Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Tenoch Huerta Mejía, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Dominique Thorne, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel, Alex Livinalli, Mabel Cadena
Runtime: 2 hrs 41 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Walt Disney
Opening Day: 10 November 2022
Synopsis: In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba) 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 the help of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and forge a new path for the kingdom of Wakanda.
In the opening sequence of the 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we see Shuri (Letitia Wright) in the lab. The princess of Wakanda is desperately trying to save her dying brother King T'Challa with technology. Ramonda (Angela Bassett), the Queen Mother of Wakanda, enters and tells her daughter solemnly: “Your brother is with the ancestors.”
We can only imagine the heavy hearts of the cast and crew when this poignant scene was filmed.
You would have read how Marvel chose not to recast the role of T'Challa after Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer in August 2020. Director Ryan Coogler’s original script had to be changed, and for more than two years, the world anticipated how the sequel to the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Black Panther (2018) would turn out.
We are pleased to report that this slow burner is a fitting tribute to Boseman, who portrayed one of the most well developed superhero in the MCU, in a movie notable for its cultural significance.
We see the Wakandans paying respect to their leader and protector in a beautifully moving funeral sequence that may bring tears to your eyes. Then we get into business and brought forward in time by a year where Ramonda is refusing to share Wakanda’s vibranium with the rest of the world, fully knowing that the much sought after element will be exploited. Elsewhere, vibranium has been discovered in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, and there are sightings of mysterious sea creatures.
As the story continues, we are introduced to new characters. There’s Namor (Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta), the ruler of Talokan, an ancient civilisation who is referred to by his people as the feathered serpent god K'uk'ulkan. There’s Riri Williams (Judas and the Black Messiah’s Dominique Thorne), a genius MIT student who finds herself involved in a battle between humans, Wakandans and Talokanians. There are also returning favourites like Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), M'Baku (Winston Duke) and CIA agent Everett K Ross (Martin Freeman).
As you can see, there’s quite a lot going on, which explains the 161 minute runtime. The length of the movie can be felt as the different storylines from the screenplay written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole play out. This is a Marvel blockbuster, and you understand there are certain business objectives to the project. The $250 million budget means audiences need to be immersed in breathtaking Wakandan and Talokan sceneries. Riri Williams, whose character feels underwritten, needs to be included so she can have her TV series in MCU’s Phase Five.
But we are not complaining, because the movie is a feast for the eyes and ears. On the big screen (watch it on IMAXif you can), Wakanda looks as magnificent as ever. And we are also brought underwater to Talokan, a mesmerising underwater kingdom based on Mexican mythology. The action scenes are exciting enough to keep you engaged, and the finale battle sequence featuring Wakandans and Talokanians is expectedly blockbuster material. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson returns to score the sequel, after winning an Oscar for the first movie. The soundscape is unique and will have you appreciating the African and Mayan music throughout the film. Ruth E. Carter, who also won an Academy Award for the first movie, is also back with her awe inspiring costumes.
The cast delivers impressive performances too. It goes without saying that Bassett effortlessly portrays a grieving mother, making us feel her pain with every line she says. Wright takes on the burden of being the emotional core of the movie, and does a decent job of having us root for her while she fights her inner demons. Huerta finds his footing among the many characters, and leaves an impression as an empathetic anti hero.
Above all, this film is about handling grief, healing and moving on. And while this Marvel blockbuster is not without its flaws, it is an apt closure to Phase Four of the MCU.
(A fitting closure to Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this sequel to one of the most culturally significant superhero movies of our time not only works as a moving tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, it provides the necessary thrills you'd expect from a Marvel blockbuster)
Review by John Li