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Monday , May 28, 2018

'Black Panther': A superhero movie with a heart

WHEN our friend Jesse Boga of SM Lanang Premier invited me to watch the special screening of “Black Panther” on February 10 in iMax, I felt giddy. Well, not actually for myself but for my husband who is a certified Marvel fanboy.

Although, I’m not really much into the superhero genre (I’m a sucker for RomComs), I must admit, though, that there was a tinge of anticipation upon entering the theatre. My hubby kept on whispering, “Something special will unfold. Don’t doze off. Just watch.”

And magical it was. From start to finish, the film was an impressive tapestry of sights and sounds, drawing its viewers to the futuristic African nation of Wakanda, where spaceships, high-speed monorails suspended hundreds of feet above the ground and massive “Star Wars”- inspired structures melded with lush vegetation.

The movie picks up from where “Captain America: Civil War” left off. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his homeland after a grueling battle with Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey) Avengers team. It was a homecoming for the young heir who was now ready to assume the mantle of leadership left behind by his father King T’Chaka (John Kani) who was killed during a bomb explosion at a United Nations conference.

Boseman carries his role with a quiet assuredness and regal bearing befitting of both a warrior and king. With or without the figure-hugging, high-tech suit, the African-American actor was a sight to behold not only because of his intense physical presence, but also by the impressive way he delivers his lines in true Wakandan fashion, lending much credibility to his character.

And behind every great leader is a superb supporting ensemble. T’Challa is backstopped by his kinetic, geeky sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), kick-ass, spear-wielding head of the all-female royal guard Okaye (Danai Gurira), majestic mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and CIA agent-turned Wakandan convert Everett Ross (Martin Freeman).

Providing a strong counterpoint to Boseman’s character is Erik Killmonger (Michael Jordan) who literally steals the show with his conflicting portrayal of a Wakandan who was forfeited his birthright. This is where the tension builds up, as Killmonger challenges T’Challa’s leadership over the secluded kindom, and almost succeeds.

As expected, the movie bristles with non-stop fight scenes and CGI-driven set pieces that will satisfy the requirements of fanboys from all ages. But these eye-popping effects only help to drive the story forward and do not become a distraction to the movie’s storyline.

But the main strength of the film lies in its superbly written script which reads like a playbook of contemporary global politics. It touches on a wide range of socio-political issues such as racial identity, isolationism and foreign interventionism. These are quite heavy themes for a superhero film but the director Ryan Googler manages to fuse them into one cohesive whole.

This writer has no doubt that “Black Panther” will be another blockbuster project from Marvel.

Thank you so much SM Lanang Premier, especially to Jesse and another dear friend, Apol Legario!

*****

For comments and suggestions, please feel free to reach me at mendoza.jennygrace@gmail.com.


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