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MOVIE REVIEW

Black Panther also known as “Pantera Negra,” “Crni panter,” “Czarna Pantera,” “Fekete Párduc,” “Juodoji Pantera,” “Kara Panter,” “Khaufnak Bagh,” “Pantera neagra,” «Черната пантера,» «Чорна Пантера,» «Чёрная Пантера»

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture.

Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Young Adults • Adults
Genre:
Sci-Fi Superhero Action Adventure Fantasy
Length:
2 hr. 14 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
January 29, 2018 (Los Angeles)
February 16, 2018 (wide—4,020 theaters)
DVD: May 15, 2018
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?

In the movie, men talk to their dead fathers in the spirit world. encounters his dead father in the spirit world and briefly converses with him. In reality, this is not possible.

ghosts in the Bible

About death

Eternal life in Paradise versus Hell and eternal death

Battle between good and evil

KINGS in the Bible

Bravery / Courage / Self-sacrifice

Ancestor worship

Isolationist nation—Is this a good or bad strategy, biblically?

Wakanda’s fear of being discovered prevented them from doing what was right

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Featuring: Chadwick BosemanT'Challa / Black Panther
Michael B. JordanErik Killmonger
Lupita Nyong'oNakia
Martin FreemanEverett K. Ross
Angela BassettRamonda
Forest WhitakerZuri
Andy SerkisUlysses Klaue
Danai Gurira … Okoye
Daniel Kaluuya … W'Kabi
Letitia Wright … Shuri
Winston Duke … M'Baku
Sterling K. Brown … N'Jobu
Florence Kasumba … Ayo
John Kani … T'Chaka
David S. Lee … Limbani
See all »
Director: Ryan Coogler—“Creed” (2015), “Fruitvale Station” (2013)
Producer: Kevin Feige
David J. Grant
Marvel Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
See all »
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Shortly after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is still grieving the loss of his father T’Chaka, who was killed in an explosion. Being sworn in as king of one of the most mysterious nations in the world (Wakanda) definitely brings its challenges. After holding off a daring challenge to the throne from a mountain tribesman, T’Challa receives word that the secret of his hidden nation could be getting out to the public.

Wakanda is hidden by an invisible shield created by a metal called “vibranium” that was discovered from a meteor. This element has allowed them to make remarkable advancements in technology, science, infrastructure and transportation (it’s like a futuristic utopia of sorts). T’Chaka and his predecessors wanted to keep the vibranium to themselves because they feared the rest of the world would use it for negative purposes such as war.

It turns out, however, that someone is out to get revenge on T’Chaka and take over Wakanda. He also plans to use the nation and its resources to initiate truly horrible things.

Entertainment Value

As far as the story is concerned, “Black Panther” follows some typical superhero plot points, but it does make a few changes along the way. Perhaps the biggest change is in how the villain is represented. He doesn’t really play a big part until close to an hour into the film. Until then, we are entertained by a more minor villain named Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). There are several stabs at humor (not unusual for a Marvel flick), and thankfully the jokes are very good-natured and funny.

Speaking of the villain, he’s one of the most interesting villains Marvel’s put together. He’s given interesting reasons behind taking over Wakanda. Michael B. Jordan gives an energetic performance that adds a layer or two more than what you might expect a villain to have. As for Boseman, he aptly provides the heart and soul of the strong but gentle-hearted character. Lupita N’yongo gives a memorable performance as the kind Nakia. Movie fans and “Lord of the Rings”/“Hobbit” fans, may be excited to see Martin Freeman (reprising from “Civil War”) and Serkis together again in an interesting scene. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, however. This makes veteran actors such as Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker have less screentime than people might have hoped for.

Ludwig Gorannson’s score cleverly mixes African beats with some orchestral pieces. The production design and costume design carry bits and pieces of originality and uniqueness. The visual effects, like most superhero movies, are impressive, but sometimes over-the-top. The action sequences are exciting, but the camera work is a bit shaky in places.

As for the usual Marvel elements, Stan Lee’s cameo doesn’t disappoint. And the second post-credits scene is worth waiting for.

