Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marvel Knights: Black Panther

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Marvel Knights: Black Panther - 3 out of 5

Last year, in partnership with BET, Marvel produced a short-lived animated program based on the bad-ass superhero of Black Panther. However, like all animated features Marvel produces, this was just as half-assed as the direct-to-DVD features.

The Black Panther is an amazing character with a great backstory--so, you would think, it wouldn't be hard to make an animated show or film about him. Get some great animators, writers and a fantastic voice actor to give life to the Chief and protector of Wakonda and you have yourself something epic. However, as Ultimate Avengers II and now this program, has proven, it's pretty easy to screw up this awesome character. So, by now, you're probably asking yourself, "How exactly did they get this series wrong?" First off, the show spends way too much time with backstory. There was only 6 episodes and 4 of them were flashbacks with hints of the current story. That means the last two episodes actually was moving the story forward. ONLY 2 EPISODES?!? I understand that the comic that this story is based off of has a lot of history to cover for the audience but I can't help but think this could have been better handled and not have the feeling that each episode is a history lesson and not an action story building to something. Secondly, the show spends way, WAY too much time paying lip-service to Marvel's other properties. Captain America and the X-men make cameo appearances (and they make them all idiots for some reason--except Wolverine, Marvel won't let their poster boy look bad despite the fact he's a shitty hero to begin with) and the show is constantly dropping names of other Marvel characters like The Hulk, the Leader and Abomination. This, at least to me, felt like Marvel and BET weren't taking the series seriously and was using it more as a two hour commercial for Marvel's other characters.

And speaking of seriousness...the writers brought on to this program really hurt the dark tone of the show by filling it with terrible dialogue and very bad humor (also, try and not laugh at the ridiculous theme song which has people screaming "Black Panther" in high voices in the background). In reality, the writers didn't have to do much since the show is the "Who is the Black Panther?" mini-series, so all they had to do was copy that, animate it and put it on screen. The tone was also hurt very badly by the animation. The show is done entirely in the style of motion comics--static images giving minimal amount of movement--basically a comic book kinda/sort-of come to life. Motion comics always come off awkward (which is why I don't understand why they're so popular all of a sudden) and, at many times, made these amazing characters move like they had a stick firmly embedded in their anuses. How can I take the Black Panther seriously when he walks like he has to take a shit?

Finally, there is some really bad voice acting going on in this show. Many characters are portrayed as simpletons--even idiots--and their voice acting is done to help add emphasis to this fact, making the show come off more as a shitty Saturday morning cartoon than a serious animated program being shown on cable. Phil LaMarr is on the cast of voice actors and he keeps doing the voice he does for Hermes on Futurama and it keeps taking me out of the show and makes me take the series less and less seriously. The only true highlight is Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther/T'Challa. He brings life to the character, gives him some cred and is the only thing that seems to be done right in the show.

I like the Black Panther and once again seeing him wasted on an animated project on ANOTHER phoned-in animated en-devour that Marvel has undergone is really make me start to wonder why I give my money to a company that doesn't take its creations seriously. This series was loaded with potential but the lackluster motion comic-style of animation, bad voice acting and out-of-place weak humor hurt this show a lot! While it is still, at times, entertaining to watch, this series ultimately felt like it was an opportunity that wasn't allowed to be what it could have been.

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