Following the death of his father, Prince T’Challa aka Black Panther returns home to claim his birth right and become king of Wakanda. However when news surfaces of a terrorist who has stolen some of his homeland’s resources, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) springs into action to stop his home’s sacred power being used for evil.
This has had a great deal of attention and is now one of the highest rated Marvel movies on RottenTomatoes.com, surprising when the character has never been what you’d call a household name like Thor, Spiderman etc. For whatever reason this movie has gained such attention, what we actually have is a fairly basic super hero movie with the twist of an African setting and largely black cast. Panther is an interesting, layered character and fairly refreshing compared to the usual machismo we get with other characters; but with a rise and fall and rise again story ark, I failed to see how this was any different than what we’ve been getting for several years now. Add to this an underwhelming Michael B Jordan as the villain who’s character is basically a carbon copy of another Marvel villain, and like in Creed has no screen presence and is instead feels miscast beyond his impressive pecks. Yet we do get a fantastic car chase sequence, decent CGI and some tense fight scenes, along with good support from Martin Freeman and especially Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister – who gets all the best lines and funniest gags.
As it stands this was very pretty, often fun but very drawn out considering it’s simple plot, and felt more like an ‘also ran’ in the juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe than anything else. I still had a good time, but like a lot of heavily-hyped things these days … I also came away wondering what the fuss was about.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Rocky franchise. I’ve watched the first, Oscar winning instalment several times and would be up for checking out the numerous sequels again one day. So I went into this quite hyped and was one of the people who really appreciated what Sylvester Stallone did with the last movie, Rocky Balboa.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan) is trying to make a name for himself despite the looming shadow of deceased father, renowned champ boxer Apollo Creed. He turns to his father’s former ageing friend and rival Rocky who is still running the restaurant in Philadelphia. With reluctance Rocky agrees to train Adonis and gradually help him rise up through the ranks of the local boxing circuit, before eventually attracting the big name fights. This is shot distinctly in a very authentic, realistic style with I’m guessing a lot of first time ‘from the neighbourhood’ or ‘from the boxing world’ actors. It’s a trick that worked very well indeed for Eastwood’s Gran Torino, but I’ll admit it seemed to bring the movie down a bit here with even Jordan coming off a bit amateurish; struggling with line delivery in a way I’d only expected from the mumbling Stallone. However with an earnest and believable turn from the Italian Stallion (especially in one emotional speech) and decent direction I still found this gripping. It doesn’t offer much new to the formula and is, bar the Creed connection another stab at what became Rocky 5 … but I still found myself swept up in Adonis’s journey and as that Rocky-theme kicked in during the final bout, I was buzzing.
It’s not the best Rocky movie or probably even the best boxing movie and falters in the casting where it could have shined, but for a realistic non-Hollywood boxing drama this still managed to … pack a punch (sorry).
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