Movie Review – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

It’s hard not to think about Chadwick Boseman while watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. However, director Ryan Coogler and the rest of the cast make something truly special from a tragic situation.

The story touches on other nations plotting to use the loss of King T’Challa to their advantage to plunder Vibranium. Shuri (Letitia Wright) buries herself in the lab as a way of coping with her inability to save T’Challa. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) tries to unify Wakanda by going after a scientist who has created a machine that can detect Vibranium after being threatened by the mysterious Namor (Tenoch Huerta).

Boseman’s absence is certainly felt throughout the entire movie, but that doesn’t mean the cast lives in his shadow. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the entire cast gives the performances of their careers. Bassett as Ramonda reminds audiences of how heavy the crown really is, delivering monologues that are filled with both strength and anguish. M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) rally around Shuri giving nuanced performances that show the dichotomy of what it’s like to mourn the loss of their king but also having to set aside their emotions to serve the throne of Wakanda.

Newcomers Huerta and Dominique Thorne as Namor and Riri Williams respectively knock it out of the park. Huerta is charismatic but also menacing as a warlord in battle. Thorne’s lighthearted Riri is a welcome dose of comic relief especially in her dorm when meeting Shuri and Okoye for the first time. I’m really looking forward to her Ironheart series later this year on Disney+. Wright does a fantastic job as Shuri but kind of gets swallowed up by the sweeping action in the third act, namely when she addresses the army of Wakanda in her war cry of “Yibambe!” or “Wakanda Forever!”

The world building for these fictious civilizations is a marvel. Although the underwater sequences aren’t as impressive when compared to “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the Mesoamerican inspired designs of Namor’s spear, the hydrogrenades, and the way the people’s skin color changes when in and out of the water add to the mythology and mystery of Talokan.

Marvel movies are at their strongest when they lean into their respective genres, and the way Coogler presents the people of Talokan is terrifying. Before launching their assault on an offshore rig or even against Wakanda, they send in their sirens that use they’re hypnotic song to lead their victims to a watery grave. When Okoye first encounters Attuma (Alex Livinalli), she strikes down three of their warriors in battle only to have them rise again when their general commands them to. There’s no explanation for this undead trait, but it not only makes them formidable but also suggests Namor’s army is fearless in the face of death.

Even the political focus in this movie is balanced giving enough information to show how much pressure Wakanda is under as other nations consider destabilizing the country for its own benefits without ever crossing into the realm of preaching politics. Despite this being a battle of nations, Wakanda Forever makes this battle both personal and at times very intimate.

Wakanda Forever proves that everyone’s star shines just as brightly as Boseman’s. Kendrick Lamara and Sza were on to something when they said, “All the stars are closer” on the first soundtrack.

Rating: 4.5/5.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.

The Big Comic Page was provided a copy of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” for this review.

The bonus features include:

· Gag Reel – Take a look at some of the lighthearted moments on the set of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

· Audio Commentary – by Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole, and Autumn Durald Arkapaw discuss the film.

· Envisioning Two Worlds – Uncover the making of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever through the lens and leadership of co-writer/director Ryan Coogler, production designer Hannah Beachler, and costume designer Ruth Carter.

· Passing the Mantle – Follow the evolution of the Black Panther through the films. In tracing Shuri, Ramonda, and Riri’s journeys through the film, this featurette explores what legacy ultimately means in Wakanda and how it will resonate with MCU viewers for years to come.

· Deleted Scenes

o Outside The Scope – Okoye has a shocking standoff with Ayo and the Dora Milaje. Aneka makes a challenging decision.
o The Upstairs Toilet – Ross infiltrates the NSA in disguise in an attempt to uncover information.
o Daughter of the Border – After a conversation with her Uncle, Okoye is faced with a daunting choice.
o Anytime, Anywhere – In Haiti, Shuri and Okoye share a bittersweet moment.

The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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