Review of 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'

wakanda_forever.jpg The hype around this film has been immense following the tragic death of the stand-out star of the first Black Panther film Chadwick Boseman. But, does it live up the hype? Well, not entirely, no.

Shuri works hard to save Wakanda's king, T'Challa (formerly played by Chadwick Boseman), who is dying of an illness but is ultimately unable to save him. A year later and Wakanda is putting off attempts by other nations to acquire Vibranium, the source of the Wakanda's power. A smart MIT student Riri Williams has created an underwater Vibranium detector. The detector is attacked by the Talokan who are a mysterious people headed by the strong-willed Namor who share the Wakandans power. Namor requests the Wakandans either help him kill Williams or get out of his way. Shuri and Okoye meet Williams only to flee when the FBI track them down. Shuri and Williams are kidnapped by the Talokan with Okoye unable to stop the relentless foe. An infuriated Queen Ramonda reprimands Okoye for losing her daughter Shuri and strips her of her rank as general. Despite this Okoye recruits help from Nakia, now living in Haiti, to find Shuri. After Okoye and Nakia rescue Williams and Shuri the Talokan attack the Wakandans…the battle is on.

Confused? Yeah, well, they cram a lot of story into a film that is more than 2 and a half hours long. A lot of this is the characters simply coming to terms with the death of their king and Black Panther so is a bit over-sentimental and slow. Though it sounds confusing the film is relatively easy to follow though there are often multiple plots unfolding at the same time that are flipped between. Basically, king is dead, everyone is sad, a new threat arrives which they have to defeat and reignite the spirit of the Black Panther. I can't say I particularly care for any of the characters save, perhaps, Okoye who becomes much more of a sympathetic character here as her persona is fleshed out. Sure, newcomer college student Williams is also someone we root for but everyone else is geared up for power or battle which gets a bit…tedious.

The effects, as always, look amazing and Danai Gurira as Okoye puts on a stellar performance with a character much more compelling than the somewhat petulant Shuri (played by Letitia Wright). There is not much of a cross over with the rest of the Marvel universe expect for the appearance of Martin Freeman as Wakanda-supporting FBI chief Everett Ross. Most of the cast reappear in this sequel save Boseman of course, though he appears in many flashbacks. This gives the filmmakers time to expand our understanding of the characters presumably for future films. To be fair, most will be unfamiliar with Wakanda so a bit more time figuring out what is what in this amazing world is quite helpful though it does not a good movie make.

There is also a lot of fun here with some incredible action sequences both above and below the waterline. To be fair, it not enough and by the end of the film I was happy it was over (do stay for a mid-credits sequence which offers a moderate surprise; unusually there is no post-credit sequence).

Over-long, confusing, and over-sentimental, Wakanda Forever is not the strongest film in the Marvel superhero canon but it is worth watching.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-12-11

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Studio: Marvel Studios

Year: 2022

Length: 161 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Ryan Coogler: