Marvel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5   MUST must see SEE

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
dir Ryan Coogler
scr Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
prd Kevin Feige, Nate Moore
with Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Tenoch Huerta Mejia, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel, Dominique Thorne, Mabel Cadena, Martin Freeman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
release US/UK 11.Nov.22
22/US Marvel 2h41

gurira nyongo duke
See also:
Black Panther 2018 Endgame 2019

Is it streaming?

bassett and wright
Finally breaking the tyranny of the superhero blockbuster structure, filmmaker Ryan Coogler makes an unusually affecting sequel that takes a darker and far more emotional approach to storytelling. Indeed, the plot is exploring internal struggles even more than the external ones. And it's refreshing to see a huge studio film in which all the protagonists are from Africa and Latin America, leaving the US players haplessly on the sidelines.
Wakanda is grieving the sudden death of King T'Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman). As his mother Queen Ramonda (Bassett) and sister Princess Shuri (Wright) face putting their lives back together, they discover a new threat from the hidden nation Talokan, which shares their technological advantage through the extraterrestrial mineral vibranium. Based in an underwater kingdom off the coast of Mexico, ruler Namor (Huerta) may be proposing an alliance, but his methods put Wakanda on the defence, as top spy Nakia (Nyong'o), local leader M'Baku (Duke) and warriors (including Gurira, Kasumba and Coel) spring into action.
Because the film circles around issues of grief, its narrative is much more introspective than expected. Each plot point springs from decisions made at moments of vulnerability, so the primary trajectory of the story is within the characters. This makes the film involving and often powerfully moving, and adds a proper twist to questions about whether someone should take on the heroic mantle of Black Panther. None of this plays out simplistically, as scenes undercut over-serious dialog with sharp humour, surprising action and big revelations.

The intimate approach gives Wright a particularly strong character to play, as Shuri's emotional pain raises questions about her sense of identity. It's a remarkably complex role that allows the character to be a mess while she works things out for herself. She has vivid, punchy scenes with each costar, most notably playing off Bassett's gravitas and Huerta's jaggedly beefy physicality. The gifted Gurira and Duke also get to take their characters on compelling journeys along the way.

With seamless effects and action that drives the story rather than distracts from it, the only issue here may be an overwhelming self-importance that infuses the dialog and imagery. While this makes the film a resonant tribute to Boseman, it also feels earned in how characters grapple with enormous personal issues. And it makes thism a salient tale of indigenous groups who have been oppressed by colonists for centuries but are now determining their own fate. So the final note overflows with hope for the future.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 4.Nov.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall