Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wakanda Place Is This?

Mrs. Graybeard and I decided to go catch Black Panther and it looks like it's probably the last week it will be at the theater we typically go to.  We walked into the theater almost at the starting time and there were two other people in there, out of at least 200 seats.  There was another couple that came in after us, and I think the six of us were the total audience.

While the movie was enjoyable, it was probably the least enjoyable of the Marvel movies I've seen.  I really liked a few of the actors/characters: the guy who plays Black Panther/King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and the girl who plays his kid sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), but the story bothered me on a few levels.  First and foremost, it was too predictable.  Ordinarily these movies are fairly predictable; after all, they're comic books.  The good guys win.  The bad guys have to be exceptionally evil.  But this one was too predictable.  I think there was only one scene in the movie that was even moderately surprising and the Marvel guys usually do better.  There were few genuinely funny quips in the dialog, maybe two, and that's another thing Marvel tends to be very good at.

At it's core, (I don't think this is a spoiler), the back story is that a solid vibranium meteor hits east central Africa.  Vibranium is the fictional "strongest metal in the universe" that is in the entire Marvel Avengers story arc - Captain America's shield is made of it.  The metal becomes discovered by a group of tribes there, and they become the most technologically advanced civilization on Earth - Wakanda.  They become isolationist and hide themselves from the outside world by pretending to be a backwards, third world country, but behind perfect cloaking technology it's a place with high speed monorails, towering buildings, and miraculous technologies - juxtaposed with an attempt to look authentically African.  So you see characters in aircraft that look something like a cross between stealth fighters and UFOs approaching dense forest and then plunging into it, suddenly revealing this "city of the future" (as Disney would have called it).  More extreme than that, they have a hollowed out mountain extending some enormous distance underground, with all sorts of hovering VSTOL aircraft, including some that resemble grasshoppers, flying around in it.

I'll freely admit to being too much of an analytical guy, but I couldn't help thinking, "Where do they process the vibranium?  How do they melt it?  How do they work it into sheets and all these other forms?  Where are the factories?  Don't they need steel, aluminum and other resources from the outside?  I mean, they can't make everything out of vibranium; it would be stupidly wasteful to use the "world's strongest metal" where a buck's worth of aluminum would work.  How many people does it take to have this kind of industry? Where do they get the labor?" and more thoughts like that.  They don't show much of the city, but what they do show has the look of "bustling open marketplace" like you'd see in the stereotype Mideast film, and that seems out of place in this high-tech city.  Nothing that looks like the industry it would take to make a city like that.

You might conclude that I'm not fun to be around in movies or things; and I won't dispute that. I find it easier to "suspend disbelief" in other movies than this, and haven't had too much of these thoughts in Star Wars, or Star Trek, or the other comic book movies.  Maybe because Star Wars is a totally new universe, not just something going on here on Earth that nobody knows about.  I couldn't not think of "how could Wakanda not be detected?"

Take the latest reincarnation of Star Wars from a few years ago, "The Force Awakens".  I see the kid, Rey, making a living in a society full of droids by scavenging old wrecked star ships.  On the face of it that doesn't make sense: don't we think of robots as doing the low end, manual labor tasks?  That means it's a universe where human time and labor was worth less than a robot's time and labor, because if those shipwrecks were considered a resource, robots would be climbing on them to salvage the stuff that Rey was getting paid for.  Bu here on Earth, Wakanda is a self-isolated country hiding the fact that they're sitting on the most valuable strategic metal in the world (in so many words).  Where do they get clothes?  What about trade for toilet paper, food and all the things needed to keep an advanced civilization alive? 

Well, that's a bit of a rant.  By far the best movie I've seen in the last year was Thor: Ragnarok, and this falls quite a bit short of that.  Great special effects, cool action, and good acting, just weak writing and a premise that I had a hard time with "voluntary suspension of disbelief".  A 3 on my 1-5 scale.
Black Panther/King T'Challa and his sister Shuri.


  1. I tend to do the same thing when I watch a movie. As I tell my wife, working at the DirecTV broadcast center where I did for 6 years, I tend to notice every little glitch in the video, artifacts, obvious (to me) "edge effects" where the CGI is merged with the base media, errors in the audio, and all the other things that we were taught to spot as an additional quality control layer.

    And from being in various theatrical settings for 10 years starting in high-school, I also spot continuity errors, staging errors, and other glitches that the average person isn't even aware of.

    Yup...not much fun to go to the movies with me, either!

  2. I judge a movie by how long it takes for me to look at my wristwatch to see if it's time to go yet. In a very good movie, I don't look. Usually I do.

  3. Racists all of you. I have not been to the movies in some years. They cost too much. The other patrons are too much the other patrons of walmart and such, too loud, too into their phones or talking amongst themselves. The main reason is that the movies themselves totally suck big time. They think f this and mutha f that and explosions and car crashes and everything but a real story is what makes a movie. Hollywood is totes played, and hasn't had an original idea since I cannot remember when. So they remake stuff that was no good to begin with and they make it worse. Throw in their propaganda and anti-American and anti-conservative and anti-capitalist tongue baths of everything socialist, liberal, progressive, and multicultural and you have a perfect bunch of recipes for tripe I have no desire to swallow, let alone pay for. Add to this that most movies are too long by 30% and no thanks.....

  4. Is the wakandian flag visible in any of the moon landing photos?

    1. Perfect cloaking! DUH!

      Besides, Kubrick made a deal...

      And the Inhumans are cooperating.

    2. That show was without a doubt the worst thing I've seen Marvel do. Lame writing, lame acting - maybe one good actor - horribly unimaginative.

      "Marvel's Inhumans" made Black Panther seem like Shakespeare.