Black Panther (Subtitled) (12A)

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Action (2018)
134mins US

Starring: Michael B Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer(s): Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

T'Challa returns to the nation of Wakanda to lead his people and grieve the loss of his beloved father. While many tribes support T'Challa's ascension, the Jabari mountain tribe does not and its ruthless leader M'Baku vociferously protests. This rebellion creates unease, which is heightened by CIA-trained assassin Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, who intends to stage a bloody coup with the help of South African weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue. T'Challa vows to protect his people, supported by his all-female bodyguards.

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LondonNet Film Review
Black Panther (12A)

The lucrative Marvel Comics universe will expand exponentially in 2018. Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man And The Wasp are waiting in the wings, tightly coiled with droll humour and hyperkinetic energy to discharge during the summer blockbuster months. First out of the digitally augmented blocks is a rousing standalone adventure for the eponymous African king, who we first encountered in a snazzy vibranium-enriched bodysuit in the superhero battle royale Captain America: Civil War. If Black Panther - directed with swagger by Ryan Coogler - is emblematic of things to come from the comic books pantheon, then roll on the next 12 months because this frenetically edited odyssey of self-doubt and redemption is the big cat's whiskers...

Black Panther. Copyright: Marvel Studios. Caption: Michael B. Jordan as Erik In some respects, this is identikit filmmaking from Marvel: prodigal sons tormented by the loss of powerful fathers, computer-generated characters trading bone-crunching blows in mid-air, a throwaway cameo for comic book maven Stan Lee and additional scenes concealed in end credits. Genetic flaws aside, Coogler's slinky picture is barnstorming entertainment of the highest pedigree, which sinks its narrative claws into present-day racial tensions, gender inequality and western imperialism with relish. Female characters are feisty, intelligent and refuse to sit demurely on the sidelines while engaging yet flawed male counterparts have all the fun. As one proud warrior reminds her regal lover: the choice to rule as queen rests in her hands. A predominantly black cast festooned with Oscar winners and nominees adds lustre to a lean script co-written by Joe Robert Cole, teasing out tender romance and bruising bloodline rivalries stained with tears of regret.

T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to grief-stricken Wakanda - a pacifist, technologically advanced society "hidden in plain view" - following the murder of his father, King T'Chaka (John Kani), in a terrorist bombing. Four of the African nation's five clans, including the border tribe led by T'Challa's best friend W'Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya), support his ascension but the Jabari mountain people commanded by M'Baku (Winston Duke) loudly voice their opposition. Fragile allegiances fracture and CIA-trained operative Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Michael B Jordan) chooses this moment to stage a bloody coup. Flanked by formidable bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira), T'Challa rouses his supporters including his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), spunky teenage sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and old flame Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o).

Black Panther repeatedly flexes its impressive technical muscles. Pulse-quickening skirmishes above and below Wakandan ground are choreographed at a furious pace, and a car chase through the night-time streets of Busan in South Korea employs slow motion acrobatics to dizzying effect. Coogler's film purrs sweetly during quieter, contemplative moments too as conflicted characters wrestle with moral obligations to share wealth and knowledge with less fortunate kin. That blistering tug of war between self-preservation and philanthropy provides plentiful dramatic meat for cast to sink their teeth into, exemplified by a torsional bond between Boseman and Jordan's embittered and idealistic rivals. "The world's going to start over and I'm going to be on top," growls Killmonger. Black Panther comes thrillingly close to joining him at the summit.

- Jo Planter

Black Panther. Copyright: Marvel Studios. Caption: Michael B. Jordan as Erik

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