All of this is very positive for the franchise, but "Black Panther" does have its problems. Coogler gets a little bogged down with scenes to the point where they begin to edge toward the tedious. There's a massive car chase scene where Black Panther gets to show off his skills that should have stopped a few miles sooner. And, much of where the film is headed is telegraphed so loudly it almost drowns out critical dialogue. Take note. If a character in a movie spends a long time explaining how a piece of equipment works, you can be certain the machinery will become an important part of the story.
The final battle also feels slightly rushed as sides are taken for the climatic confrontation. For a movie that spends so much time talking about the importance of the royal family, loyalty by the subjects and the generations of support being shown by the tribes, Coogler forces the action with minimal explanation. There's some, but this is a major turning point and should have been given more time to grow and expand.
It would be enough to herald "Black Panther" because of how it prominently features a black superhero. This has been softened just a bit because Marvel's "Luke Cage" broke that ground with the TV series, but "Black Panther" is still a major move forward.
The film is so much more. Coogler's willingness to deal with major social and political issues elevates the movie. Couple that with a superb cast, stunning cinematography by Rachel Morrison and dazzling costuming by Ruth E. Carter and "Black Panther" has a grasp as strong as vibranium on making this such an important action movie.
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman.
Director: Ryan Coogler.
Rated: PG-13 for violence.
Running time: 135 minutes.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.