Tempo grade: A
The somewhat ironic death of T'Challa's father in "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) introduced audiences to Black Panther, his super-hero alter ego. That moment, however, showed this was a super-hero who had heart, courage and a clear devotion to his heritage.
And, like the first appearance of Wonder Woman — whose hidden world also was unceremoniously intruded upon — one was immediately struck by the sense they were obviously the smartest people in the room. It is no surprise then that Diana of the Amazons and T-Challa of Wakanda share certain traits, not the least of which is that they both are from underrepresented populations with regard to the objects of fanboy passions. Now, with the new feature, "Black Panther," we've entered new territory and, to many supporters, it's about time.
"Black Panther" is nothing short of a masterpiece of the genre. Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler managed to get away from the tiresome macho posturing and egotistical infighting among The Avengers and crafted a movie that is only peripherally an origin story but that slides right into the life and times of Wakandan tribesmen and women amid a highly advanced and hidden world in the heart of Africa.
T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) became king of the Wakandans the day his father, T'Chaka, passed on, right when the elder was in the middle of a speech supporting the United Nations' control of how and when The Avengers can wield their powers. In "Civil War," T'Challa joins the rest of The Avengers in their search for the person behind his father's death and what it meant in the larger scheme of things.
Now, T'Challa must return to Wakanda and assume the throne, but before he can do so, he must do two things. One involves finding the person responsible for the theft of a large amount of Vibranium, a powerful metal that fell to earth millions of years ago, landed in Africa and enabled Wakanda to leap forward with advanced technology -- and weaponry. Vibranium also enables Wakanda to remain hidden from the rest of the world. The second thing is to undertake a dangerous physical challenge to be assured as a worthy successor to his father.
Each are difficult to overcome, but in another ironic twist, they also lead straight to one man, a Wakandan-by-blood who has never been to the nation but who knows its powers can be used to help black people the world over rise up out of the urban quagmire of drugs, gangs, violence and poverty -- and take over.
Coogler weaves a complicated web of connections between the past and present, the world of Wakandans and the world outside, and the promise inherent in faith in family and tradition. Theirs is a utopian world held together with ethnic pride, but even deeper, a confidence in the sheer righteousness of their peaceful philosophy: Even though they possess a powerful mineral that could be used to dominate every nation on earth, they use it to help their people move forward, stay healthy, strong and intelligent.
Tribal people the world over have every right to feel that sense of pride as well, that maybe even in fantasy, they have someone on their side at last.
"Black Panther" is rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence and a brief rude gesture.
It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
The following were compiled from press materials.
MPAA rating: R for language
Movies at the TCA
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, this film is set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, where renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock.
Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.
With his latest film, Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey and the women who keep his world running. “Phantom Thread” is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis.
According to imdb.com, “In preparation for the film, Daniel Day-Lewis watched archival footage of 1940s and 1950s fashion shows, studied famous designers, consulted with the curator of fashion and textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and apprenticed under Marc Happel, head of the costume department at the New York City Ballet. He also learned how to sew, and he practiced on his wife Rebecca Miller, trying to recreate a Balenciaga sheath dress that was inspired by a school uniform.”
This film will be screened at 7 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday (Feb. 25-28).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.