons that threaten to undo ourselves.

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