Positive Messages

The most prominent message here is the importance of making wise choices, and the dangers that can come from negative ones. Throughout the film, the events involving the villain are connected to a poor decision made by T’Chaka years ago. The Bible warns us that we reap what we sow.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” —Galatians 6:7

In the midst of this, the film also points out the importance of integrity. T’Challa and the people are lied to about an event that supposedly happened years ago. Some of this controversy causes some Wakandans to question T’Challa’s right to rule. This idea clearly relates to a verse in Proverbs.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” —Proverbs 10:9

It is through hearing this dark family secret that T’Challa realizes that he can learn from his family’s past mistakes, as well as his own. In addition, he can use the wisdom he’s gained to motivate himself to become a better leader for his people. At the same time, Nakia reminds him that “no human is perfect,” assuring him that mistakes are part of people’s lives.

The film discusses ideas regarding what makes a good leader, as well as the idea of whether to remain faithful to a nation regardless of who is the leader. T’Challa is often tempted to take people’s lives, but is always advised that the world will see what he does. He later exercises grace toward others, willing to try to bring them to the light. In one other moment, he shows compassion for (and tries to save) someone who took a bullet for one of his fighters (even if it means risking Wakanda’s safety in the process). In many ways, T’Challa showcases an attitude and persona that brings to mind what the Apostle Peter said,

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” -1 Peter 3:8

T’Challa and the rest of his crew willingly risk their lives to try and save their country and the world.

Negative Content

Language: The MPAA’s PG-13 reasoning included a “rude gesture”. This comes from T’Challa’s sister towards the beginning. She gives the “middle finger” in response to one of her brother’s teasings. She is reprimanded for this action.

Elsewhere, there are four uses of the s-word, three uses of “h***,” and one “a**.” “Oh my g**” is uttered once.

Sexual Content: There are a couple of passionate kisses between couples. The females on Wakanda wear tight outfits (though some complain about it). A few outfits in a gambling place are low-cut. Males go shirtless in Wakanda fairly often.

Drugs/Alcohol: Someone orders whiskey at a bar. Other alcoholic drinks are spotted on tables. A serum apparently has the power to weaken someone.

Violence: This is the biggest of the content concerns. Overall, the violence is a little more visceral than you might expect from a superhero movie like this. An early scuffle involves gunshots, punches and Black Panther using his claws. However, the shaky camerawork keeps the biggest impacts off-screen. A couple of flashbacks to the U.N. explosion in “Captain America: Civil War” are seen again.

A man is knocked across a room by stored energy. A fight in a gambling room involves gunshots, spears stabbing people (mostly off-screen) and an explosion. A chase involves cars traveling at high speeds, crashing, flipping upside down and literally being blown apart.

A fake arm is ripped off. Someone is shot with a gun three times, with somewhat bloody entry wounds seen in two places. Others are killed by gunshot. Someone is killed by sharp claws. A bomb explodes a brick wall. A man blocks a grenade from exploding; we see a limited reaction. Rhinos and other large creatures knock soldiers away in another action scene. Ships are fired at and explode. Someone is run over by a car; we only see the person in the car and hear a bump.

T’Challa gets into a couple of “challenge” fights for the throne. Both result in some severe injuries. A man is stabbed in the side before wrestling his opponent down. In another fight, a man slices his opponent’s face. But the opponent slices his side and leg before stabbing him and then throwing him off a waterfall. Another fight involves characters getting hit into a wall by a train, and more stabbing. Someone takes out a sword (bloodlessly).

The film’s opening segment, told in sand figures, involves images of slavery and war with spears and airplanes firing. Someone is poisoned and passes out.

Other: Wakanda has an odd religion that involves ancestor worship and powerful serums or spells. The movie’s opening prologue tells a story involving a Panther god giving special powers to the first “Black Panther.” A man is buried alive and drinks a serum that allows him to go into an altered state and speak with his deceased father in a spirit world. He does this twice. The villain does the same. The serum is made from a glowing purple flower. There is also a serum that causes T’Challa to lose his abilities; we see him react and slightly convulse to both serums.

Characters lie and steal, at times. The villain’s plot involves implications of starting a war between races.

Conclusion

“Black Panther” currently has many people talking. Similar to “Wonder Woman” last year which had a female superhero lead, this movie is a cultural touchstone as it is the first real superhero movie having an African lead. Considering the controversy involved in today’s world, the film’s release seems very timely.

The overall movie has a different feel and tone in comparison to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is entering its 10th year). The result is an entertaining ride with some nice original touches. But it’s not one of the superhero genre’s most moving tales. Unlike the emotional heft at the end of “Wonder Woman” or “Civil War,” “Black Panther” definitely has heart, but it doesn’t emotionally move or inspire in the same way.

Some have been critical about the movie being just politically-correct commentary. And it is true that a few moments/lines of dialog may bring to mind certain ideas involving racism. However, I thought that the stronger messages of integrity, self-reflection, grace and striving to make wise choices mitigated these concepts. And the movie presents a true, honest hero that models compassion and respect for everyone, regardless of skin color.

As for content concerns, the violence is the major concern here. I did hear a few younger kids cry in the audience at the screening I attended. While not very bloody, “Black Panther” is intense, and the shaky camerawork at times may induce motion sickness for some. Wakanda’s spirituality also will likely be a turn-off for some families. On a more positive note, foul language is infrequent, and there is no inappropriate humor or strong sexual content. Ultimately, with the PG-13 rating in mind, parents are encouraged to take the content problems listed here into consideration before making a decision for their family.

In my opinion, “Black Panther” doesn’t reach the top pantheon of Marvel films. It’s sometimes messy and unbalanced in its pacing. And it doesn’t deliver the same gut-punching, jaw-dropping twists and surprises of “Thor: Ragnarok” or “Civil War.” But, it’s still entertaining and unique for a Marvel film, and includes the laughs and excitement one would expect.

  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Minor
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Nudity: Minor
  • Sex: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—“Black Panther” is an excellent piece of work. All the leads are charismatic and win you over, with special mentions for Letitia Wright and Winston Duke. The story is timely yet entertaining and the score is great as well. The presentation of the fictional country of Wakanda is breathtakingly beautiful and the futuristic elements are realised brilliantly. The climatic battle is slightly underwhelming, but still thrilling enough.

Michael B. Jordan's character who has known inequality his whole life comes into contact with the more privileged main character and there is a constant battle between the two, as well as an internal struggle inside Chadwick Boseman's character, as to what the right way to go as to how the country should interact with the outside world, and this constant conflict is what drives the story.

As for elements of concern, there is some violence, though nothing particularly extreme for this genre, and there are elements of tribalistic rituals, in similar vein to “The Lion King,” as well as very infrequent profanity.

Overall, Black Panther is not just a great superhero movie, but a great movie, full stop.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Simon, age 47 (United Kingdom)
Positive—This was a well-done, long overdue film that captures some very complex issues in a fairly family-friendly way (as clean as you can in a superhero film where fight scenes are expected). I’ll share some examples without giving any spoilers: the plot explores the complex relationship between Africans and the African-Americans who can feel “abandoned” or betrayed, the vengeful anger of the neglected who wonder why they struggle while their people are off “living well,” and the constant debate of the roles and responsibilities of the more privileged nations among a struggling world.

You can see there are SO many physical AND spiritual messages here. All of this was addressed in the middle of a very entertaining plot and beautifully shot film that shows a different side of cultures (Africa is a CONTINENT of many cultures, not a country) often belittled, ridiculed and misunderstood. The ancestry worship did make me cringe, yet I do know that is a part of many cultures around the world. It serves as a reminder that there is still a big world to evangelize. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tiffany, age 38 (USA)
Positive—What a fun movie that did not disappoint! It’s also pretty clean, with minimal cursing, blood, and even minimal sexuality. That’s a shocker. I liked that the love story was about LOVE (not sex) and remained a backstory. It showed that Black Panther understood his priorities were more than about “getting the girl.” Nakia also stayed true and focused on her purpose and mission, making her character about more than “getting the guy.” Great messages coming from today’s Hollywood.

