BLACK PANTHER Review: It's a Girl Thing

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BLACK PANTHER Review: I realize the film is significant for many reasons, but to me, one extraordinary aspect stands out above all others…

by Lisa Johnson Mandell

Black Panther ReviewMarvel Comics geeks are swooning over what they say is one of the most brilliant and soulful adaptations ever, and zillions are celebrating the fascinating  and diverse aspects of Black Panther.

And while there’s no denying these features are praiseworthy, long overdue and adroitly executed, what really blew me away was the women. Physically, mentally, spiritually, socially–it’s the females in this film who truly conquer, while the men spend a lot of time grappling with each other in the mud.

Yes, director Ryan Coogler has given us a unique origin story like no other: T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is on the brink of taking his place as king of the African nation of Wakanda, which appears to the rest of the world to be a humble, agrarian society, but is secretly one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries on the planet.  (Incidentally, the person who is most responsible for all those technological advancements is T’Challa’s little sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.)

But with T’Challa’s new reign comes conflict, both within and without Wakanda. His leadership is challenged from the very beginning, and the roll the country should play on the world stage is in question, particularly by T’Challa’s cousin, the US military trained Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who may be presented as brutal, but some would say he has a point.

So while the guys are playing politics and changing sides and posturing, it’s the women who are really running the show, especially super spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who  is ambivalent about T’Challa’s romantic interest, and fierce warrior Okoye (The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira), as well as the previously mentioned Shuri. The women’s radiance dominates every scene they grace.

I did find their characters, and just about everything else in the film, overwhelmed at times by the films garish sets. Apparently production designer Hanna Beachler never met a primary color she couldn’t pop, and was unable to leave one square millimeter of a set unadorned. More subtlety would have served to draw more deserved attention to the individuals and what they represented.

But ultimate spectacle is a requirement in super hero films these days. I’m just glad they didn’t end up in New York fighting for the fate of the world, like so many others do. This film is unlike any other in the genre, and all the better for it.

Rated PG-13

2 Hours 14 Minutes

Get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

BLACK PANTHER Review: It’s a Girl Thing

by Lisa Johnson Mandell

 

 

 

Black Panther Review

 

 

 

 

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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