Take Me To Wakanda: A Review of Black Panther

I’ve been taking about Black Panther for what seems like months. First when the trailer came out, then when tickets went on sale and now I can’t stop talking about it to the point that I will jump into conversations around me about the movie. Unlike some people I wanted to be one of the first people that got to experience Black Panther so I bought tickets for Thursday night at 9:15 p.m. at my nearest theater. My mother and I stood in line waiting where I saw people in their African attire, families, and little children fidgeting with excitement. I’m usually one for previews but I couldn’t wait to go to Ryan Coogler’s Wakanada.

The movie starts in an apartment in Oakland in the 1990’s, which definitely threw me for a loop because what does Wakanada and Oakland, have to do with each other. Turns out T’Chaka’s has sent his brother N’Jobu on a mission in America however, N’Jobu has motives of his own. T’Chaka orders him back to Wakanda immediately after learning about his treason but N’Jobu never makes it. There is so many plot twists within the first couple minutes of the movie that I forget all about T’Challa and his story. After his father’s death T’Challa goes to rescue his former flame spy Nakia so she can be there for his ceremony of becoming King of their homeland. Okoye, the general of the Dora Milaje reminds T’Challa not to freeze up in Nakia’s presence. Okoye ends up saving the day, this isn’t the last time the women of Black Panther save the day but simply the first.

Soon enough we are introduced to T’Challa’s little sister Shuri. She is smart, lovable, funny and a badass. Shuri is the mastermind behind Black Panther’s technology. As we are getting to know the people of Wakanda, in London things are brewing at the hands of Klau and Killmonger. The two steal vibranium from a museum that is sacred to Wakanda and its people. While Klau tries to sell the vibranium to CIA agent Everett Ross things go amiss when Okoye, Nakia, and Black Panther start a brawl. Not only does this brawl goes deadly but it also turns into a high-speed chase. Agent Ross interrogates Klau while trying to tell him about the real Wakanda not the third world country story they’ve been spinning for centuries only to be freed by his cohorts. Black Panther returns back to Wakanda without the vibranium and the man that stole it and that doesn’t sit well with everyone.

Klau becomes a non factor in the movie thanks to Killmonger who shows up in Wakanda ready to claim what belongs to him; the throne. As crazy as it seems T’Challa willingly accepts Killmonger offer to a challenge. Wakanda ends up with Killmonger as their new king and things go from go to bad very quick. Killmonger believes it is up to him to use Wakanda’s resources as a means to free the oppressed aka kill people. But once again the women of Wakanda are forced to save the day. Nakia’s quick thinking, the people of the Jabari tribe, the fighters of the Dora Milaje, and Shuri’s technological advancements help Black Panther fight for what is rightfully his.

If making $218 million in an opening weekend is any indication of how great Black Panther is then what more do you need? I thoroughly enjoyed the movie so much that I’m contemplating seeing it again. I appreciated the way that Ryan Coogler and Joe Cole wrote the script to the point that every thing leading up to the plot never gave away the plot. Of course Wakanda is a fictional place but thanks to set designer Hanah Beachler, I would gladly book a trip to Wakanda. Wakanda looks vibrant, like a bustling city, lush with natural resources. The costumes worn in the movie were immaculate, I appreciate that costume designer Ruth Carter actually used tribes in Ethiopia, Kenya, and other parts of the African continent as a source of inspiration. All of the actors were very much believable in their roles which contributed to the story telling, Even the fight scenes were believable, sometimes had me on the edge of my seat. Although the story was about T’Challa, I found myself more interested in Shuri, Nakia, and Okoye’s story. I would also like to see more of the Jabari people. I wouldn’t mind if that was explored in the rumored sequel.

I enjoyed Black Panther so much that I only had two problems with the entire movie. First, I thought the way that Klau died was very anti-climatic. I wanted when he died to be more entertaining or maybe I just wanted the people of Wakanda to have their tatste of revenge. Second I didn’t want Killmonger to die, I’m sure this has something to do with Michael Bae Jordan playing the character but I wanted him and T’Challa to work things out. Yes, Killmonger methodology was very radical but in my mind I think he and T’Challa could have learned from each other.

It seems as if anything Black Panther adjacent is facing the same success as the movie. The soundtrack that was curated by the one and only Kendrick Lamar is number one on Billboard 200. When it was first announced that he’d be curating the soundtrack I wondered if soundtracks hold any importance in todays music culture but they obviously do. I have listened to the album myself and find it to be pleasing to the ear. The soundtrack reminds me of all of Kendrick Lamar’s albums combined. There are a few songs on the album that I replay such as All The Stars, The Ways, I Am, Paramedic, Kings Dead, Redemption and Big Shot. My problem with the soundtrack is that it doesn’t sound diverse enough. Wakanda is a fictional African country but there are no sounds of Africa on the soundtrack. The continent of Africa is so rich with culture when it comes to music especially since each region, country, tribe, has their own sound; I thought more could have been incorporated into the soundtrack. To be fair sometimes I found it hard to imagine certain songs playing in scenes of the movie.

Lucky for me I only recall hearing about two songs from the soundtrack in the movie. On the other hand I thought the score of the movie to be very well done and organic. Ludwig Göransson who has worked with Ryan Coogler before on other projects scored Black Panther. The score of the movie was never distracting, instead it helped set the mood and heighten certain scenes. Throughout the movie there is what sounds like a hum, which was created by the Talking Drum. Sometimes it is layered in the movie and sounds like a beat you could dance to. To find out more about how Ludwig Göransson scored Black Panther check out Genius’ video. The way that Ludwig tapped into the sounds of Africa is the same way I wished Kendrick had done the same.

I’m probably going to see Black Panther again and I don’t care. Black Panther had everything I was looking for. There was good action scenes that didn’t look cheesy or looked like obviously like it was done in CGI. The special effects used were awesome. There were more funny moments than I anticipated thanks to characters such as Shuri, Agent Ross, and M’Baku. There was romance just enough to not see Nakia as simply a love interest. I’m also looking forward to seeing Black Panther and friends in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. If we are granted a Black Panther sequel and are forced to a Black Panther and Storm love story please Mr. Coogler and Mr. Cole please don’t make her boring a la X-Men movies. I can’t wait for Halloween to see all the creative costumes inspired by this movie. What were your favorite parts of Black Panther? Tweet us at @VashtieDotCom

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