Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review

PLOT: Queen Ramonda and the people of Wakanda face a changing world, and must protect itself from foreign powers looking to take their precious resources.

REVIEW: When Black Panther first arrived in theatres, the MCU feature garnered critical and audience praise. It was a massive success that ultimately led to several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture – as well as winning a few in the process. It was easy to see that Chadwick Boseman was embarking on a very successful run as T’Challa/Black Panther. Sadly, a tragedy took this incredible talent away from us too early. How do you continue as a franchise after that kind of loss? If you want to present a brilliantly executed, emotional, thrilling, and powerful continuation, you can always follow the example of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Not only is it a terrific sequel to the first, but it’s also a loving tribute.

There’s been a disturbance in Wakanda. It’s left this magical place without its protector. And without the Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright) and her mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), must find a way to protect the sacred homeland. As they struggle with grief and the looming threat of other world leaders, they must find a way to defend their natural resource, “vibranium.” Yet, when a seemingly understanding representative arrives, revealing secrets about his connection to the precious metal, they discover that unexpected dangers may come to their very home. It is up to Shuri, Ramonda, and those loyal to them, to save Wakanda from greed, chaos, and destruction.

Talking about the story behind Wakanda Forever is a difficult task. There remain apparent spoilers for most movie fans. Instead of talking openly about the roles the actors play and how the story unfolds, I wanted to focus on how the film brings an emotional depth to this incredible tale. The opening sequence here is sublime. Ryan Coogler successfully pulls the audience back into the world, but he also creates one of the most inspired tributes I’ve ever seen for a character. Even the Marvel logo at the beginning will bring you a tear and a smile. It’s a bold and impressive start to a film that manages to enthrall with solid action but also with a human spirit. It’s an astounding success.

As far as the performances go, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, and Florence Kasumba bring the fire. It’s a marvelous ensemble, but Wright and Bassett are a force of nature. The two bring depth and gravitas to their exceptional performances. It’s fantastic to see Letitia’s incredible work here in addition to her work in this year’s excellent The Silent Twins. She has the chance to grow in Wakanda Forever, and it’s a delight to watch. As well, Martin Freeman returns as Everett K. Ross, and he brings the humor effortlessly. Tenoch Huerta also creates an exciting mix of humanity, with a bit of vengeance, in his take as Namor.

Aside from the surprisingly rich character work, Wakanda Forever is visually stunning. From the wonders of Wakanda to the world in which Namor rules, Coogler, and his team paint a wonderful canvas. The effects are awe-inspiring and perhaps a slight improvement over the first film. Yet it is just as much about the script by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole that magnificently continues the story, one that was beyond challenging to conquer. Wakanda is a rich, bold, and epic adventure that easily ranks as one of the best chapters in MCU history. Not simply as a great sequel but as a fantastic feature on its own.

As great as the performances, story, and production are, it also helps that the score is as important as the story it accompanies. Ludwig Göransson’s stunning composition creates a moody and compelling score that fits perfectly into Coogler’s vision. Rihanna also returns to music with a couple of incredible tracks, and you may have already heard “Lift Me Up”, which is sure to earn Academy Award attention. The sound and vision of Wakanda Forever are so impressive that it’s easy to forgive the nearly two-hour and forty-five-minute runtime. It also helps that the mid-credits scene is a sweet and memorable moment.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is perhaps one of my favorite films in the MCU. And it’s undoubtedly one of my favorite films this year. Instead of following the same obvious pattern, the filmmakers welcomed the challenge with sincerity and inspiration. Wakanda is more than just a great sequel; it is one of the most heartfelt and moving tributes to an actor I’ve had the pleasure to witness. Emotionally moving, yet the adventure and heart are entirely on display. Ryan Coogler has crafted an exceptional and exciting new chapter for Marvel, so much so that I cannot wait to see where their story takes us for the next installment.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.