The negative comments below go to show how we can look at the same thing, have different expectations, and take away something very different. I didn’t expect to see “MLK-like peaceful demonstrations” in a superhero action movie. I expected to see some fights! I also saw a king who was silencing someone who was speaking out of order, not some sort of grandstanding about white people and “white privilege.” But I wasn’t looking for that. I am also very familiar with the comic books, and know the white CIA agent is a solid ally throughout the entire Black Panther series. I hate that we can be so sensitive that we are ready to pounce and be offended over fictional characters with fictional powers from a fictional country, all because of their race. Guess that shows the power of the enemy. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Nina M, age 42 (USA)
Positive—Great movie, not racist at all… There are many reviews of the movie itself. It’s average for a Marvel movie in terms of what you will see and hear. Probably not the best movie for little kids, as they may be confused or scared sometimes. I don’t recall God’s name being taken in vain. Though I may have missed it. They did swear once or twice. And there are a few scenes of “spiritualness” that may confuse young kids. Granted these scenes take place after drinking a material that is not from Earth.

But what I want to address is the issue of racism that some say is in the movie. Given around 90% of reviews are giving it amazing ratings, I wondered if the 10% that were left true about the racism or if the people themselves maybe had a bit of racism in them. Mind you I am a white male. I should add so you have some context that Wakanda is in Africa and basically has very VERY advanced technology because of a special material they found (from a meteor crash long ago). Their city is cloaked so the world cannot see it. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Matt S, age 35 (USA)
Positive—Many people say this movie has a political agenda. I must emphasize that all films have an agenda. Each one attempts to promote something. This movie is well done in the aesthetics part. As the film opens with the plane bursting through the entire country, you see breath-taking scenes of the country Wakanda. The costumes are brilliantly done. It gives the look and feel of an authentic African country. Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan give strong performances as protagonist and antagonist, respectively. The fight scenes are typical Marvel film violence. Yet, it is still a fun, action packed, hang-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat movie.

Unlike other superhero stories with secret identities, Wakanda is an entire nation with a secret identity. The Black Panther or T'Challa is to become the ruling king. He just has to fight a few nemesis first. That is the overall plot of the film. There are wonderful themes of family, loyalty, and unity. Unfortunately, there are issues that I had with this movie as well. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Karen, age 50 (USA)
Positive—Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” claws its way to massive box office records. Potential viewers would do well to see “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” and “Captain America: Civil War” before feasting their five senses on the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is now in its tenth year, and over fifteen cinematic photoplays to its name, with more on the way in the coming months and years.

The acting, directing, writing, and all other production values are top-notch, as one would expect from Marvel, now owned by Disney. At least three lines in the trailer were cut from the film; a minor annoyance that does not detract from the entertainment value of the picture. There are several major twists that are genuinely surprising, and give the movie more heart. The one annoying aspect (to me) was not hearing a character referred to out loud or visually by his comic book alter ego; a decision made for idiotic political correctness, but at least, it was referenced in his costume, and how he first appears on-screen. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 32 (USA)
Positive—I have been waiting to see this movie for a while now after watching “Captain America: Civil War.” It is a unique Marvel film, as it doesn’t rely heavily on action scenes; rather, it focuses on a “battle” between two clashing ideologies, between two of the main characters. Ryan Coogler is a fantastic director, bringing to life the next addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman both provide excellent performances as Erik Killmonger and T’Challa respectively. Angela Bassett’s performance as T’Challa’s mother Ramonda is underrated. There is little objectionable content in the film, save for some minor things (T’Challa’s sister flipping him off was unnecessary). The reviewer of the film did a great job at highlighting the positive messages this film contains.

My only complaint is that the film lacks humor which could’ve been an ice breaker in some scenes (but not to the extent like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 36 (USA)
Positive—“Black Panther” is possibly one of the most important films ever. It embraces that color makes no difference. The film is a good ministering tool, especially for fixing racial tension. It is a beautiful, close to excellent to excellent film. It’s not political. I truly believe God is trying to tell something to people with this film. Definitely watch, especially if you watch superhero films, and definitely definitely watch to catch up for “Avengers: Infinity War.” I missed a little here and there for usual trips out of the room that people take and then they come right back.
—Stephen Matthew Jacewicz, age 22 (USA)
Positive—Great movie. Great acting. Please don’t miss this wonderful movie thinking that it is racist. It is not. It is a real visual treat. And morally very good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John, age 22 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—The Reviewer did a fine job of summing up this film. To quote Blake Wilson: “Wakanda has an odd religion that involves ancestor worship and powerful serums or spells. The movie’s opening prologue tells a story involving a Panther god giving special powers to the first “Black Panther.” A man is buried alive and drinks a serum that allows him to go into an altered state and speak with his deceased father in a spirit world. “——That is what bothered me the most about the movie—there is an occult overtone to it. Spells, potions, “praise our ancestors,” meditation in the lotus position like Padmasana (lotus position, used for Buddhist contemplation).

