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Black Panther


Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K Brown, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis

Director: Ryan Coogler

Not that long ago, after serials passed away on the big screen to reappear on television as series, celluloid superheroes were relatively rare.

Not anymore.

Hollywood has created a continuing box-office bonanza (Black Panther is currently going from strength to super-profitable world-wide strength) by exploiting every comic book hero from the X Men, Superman, The Green Hornet to the Incredible Hulk etc, etc, etc.

Given Black Panther was co-created by Marvel Comics', Stan Lee (who, in his usual ever-modest manner, appears on screen here), I was expecting the usual Marvel Mix as before.

True, director and cowriter (with Joe Robert Cole) Coogler delivers all the comic-strip action and excitement the most devoted genre fan could ask for, while the predominant subtext - how wealthy nations callously exploit poor and oppressed countries - hits hard and often but always within the context of the narrative,

The central storyline follows Boseman's T'Challa leaving the US to return to his African home country of Wakanda to take his rightful place as King.

But there he finds himself facing treachery and danger on all sides and reverts to his superhero alter-ego the Black Panther to fight to save his nation - and, naturally, to do a good deed for Mankind in general.

And, fortunately for all concerned Wakanda (a hidden futuristic city brilliantly realised by superb special effects, complete with skyscrapers and massive flying saucers) is the source of the unique magical element Vibranium which powers Black Panther to victory.

Superb spectacle and equally remarkable action sequences add to a fast-moving story with very, very few lacunae, and which alone are worth the price of admission.

And, adding to a super superhero show that outflies its predecessors, is the enthralling, credible blend of character, story and combat (I particularly admired the huge armour-wearing rhinos that replaced mere tanks in the battle sequences) along with battles in space and thrills and action in Darkest Korea.

Boseman scores in his Jekyll-and-Hyde-style superhero role and there's strong support from Bassett, Whitaker, Jordan and Nyongo while Serkis, a splendid villain from Darkest Johannesburg with a spot-on South African accent, is great value and Freeman, who fell from space in the flop sci-fi film of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy redeems himself here as a heroic FBI agent.

Like so many Africa-set movies, we are treated here to a mock-African language dialogue which, as ever, tends to feature occasional Swahili words in the blend.

I heard "mzuri" which means "good".

To which I would add "sana" which means "very",

Result "Mzuri sana" - the film too.

Alan Frank

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Disney. Colour.
134 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Mar 2018