Review / ‘Black Panther’ (M) ***

MARVEL Pictures has become a major player in the movie game, targeting the audience segment that would prefer not to have to think about intelligent ideas or issues. But this one is perhaps a little different.

Like every super-hero film telling hackneyed fibs – vigorous, implausible, violent, noisy – “Black Panther” is a big-budget fantasy in the best tradition of good guys versus bad guys, heroes and heroines with superhuman attributes, and repeal of any natural law that threatens to obstruct the plot?

It’s the creation of black American writer (together with Joe Robert Cole) and director Ryan Coogler. Its principal cast is black American. Its main location is Wakanda, an only-recently-discovered (by Europeans) technologically advanced African kingdom that owes its benison to a long-ago collision with a meteorite built out of a marvellous element called Vibranium on which Wakanda built its superior new world. Vibranium isn’t in the periodic table. Marvel Productions invented it to build Captain America’s shield!

Ho hum. What’s new about that lese majeste? Not a lot in Hollywood parlance. Meanwhile, the movie itself is typical of its genre.

With a reported estimated budget of $US200 million, its escapist fantasy action delivers a message. In “National Review”, on February 14, Kyle Smith wrote: “’Black Panther’ stands for much the opposite of what its namesake political movement advocated… takes the side of sober, wise elites patiently enacting incremental change rather than of charismatic mob leaders fanning the flames of rage and revolution. Its most compelling character may be an analogue to Malcolm X, but it’s very much a Martin Luther King Jr kind of film.”

That’s worth thinking about.

At all cinemas

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