Wakanda: My Review of Black Panther
I’m not sure if my comment will count as a review being that I arrived quite late to the cinema room and left a bit early but I will dish out my two cents non-the-less. Here we go:
The movie was impressive, beyond my expectation of how I thought the African story would be told. From the visuals, to the outfits, accents, to the story line et all. it was great. Before I watched the movie, I had a feeling that the continent would be view in that romanticized and slightly insulting way that African Americans view Africa where only certain kingdoms are chosen to represent Africa. I assumed already that the accents would be overly stressed, and I expected it to be overtly political with that very cliché theme revolving around proving a point to the whites that we are not who they say we are.
Truth be told, it did fall under that cliché theme. Essentially, the movie is about the Heroes of Wakanda protecting the kingdom’s natural resource, the Vibranium from the foreigners (whites). The vibranium is what has helped power the kingdom and makes it the most powerful in the world. If you are familiar with world history, you’d get the message right away. If you are not, I’ll explain in brief: The Europeans exploited African for her natural resources resulting in the poverty and wars that takes place in the continent till this day. The movie flips things around gives its assumption of what the African continent would be if the inhabitants made use of their resource and worked together. Despite it’s no-so subliminal message, I appreciate that it did not seem too aggressive. But this still does not change the fact that I did not find the story interesting enough to anticipate what would come next. Then again, I am not a fan of action movies as I find them all too predictable.
In regular movies, viewers watch for the story line mostly but black panther is different, especially for blacks. The graphics, costumes accents and language, events other superficial were very important to black views because far too often in movies, the richness of Africa is erased but in this movie attention was paid to the details. Its why when you ask an African for their review of the movie, almost every one whether into the arts or not focuses on the graphics and costumes. The kingdom of Wakanda was shown visually in such a way that communicated that an advanced Africa does not have to get rid of it’s roots, language, vegetation, clothes, traditions to be developed. It also helped in educating viewers on some of the traditions in the continent.
As an African I appreciated that their research finding were not lazily woven into the film. The head mask is also an Igbo mask, the outfits represented from different countries and were styled in glamorous and appropriate ways. For example, the Lesotho clothes were used as shield with super power and in reality, the people of Lesotho use it to cover themselves from the sun. It these materials were used as, say, a table cover in a restaurant then it would show that the producers of the movie think take their their time to do research but rather looked for “exotic” items to embellish the movie. Although I did notice some inconsistencies (For example, Okoye is an Igbo west African name and yet she spoke Xhosa.) I’ll let them go because Wakanda is not supposed to represent one African country.
Over all it was an inspiring movie that really did the job of depicting telling an African story and also inspiring and showing viewers the true possibilities of how Africa could be. Most people from other continent do not understand the continent of Africa or see it beyond a certain light and this movie could be used as a sort of Africa 101.