DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Ryan Coogler
Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
Writing Credits:
Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

T'Challa rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, but a vengeful outsider challenges his claim.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$202,003,951 on 4020 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby Plus 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 2.0
Spanish Dolby Plus 7.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 5/15/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Ryan Coogler and Production Designer Hannah Beachler
• Director’s Intro
• 4 Featurettes
• Gag Reel
• 4 Deleted Scenes
• “From Page to Screen” Featurette
• “Connecting the Universe” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Sneak Peeks
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Black Panther [4K UHD] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 23, 2018)

When Black Panther appeared on the 2018 release schedule, some predicted it would wind up as one of the least successful of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. After all, the movie concentrated on a character with much less name recognition than Spider-Man or Thor, and also… well, it also was really “black”.

Because MCU films about lesser-known characters like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man did fine at the box office, I suspect that it was the whole “black” part of Black Panther that inspired the majority of the box office skepticism. Sure, 2017’s Wonder Woman showed that audiences would flock to a film about a non-white non-male superhero, but somehow that seemed different.

Maybe because Wonder Woman herself feels less “threatening” than Black Panther. Wonder Woman comes across as a more mainstream-friendly role without much in her background to inspire angst – heck, the character even got a popular prime time TV series in the 1970s.

On the other hand, Black Panther took his name from a 1960s radical political organization, and with his firm roots in Africa, he comes across as more of a potential challenge for much of the American audience. Sure, Wonder Woman originated from a foreign realm as well, but an island packed with sexy, scantily-clad women seems a lot easier for Americans to swallow than an isolated, nationalistic African land.

Despite forecasts of mediocre ticket sales, Black Panther turned into a true sensation. African-American audiences embraced it in a massive way, and along with glowing reviews, this support made it a “must see” film that – like Wonder Woman - attracted moviegoers who normally avoid superhero fare.

Still reeling from the “Oscars So White” scandal of recent years, it remains to be seen whether or not Black Panther will impact Hollywood in a substantial way. Along with other hits like Get Out and Girls Trip, though, the film shows that audiences care less about the racial composition of the movies they see and more about the quality.

Wakanda exists as a technologically advanced African nation that hides its wealth and resources from the outside world to thwart exploitation. Part of a regal bloodline, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) ascends to the throne and becomes king after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani).

With this role, T’Challa also takes on the gig as “Black Panther”, a hero who receives special powers via a powerful herb. T’Challa finds himself threatened by an American who calls himself “Killmonger” (Michael B. Jordan) as well as other outside concerns that may impact the secret sovereignty of Wakanda.

As I write this in mid-May 2018, Panther sits close to $700 million in the US, a figure that lands it as the highest-grossing superhero movie ever. At this time, it seems possible – though unlikely – that Avengers: Infinity War will overtake it, but even if that happens, the success of Panther remains stunning.

The movie’s popularity also makes it more difficult to criticize, partly because it turned into a true cultural phenomenon. A movie like the first Avengers was an enormous hit, but its success said nothing about society, whereas Panther offered something that developed a strong impact beyond its status as a fun popcorn flick.

Critics clearly saw it as something greater than its predecessor. Sample reviews for Panther and you’ll find many plaudits that refer to it as a game-changer for the superhero domain, something that reinvents the genre.

Umm… okay.

To be sure, Panther offers a good superhero movie. It gives us lots of action as well as some compelling characters and interesting situations, all of which benefit from the high production values that come with the MCU banner.

But “game-changer”? “Redefining”? That’s where I find myself at a disconnect, as I can’t figure out what makes so many view Panther as a great superhero film, much less one that sets the genre down new paths.

Leave out the racial element and Panther bears a strong resemblance to the “origin story” MCU films we’ve already seen. Actually, we got a “pre-intro” to the lead character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War that acted as T’Challa’s first push as Black Panther.

Nonetheless, this film still creates a fairly typical take on how the character becomes the hero, so I view it as a sibling to efforts like 2008’s Iron Man or 2011’s Thor. Panther serves the standard “origin story” role, especially because it needs to introduce so many other characters – we may already know T’Challa himself, but virtually all the others are new to us.

Which works well, as a few of the supporting characters become the most interesting participants here. T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri plays “Q” to T’Challa’s James Bond, and Letitia Wright’s performance makes the role charming and fun. She also adds a much needed lightness to an often semi-pompous tale.

In addition, warrior Okoye becomes another standout, and Danai Gurira’s work as the character brings a lot of spark to the proceedings. Add Lupita Nyong'o as T’Challa’s former lover Nakia and the cast’s female members tend to offer the most compelling parts of Panther.

Perhaps he’ll loosen up in the sequel, but Boseman seems oddly restrained here. Boseman possesses a tremendous amount of talent, a actor that allowed him to play roles as disparate as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall with equal aplomb.

This means Boseman comes with the skill to play T’Challa/Panther, and overall, he does fine in the part, but I think he fails to bring out the role’s strengths as well as I’d like. He just seems a bit “bottled up” and can come across like a supporting participant in his own film.

Jordan feels as a bit more natural, but he still can seem a little disconnected. That may stem from the nature of the part itself, as Killmonger often seems more like a plot device than a full-blooded character.

Ah yes, the plot – or the semblance of one that we find here. Panther bites off a lot more than my short synopsis notes, so expect a less than tight narrative.

This doesn’t turn into a major liability, but I think the story tends to ramble too much. It goes down so many different paths that the end result lacks the focus it needs.

