Black Panther

Black Panther is a 2018 movie based on the Marvel Comics character. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and he co-wrote the screenplay with Joe Robert Cole. The film stars Chadwick Boseman from Captain America: Civil War, where he first played T’Challa, the Black Panther. The film also stars Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi), Martin Freeman (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit, and Captain America: Civil War) and Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and many other films and television shows).  

Black Panther is rated PG-13. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.

The premise of the movie is that long ago a meteor hit in central Africa. This meteorite contained vibranium, a fictional metal. In the past a warrior ingests a herb that has been mutated by the metal and becomes a superhuman leader, unites tribes and forms the country of Wakanda. Using the metal the Wakandans develop very advanced technology, but hide it behind a stealth cloak and pose as a third world country. All of this is revealed as backstory in the opening minutes of the film.

While the meteor and advanced technology provide a science fiction premise, the movie remains solidly in the superhero comic universe.

There are few black superheroes and few science fiction movies with black lead actors. Black Panther and the country of Wakanda are well done twists on the normally white superhero world. I enjoyed that part of the film. Michael B. Jordan plays the role of Killmonger the main villain of the movie. At first, he appeared to be a one-dimensional character, but as the movie progressed the deeper facets of his character were revealed.

I enjoyed both the unique Wakandan point of view and the character depth of Killmonger. The movie also had humor and several well-acted fight scenes.

Beyond that, there is nothing special here. When T’Challa appears to die I know that he hasn’t. Actually, at that point, I pretty much knew how the film would conclude.

Black Panther is a good addition to the Marvel Comic Universe. If you liked the seventeen earlier Marvel movies I suspect you will like this one. However, I’m getting a little tired of comic book movies. If I had it to do over, I’d wait and rent the movie.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This review is of the 1978 comedy science fiction novel and the 2005 film, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams wrote the novel and co-wrote the screenplay for the film. The film is directed by Garth Jennings and stars Martin Freeman (Shaun of the Dead and The Hobbit), Bill Nighy (Underworld, Shaun of the Dead and Pirates of the Caribbean) and the voice of Alan Rickman (Galaxy Quest, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and all the Harry Potter films)

The movie is rated PG. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.

Wikipedia says it well, “The film begins with a Broadway-style number ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’, sung by the dolphins of the world, who are aware of the Earth's impending doom. At the end, they all jump out of the oceans and into space, leaving Earth for good.” In the book, this isn’t much more than a bit of narration, but this is only one of many differences between the film and book. While this is not unusual, Douglas Adams did co-write the screenplay and some of the changes left me wondering why they had done it that way.

The book and the vast majority of the film focus on Arthur Dent. On a Thursday morning during breakfast Arthur discovers that bulldozers have nearly encircled his home and intend to demolish it. He attempts to stop them by lying in the mud in front of the dozers. Ford Prefect, a friend, convinces Arthur the bulldozers won’t bother his home and to go to the pub with him. While there Ford declares that he is an alien from the vicinity of Betelgeuse and that the Earth will be demolished for a hyperspace bypass in just a few minutes. As predicted the world explodes.

Thus begins this weird trip around the galaxy. 

Regarding the work of Douglas Adams, I have found there are two groups, those who believe him to be brilliant and those who wrinkle their noses and go, “huh?” I’m in the wrinkled nose group.

I saw the film when it came out in 2005 and left knowing I would never get my money or the nearly two hours of my life back. Recently, a friend convinced me to read the book. I found the story amusing, but the writing not equal to its bestseller status. For this review, I watched the movie a second time. With clarity provided by the novel, the film ranged between amusing and absurd.

The majority of scenes in both the film and book are simple attempts to achieve humor, however, there is a subplot that delves into creation. During much of his life Adams described himself as a “radical atheist,” and the subplot pokes fun at the concept of a creator.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is much more a comedy than science fiction, but if you enjoy absurd British humor in the form of Monty Python and Red Dwarf you may enjoy this story. However, I’m going to recommend that if you watch it you do so when it is free on free on cable.