Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Black Panther (2018)

You know, I heard this movie was supposed to be awesome, but I guess the sheer speed that Netflix got ahold of it should have been a dead giveaway.  I've been reviewing a lot of bad movies lately, so maybe I'm just looking for flaws nowadays, but... Ah, maybe I should just get to the review, huh?  Yeah.  Sounds like a plan.

Black Panther (2018) is about Prince T'Challa, who becomes a king upon the death of his father.  Unfortunately, there are several challengers he must overcome before he can ascend to the throne.  Then there's the usual kingly problems that one must deal with when one runs a country!  Like crazy cousins coming along to steal your throne, and, well, let's be honest here, no family is perfect, amirite?  Yeah.  I usually am.

Look, this is a Marvel Supehero movie, so let's cut to the chase.  Requisite props to the CGI action and special effects departments.  The CGI is getting better and better.  In 10 or 20 years, it might even pass for perfect realism.  I disliked the end fight, just because of the setting and scenery.  It seemed too rushed, somehow, too technical.  For once, the movie didn't seem to contradict itself too much, which, I can't stress enough, really bugs the crap out of me.  But you guys know that.  :-D  Spoilers to follow, so, maybe if you want to watch this thing on netflix for yourself, don't read on.  I don't give away anything huge, I don't think?  Meh.

So here's my rub with this movie.  There's not enough heart, and no soul to it.  I remember reading the Black Panther comic books as a kid, and one of the major facets of the character was the spiritual side of things.  I don't recall how the comics handled T'Challa's origins, but I think it was more mystical than the goop from a purple flower, and spending like 30 seconds unconscious and talking to your dead dad.  I don't know, maybe it was the fact that he kept drinking the juice to make his powers go away and then getting them back and then giving them away, I don't know, it just seemed like, any old dork could have pulled it off, once they had the potion.  T'Challa was supposed to be king because he was the best warrior, and then, he gets his ass kicked by what, the second guy who comes to challnge him?  So, he's got a 50/50 success rate.  Better than a local weather man, I guess?  Not very inspirational.

I mean, what makes T'Challa special?  Purple flower juice?  His 50/50 success rate in physical combat?  That he was a prince before he got his ass kicked?  That he can fit into a Vibranium catsuit?  Look, every superhero has something that makes him special.  For instance, Iron Man is a genius even without his armor.  Iron Man MADE the armor, so in essence, it's an extension of his genius.  The Hulk has a really bad temper, and his research into radiation-induced regeneration is what turned him into the Hulk in the first place.  Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider, but it was Peter Parker's sense of responsibility that made him go from being a costumed wrestler for money, into a crimefighter.  All of these heroes have something unique, something specific, that's basically as much a superpower as what makes them capable of fighting supervillains.  I don't see anything special or unique about T'challa.  Maybe I missed it, or it ended up on the cutting room floor.

I think in the comics, there was a bit more.  Didn't he lose his powers at some point, and have to go on some mystical journey into the realm of panther gods or something, in order to get them back?  Even that would have been better than "Hey, here I saved you a flower, now go fight the bad guy.  Again.  And win this time!"  I don't know, seems kind of lame.  At least with the blessing of the "panther gods," that would have made him special.  Shit, fighting a flower-enhanced super-soldier without his powers, maybe with just the vibranium catsuit, even that would have been an accomplishment.  Something, anything to give the movie a little heart.  Instead, we get a fight on a magnetic train track, that is just such a CGI letdown.  When his little sister told him to snap out of it during the initial combat, I was hoping that the potion that turned him back to normal was actually posioned.  That would have explained why he got his ass kicked so bad, and then we could have had some drama around how he'd got poisoned the first time, and was back to kick some ass.  But, no.  None of those things happened.

I remember getting like one of those electric piano keyboard things for Xmas once.  It played Greensleeves or whatever it's called, which is basically an Xmas song, or at least, Xmas is the only time I ever heard it.  I know, you're asking why I'm talking about this now, but bear with me, I'll get to the point in a moment.  So this thing played greensleeves, or whatever, and you could try and play it back.  If you got it wrong, this thing would beep you to tell you that you screwed it up.  So, my goal was to play it back, not only without screwing it up, but without the machine helping me to know that I got it wrong.  I wanted to know the song so well that I could hear myself screwing up, and know I had got it wrong.  So I practiced for several weeks, in fact, I think it took me most of January, the entire month after Xmas, to nail it.  Finally, after weeks of practice, I replayed greensleeves perfectly, without the machine helping me at all.  I'd done it.  There was a sense of pride, I'd achieved something I set out to do, but what had I really done?  I'd reproduced something as exactly as I had heard it in the first place.  I hadn't created anything new.  I hadn't played the tune out of a sense of beauty, revelling in the pretty music.  I'd copied something, like a computer would copy a file.  Could I do it again?  What was the point?  I'd done it in the first place.  It was a technical victory, but not one that I wanted to replicate.  I set the electric piano thing aside, and I never touched it again.

It's the same thing with Black Panther.  Sure, the CGI works, mostly.  There's no continuity errors, for the most part.  It's not funny, it's not inspriational, I didn't feel the urge to cry when T'Challa won back his throne.  This was a technical victory.  I don't need to see the movie again.  It was nice the first time, I suppose, but why watch T'challa swallow a purple flower again?  It wasn't funny enough to enjoy for the humor, or emotionally impacting enough to watch the ending again.  So, I guess watch it once to see what happens, so people aren't looking at you like "Did you see Black Panther yet?  No?  Why not?"  But otherwise, I don't really see any reason to revisit it.  Maybe things will be better with Avengers: Infinity war, but from the sounds of it, it won't be.  I think Marvel's finally jumped the shark.

In other news, I've been watching some of the new season of Iron Fist, also on netflix.  I heard this season was better, but I'm like 4 episodes in and still the same old shite.  Still that same old whiny Danny Rand.  Spends 15 years trying to learn to control his emotions, to meditate, to be the calm center in a storm of mystical energies, and what is he really?  Big old ball of emotions.  It's like watching Jolene Blalock be an emotional Vulcan all over again (Star Trek: Enterprise reference, for those who were alive 20 years ago).  Even Davos is the same way, which I don't get.  Meh.  I don't know.  When do humans, as a species, finally learn something?  When do we grow, and gain some wisdom?  Does it ever happen?  Even in stories?  Or are we all just too wrapped up in ourselves to see the bigger picture?  What the fuck am I even talking about?  I don't know!  I was hoping you did.

That's all for tonight.  Lots of fall premieres coming up.  I'll get back to you guys when I see some of them.  Enjoy...  Oktoberfest?  The Fall equinox?  Sure, why not!  :-D