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Being a film fan in Newcastle is great because you’ve got three cinemas in the local area.

There’s a Cineworld in the Gate in the middle of the town, which shows all your big releases.  I’ve got a Cineworld Unlimited card so I see loads of films a week there, but if you haven’t got a card it can be quite expensive.  The place to go if you want a cheap ticket is the Vue in Gateshead next to Northumbria accommodation Trinity Square.  It’s only £4.29 on a Tuesday and a quick Metro trip away from Newcastle city centre.  The walk there isn’t too bad either, and saving every little penny is worth it.  There’s also the Tyneside cinema, which is an independent venue that plays a more varied choice of films.  The prices are reasonable and often they’ll show foreign films, Indies that don’t get released in the multiplexes and old films in seasons.  It’s a lovely place with a lovely bar attached to it, and is where you want to be for a more civilised trip.  

One film that has seemed to capture the imagination of popular culture is Black Panther, and I’ve now seen it twice thanks to my unlimited card.  Here’s my review…

The Marvel Universe is boring in my eyes.  It has never grabbed my attention like other franchises have, so I take each one as a standalone movie.  Last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok were actually decent efforts, because they were different to the usual superhero stuff.  The same can be said about Black Panther and in short it fits in as a top-tier comic-book movie.  It’s about T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) the new king of Wakanda – an isolated African country with hidden technological abilities.  He has problems to deal with, because as the world changes Wakanda may have to change with it.  The first problem being Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), an arms dealer who has been stealing Wakanda’s powerful energy source - the metal Vibranium.  As T’Challa tracks him down more is uncovered for him to handle.

Let’s start off by saying that this film unfortunately suffers from the same problems that all superhero movies suffer from.  Such as an uninteresting opening action scene and an explosion filled climax.  These usual suspects took away from some of the originality of the runtime, but once you’re settled in it glosses over those annoyances.  It quickly becomes a film where you care about both the quieter moments and the action packed ones.  This is thanks to a terrific cast headed by Chadwick Boseman, who is a strong leading man.  Lupita Nyong’o is brilliant and in ways the more comic-like characters aren’t.  She’s skilled but has weaknesses that are evident, and I think Nyong’o carries this well.  Serkis, Martin Freeman and Danai Guirra are fun, and Daniel Kaluuya is an engaging screen presence.  Not to mention Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister Shuri, who basically steals every scene she’s in and is properly funny.  The only slight hitch in the acting is that at times Michael B. Jordan is overzealous in his delivery, especially as the film goes on.

Mostly the action is shot well, and you can definitely see a director behind this film (Ryan Coogler) unlike a lot of other superhero films.  He’s a good director (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and there’s some exciting choices made by him.  The scene in the casino then the car chase is really well made, and I found it pretty exhilarating.  Everything felt balanced - there wasn’t too much action, too much melodrama or too little of a character.  Sure some of the jokes don’t land, and yes there’s another hero complex thing going on again but what do you expect from a comic book adaptation.  It’s an ensemble piece that is really entertaining, and I like the fact that the violence had a bite to it.  There’s stabbing, heavy aggression and some blood, which gave it a nice edge.  The biggest compliment I can give the film is that I cared about the characters, all of them, and that rarely happens to me with other marvel attempts.

Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?

Yes – this is one of those where you can’t really go wrong spending the money to go see a film on the big screen.  Forget the politics behind it, and understand that the film itself is very good.  And the film world is that bit more diverse with its existence.

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