The movie is well done with great special effects and a super soundtrack, but I don’t like the occultic and eastern religious overtones. With Yoga, Buddhism, etc. gaining momentum, especially among young adults; I am always troubled to see this in a film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Maggie, age 70 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I saw the movie, and, yes, there are strong political overtones, but the message goes beyond saying “Blacks are equal and Blacks are capable,” which, of course, is evident by the fact that we have had and do have so many outstanding, successful Black Americans in every industry and profession. The message that I see in the movie is actually that Blacks are SUPERIOR, and it’s time that Whites are put in their place! There is one part in the movie where a white man is the only white person in the room and is told he is not allowed to speak, which is reminiscent of the political correct narrative we are hearing today regarding “White Privilege” and white people not being allowed to comment on Black issues.

Although from a basic perspective on superhero movies “Black Panther” is entertaining, the underlying message does not help the race relations but adds fuel to the fire. The message of Martin Luther King Jr. of protesting and petitioning peacefully for equality has been twisted and this movie is evidence of that. The message has gone from peacefully, singing “We Shall Overcome,” and “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred,” to actually encouraging drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred, dominating another race, and implying if not outright advocating for racial segregation, the very thing that MLK gave his life to end in our nation. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—RD, age 48 (USA)
Negative—This does contain spoilers because the movie is very racist, white-hating, and I cannot expose the racism without showing some spoilers.

There are no white people in Wakanda, a perfect city with prefect climate, perfect healthy black people, with far advanced medical personnel and technical equipment, far advanced vehicles and transportation. They mouth the phrase “white people” with disdain. A white man startles a black woman and she says, “Don’t scare me like that, COLONIZER (the racist insult occurs again later).” That white man was shot in the spine and taken to Wakanda and healed completely in less than a day. Later, he acts spineless as blacks ridicule him. Later, a group of some 10 black people are having a discussion, and the same white man tries to provide some pertinent information, but repeatedly as he starts to speak, the men grunt like gorillas, then tell him he is not allowed to speak (obviously because he is white). See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Chas, age 67 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…The revolutionary Afro-futurist film that the world needs right now… Killmonger is a villain who inspires considerable sympathy, though the film stops short of validating his anger as a black man who’s grown up in a racist America. In fact, it equates it to psychopathy. …
Jason Di Rosso, ABC [Australia]
…Virtually everything that distinguishes “Black Panther” from past Marvel pics works to this standalone entry's advantage. …a movie that feels quite unlike the other Avengers one-offs, featuring a superhero with purpose. …
Peter Debruge, Variety
…A jolt of a movie, Black Panther creates wonder with great flair and feeling partly through something Hollywood rarely dreams of anymore: myth. …
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
…Ryan Coogler gives the Marvel template a bold auteurist twist with an African extravaganza that packs a muscular intensity and challenges as much as it exhilarates. …
Jimi Famurewa,·Empire [UK]
…The movie has a beating heart, and a big one; it’s not just sincere, but that rarest of birds in the jungle of mainstream entertainment, a heartfelt epic. …
Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…Boseman, who strides through “Black Panther” with unforced, charismatic ease, assumes almost Shakespearean levels of doubt as his character is challenged by an unexpected rival. …
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
… the best-looking Marvel movie yet… a self-contained marvel… Warriors both male and female fight for control of a vividly rendered African kingdom in this handsome superhero epic…
Wendy Ide, The Guardian (UK)
…rewrites history to create a black monarchy that rules the most intelligent and powerful country in the world… a joyous game changer for Marvel… The movie soars on the spirit of its heroes and its villain. …
Alex Abad-Santos, Vox