Friday, November 11, 2022

Wakanda Forever (2022)

My very favorite film of the past five years is without a doubt the first Black Panther movie. It turned out to be a real cultural touchstone for so many people and that made any sequel an enormous challenge especially without the leadership of Chadwick Boseman. I am happy to say that Wakanda Forever is a brilliantly emotional sequel that respects it's past without sacrificing the future of the franchise. I was thrilled and quite moved by the whole effort.

The story really belongs to Suri, (Letitia Wright) the younger genius sister of T'Challa whose death weighs heavily upon her. Her struggle to find her purpose without her brother drives the narrative here. She also worries about her role is the whole legacy aspect of the Black Panther. She is surrounded by a very strong female cast set up to force her along a path where the solution to the problems she is faced with comes from her heart as much as her head.

I was impressed with the way that the film got right to the problem of  Boseman's character's death. It was an elegant way of dealing with the enormous loss of the nobility that Chadwick brought to the Black Panther role. The movie focusses as much on grief than it does with the enormous and exciting set pieces. It's an MCU film with a massive heart.

Since revealing themselves to the World, Wakanda finds itself in conflict with other nations and the previously undiscovered undersea kingdom of Talocan who also have their own access to Vibranium. Fearful of having his identity revealed, their God-King Namor brings war to Wakanda because they have revealed their own secret without consideration for Namor or his people. He feels the pressure that any king would have and that responsibility motivates his actions throughout the film. Tenoch Huerta  steals every scene he is in despite his goofy ankle wings. He is less of a classic villain because you understand the motivations for his actions. He is a noble character.

Okoye and the Dora Milage are heavily featured again and it's always great to see them in action. I could watch an entire movie based just on those women warriors alone.

Ironheart, the MCU's heir to Tony Stark and his Iron Man creation, shows up as a young scientist Namor wants to kill because she created a machine to search for Vibranium under the ocean, putting Tenocan at risk. Her upcoming TV series and it's heavy Wakandan roots in her story will lead directly into her own IRONHEART series from Marvel. Does the movie need this genius fish out of water? No. But the movie is exponentially better with her in it. Dominique Thorne does a great job. I look forward to more of her MCU story to be told.

Winston Duke returns as Lord M'Baku the leader of the mountain tribe of Wakanda and he serves to give Suri wise counsel as she struggles her way as Princess while trying to live up to the legacy of the Black Panther that constantly hangs over her. The movie succeeds most when Letitia Wright is on screen. She carries a huge role and pulls it off brilliantly. Angela Basset is also remarkable as the Queen Mother. I got chills from much of her performance.

I enjoyed the whole movie which didn't drag for any of it's two and a half hour running time. The choreography and CGI are seemless as usual and the story is genuinely moving. It feels important because it IS important. I feel rewarded by this sequel and not for once was I cheated of the best that the MCU can deliver. Worth your time if you are a true believer.

To a much greater degree than I would have thought possible, Wakanda Forever is a gajillion-dollar comic-book blockbuster about something as complex and interior as the act of female mourning, split among at least four different strong woman protagonists.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Now THAT'S a glowing review! I look forward to watching this movie once it hits Disney+.