Tuesday, November 29, 2022

REVIEW | Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is an emotional watch, yet it’s still packed with drama and action | Channel

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Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.

With the loss of Chadwick Boseman looming on and off the screen, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will always be an emotional watch. When the trailer first dropped and followed by Rihanna’s soul-stirring ballad Lift Me Up, I was deep in my feelings.

Ahead of the film’s release Ryan Coogler shared the original script, which would have focused on T’Challa’s grief over losing five years to the Blip and struggling to resume his life after the event. Grief was always going to be part of this film; it had now just taken a different format, and its focus shifted to other characters. Right off the bat, you could feel that Coogler and the cast tapped into their real-life grief, making for a relatable movie especially coming out of the pandemic in which many people lost loved ones and, to an extent, a feeling of lost time.

At its core, the film is a study of how the different characters deal with grief and how it plays out as events unfold in the film. Shuri (Letitia Wright) struggles with guilt and can’t accept the loss, so she buries herself in work and her inventions, while Queen Romanda (Angela Bassett) faces her grief head-on while leading the nation of Wakanda who is now without a protector as the country faces attacks from known enemies and a new one.

In this sequel, the women are the centre of the show Wright, Bassett, Danai Gurira (Okoye), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakai), and the new characters played by Michaela Coel (Aneka), and Dominique Thorne (Ironheart), each deliver great performances and have their own character arcs.

An exciting aspect for me was the introductory scenes of the Talokan and Namor (Tenoch Huerta). They make a splash. Coogler created a beautiful underwater world infused with rich real-world history. As in the first movie, he created an antagonist the viewer can empathise with; people are still dealing with historical and social issues today. While you understand his motivations, his methods, on the other hand, are questionable. Huerta delivers a captivating performance.

While the film is heavy on drama and action, it has moments of lightness with great comedic timing that doesn’t feel forced or out of place.

One issue I did have with the film was the story’s pacing. I did feel that they glossed over T’Challa’s death and that there was some more explanation required. Other storylines also seemed to drag, and the climatic action scenes felt a bit rushed. With that said, though, there are a lot of twists and turns that still make it an entertaining watch.

For me, the film is at its strongest when it’s inside the worlds of Wakanda and Talokan, the science, the people, the culture, and I felt like the addition of the Western world just felt like a distraction. We’re just so used to Americans trying to infringe on other countries. When it flipped to those scenes, it felt like things we’ve seen many times.

Overall, it is an enjoyable visit to the world of Wakanda; it will surely tug at the heartstrings. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman while also ushering in an exciting new era for the Black Panther.

Where to watch: Now showing in cinemas
Cast: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyongo, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta, Winston Duke
Our rating: 4/5 Stars


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