Black Panther (PG)
Both directed and written by Ryan Googler, this is yet another highly entertaining offering from Marvel Studios. It concerns a king, T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) who returns to the technologically advanced fictional nation of Wakanda to be its leader.
His path to power is threatened by a cadre of ne-er-do-wells but a consignment of Special Forces and a CIA agent (Martin Freeman) align themselves to him to try and save Wakanda from civil – and even world – war.
This is the kind of film that rarely pauses for breath. If you’re a fan of adventures, especially those based on comic book superheroes, you won’t be disappointed. The latest in a long line of similar extravaganzas, this one differs from predecessors like Captain America and Iron Man by having a black man at its core, a welcome change of emphasis and one you hope will continue in similar ventures down the road.
Maybe our next Marvel phenomenon, in a post- Harvey Weinstein Hollywood, will be a super woman. (The female characters in Black Panther are very strong even as things stand.) The stellar cast also includes Michael Jordan, Daniel Gurira, Letitia Wright (as T’Challa’s feisty half-sister Shuri) and Lupita Nyong’o, who was so effective in 12 Years a Slave a few years back.
It will engross you with its costumes, its frenetic pace, even its humour. The soundtrack matches the action with its high octane energy. It would be difficult to praise the film too much. Its special effects will take your breath away.
A few other films on show at the moment are also on my bucket list. The first is Guillermo del Toro’s eccentric fairytale The Shape of Water, which has Sally Hawkins delivering an Oscar-nominated performance in a film about a janitor who forms a relationship with an amphibious creature that’s being held in captivity.
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as a 17-year-old Catholic girl in a Sacramento high school looking for adventure as she prepares to go to college. A lot of people are raving about this.
Every time I pick up a newspaper I seem to see Ms Ronan attending some awards ceremony for her performance in it. She’s even being talked of as Ireland’s Meryl Streep on the strength of it. Don’t argue. I can’t wait to see it. (I don’t normally send fan letters to stars but after seeing Ronan in Brooklyn I did just that.)
A third film featuring a strong performance from a woman is I, Tonya, with Margot Robbie as a brilliant ice skater fighting prejudice from her peers because she comes from the wrong side of the tracks.
You might also like to check out Clint Eastwood’s real life tale of three Americans doing their best to save lives on a train after a terrorist attack that took place in 2015, The 15.17 to Paris.
All in all, an embarrassment of riches. These are good times to be in movie houses.