So much hype, so much expectation and after seeing it after Infinity War.....well, lets just say this has some big shoes to fill. And I'm pleased to say that for the most part it does so admirably.
There is no getting away from it, for all intents and purposes, its standard superhero origin story, given lashings of not so much depth by adding in layers of bog standard royal family intrigue. New king unsure of himself, challenged by an outside with long lost links to the throne and multiple factions all vowing to either lay down their lives for the good of the throne or not get involved and then, wouldn't you know it, completely going against what they've said in the final act smackdown.......certainly nothing here for the Game of Thrones writers to crap themselves out of their season 7 stupor about anyway.
But lets be honest, most stories these days have pretty derivative narratives and plot beats. I also watched Call Me by your Name last night and while a very different film, it still was at its core a standard coming of age story for two people in an environment where they couldn't be themselves.....as bog standard as human drama gets. But just like Black Panther, that film excelled not in its narrative but in its look, its tone, its feel and its characters.
From the get go, the almost alien technology meets African tribal aesthetic really does give the film not just a very distinct and hugely appealing look, it helps set the tone and feel of it. It really is seeped in African cultures (well as much as this thin white dude from Manchester knows about anyways), granted given a very modern twist, but every plot beat, every character interaction just oozes this 'feel' and I'll be honest, I found it massively engaging and not one I've seen before. This extends to the characters, with the bog standard tropes (grumpy tribal king, stoic elder, insanely hard captain of the guard, batty science geek, etc) nicely subverted by this very same tone to again keep things feeling fresh even if they, deep down, really aren't.
Sure, some of the CG is a bit 'bendy man'-ish and I really could have done without Martin Freeman 'Tim-ing' up things. But the likes of Michael B Jordan (man-crush ahoy), Danila Gurira (lady-crush ahoy) and especially Andy Serkis having the time of his life more than make up for those short-comings. Even the silly-ass Rhino army!
There's no getting away from its rave reviews and cultural impact though unfortunately - like Wonder Woman before it, it IS over-rated as a film because of these things (not the films fault but still...), but its a much better film than WW for me as cultural hype aside, it remains engaging and entertaining from beginning to end. And especially not feeling derivative of other superhero movies that went before it.
Onto the disc - PQ is pretty damn great on my 1080p SDR projector. Colours assaulted my eyeballs, its razor sharp, lots of other superlatives could be used, but it looked really strong. The Atmos track - sigh. More of the same from Disney. Just like Ragnarok before it, its mixed low and simply doesn't have enough of an active surround field to really excite and engage. LFE is nowhere near as powerful as other films are (I can tell because the best mixes make the arm of my Alien Queen statue that sits on one of my subs fall of. And it remained firmly in place for this film ) and while many moan about the transfer, I still believe its the mix - just not exciting enough for me, technical limitations aside. The best example for me is the opening flight into Wakanda - its supposed to be the big reveal as T'Challa flies over his kingdom, and sure enough the music swells to emotional highs......and there's virtually no sound effects at all in any of the speakers. Where's the creativity, where's the subtlety and nuance of the sounds of just being there (wind, birds, nature, etc).....its just missing. I'm blaming the original mixers rather than the disc people on this one.
Summary - not quite as good as the insane amount of hype suggests, it is though a thoroughly entertaining and different feeling superhero movie. The standard plot beats are given a new lease of life thanks to the insane colours, the throbbing drums and a very winning cast (so....many......crushes). Very recommended. The UHD........YMMV so lets just leave it at that.
Black Panther User Review
More than just its cultural importanceReview of Black Panther UHD Blu-ray by Coz22998, Jun 12, 2018.This item was purchased for $26.99 from Deep Discount in 2018. The reviewer still owns this product.
raymondo77 likes this.