Saturday Movie Matinee: ‘Black Panther’


At just 32 years old, Ryan Coogler is arguably the most successful young director working today.

He began his career with the socially conscious “Fruitvale Station” in 2013, which told the true story of Bay Area resident Oscar Grant and his unfortunate interactions with law enforcement.

This was followed by the widely anticipated (though rather flatly received) “Creed” in 2015, a film that allowed Sylvester Stallone to reprise his famous Rocky Balboa role.

“Black Panther,” screening at Palisades Branch Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, is Coogler’s biggest offering so far. In fact, for many directors, it doesn’t get bigger.

The cast is led by Michael B. Jordan (who has been in all of Coogler’s films) and Chadwick Boseman, with an ensemble including Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira.

Like many blockbusters, “Black Panther” is curiously long at two hours and 14 minutes. The action sequences are frequent, dizzying and fail to add any meaningful layers to the story.

Yet it maintains a certain amount of exhilaration as T’Challa (Boseman) fights for the throne at rapid speed. The visuals are appropriately sweeping, especially when they’re exploring the technologically savvy African nation.

Ultimately, the charisma of Jordan’s character is what makes the film startling and special. He injects a humorous breath of fresh air into every appearance.

Boseman is no match. He feels watery and forgetful, lacking the physical presence of the other players.

Despite its spectacular downfalls, “Black Panther” deserves attention because it’s superhero fare that brings so many diverse actors to the mainstream cinema screen.

Coogler’s next film has been announced as “Wrong Answer.” Ta-Nehisi-Coates will adapt Rachel Aviv’s New Yorker article about a mathematics teacher in Atlanta who altered his student’s test scores in order to get funding for his school.

Again, it stars the magnetic Michael B. Jordan.