Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Black Panther

“Bent” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

If you dislike anything about “Black Panther” then you’re a hate-filled, bigoted, alt-right, neo-Nazi who is literally worse than Hitler. Buy it before innocent refugees get murdered by AR-15s.

Well, that was the easiest review I ever wrote. Thanks everyone!

Sigh. Yeah, movies were better when they were about entertainment, possibly with some life lessons or messages about human nature thrown in. You know, before hysterical nut jobs on tumblr and twitter started politicizing and weaponizing movies to attack anyone who dare not share their opinion. Can nothing be left alone by these loons? They’re like a cancer. A rectal cancer, to be exact.

Even when I look at “Black Panther” through a political lens, the politics in it aren’t anything that they would support when applied to the United States. When King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who is also the hero of the title, says, “I am the king of Wakanda, not the king of the world,” it’s a statement that rings very close to one made by our current president, who the tumblrinas are known to object to--if I may state it so mildly.

Politics and pathetic race-baiting aside, how is “Black Panther” as a movie? It’s good. I wouldn’t go all zany over it like I would other Marvel movies, but it earns its place as a good Marvel movie.

The plot involves T’Challa taking over as King of Wakanda after his father T’Chaka (John Kani) is killed in an explosion at the U.N., as we may recall from “Captain America: Civil War.” Wakanda is a nation-state in the heart of Africa. It has shielded itself from the outside world for hundreds of years thanks to vibranium—an extremely powerful metal that allows Wakanda to have technology far advanced beyond anything else in the world.

Of course, a secret like this can’t be kept forever. It isn’t long until one-armed weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is looking to get his hands on vibranium to sell it to the highest bidder. He’s aided in his quest by an ex-special ops agent nicknamed Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), so monikered for all of the kills he has to his name. Killmonger keeps track of his kills by marking his body with one small scar for each kill. How he gets them on his back is not revealed.

Helping T’Challa/Black Panther defend Wakanda are a group of the most masculine-looking women ever put on screen, led by General Okoye (Danai Gurira). What with their shaved heads, constant scowls, and aggressive posturing, they might as well be men. Apparently though, these types of manly women are favored among the actual men of the four tribes that make up the Kingdom of Wakanda, given that Okoye’s love interest is tribal leader W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya). That’s fine—whatever does it for you.


For T’Challa, the love interest is a bit more feminine. Her name is Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and while she may be softer spoken, curvier, and less scowly than Okoye’s all female brute squad, she can, of course, hold her own in a fight against multiple armed men who outweigh her by 100 pounds. Much like Okoye, she can fend them off and flip them around with ease, and all without breaking a sweat. Black Panther can do this too, but he’s imbued with super powers.

The super powers Black Panther possesses are from a rare flower grown in Wakanda. The bud from the flower is taken, ground down, liquefied, and drank by the one who becomes king, so he can protect Wakanda. Of the two treasures in Wakanda—vibranium and this flower—the flower is more interesting to me. I’m still not entirely sure what would prevent a usurper from stealing a flower and using it to gain his or her own Black Panther powers. It seems to me that an army of super soldiers could be created using the flowers, but I guess that’s a bit too “Captain America” for this movie.

One thing that is impressive is the character development of both T’Challa and Killmonger. Both men have tragedies in their lives regarding their fathers. For T’Challa, it leads to doubt, and for Killmonger it leads to anger. I appreciate it when a movie villain is treated as an actual character and not a walking, talking embodiment of hostility who is there for no reason other than to give the hero a hard time. “Black Panther” has a lot of imagination with the Kingdom of Wakanda, but as an action movie, the action is decent at best. Where the movie really shines is in its heart, and “Black Panther” has plenty of that. Rent it.

More New Releases: “Bent,” about a shamed former cop who connects a murder case to a government conspiracy involving rogue agents from a top spy agency, starring Karl Urban, Andy García, Sofía Vergara, Vincent Spano, and John Finn.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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