Blu-Ray Review: ‘Black Panther’

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From the theatrical review:

As the 18th entry in the MCU, Black Panther represents a watershed moment in the film industry: not only is it the first superhero film headlined by a black actor in nearly a decade (Will Smith’s Hancock, while not based on a recognizable comic book character, was released in 2008), it’s also the first film in the modern era of blockbuster superhero tentpoles that features a predominantly black cast, not to mention an aesthetic heavily influenced by African culture.

Of course, none of this would matter if the film turned out to be a dud. But with Creed director Ryan Coogler at the helm and some jaw-dropping cinematography from Mudbound‘s Rachel Morrison, Black Panther is a cut above the rest, a unique and original vision that could mark the dawn of a new era in studio filmmaking. It’s also one of the MCU’s best entries yet, a remarkably entertaining superhero origin story that not only pays homage to the roots of its character and culture, but expertly blends the material with an especially relevant social and political message.

At 134 minutes, Black Panther‘s running time flirts dangerously close to feeling excessive, but even when things start to lag, it’s nearly impossible not to get lost in the visuals. From the shimmering gold bands and bright crimson uniforms of the Dora Milaje to the animal skins and skulls worn by the Jabari tribe, from the glittering steel and glass skyscrapers of the Wakandan capital to the brilliant sunsets over the sprawling African plains, there’s beauty to be found in every frame. Already a visionary director, Coogler has outdone himself with a film that fits into the larger Marvel universe while retaining a sense of confidence and identity all its own. Black Panther deserves every bit of the hype surrounding its release, and then some.

Marvel has a storied history of producing gorgeous home video releases, and Black Panther continues to uphold the standard with a beautiful HD transfer. The vivid color palette looks superb – particularly on a 4K television with HDR support – and the 7.1 audio track will give your home theater system a solid workout, particularly in the film’s big action sequences.

The extras, however, are a bit underwhelming: there are numerous featurettes, but most of them are only about six minutes in length, with the notable exception of From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion This 20-minute conversation is the most engaging, featuring writer/director Ryan Coogler and several comic writers that have shaped the Black Panther legacy over the years.

If you’re just in the market for a great-looking copy of Black Panther to add to your collection, this Blu-ray release will fit the bill just fine – but if you’re expecting a hefty dose of supplemental material, you might find yourself disappointed with the selection here, as it doesn’t feel on par with other Marvel releases.

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The first Marvel film headlined by a black superhero is a remarkably entertaining superhero origin story that not only pays homage to the roots of its character and culture, but expertly blends the material with an especially relevant social and political message. The home video release looks and sounds superb, but the extras are a bit underwhelming.

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