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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Stunning Special Effects and Action
by James Colt Harrison

Just in time for Black History Month, the new Disney/Marvel comic book adventure Black Panther arrives in theaters to thrill the kids and adult fans alike. African-American director Ryan Coogler wrote the screenplay with Robert Cole, based on the characters from the Marvel comic book series.

Shooting began in Atlanta in 2016 with a predominantly all-black cast. The company also traveled to Busan, Korea and Argentina to film at spectacular Iguassu Falls to dazzle folks with the 3D and IMAX cameras. Ryan Coogler was hired as director and Robert Cole came on board to co-write the screenplay. For all the amazing special effects and spectacular camera work, the budget was set at about $200 million. The studio was not skimping on the budget and wanted to create a first-class picture. There would be no cheesy sets in this film.

Actor Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) plays T’Challa, the King of African nation Wakanda, as well as Black Panther. He returns to his homeland after his father dies and ascends the throne. He is in mourning as he takes the reigns of his country, but two enemies are plotting to bring down T’ Challa’s kingdom. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) plays evil Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, a man who doesn’t like the way Wakanda is being run. He plots to overthrow the new King T’ Challa with every means possible. He’s a real villain, and it’s a part Jordan can play to the hilt. The ladies will swoon over these two energetic, unfairly fit men with their bulging muscles and handsome faces. Both are destined to become stars in their own right, each being different from one another. Jordan is the younger of the two, and he will probably attract a younger crowd. Chadwick Boseman will be a favorite of the more discerning ladies of a certain age. Their confrontation fight for the throne is one of the highlights of the film. Filmed against the backdrop of Iguazu Falls in Argentina, the scenes are a catch-your-breath episode of excitement and danger.

The distaff side is represented by the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o, who plays warrior woman Nakia, a spy with fierce devotion to her country. Chief among the warrior women is leader Okoye, played by shaven-headed actress Danai Gurira. Don’t mess with her or she will spear you through to the other side without batting her lasheless lashes. Director Coogler has given the women just as much credence as the men, and the film is all the better for it. Token white actor Martin Freeman (Watson in the TV Sherlock Holmes movies) plays CIA Agent Everett K. Ross and adds some much-welcomed comedic moments to the action.

The production design by Hannah Beachler and costumes by Ruth E. Carter both deserve Oscar® consideration next year. Borrowing from native African designs and colors, both artists have used to advantage the best of the traditional schemes and revitalized it all to seem contemporary without losing the essence of the African ambiance. Brilliant work by the two ladies! And Rachel Morrison, one of the few female cinematographers in Hollywood, has captured the beauty of the African land, as well as the stunning artwork of the aforementioned ladies, to perfection. It’s wonderful to see that woman are finally getting some credit for their creativity in a male-dominated industry.

The overall look of the movie is stunning, and the action scenes are enough to keep you awake throughout. And isn’t it nice to see veterans Forest Whitaker and Angela Basset make significant contributions to the story? Basset plays the Queen Mother, and she wears a series of crowns or hats, that look like upside down baskets carrying rutabagas through the African veldt.

(Released by Walt Disney Motion Pictures/ Marvel Studios and rated “PG-13” for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.)

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