Despite the hype (or rather because of the hype), I was not gung ho about Black Panther. For one thing I am not a fan of the action genre. Every time I go see an action film, I sit there wondering what on earth led me there yet again, before falling into a deep slumber. So when everyone was planning their outfits and dance routines I was just meh about the whole thing and had no plans to go see it.
Then at the very last minute I decided what the hell? I had nothing else planned for the evening, might as well go see it. I figured the film is set in Africa, how boring could it really be?
The verdict: Black Panther did not disappoint. It did not change my life and I probably will not see it again but I watched all two hours 14 minutes without dozing off or regretting my decision to watch it. The film was aesthetically pleasing; every shot from the opening scene to the end was a delight. The costumes, the set, the culture, the colours were all so beautiful.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle on social media when a man gave Black Panther its first bad review on Rotten Tomatoes, consequently demoting it from its 100% status. The man’s complaint was that the superhero did not kill many bad guys, and this earned him the wrath of people who tagged him a racist. After watching the film I see that he was right, however this is one of the reasons the film did not feel like a drag to me. Typical action films involve so much killing and violence; the superhero is always flitting around saving the world and killing thousands in the process. Black panther has only a few fight scenes, in fact there were long stretches in the film that felt like a nice South-African drama. There was no strange alien robot out to destroy the world; the Russians were not in possession of a USB stick that held the world’s secrets. This may be a con for some but it made it more enjoyable for me.
Let’s talk about accents: they were a bit uncomfortable to listen to, especially at the beginning. I understand they were playing Africans but at times I wished they would just speak in their regular accents. It was a breath of fresh air when Michael B Jordan appeared speaking his normal twang. Then again I guess if British actors can do American accents then American actors should be able to do other accents. Maybe it sounded odd to me because I am not too familiar with the South African accents used by majority of the characters in the film. The character M’baku’s accent was different from the rest and it felt a whole lot more natural. I would have bet my entire annual salary that the actor was Nigerian, Igbo to be specific. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the actor Winston Duke is actually from Trinidad and Tobago! Fantastic actor, he had me thinking his name was Uchenna Chukwugoziegi. Definitely looking forward to seeing him in other roles.
One thing to note from Winston’s Vanity Fair interview is that he and Lupita were friends at Yale drama school and they both belonged to an acting club for people of colour which was co-founded by Angela Basset. Amazing!
Letitia Wright is such a cutie pie and I have been in like with her face since I saw her in an episode of Black Mirror.
I don’t really have any negatives about the movie ***Spoiler begins*** I did find it weird that Killmonger did not just kill Klaue from the beginning if that was his intention all along. Why did he go through all of that? Maybe he was trying to win his trust. Why did Killmonger destroy all the herbs? I get that he did not want anyone else to become king but surely a person like himself must have thought of his progeny. ****Spoiler Ends****
One thing I found interesting is that Black Panther and Wakanda represent hope for Black people everywhere, particularly Black Americans. People were (facetiously) talking of moving to Wakanda, and how Wakanda is what Africa would have achieved without colonisation. Yet Wakanda in the film was not trying to empower Black Americans but instead keep its wealth to itself. Everyone was screaming Wakanda Forever but you can’t even get into Wakanda. Of course I know that the excitement was really about people finally seeing themselves celebrated on the big screen, but I must have gotten caught up in the hype because I was a bit surprised that Wakanda was not actually Black utopia.
Highest of praises to the Almighty that no one showed up at the viewing with drums or masquerades and we were able to watch it in peace. It was nice though to see pictures of people dressed up and having a great time. I hope for more films like this for African Americans and I especially hope that African cinema steps its game up.