For a re­view of “Black Pan­ther,”

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Be­lieve the hype: “Black Pan­ther” is eas­ily Marvel’s best film to date. This ex­hil­a­rat­ing, beau­ti­ful and gen­uinely mov­ing su­per­hero film is firmly rooted in the point of view of di­rec­tor and co- writer Ryan Coogler, a tremen­dous ex­am­ple of the rad­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties to be found in Afro­fu­tur­ism. Coogler builds a thrilling, ex­cit­ing world, and threads through­out it a story filled with pathos and re­al­world grav­i­tas.

Al­though our hero, T’Challa ( Chad­wick Bose­man), hails from the African pow­ered by the nat­u­ral re­source vi­bra­nium coun­try Coogler with — a “sto­ry­line through of Black Wakanda— Pan­ther” and that through, a orig­i­nates tech­no­log­i­cal-won­der is on the streets of Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. The con­flict of be­tween the been in­equal­i­ties, have and the op­pressed. Wakan­dans, shielded been film the col­o­nized, lies from the world’sex­pe­ri­ences and T’Challa, in those who the en­slaved have gulf who who of be­comes the to po­si­tion the de­cide be­gin­ning lib­er­a­tion king Wakanda how of of of he’s black the Wakanda to go­ing film, peo­ple aid has in to at through­out also Bose­man He pro­tect­ing may very be the his class­ily the world coun­try. king, al­lows while but him­self Pan­ther” ev­ery to minute by be the up­staged women of “Black nearly of Wakanda. lu­mi­nous Lupita He’s flanked Ny­ong’o by the as Nakia, his love a in­ter­est, Wakan­dan as spy well and as the war­rior righ­teous Okoye, and fe­ro­cious the stun­ning, DanaiGurira, who just about walks away with the whole movie. His mother, Ra­monda, is played by the inim­itable- new­com­ers spunky An­gela Wright sis­ter, Bas­sett, also as Shuri, T’Challa’s shine: and Leti­tia and two Win­ston ri­val tribe him Duke for leader the as M’Baku, throne. who chal­lenges a

from Elec­tronic Ken­drick hip- La­mar hop course beats through­out world, which the melds bold, tra­di­tional col­or­ful African aes­thet­ics with mod­ern flair. Coogler brings his au­da­cious, slick style to “Black Pan­ther,” with long track­ing shots and clean, crisp ac­tion shot by Os­carnom­i­nated cin­e­matog­ra­pher Rachel Mor­ri­son. “Black Pan­ther” is an epic, im­mer­sive, world- build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, but it stays grounded in its ac­tion, and pitches the stakes and scope at the in­di­vid­ual level. The vis­ual thrills are sus­pense­ful be­cause we care about the char­ac­ters in­volved. This is a su­per­hero film with a point of view that is fiery, rad­i­cal and rev­o­lu­tion­ary — which comes from Michael B. Jor­dan’s Erik Kill­mon­ger, a vil­lain and the most fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter. With his punky dreads and gold lower ca­nines, Erik oozes cool. But what makes him so riv­et­ing is not his style, swag or sex ap­peal, but his deep well of anger. Jor­dan is a live- wire on­screen, his rage con­stantly at a low roil­ing boil. He sim­mers like he’s spring- loaded, ready to ex­plode at any mo­ment. Erik’s rage is jus­ti­fied. You feel it in your bones, be­cause Jor­dan makes it that real. He’s a kid who grew up on tough Amer­i­can streets, with­out a fa­ther, not in Wakanda en­joy­ing a fu­tur­is­tic, royal life­style. He­wants to har­ness that power for black lib­er­a­tion, and al­though the meth­ods he em­ploys are ex­treme, you root for his suc­cess. Erik is filled with all the rage, grief, fear, re­sent­ment and fire that comes from be­ing a mi­nor­ity crushed by a col­o­nizer— an Afro­fu­tur­ist Nat Turner. T’Challa could never know that pain. His re­gal pride is what we love about him, but we yearn for Erik’s vic­tory be­cause he wears his chip on his shoul­der as a badge of honor, us­ing his pain for strength.

Al­though it’s only Fe­bru­ary, “Black Pan­ther” is bound to be one of the best films of 2018, pe­riod, no need for the qual­i­fiers “su­per­hero” or “Marvel.” It’s an awe­some vi­sion from one of our most ex­cit­ing young di­rec­tors, cours­ing with his DNA— his val­ues, be­liefs and per­spec­tive branded in­deli­bly upon it.

