Black Panther (Chadwick Bozeman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman) – There is a reason I don’t go to comic book movies. They are all the same. I have seen the Superman movies, the Batman movies, Dick Tracy, and even one of the Iron Man films. That is enough. D.C. Comics and Marvel have made way more money from these movies than they ever made from the sale of comic books.
Black Panther is apparently unique among these in part because the cast is overwhelmingly African American. The cast is exceptional. Chaz Bozeman is one of the great talents among actors today. Lupita Nyong’o is far more than another pretty actress in Hollywood. Daniel Kaluuya was fantastic in Get Out and will be a star for years to come. It’s too bad that they are wasting their considerable talents in a super-hero, animation-driven, computer graphics-burdened film.
I know, I know: these are the movies that kids pay to see. At $1.3 billion in box office receipts, Black Panther is more than a hit. It is a mega-spectacular. And who am I to denigrate this genre of film? I am pleased that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has established an entire category of awards for such movies. They deserve their category. After all, they are among the most expensive to make. They employ thousands of people. They give God knows how many actors jobs. And most of all, they showcase the technological advances that define our world today even though they are rapidly killing independent films.
Black Panther is entertaining for most. It put me to sleep 15 minutes in. There is our hero (Bozeman) who is designated king. There’s a challenger who loses; another one that wins. Our hero is saved. His enemies are vanquished. There are chases and more chases; battles and more battles. Truth and justice prevail. To its credit, the movie showcases almost as many females as male warriors. The film proves that audiences will show up regardless of race or gender. But substitute Ant Man, Spiderman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, or a dozen others and it is all the same. Formula, formula, formula.
Whether Black Panther should have been nominated for Best Picture is a really fine question. If Black Panther, why not a whole lot of its predecessors? I think it has to do with image and ratings! The Academy Awards has been losing viewers for years. The explosion of other awards shows has rendered the most important among them as anti-climactic. With the actresses and other dignitaries showing up at all of the other events, the Oscars have been rendered just another fashion show. And then there was the rampant lack of representation of minorities that threatened the Academy. And then, there was Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey et al. And this year, it is Kevin Hart.
What does this have to do with Black Panther? It is the breakthrough: the first super-hero film to be nominated for Best Picture. Avatar proved that graphic-heavy, technology-driven films could be worthy of Oscar nods, but Black Panther proves that computer-laden art is now driving Hollywood.