Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Black Panther

Yes, of course, I saw the Marvel Studios movie Black Panther last weekend. It was partly a working weekend, partly a weekend in which my recreational plans were scotched by bad weather and road conditions. I needed something to do besides pace up and down in my apartment and finish reading three books(!). So, I went to the local theater, where my choices were this, Shades of Grey: Freed (the third installment in a trilogy of R-rated BDSM smut), or Forever My Girl (a Harlequin Romance novel in moving pictures). Of course I went to see the blockbuster action film. I say all this lest you start to think I'm becoming a fan of comic-book movies. On the other hand, if movies like this keep coming out, that could happen.

The movie features Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman (a.k.a. "Bilbo Baggins," a.k.a. "Watson"), and Andy Serkis (a.k.a. "Gollum," a.k.a. "King Kong") in supporting roles and the physically impressive Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan as, respectively, the newly crowned king of the invisible African nation of Wakanda who moonlights as its super-powered protector, and the American mercenary who, thanks to the royal family's dirtiest secret, has an equal claim to the throne. T'Challa, the good guy, wants to protect his country's secret technological advancement, to keep it from falling into the hands of warlords, despots, and terrorists. Bad guy N'Jadaka, a.k.a. Erik Stevens, a.k.a. Killmonger, wants to start a global jihad to avenge all the injustices ever suffered by black people by using Wakanda's rich supply of MacGuffin (seriously, I'm not looking up how to spell what it's really called). The two super-dudes proceed to kill the daylights out of each other, and the long peaceful nation breaks down into civil war. The action is terrific.

Three scenes that made it for me: (1) The chase through the streets of a South Korean city (the movie's release was nicely timed to coincide with the PyongChang Olympics) in which T'Challa and two female sidekicks, aided remotely by his techie sister, pursue Serkis and his goons with lots of car-flipping, crash-and-bang acrobatics. (2) The reunion of the hero with his mom, sister, and main squeeze, in which their not-very-original dialogue is interrupted by a yawn from the brusque leader of the mountain clan. (3) The scene in which Killmonger has a vision of his dead father, an unusually powerful instance of a supervillain being portrayed as a sympathetic character. I suppose I should also mention that people who sit through the credits will be rewarded by a bonus scene (which is hardly news any more, when it comes to comic-book movies), a cute cameo by Stan Lee (which is hardly news any more, etc.), and the fact that a girl in the row behind me squealed when the hero finally kissed the woman he loves. But if you weren't there when I saw the movie, you might miss that part.

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