Film Review – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

2020 when Chadwick Boseman died at the young age of 43 to Colon Cancer. It took everyone by shock when he was finally at the top of his game, as T’Challa and of course Black Panther. Everyone knows life is cruel everything can change drastically, was the franchise ending when it just got started? Can they replace Boseman as T’Challa? Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has arrived with a regal and courteous homage to their king and teasing the future of the film is promising.

Like any death, life must go on, Ryan Coogler crafts a sequel that plays on the grief and loss we all face. The film opens with the funeral of King T’Challa with those close to him, his mother Queen Ramonda (Anglea Bassett) and his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). Like Any funeral we celebrate the life with the itizens of Wakanda who are dressed in white, singing and dancing. Wakanda goes into a state of mourning, you could say the viewer, you we are in that state too. Life becomes tougher for everyone, life must go on and like the saying that is mentioned in the film, ‘Death is not the end’.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever starts with Shuri (Wright) using her great scientific skills to try save her brother. The technology the country possesses, one could say she is the brains behind it all. T’Challa was the defender of the nation, she is the talent one. Shuri was extremely close to her big brother and his passing hits her the worst. She cannot save him from the deadly mysterious virus he was suffering from.

The film takes a one year time jump, Wakanda is at odds with the United Nations. Other nations especially the U.S want them to share their resources, especially it’s Vibranium. This is the one precious commodity that the African nation has no other nation has or so they thought. Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, a special Ops mission takes place using a prototype machine to detect Vibranium. As the Americans get close to finding the resource they are attacked. The mysterious race of underwater blue skinned warriors from Talocan led by the winged serpent god  King Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía).

Wakanda are blamed for the attack, Namor knows about the Wakandans who visits the Queen and Shuri arriving via water. He asks for their help to help protect both their nations from the surface dwellers (humanity). If they refuse he will go to war with them, he demands they bring him the scientist behind the prototype machine. That scientist is a 19 year old young woman Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne).

Black Panther was a solid entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe introducing us to the unique and mysterious African nation. It brought the promise of a country that has a lot to offer the world as well as giving MCU it’s first proper black superhero. Exciting things awaited MCU fans, things changed after Chadwick Boseman’s passing. Could they replace the actor or even more make a second film, Coogler went with killing off T’Challa. This also changed the direction of the film which no one even mummer a whisker about. Until this year’s San Diego Comic Con revealing a film was in the works. Hall C erupted with excitement now we have that film, not a lot.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now Marvel’s second longest film coming in at a numb inducing 2 hour 41 minutes running time. The film plays more like a stand alone film than a sequel. That sequel might come in third instalment, without giving too much detail we learn another film will be made.

The weight of the film lies on the shoulders of Letitia Wright. The British actress does well to showcasing her grief, pain her anger at Wakanda’s new aggressors. Wright can lead a film her previous filmography showcases her talents. Sadly struggles which effects the film, Angela Bassett if anything is stronger. This film the women are the heart and soul of the film. Very few male characters share the screen and that’s not a negative.

This is a highlight of aftermath of battles which the women are left to pick up the pieces. However in Black Panther the women are equally if not more powerful warriors. Thorne’s Riri Williams can hold her own and fills the geeky science girl spot Shuri proudly had in the first film. Unfortunately her seems to be underwritten and is there only to push her upcoming Disney+ series.

Tenoch Huerta as Namor and leader of the Talocans, a nation that was meant to stay hidden. Whilst Wakanda never hide their existence, the opposite said about Talocan. Shuri sees first hand on the beauty of the mysterious kingdom with Namor in flashbacks shares his peoples history. Both people share similar paths this takes the film into a more political tone . The early scenes with tensions with the United Nations resonates a lot with current tensions. Huerta’s Namor comes across baffling and inconsistent in his motives. Is Namor the strong Marvel villain fans call out for? I’ll let you decide.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has too many plots, sub plots going for it. Some work, others are messy and don’t work. The film may have come too soon after the death of Chadwick Boseman. His ghost plays through out the film, Coogler never wants us to forget him. Having no true successor to King T’Challa doesn’t help the film, Shuri uses her pain to attempt become the new Panther. She’s too fragile, Huerta is not truly intimidating, his warriors around him make him feel menacing.

MCU fans expecting this sequel to take things to another level,you may feel disappointed. It’s overflowing and undercooked. If you are looking for that fitting tribute you will be rewarded and if you stay to the mid credits you will be rewarded with a scene that dictates the franchise has a future.

★★★


Action, Adventure | USA, 2022 | 12A | 11th November 2022 | Cinema | Marvel Studios | Dir.Ryan Coogler | Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke

Originally Posted at The Peoples Movies on 14th November 2022 | original review link

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