In truth, Panther contains enough threads to occupy two or three films. A movie that concentrated on the basic Shakespearean T’Challa/Killmonger dynamic without various sideshows would probably flow better – even though that might deprive us of the Bilbo/Gollum reunion we get when Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis briefly share the screen.

None of these factors make Panther a bad film, as even with its flaws, it still gives us a fairly entertaining affair. The movie stages its action scenes with aplomb – especially when we get Okoye and Nakia involved – and the package manages to keep us with it.

I just don’t think Panther ever becomes better than “pretty good”. If offers a serviceable and occasionally exciting origin story that hopefully will pay off with a tighter narrative next time.

Footnote: you shouldn’t need me to tell you this, but stick around through the film’s end credits for the usual bonus footage.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Black Panther appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a strong presentation.

Sharpness consistently seemed tight and distinctive. Not a sliver of softness crept into the presentation, as it seemed accurate and precise at all times.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. As expected, the movie lacked print flaws.

Colors tended toward a fairly standard orange and teal, though some of the scenes brightened up the palette to a decent degree, so a reasonable array of hues appeared.

Blacks were dark and dense, and low-light shots offered appropriate depth and delineation. From start to finish, this was a stellar image.

As for the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it mustered a pretty immersive soundscape, one that came to life best during the film’s action sequences. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, these used the various channels in an active manner and created a smooth, engaging soundfield that complemented the material.

Quieter scenes lacked as much impact, but they suited the tale. The score broadened to the different speakers well and the whole package provided a nice impression.

Audio quality was fine, with speech that came across as fairly natural – though some of the looping could feel a bit dodgy. Still, the lines remained easily intelligible and lacked any edginess or other issues.

Music appeared bright and bold, while effects showed good range and boasted deep low-end as appropriate. Though I didn’t think the audio quite made it to “A”-level qualifications, it still fared nicely.

How did the 4K compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio showed more range and involvement, while visuals offered stronger quality.

Most significantly, low-light scenes fared much better for the 4K, as these tended to be too dense on the BD. The HDR colors also offered superior oomph and definition looked tighter. The 4K became a clear upgrade.

No extras appear on the 4K itself, but the included Blu-ray copy delivers all the bonus features, and these start with an audio commentary from director Ryan Coogler and production designer Hannah Beachler. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at sets/locations, story and characters, cast and performances, influences, effects and stunts, music, visual design, and related topics.

This turns into a good but not great commentary. While Coogler and Beachler touch on an appropriate array of subjects, the track never quite goes into a higher gear. Still, it becomes a reasonably involving look at the film.

We can watch the movie with or without a Director’s Introduction. In this one-minute, 23-second reel, Coogler gives us thoughts about his personal connection to the film. It’s a good lead-in to the project.

Under Featurettes, we find four clips: “Crowning of a New King” (5:34), “The Hidden Kingdom Revealed” (6:57), “The Warriors Within” (6:08) and “Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology” (6:16).

Across these, we hear from Coogler, Beachler, producer Kevin Feige, executive producer Nate Moore, costume designer Ruth Carter, dialect coach Beth McGuire, stunt coordinators Andy Gill and Jonathan Eusebio, property master Drew Petrotta, and actors Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman and Angela Bassett.

The shows look at story/characters, the depiction of Wakanda, cast and performances. The various featurettes provide a decent array of details, but they tend toward the fluffy side of the street, so don’t expect great depth.

A Gag Reel fills one minute, 38 seconds and shows the usual silliness and mistakes. It’s nothing special nut at least it’s brief.

Four Deleted Scenes take up a total of six minutes, 53 seconds. We find “UN Meet and Greet” (1:33), “Okoye and W’Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda” (1:45), “T’Challa Remembers His Father” (1:27) and “Voices from the Past” (2:08).

Most of these offer minor character expansions. “UN” offers a short preface to the film’s final sequence, while the others broaden supporting roles. All seem interesting but none feel important.

Next comes From Page to Screen, a 20-minute, 27-second “roundtable discussion”. It features Coogler, Moore, comics writers Christopher Priest, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Don McGregor, and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole.

“Page” examines the comic book Panther and his shift to the movies. Like the prior featurettes, this one delivers a reasonable collection of thoughts, but it lacks a strong level of information. I would’ve liked more comparisons between the movie and the comics.

Marvel Studios – The First Ten Years – Connecting the Universe goes for eight minutes, 39 seconds and provides info from Feige, Moore, Boseman, Marvel Studios EVP Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios Production and Development Executive Stephen Broussard, Marvel Studios Co-President Louis D’Esposito, Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Infinity War writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, and actors Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, William Hurt and Mark Ruffalo.

“Universe” gets into the interconnecting tissue among all the MCU movies and their push toward Infinity War. Nothing fresh emerges here, but we find a semi-interesting take on the links among the films.

The Blu-ray disc opens with an ad for Ant-Man and the Wasp, and it also brings a two-minute, 26-second “Exclusive Sneak Peek” at the film that presents comments from director Peyton Reed and actors Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas.

Sneak Peeks throws in a promo for the Marvel Strike Force, Marvel Contest of Champions and Marvel Future Fight games. No trailer for Panther appears here.

A massive hit, Black Panther took hold of audiences and wouldn’t let go. As for me, I like the film but don’t think it betters its superhero peers. The 4K UHD delivers excellent picture and very good audio along with a reasonable array of supplements. An entertaining effort, Black Panther seems like a middle-of-the-pack comic book tale to me.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of BLACK PANTHER

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Main