“Black Pan­ther,” a Marvel Stu­dios re­lease, is rated PG- 13 for pro­longed se­quences of ac­tion vi­o­lence, and a brief rude ges­ture. Run­ning time: 140 min­utes.

“Early Man”

It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble not to be charmed by the clay­ma­tion cre­ations of Bri­tish an­i­ma­tion stu­dio Aard­man An­i­ma­tions— the cre­ators of “Wal­lace and Gromit,” “Chicken Run” and “Shaun the Sheep.” While tra­di­tional com­put­er­gen­er­ated an­i­ma­tion keeps push­ing the tech­nol­ogy closer to pho­to­re­al­ism, the stop­mo­tion tech­nique of Aard­man isn’t go­ing for re­al­ism, but ex­pres­sive­ness. It’s in­cred­i­ble what a sim­ple nudge to the clay can con­vey.

Their lat­est film, “Early Man,” di­rected by “Gromit” and “Chicken Run” di­rec­tor Nick Park, is an age- old tale: It starts in the Neo- Pleis­tocene era, “some­where near Manch­ester.” While di­nosaurs and cave­men bat­tle over lunch, an as­ter­oid hits the earth, leav­ing a lava hot sphere that the cave­men kick around, and soon, the beau­ti­ful game, foot­ball — or soc­cer, if you will— is born, and im­mor­tal­ized on cave walls.

A few gen­er­a­tions later, cave­man Dug ( Ed­die Red­mayne) is liv­ing hap­pily with his tribe in the val­ley, yearn­ing for ad­ven­ture while he and his pals hunt rab­bits. He gets it when the new­era rolls into town— the Bronze Age. Say good­bye to the Stone Age, be­cause the might of metal is here, and soon the snooty, French- ac­cented Lord Nooth ( Tom Hid­dle­ston) is ban­ish­ing the cave­men to the Bad­lands.

When Dug sneaks into the city, he dis­cov­ers foot­ball and chal­lenges Nooth to a match for his val­ley back. Nooth ac­cepts, dream­ing of the piles of “shnook­ers” he’ll rake in from fans clam­or­ing to see the­match. That’s when Early Man goes from “Clan of the Cave Bear” to “Bad News Bears” as Dug tries to whip his team of cave­men into foot­ball fight­ing shape, with the help of city- dweller Goona ( Maisie Wil­liams).

The style is all Aard­man, their char­ac­ters sport­ing pli­able fore­heads and adorable over­bites. The story is light, and it doesn’t go too deep, but it’s ef­fec­tive and rous­ing, re­ly­ing on beloved sports movie tropes. It’s the funny lit­tle de­tails that make the film as de­light­ful as it is. Like most Aard­man films, it is packed to the brim with vis­ual gags and makes great use from the re­ac­tions of word­less an­i­mal char­ac­ters. Dug’s wild boar buddy Hog­nob, voiced by di­rec­tor Park, steals the showwith his lit­tle grunts of sur­prise and plain­tive howls. One se­quence even has Hog­nob mas­sag­ing Lord Nooth in the bath and play­ing the harp.

It’s those lit­tle mo­ments of the sur­real that make Aard­man films so unique. There are mal­lards the size of a T- Rex’s, a spi­der cov­ered in eyes, a “pri­mor­dial soup” that gets up and walks away. One of the film’s best gags is a mes­sage bird who de­liv­ers word for word, ges­ture for ges­ture mes­sages be­tween Nooth and the Queen that get in­creas­ingly hos­tile.

“Early Man” is a blend of evo­lu­tion­ary hu­mor and a trib­ute to foot­ball all wrapped up in a story that ar­gues for in­clu­sion of all peo­ple and an equal dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth, all in 89 tight­ly­paced and ef­fi­cient min­utes. And there are so puns, so many puns. Truly, what more could you ask for? Don’t run late for the fun that “Early Man” has to of­fer.

“Early Man,” a Lion­s­gate re­lease, is rated Rated PG for rude hu­mor and some ac­tion. Run­ning time: 89 min­utes.


Aard­man An­i­ma­tions star Nick Park, the bril­liant mind be­hind the ad­ven­tures of “Wal­lace & Gromit,” tries to outdo the Flint­stones in his lat­est com­edy “Early Man.”

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