Thursday, May 24, 2018
Movies

Why ‘Black Panther’ is revolutionary — and an excellent movie

Like its real-life radical namesakes, Black Panther is revolutionary and Afrocentric, a black cultural fantasy made real in a medium taking too long. Children of any color except white haven’t seen blockbuster movie superheroes that look like them.

Now they will, and since excitement is colorblind, we’ll all join their awed gaze. Marvel’s Black Panther is a milestone not only for its casting and director/co-writer Ryan Coogler’s cine-griot myth building but because it’s alive with fresh sights and sounds in a genre easily leaning on sameness.

Not to say Black Panther at its core isn’t anything we’ve never seen before. It’s a superhero origins story, typically an easy chapter to skip. The fate of a universe or portion of same hinges on family skeletons, sins of fathers, etc., ending in a supernatural showdown. One of many inspirational moments will be familiar to fans of an re-awakened Force.

However, Black Panther’s origins aren’t widely known. They don’t hinge on a freak accident but a proud heritage, mythical and magical. Coogler reworks such elements with a perspective that isn’t predominantly first-world white and male, an extraordinary and faintly political act.

Black Panther is chiefly set in the fictional, fantastic nation of Wakanda under East Africa. Wakanda is everything a "s---hole" country isn’t: technologically and civically superior to anywhere. Their culture is regal, vibrant, awash in colors, fabrics and rhythms Hollywood seldom if ever builds these types of mainstream, megabudget movies around. Wakandans have lived centuries as isolationists, unwilling to share their all-purpose Vibranium resources with outsiders.

That may change with the ascension of Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to the crown after his father dies. Or the precious metal powering much of Marvel’s superhero universe may be used destructively by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a key figure in intrigue Marvel begs reviewers not to reveal. Both are commanding actors, each noble on opposite ends of comic book morality.

Black Panther builds a complex myth from Oakland to South Korea featuring uncommonly well-defined characters for any superhero fantasy. Coogler and Joe Robert Cole’s screenplay puts compelling and amusing words in the actors’ mouths, resulting in impressive turns by all. This isn’t a slam-bang Marvel flick until late, after everyone’s place in this fascinating world is clear.

Coogler delivers action with frenetic grace, keeping the violence more intimate than usual for a superhero movie. Less soulless metropolis crumbling and more face-to-face combat (although the armored rhinos aren’t bad). A car chase gets a clever boost from virtual remote controlling and Danai Gurira’s comic relief.

Black Panther’s cultural impact will be an op-ed topic for the foreseeable future for its African-American essence, strong roles for women and how much money it’ll rake in. Coogler’s movie is a raised fist of opportunity that Hollywood ignores at its own risk.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.
Follow @StevePersall.

 
Comments
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior on-set, at his production company, and during press junkets, according to a report.CNN reports that 16 people have spoken out against Freeman’s alleged misco...
Updated: 10 hours ago
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ Art and Short Film Mini-Fest

SHORTS: Art and Short Film Mini-Fest A fundraiser for the [email protected] brings an Art and Short Film Mini-Fest to the studio Thursday, May 24. There will be four short films, an exhibit of artwork by Corinne Leavengood and photography by Diana Lucas Le...
Published: 05/23/18
Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

No matter what Cress Williams does the rest of his acting career, he’ll always be remembered as the first to play Black Lightning.The 47-year-old actor with roles on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights is now that face of a DC comics franchise...
Published: 05/22/18
The young Han Solo movie is here. And let’s just say a robot is the best part.

The young Han Solo movie is here. And let’s just say a robot is the best part.

Washington PostSolo: A Star Wars Story begins with the Star Wars franchise’s signature tag line, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." But it seems like only yesterday that the title character met his end in The Force Awakens, the first insta...
Published: 05/21/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
‘Deadpool 2’ cracks jokes at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes

‘Deadpool 2’ cracks jokes at the expense of nearly every intellectual property in the DC and Marvel universes

When Deadpool referred to Cable as "Thanos," the guy sitting next to me lost it. Because, you know, Thanos is the name of the villain in Avengers: Infinity War who is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays Cable, who is mostly the villain in Deadpool ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18
A Plant City movie to make history by becoming first released on a blockchain

A Plant City movie to make history by becoming first released on a blockchain

When making his latest feature film, director and producer Jeremy Culver went old school in this digital age, shooting No Postage Necessary on 35-millimeter. But when it came to distributing the movie to the masses, Culver went new school. Sonew sch...
Published: 05/11/18
11 royal films to watch before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day

11 royal films to watch before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day

It’s safe to say Meghan Markle took the road less traveled on her way to becoming British royalty. For starters, she’s American (an Angeleno, to be specific). Second, she’s an actress (not exactly a noble profession, no offense Hollywood). And last b...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters this weekend: ‘RBG,’ ‘Life of the Party,’ ‘Breaking In’

What’s in theaters this weekend: ‘RBG,’ ‘Life of the Party,’ ‘Breaking In’

INDIE FLICKS: RBGThe notion of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the diminutive and soft-spoken Supreme Court justice, as a judicial "rock star" — at least in the eyes of progressives who love her sharply worded dissents to opinions rendered by the increasingly c...
Updated one month ago
Sing along to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and catch Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival in St. Pete Beach

Sing along to ‘The Little Mermaid’ and catch Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival in St. Pete Beach

FILM FEST: Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival on TourA roving iteration of the famous short-film showcase in Telluride, Colo., the Mountainfilm Festival on Tour makes a stop at the Don CeSar Hotel this weekend. The intent of the tour is to help spread...
Updated one month ago