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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Comedy > Suspense > Black Panther 4K (2018/Marvel Studios/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

Black Panther 4K (2018/Marvel Studios/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- 1080p Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: B- Film: B-

In 1966, two of the giant thinkers of in comic books and especially of Superhero characters wanted to be as challenging and ahead of their time as possible. As a counterpoint to DC comics, Marvel Comics had been around almost as long, even if it had been in various forms, and they had been looking to be more comparatively realistic than not only their big rival, but the many other publishers that existed at the time that started to disappear in the 1970s. Along the many characters they came up with that tried to reflect the more modern was Black Panther.

The name may have arisen around the time of the political group of the same name and the comics dared to deal with social issues then and now, but the result was a new character from a world we never heard of before as is the case with the most enduring characters in the genre and the work held up. Though not one of the biggest characters, he was always a favorite who offered something new, fresh and different.

In the 1990s, action star Wesley Snipes became interested in doing the then-rarity of a superhero film. He turned to marvel at the time (all the DC heroes were owned by Warner Bros. and still are) and thought something that was unthinkable at the time: a feature film based on a marvel Comics character could work, actually be a good film and even a hit. Outside of several hit cartoon TV shows and the live-action Incredible Hulk, Marvel Comics on screen had been a series of disasters so bad, it deserves some kind of documentary.

Snipes first chose Black Panther and worked for several years to get the budget, studio and best director to pull it off. Instead of making a horrible film, he refused to compromise, the film never got made, he avoided being at least partly blamed for the potential latest Marvel failure, then still surprised the industry by getting fellow Marvel hero Blade to the big screen and Marvel Comics had their first-ever feature film hit that was (no pun intended) cutting edge, the critics liked, the fans liked and even influenced the whole action genre (the original Matrix was the first of many films to steal from it).

So two decades later, when Marvel Comics big screen feature film adaptations are almost always guaranteed to be hits, the now Disney-owned company decided to give the semi-independent Marvel Studios the backing to make an all-out big budget version of the character (debuting him in a previous film) and thinking the otherworldiness would play as well as Wonder Woman (who ironically was just revived in a megahit that saved DC Comics movies) and the underrated value of the character like Thor and Iron Man had once been underestimated and a potential hit was very possible.

Enter writer/director Ryan Coogler, who had come out of nowhere with the well-received and timely indie hit Fruitvale Station, only to stun the industry soon after with Creed, a belated spin-off of the Rocky films that turned out better than all of its endless sequels. He was a big fan of Black Panther. Marvel got it, had him co-write the screenplay and the production was on its way.

With Snipes older and already heavily identified with Blade, the filmmakers needed a new actor to play the title character and they already hit the nail on the head by casting Chadwick Boseman (Marshall) who more than stood out debuting the hero in Captain America: Civil War. Other actors playing characters connected to him returned for this film, joined by other Marvel characters 'here and there' and debut new star turns by Forrest Whittaker and Angela Bassett. Thus, in the early section of the time, the script takes its time to lay out the world in fine exposition and great detail.

Once it sets itself up, though becoming a little derivative at times, the characters find themselves in South Korea and once the first big action sequence kicks in, the film never quits and goes full force to the very end with some fun twists, turns and serious hard work and money that all ands up on the screen. Of course, there has to be a villain and Panther's #1 nemesis surfaces.

Coogler turned to his Creed lead Michael B. Jordan to play the arch villain Erik Killmonger. It is a thankless role. There is no room for being nice or kind and Jordan goes all the way to play one of the most formidable of villains, especially because he does not have to hide behind an insane amount of latex (et al) like too many villains in the genre's recent films (Marvel and DC are equally guilty of this) and the result is a big blockbuster done well.

On the down side, the derivative parts hold the film back a bit, as do a few other points that would require spoilers and a separate essay to address, but the film was a massive international blockbuster and the intense energy of all involved overrides those flaws making this yet another positive, giant surprise in a genre that is far from finished doing what it can do. It also shows Coogler is one of the most significant directors around, so outside of any sequels to this film, I can't wait to see what he'll do next.

Black Panther is the first hugely budgeted film of this size from Hollywood since The Wiz (1978) which sadly underperformed despite the likes of Diana Ross, a pre-Thriller Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne and Mabel King in a solid cast. It could not have taken Hollywood so long to try this again, but regressive 'mall movie' safe 1980s filmmaking did not help and it is great to see this corner finally turned, so we'll see if the changes are permanent and it is the best combination of 'money talks' and critical success that gives us more than Panther sequels. In the meantime, this is a great moment for commercial filmmaking we should all enjoy because it is long overdue.

The enjoyment even extends to how well this looks and sounds. Shot on Ultra HD cameras with 3.4K capacity, the 4K 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image is a great performer with consistently fine shots throughout, interesting visuals, a fine use of wide-ranging color and composition that increases the impact of the narrative. It even has some demo moments that make it an early 4K Blu-ray disc to show off your monitor and/or projector with. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is not bad, but you miss more than usual between the two formats and the 4K version is the preferred way to watch it outside of a top rate theatrical screening.

Then you get fine sound and sound design to match, with a Dolby Atmos 11.1 track on the 4K version on the 4K disc (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) for a release that also showed up in the best theatrical screenings in Auro 11.1, DTS: X and IMAX 11.1 worldwide. The sound is very well recorded, articulate, state-of-the-art and what we expect from the best big budget films and especially Marvel Studios films. The regular 1080p Blu-ray offers a still-impressive DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix that is worthy of the TrueHD mixdown, but the Atmos is the best way to hear it on this set.

Extras (as explained by the press materials) include the Blu-ray featuring a Director's Intro, From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion that lets you Delve into the film's making, Crowning of a New King lets you explore the world of 'Black Panther' in all its color and complexity, The Warriors Within features Wakanda's women and the actors who portray them, The Hidden Kingdom Revealed on Wakanda's diverse people, Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology, Gag Reel, Exclusive Sneak Peek at ''Ant-Man and The Wasp'', Marvel Studios the First Ten Years: Connecting the Universe, Director's Commentary, and Deleted Scenes:

U.N. Meet and Greet

Okoye And W'Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda

T'Challa Remembers His Father

Voices from the Past

Plus you can access Digital Exclusives:

In World Wakanda Tourism Ads...

Come to Wakanda 'Before'

Come to Wakanda 'After'

- Nicholas Sheffo


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