Marvel’s collection of super heroes is substantial and they are constantly refreshing the line up with new characters from the pantheon. With "Black Panther: Long Live the King", Marvel has crafted something that many have been waiting for a long time, a spectacular action adventure with a meaningful story line and a cast that work brilliantly together. The story is focused on honor, power and family and weaves effortlessly and rapidly back and forth between those lines.
In "Black Panther", they hit new highs on nearly every level. Marvel has created a new mythos in Wakanda, a technologically advanced utopia cleverly hidden by holographic deflectors somewhere in Africa. Threading its way between Africa, California and Korea and through a generation, the plot takes family drama to breath-taking extremes. Assassinations, power vacuums, and challenges to the throne set the scene for a rivalry between King T’Challa and his cousin Killmonger who has, to say the least, issues with his family.
Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, is possibly the most compelling Marvel villain yet. The “mirror image” of T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) Killmonger was abandoned by his family and left in Oakland, California. Fueled by anger and revenge he becomes a formidable opponent, easily the equal of T’Challa and goes after what he believes to be his birthright, the throne of Wakanda. What makes the rivalry so compelling is not just the stellar combat scenes but what they represent – the polarization in society.
While T’Challa may rule Wakanda, the women of "Black Panther" rule the film. Female representation, something barely acknowledged in most Marvel movies, is at the forefront. The female characters aren’t sidekicks or love interests, they are powerful and brilliant, creating roles that anyone - male, female, child or adult – can look up to. Danai Gurira, who plays General Okoya of the all-female Dora Milaje, the fierce guard of Wakanda, steals nearly every scene she is in. Letitia Wright portrays T’Challa’s sister, the scientific genius behind Wakanda’s futuristic prowess. Lupita Nyong’o plays a spy, Nakia, with as much style as James Bond.
Composer Ludwig Göransson’s score blends a 132-piece western classical orchestra with African percussionists and a 40-person choir. Göransson travelled to Senegal to research their music. He incorporated their talking drum which is heard for T’Challa’s main theme, with one hit per syllable of his name played on the drum. A fula flute conveys antagonist Killmonger’s ferocity and West African sabar drums are used for the action scenes. Göransson’s challenge was blending these three elements into a classical orchestra. The result seems to work, capturing the heart and soul of Wakanda.
"Black Panther" tackles issues most movies shy away from - race, gender equality, and uses and abuses of power. The cast is brilliant, creating characters that you simply want to see more of. While it may be the least “super hero-ish” movie in the Marvel collection it may also be the best they’ve ever done. I can’t wait for the sequel. ... See MoreSee Less
This week on The Score, with Edmund Stone: we enjoy previous Oscar winners for Best Score, one for each decade. Please join Matt Rogers for Oscar's Finest as we reminisce about E.T., The Godfather, The Lion in Winter and more. Tune in to All Classical Portland this Saturday, February 17th, at 2pm. www.allclassical.org/... See MoreSee Less
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