* * C
It pains me to say it, but Black Panther was just OK. I really liked the first half of the film, which first introduced the mythical kingdom of Wakanda, then had T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) hunting the vibranium thieving Ulysses Klaue (Andy “Gollum” Serkis) and meeting up with CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin “Watson” Freeman). Lupita Nyong’o is solid as his love interest Nakia, and I liked his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) as Wakanda’s Q.
The second half of the film introduces T’Challa’s cousin Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who has some of the worst writing in the film. His Oakland hoodlum seems very out of place in the film, especially since he is supposed to have attended West Point and become a highly successful soldier in the US military before being trained by the CIA as an insurgent. This half of the film delivers a lot of spectacle, and a heavy dose of morality, but for me, it didn’t live up to the first half.
The film looks beautiful. The moral message, that neither isolation nor conquest is good, and that one should help others, is a good one. I found Killmonger’s anti-colonialist message preachy. Another thing I disliked was that all of the Wakandan men were disloyal to T’Challa, which seemed very untrue to life, since Killmonger had just showed up out of nowhere. The film was entertaining, but for me, it didn’t live up to the hype.