BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER is the story of a kingdom facing a huge challenge. After King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) dies of an unknown illness, T’Challa’s mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) becomes ruler. Her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright) is traumatized by her inability to save her brother’s life. Six months later, Ramonda attends a United Nations meeting where various nations accuse Wakanda of not cooperating and not providing them with vibranium. Ramonda made it clear that the precious metal will not be shared with other countries for their destructive ways. She also tells them how their facility in Wakanda was attacked. Meanwhile, the USA finds traces of vibranium somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. A team of researchers goes there using a machine designed by a scientist. Suddenly, mysterious creatures appear and kill everyone on the mining ship. The leader of this tribe, Namor (Tenoch Huerta), secretly arrives in Wakanda and meets Ramonda and Shuri. He talks about the USA’s plans to mine vibranium and how Wakanda exposed the world to the wonders of the metal. They are told to find the scientist who made the machine and hand it over to them or he will harm Wakanda. Shuri travels to the USA with Okoye (Danai Gurira) and enlists the help of CIA agent Everett K Ross (Martin Freeman) to find the scientist. It turns out that the scientist is actually 19-year-old student Riri Williams (Dominic Thorne). The two find Riri and ask her to come to Wakanda. Unfortunately, the CIA arrives at the scene. Shuri, Okoye and Riri escape their clutches, but Namor and his army suddenly attack. Okoye fights bravely, but is subdued. Namor captures Shuri and Riri and takes them to his underwater kingdom of Takolan. Namor makes it clear that he wants to kill Riri, fearing that the ‘surface people’ will once again come to extract the vibranium, thereby harming his kingdom. What happens next shapes the rest of the film.
Ryan Coogler’s story is very entertaining. The screenplay by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole has a good mix of action, thrill and emotions. However, the pace is a bit slow. Dialogues are powerful.
Ryan Coogler’s direction is good. He has a huge challenge on his hands, especially after the departure of Chadwick Boseman. However, the way he and his team have done justice to it by making it a part of the film’s story is commendable. Also it’s admirable how they continued the story of BLACK PANTHER without the character who immortalized it. Knowing how sensitive the whole scene is, the film’s tribute to Chadwick is beautiful and in no way cheap or forced. The emotional quotation is stronger when the action element is well woven. The underwater scenes add to the appeal and give viewers something different from the rest of the Marvel films. Certain scenes are well executed, like the drama at the United Nations conference and Namor’s heroic entrance after Ramonda and Shuri’s emotional talk. The chase sequence and the action scene at the bridge are memorable. The taclone sequence is unique and is a complete visual spectacle. The pre-climax was moving while the climactic fight was impressive. The film ends on a beautiful note.
Unfortunately, the film has one major drawback – the run time. At 164 minutes, it’s too long and drags in places. This removes the effect to some extent. The other problem is the comparatively limited hype, which keeps the film from getting the opening that recent Marvel films have.
Talking about the performances, Letitia Wright is in excellent form and handles the lead part competently. Angela Bassett has an important role and is effortless. Tenoch Huerta is brilliant as the villain and keeps his performance under control. Danai Gurira is dependable. Dominic Thorne is good but has limited screen time. Martin Freeman is charming in a supporting role. Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia) is great and contributes a lot to the film. Winston Duke (M’Baku), Michael Coel in many roles and others are fair.
Ludwig Göransson’s music enlivens that effect. Talking about the soundtrack, two songs stand out – ‘Con la Brisa’, played when the underwater kingdom is first shown, and ‘Alone’. Autumn Durald Arkapa’s cinematography is amazing. Hannah Beachler’s production design is superb. Ruth E. Carter dresses are attractive, especially those worn by Lupita Nyong’o. The action is in sync with the mood and theme of the movie. VFX is up to global standards. Michael P. Editing by Shawer, Kelly Dixon and Jennifer Lame could be crisper. Ideally, the film should be less than 15 minutes.
All in all, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a moving saga and has a decent dose of action and thrill as well. At the box office, it performed as strongly as recent MCU films such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder.