Rated PG-13 | 134 mins.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
Congratulations to every single person who had a hand in creating what could possibly be the best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Picking up just after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther takes us straight to Wakanda, a fictional country hidden in East Africa. They seem like a third world country to the rest of the planet, but once you enter through its invisible border, you'll find a highly technological city that puts the latest iPhone to shame. It's all because they rely on the world's most precious metal, Vibranium, which is incorporated into everything they use, from transportation to their clothing. What Black Panther gets right is everything.
Ryan Coogler did a fantastic job at directing this $200 million monster and it seems that he spent every penny wisely. There were so many well thought out and technical shots (see: action scenes in South Korea). And to think he's accomplished so much and he's only 31 years old. He also couldn't have done it all without his frequent collaborator and cinematographer, Rachel Morisson, who did a brilliant job with some of the most beautiful shots of the film.
Then there's the cast, which was what really made the movie perfect. Chadwick Boseman embodied T'challa just as much as Michael B. Jordan embodied Erik "Killmonger" Stevens. They both gave outstanding performances and the edge goes to Jordan (who used Heath Ledger's Joker and method acting for this role). He plays a murderous villain, but his passion and the points he makes are so convincing, you sometimes are unsure of who's side you're on. Let's not sleep on the supporting cast either. The women were just as good as the two lead men in this film. Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia and Danai Gurira's Okoye are two females that all young girls should look up to. They represent greatness, selflessness, loyalty and strength. The true scene-stealer, however, was Letita Wright's Shuri. Every time she appeared on screen, she'd deliver some kind of hilarious one-liner that would lighten the mood. The rest of the cast was excellent and I could go on-and-on about Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, etc.
Let's not forget the team behind the camera that set the bar high for the rest of the upcoming MCU films. The score was beautifully done by Ludwig Görranson (frequent Childish Gambino collaborator) and he really did his research for this movie. He studied traditional African music and made its presence felt throughout. Since he has experience with hip-hop, he threw in a few head-bobbing beats in the film as well. Hannah Beachler, Alan Hook, and Ruth E. Carter also gave us unforgettable production design, art direction, and costume design, respectively. I wouldn't be surprised if Black Panther is up for multiple technical awards at the Academy Awards a year from now. ★★★★★