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‘Black Panther’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: All Hail the New King of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

May 15, 2018Ben Mk





FEATURE: 
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is experiencing something of a renaissance. That is, if you can consider Avengers: Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange to be slumming it. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 was about as close to pure joy as a superhero movie could get, and Thor: Ragnarok brought a fun and fresh take to an established character. Now, with director Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, the MCU embarks on one of its most ambitious cinematic journeys yet.


Chadwick Boseman reprises the role he first took on in Captain America: Civil War, and he does a superb job carrying the weight of the story. In Civil War, having assumed the crown and the mantle of the Black Panther in the wake of his father, King T'Chaka's death, T'Challa was primarily driven by vengeance. But here, Boseman deepens his portrayal of the character significantly. Black Panther doesn't just follow T'Challa's continuing adventures as the titular character; it shows how he comes to understand what it means to be a leader, and how he uses this newfound awareness to challenge his culture's norms for the betterment of the world.

Joining Boseman are a slew of black actors without whom the film just would not be the same. However, it's Michael B. Jordan's Erik who deserves special mention. Better known as Killmonger, Jordan's is perhaps the most fully-realized villain we've seen thus far in the MCU. Many of his predecessors have been one-dimensional, but Killmonger's personal connection to T'Challa, along with Jordan's compelling performance, help the character stand apart. Add to that the fact that Killmonger's motivations come from a place that many viewers will certainly be able to relate to, and not only does it bring an interesting angle to the movie, it also ties in with the idealology of the real-life civil rights group that shares the Black Panther name.

As for how Black Panther itself ties in with the rest of the MCU, its story is fairly self-contained and standalone, but that doesn't mean that Coogler and co-screenwriter Joe Robert Cole don't do anything to fill in the gaps. That said, the film is much more than just a bridge between the events of Captain America: Civil War and this summer's Avengers: Infinity War. And considering how well-received it's been, you can be assured that this is just the beginning of a wave of much more diverse and empowering superhero blockbusters to come.

AUDIO & VISUALS: 
Equipped with a 2160p transfer, Dolby Vision HDR and a Dolby Atmos sound mix, Black Panther delivers another knockout Marvel Cinematic Universe experience on 4K. Image quality is flawless, from the jungles and plains of Wakanda to the streets of Atlanta and London, with exceptional clarity and rich and robust hues to bring out the detail and the colors in the elaborate costumes, sets and visual effects. Likewise, the film's sound design benefits extensively from this technical presentation as well, whether it's the hip hop score that's been infused with African rhythms, a car chase through the streets of Busan, or an armored rhino charging across the battlefield.


EXTRAS: 
Disney's two-disc "Cinematic Universe Edition" includes an iTunes digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray:

  • Ryan Coogler's Director Intro (1:23) - The option to play the movie preceded by an introduction from the film's director.
  • Crowning of a New King (5:34) - An exploration of how the character of the Black Panther has deepened beyond his introduction in Captain America: Civil War.
  • The Hidden Kingdom Revealed (6:57) - A look at how the filmmakers brought the world of Wakanda to life on the big screen.
  • The Warriors Within (6:08) - A look at the strong female characters portrayed in the movie.
  • Wakanda Revealed: Exploring the Technology (6:16) - A look at some of the advanced Wakandan technology featured in the film.
  • Gag Reel (1:38)
  • Deleted Scenes (6:53) - Four scenes ("UN Meet and Greet," "Okoye and W'Kabi Discuss the Future of Wakanda," "T'Challa Remembers His Father" and "Voices From the Past").
  • From Page to Screen: A Roundtable Discussion (20:27) - Black Panther comic writers Christopher Priest, Don McGregor and Ta-Nehisi Coates join Executive Producer Nate Moore, Writer Joe Robert Cole and Co-Writer/Director Ryan Coogler in discussing the character and the movie.
  • Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years - Connecting the Universe (8:39) - A look at the interconnected films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from the first Iron Man to Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Exclusive Sneak Peek at Ant-Man and the Wasp (2:26) - Director Peyton Reed and stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily and Michael Douglas give viewers a taste of what to expect from the upcoming Ant-Man sequel.
  • Audio Commentary by Director Ryan Coogler & Production Designer Hannah Beachler - The pair talk about the shooting in Atlanta, the movie's color story, the film's themes, its characters, the origins of the Wakandan font, the cinematography and the visual effects, the production design, the music and more.


Black Panther is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of May 15th, 2018. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos, English and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 hrs. 14 min.






* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 6th, 2018.



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