ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's an important sense in which it doesn't even matter whether I liked it, or whether it's even a good movie. Maybe this is trite or overblown or something, but simply the fact that Black Panther has been so successful is such a great sign for the future of black blockbusters that the movie itself is almost immune to criticism.
That said, I did really like it, and (to the extent that we can expect from such a mainstream production) I think it is a good movie.
At the very least, there's so much to be said about Michael B. Jordan's villain, and even just this fact that the villain is interesting is great step forward for Marvel and its Villain Problem. But much more than this, he provides the foundation for the film's politics: a conflict between isolationism and interventionism on the one hand, and between racial solidarity and national solidarity on the other. Jordan's N'Jobu wants T'Challa to use the many resources at his disposal to help the black people of the world, but T'Challa wants to remain at a distance from the rest of the world to maintain Wakanda's utopia. The way this conflict is resolved leaves something to be desired (for a counterpoint check out this article, which I don't totally agree with, but it makes some valid & important points—not least of which is the film's disappointing take on class conflict), but to the extent that a huge blockbuster can actually tackle institutional racism the movie tries to end up on the right side of things, and perhaps more to the point this political grounding makes Black Panther the first film to feel like it actually takes place in the real world.
A few scattered notes in closing:
- The casino fight is wonderful. Whatever critics/detractors might have to say about Marvel's action, I loved that scene.
- Between the music and the cinematography and the color palette, this really feels very different from the rest of the Marvel canon (for better or for worse—personally I liked it).
- Why is the rhino CGI so disappointing?