Movie Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther released in theaters almost a year ago, to the day. My sister Linda and I saw it right after its February 16, 2018 premiere. So why, I’ve asked myself repeatedly, is there not a review for it posted on my blog? I loved this movie. How could I have NOT written a review for this Marvel Universe movie that is among the Best Picture nominated films this year?

I checked back through posts in February and March of 2018….for an answer. And I found the reason. Just after Black Panther released, I began a nine day movie marathon at my local theater, watching all of last year’s nominated films. I viewed the final movie just before the 2018 Academy Awards aired. And that is how this superhero flick slipped past me, review wise. During the nine days of movies, I saw 12 or 13 films, total, with Black Panther being one of those. I’m sure I intended to write up a review later and then just forgot that I had not produced one.

That’s easily rectified. This evening I watched Black Panther again, as a refresher before at last writing a review. I still love this film!

Movie Review Black Panther

Black Panther Cast

This action adventure film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther carries a PG-13 rating, for scenes of action and moderate violence, and has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Black Panther is nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Original Score, Best Song for “All the Stars”, Best Costumes and several technical categories.

Movie Review Black Panther

A Prince Becomes King

The film opens with Prince T’Challa (Boseman) learning that his father, King T’Chaka (Brown), has died. Okoye (Gurira), head of the all female fighting force in his country, escorts T’Challa back home to Wakanda. Along the way, they extract T’Challa’s former lover, Nakia (Nyong’o) from an undercover operation that she leads.

Wakanda formed centuries ago, when five warring African tribes squabbled over a meteorite that fell to earth. Made of an alien metal called vibranium, the meteor affects heart shaped herbs growing nearby. When one of the warriors eats the herb, he acquires superhuman abilities. He becomes the first Black Panther, uniting four of the tribes to form the nation of Wakanda. The people of Wakanda use the vibranium to develop highly advanced technology. Fearing people will seek to take what is theirs, the Wakandans isolate themselves from the world, even as they build an astounding city.

T’Challa returns home, reuniting with the former king’s most trusted friend, Zuri (Whitaker),  his mother, Queen Ramonda (Bassett) and sister, Princess Shuri (Wright). Though young, Shuri runs the nation’s technology department. At the kingship ceremony, T’Challa is challenged by the leader of the fifth tribe, the Jabari. M’Baku (Duke) is unsuccessful in overthrowing the prince. T’Challa becomes king and allows M’Baku to live and leave with his tribesmen.

Movie Review Black Panther

A Threat to Wakanda and the World

In London, black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Serkis) teams up with an ex US black ops soldier, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Jordan). Together they steal an ancient Wakandan weapon from a museum. Made of vibranium, Klaue intends to sell the axe to an unknown buyer. T’Challa, Okoye and Nakia wait at the rendezvous site in secret, having been tipped off by T’Challa’s longtime friend, W’Kabi (Kaluuya). W’Kabi lost his parents because of Klaue. He longs for revenge.

The deal goes wrong, when the buyer turns out to be undercover CIA agent Everett Ross (Freeman). The Wakandan axe is recovered. However, Ross is seriously wounded in the ensuing chase and fight. T’Challa and his escorts return to Wakanda with Ross, where Shuri uses her technology skills to save his life.

Meanwhile, Killmonger kills Klaue and journeys to Wakanda himself. Once there he reveals that he is Wakandan…the only son of Prince N’Jobu. Killmonger’s father was brother to the former king. While living  in the US with his young son,  N’Jobu dies by the King’s hand for selling vibranium as a weapon of war. King T’Chaka leaves the boy Erik orphaned, and alone.

Erik challenges T’Challa’s right to the throne and the two battle. T’Challa is wounded and thrown over a waterfall. Assuming he died, Erik becomes king, and the Black Panther. His intentions for Wakanda are less than honorable. His actions threaten the nation, and ultimately the world.

If ever Wakanda needed a good man, with a good heart as their king, it is now.

Movie Review Black Panther

My Thoughts on Black Panther

This is one of my favorite Marvel Universe films. I love the culture of Wakanda. For centuries the people have hidden who they are, to protect themselves and their technology. They fear what the wrong person could do with vibranium. However, the younger Wakandans realize that hiding their light, so to speak, their magnificent gifts, is not the best way to live. The desire to offer help to the world and to make a difference, changes long held beliefs and old perspectives.

Chadwick Boseman is wonderful as the good hearted King T’Challa. He transforms into the Black Panther for the purpose of saving lives, not to terrorize. Another favorite character, for me, is M’Baku, portrayed with humor and a deep sense of honor by Duke.

The storyline and characters tie in with the bigger Marvel Avengers story, which continues this spring with Avengers: End Game.

This is the first time the Academy has nominated a superhero type film for a Best Picture Oscar. Black Panther is a powerful movie with deeper messages. And it has done incredibly well, worldwide. I’m looking forward to seeing how it fares at the Oscars.

Movie Review Black PantherM’Baku, played by Winston Duke. 

Heading to the Oscars

As a reminder, here are the Best Picture nominated films. Click the links to read other reviews.

I have four films left to see this next week, as the Academy Awards air next Sunday night, February 24. This weekend I intend to mark The Favourite off my list and pick up the last three movies during the week.

I love movie award season. It makes my heart sing to see great films and interesting films and off the wall films, and all the people involved who labor to bring these works of art to the big screen, rewarded for creativity.

I’m cheering for Bohemian Rhapsody to capture the big award. However, there are several nominees, including Black Panther, that I’d be thrilled for if they took home the Oscar. I’ll be watching…with eager anticipation.

Movie Review Black Panther

Pick up Black Panther on DVD or rent through Amazon Prime HERE.

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Movie Review: Roma

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Award season for the film industry is well underway. The announcement of the Best Picture nominated movies sets the stage for this year’s Academy Awards, scheduled to air Sunday, February 24.

Here are the nominees:

For the first time in many years, I have already seen half of the nominees. Previous reviews are linked above to those films, although I just discovered that I failed to post a review for Black Panther. Fortunately, I’ll have an opportunity to rectify that!

Up for review tonight is Roma, a foreign language film out of Mexico.

Movie Review Roma

Roma Cast

Roma stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Nancy Garcia, Fernando Grediaga and Jorge Antonio Guerrero. This drama, written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, carries an R rating, for language and a graphic nudity scene, and has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. This Netflix movie is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Roma is nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actress for Yalitza, Best Supporting Actress for de Tavira, and a host of technical awards.

Movie Review Roma

Movie Review: Roma

Set in 1970s Mexico City, in the Colonia Roma neighborhood, this film tells the story of a domestic worker, Cleo (Yalitza), who works for an upper middle class family. Cleo, and the other housekeeper, Adele (Garcia) clean house, cook, run errands and care for the family’s four children. Cleo is especially close to the youngest son, Pepe (Graf).

Both of the young women live in the family complex, sharing an upstairs room across the courtyard. Their tasks are often menial and their days are long. However, there is a genuine bond of affection between the family members and the hardworking girls.

When tension between the couple, Sofia (de Tavira) and Antonio (Grediaga), escalates, Antonio moves out. His departure frightens Sofia at first, and then frees her to begin to build a different life.

Amid caring for the children and scooping up dog poop and washing countless dishes, Cleo dates a young man, Fermin (Guerrero). However, their relationship seems destined to follow the same path as her employers. Fermin leaves when he learns Cleo is pregnant.

In this slice of life film, the story unfolds, in stops and starts, over the course of a year, with unrest in Mexico City providing the backdrop. The women in the story, Sofia and Cleo, must find their places in the new world they find themselves thrust into. They must discover who they are and in doing so, create a stronger future for the children.

Movie Review Roma

My Thoughts on Roma

I found Roma to be an intriguing film. Shot in black and white, the cinematography is beautiful with interesting angles and camera positions. The focus is on Cleo, who represents a woman named Libo, who raised Alfonso Cuaron, in the Colonia Roma suburb of Mexico City. This isn’t his story though. It is hers, making this movie a touching tribute to Libo.

Roma isn’t an action packed movie filled with special effects. Rather it explores relationships and the bonds that can form between people with vastly different backgrounds. Cleo’s family is from a poor rural village. Sofia has known no lack, financially, however her marriage does not turn out the way she imagined it would.

Some will feel impatient with the movie’s slower pace. However, for me it feels just right. The scenes allow for immersion into the story and, most importantly, to form a bond as well with these women.

Movie Review Roma

My Predictions for Roma

Roma has already done well in early award shows, picking up Golden Globes for Best Director for Cuaron and Best Foreign Film. It is the type of artsy-yet-gritty film that the Academy loves, fresh and imaginative with an intimacy that draws the viewer in.  Roma offers an unapologetic peek into the personal life of Cleo, and to a lesser extent, into Sofia’s.

With 10 nominations, I expect Roma to do well at the Oscars. Will it take home the top award, for Best Picture? I’m not sure, with the strength Bohemian Rhapsody has gathered at the recent award shows. Best Director is almost a sure thing for this film, along with Best Foreign Film. I’ll be watching to see just how far Alfonso Cuaron can take his latest masterpiece.

Movie Review Roma

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