Nowadays, it appears I only use this blog to share an opinion if it weighs heavy on me. Having watched Black Panther: Wakanda Forever a few weeks ago, my mind has stayed on it, as I pondered my thoughts on it. What I liked, what I didn’t and what I maybe had wished was done better.

The way I look at movies, and the way I review movies has drastically changed from when I started this blog and a huge part of that dare I say is due to my review of the first Black Panther. The original film really opened my eyes to how a movie is so much more important than just its action or its story, but instead those two should be a vessel for a message or a theme the storyteller is trying to convey.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is quite possibly the saddest film I have watched in a long while, not just because of the unfortunate passing of the titular character and the way the film had to adapt but also because of arguably the lost potential of the movie.

Whilst I feel the above statement is a fair representation of the film, I also believe it may take away from the themes explored through the revised script Ryan Coogler delivered and the amazing performances by the entire cast.

This movie is a character study of its two main characters – Shuri and Namor, how they mirror each other and the themes they both share. Other characters enters the fray but are either disposed of to further the arcs of those two characters or have a small bit part to play.

Once you understand and appreciate that, the movie is phenomenal, however if you’re expecting a action packed movie akin to the first (or what the movie attempts to be in the final act), you’re expectations are misguided.

There are many themes that are carried through from the first movie such as grief, revenge, anger, that the sequel arguably delivers even better than the original (which was such a tall order) because instead of it being the antagonist’s message, it’s the protagonists reality.

I love the the themes of the film and it culminates in an epic final battle as Shuri has to choose revenge or leadership and it is mirrored in Namor. She is beating Namor but her people are dying, and I love how the movie shows these themes – aided by an incredible scene with M’Baku telling Shuri how much she has grown. It’s just very subtle and you as the audience have to really look into it – as is similar to the idea of grief and revenge.

I loved the character development and themes, I wish the movie had explored Shuri (a technology crazed youth) scepticism with her culture and religion past a few throw away lines, but a lot of the complaints about this movie was that it was too long and if the creators had put what I wanted in the movie would have been even longer.

The movie definitely “drags” in the middle and I feel the movie needed another strong character to really be the glue that holds the film together as the characters we do get, don’t have enough screen time or take way too much away from the story.

Or more accurately. The creators and hence the movie, takes too long in establishing Shuri as the main character, spending so long establishing Queen Ramona only to then throw that out the movie (which is merely an explanation on why this movie feels as though it drags not a complaint I have with the movie), and thus, when the audience looks back at the movie in retrospect they are left with a feeling of emptiness.

The likes of M’Baku or Okoye or even Nakia could have had much larger roles from the very beginning of the movie but instead it seems they share the role, with them each taking a third of the movie to have an impact on the story.

Furthermore, the likes of Everett Ross takes away from the story, this is not necessary a bad thing because I enjoyed seeing the kingdom of Wakanda involved in politics but because they never share any scenes of note together it feels as though that’s not incorporated into the main story and it feels disjointed even when you’re watching it.

But of course, it goes without saying that it is incredible that this movie is even as good as it is because of the tragedy it faced, and how they had to change the story. The cast really step up to the plate, with Angela Bassett delivering an amazing performance highlighted in one of the best scenes in the MCU – her “have I not given everything” scene.

Letitia Wright also really steps up to the plate and delivers an incredible performance, the pain oozes from the screen which is why so many reviews have stated how emotional this film is. And, whilst it is incredible Angela Bassett is getting the recognition she deserves it is a tragedy that Wright has not been getting nominations for her performance.

Tenoch Huerta is contender for one of the strongest entries of a new character, delivering a powerful performance that conveys to the audience what sort of leader he is and why he is that way. He portrays Namor with such conviction that the audience (similar to Michael B. Jordan’s character in the first) can’t disagree with what he says.

The introduction of RiRi Williams is a clear decision to set her up for future projects, and her suit is arguably made redundant because Okoye is given the exact same powers. However, without the introduction of RiRi Williams, the death of the Queen would not have be as felt as she chooses to save someone she had never met, a maternal instinct.

And that is how I feel with this film, everytime I come to criticise it, I look at how the actions impact the overarching theme and the mirrored characteristics of the antagonist and protagonist – Shuri and Namor and how incredible the themes that are carried out throughout the film is.

And of course this movie has faults, and it is not quite an incredible film as I would rank the first, but I definitely believe some leeway should be given to this film especially after what it went through and how much effort and emotion is clearly put into the film.

Some decisions of the story were incredibly stupid; i.e: having the final fight in ocean. And, I was disappointed with the introduction of “not Atalntis”, as I was expecting big things from this underwater world akin to when we were introduced to Wakanda but we did not get that. The CGI actively took me out of the film, and I was not able to see anything in this underwater world, but the amazing music choices and the score still kept my attention.

What Wakanda Forever does do is brilliantly set up the third movie, as a war between the nations for Vibranium as Namor ends the movie by hinting that the world will come for Wakanda and then they will have to fight.

So, is Wakanda Forever a great film. No, but it is a good film. Is that too kind or too harsh? Honestly, I think it’s too early to tell. An opinion of a movie is bound to change after a while, case and point – Thor: Love and Thunder. I think the opinion on this movie will change for the positive though.
As, I think it is a pretty good damn film and I believe time will tell as people will be converted to giving it the recognition it deserves – far past the emotional weight the movie carries but the brilliant character arc the two main characters go through – especially Shuri. And, also for the absolute brilliant acting by the cast.



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