Well I said that the trouble would start when the hype has died down, but ‘trouble’ couldn’t wait that long…
The Hollywood Reporter has highlighted the appearance of a number of fake tweets over the weekend, claiming that white cinema-goers have been attacked by black gangs whilst queuing to go into the theatre. As well as posting faked pictures from of the alleged “victims” (culled from adverts used by charities working against abuse no less), the tweets claimed that the victims were told, during the attacks, that they weren’t entitled to see Black Panther because they were white.
Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles police said they’ve received no reports of any such attack, leaving many to wonder what the knuckle-draggers behind these stories are afraid of.
We’ve certainly had films before with a predominantly black cast (Glory is one of all time favourite movies),
but it’s rare that we see a film that has portrayed an African nation as being completely in control of its own destiny, and that is notion that some people won’t tolerate.
Well, it’s already smashing records so it doesn’t really matter what I say about it, not that that’s going to stop me…
Black Panther is possibly the most hyped super-hero flick of all time, and remembering the circus that travelled with Wonder Woman, that’s really taken some doing. That level of exposure risks disappointment, especially amongst fans of the Black Panther comic, as well as drawing the ire from those who may be less than comfortable with the ideas it represents (a hidden African nation that resisted slavery and exploitation, and so prospers to become the most socially and technologically advanced civilisation on Earth) It’s never going to please everyone, so Ryan Coogler did what all good directors do: he read the story, understood what it was about, and then went on to deliver something that was as true to original as he could manage.
Sure it was missing a few bits (there was little mention of T’Challa’s intelligence, which is as least as important as his physical prowess), but the story was tight and the action was evenly paced. The dialogue was nothing to write home about, but it did have those nice humourous touches that Disney/Marvel do so well. The special effects were top notch and the setting were amazing; a lot of work has gone into imagining a world that blends African tradition with hi-tech wizardry, and they pulled it off beautifully.
Performances were creditable all round, though I don’t think anyone stood out in particular for me, which is probably not a bad thing when I think about it. The African accents were … passable, but the occasional ‘Americanism’ crept in here and there, which sort of took you out of the moment. Annoying, but infrequent enough that they aren’t really going to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the movie.
Most super-hero films avoid making any sort of political comment; Black Panther dives straight in, and for that reason I’m expecting it to see a lot of flack in a few weeks when the hype’s died down. DC tried to go political with the somewhat hastily prepared Black Lightning, exploring the plight of black people in city ghettos, but avoiding any exploration of the underlying causes. Black Panther doesn’t shy away, and that’s commendable. I’m not sure it represents a bold new direction for the genre, but it’s certainly the most entertaining and memorable super hero flick to date.
I’m going to give it ten out ten.
Sequels are hard; sequels to surprise hits are even harder. You weren’t expecting to knock it out the park, so now you have to look carefully at your first outing and try to find what made it so successful. The Kingsman crew looked hard, found the formula and delivered pretty much the same movie with a different cast. Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoyed it, but it did follow the same old comic-spy plot that you found in the original Casino Royale (not the Daniel Craig one; the other one … with Peter Sellers and David Niven). The car chases are outlandish, the villains are as mad as box of frogs, and the fight scenes are breathlessly over the top. I don’t think I’ll be giving too much a way if I do a bit of scene setting:
So, a year after our hero, Eggsy (ably played by Aaron Egerton), joined the Kingsman Agency, the whole outfit is wiped out by a psychopathic drug lord (well, she would be, wouldn’t she). Eggsy and the only other survivor, Merlin, seek the help of the their American counterparts, the Statesman organisation (same idea, different hats) to bring down the drug lord and save the world from … well, you’ll work it out when you see it.
As a “raining all bloody Saturday” kind of a movie, it works. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think it’s what you’d call a bit of a romp. The plot was predictable, the acting was up to scratch, though no one’s going to get an oscar out of it. I think that Julianne Moore gave a creditable performance as the villain, so it’s a shame she didn’t get more screen time; likewise, Halle Berry was woefully underused. They should have at least got her out of the office once in a while. And I am glad they found a way to resurrect Colin Firth.
The whole Statesmen thing didn’t really seem to go anywhere though, and I did wonder why they were there.
Still, what made the film (and this was probably the plan) was the action sequences. The choreography was flawless and they were fantastically unbelievable. Well, worth seeing if you like that sort of thing (which I do).
But aside from that, I don’t think there was too much here to write home about.
I’m going to give it six and half out of ten. The action sequences saved it.