MMT Quick Review of BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER

“We didn’t think Chad would have wanted the world of Wakanda—and the
effect that movie had on kids—to go away. Emotionally, it felt like letting it go would be
the easier thing to do, but I don’t think it would’ve been the right thing to do. I think to do
right by the legacy of the man you have to continue to do right by the legacy of the
movie.”

Nate Moore, producer Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Dictionary.com gives the following definitions of the word legacy: 1. Law. a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest. 2. anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome.

With the latest Marvel film, the final in its phase four, audiences are bestowed a gift that has certainly been crafted, executed and presented as from our late ancestor himself, Chadwick Boseman. A love letter and tribute to Boseman by all who participated, especially the man who directed and co-wrote the script Ryan Coogler, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” lives up to the high expectations that many admirers of Boseman’s flawless performance of the beloved character built.

Beginning with a quiet opening sequence that finds King T’Challah’s (Boseman) sister Shuri desperately working towards life-saving measures and ending with Queen Ramonda breaking news to her daughter that her efforts are too late, the film tackles the loss of its franchise star head on and slowly, yet competently builds to a story that allows the audience to partake in collective mourning and cleanse while forging a new and creative journey in the story.

In mentioning Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett, Soul ) and Shuri (Letitia Wright, The Silent Twins), I have to take a moment to focus on their performances.

Starting with the latter, Wright had the overwhelming task of carrying the weight of this film and she most certainly does not drop the ball. From that cold opening sequence to the bookended post-credit scene, stay after the first set of credits to witness, Wright amply displays ranges of grief from losing her brother, to the reluctance and acceptance of inheriting the Black Panther title, to the badassery of ruling and attempting to save an entire kingdom from forces that are hellbent on taking advantage of Wakanda’s loss – and carries the title of a superhero without missing any significant beat.

And to say that the term “All Hail the Queen” is a refrain that audience members should be shouting in his or her head each and every time Bassett graces the screen in this film is to put it mildly. Bassett lays it bare in this one and had me contemplating, during a major scene with co-star Danai Gurira who once again reigns supreme as Okoye, the high probability that she will prove a strong contender during the upcoming awards season.

Newcomer to the franchise Tenoch Huerta Mejía (The Forever Purge), who portrays Namor, also pulls no punches in delivering a fine performance that provokes equal parts empathy and anger with him as champion and conqueror respectively.

Yet, it’s the overall character of Wakanda, much like with the original “Black Panther,” that stands out boldly like no other film in the Marvel franchise. Created not only by the characters but the extraordinarily creative production designs – inclusive of CGI, cinematography, set designs and the phenomenal fashion designs by Academy award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter – the fictional Wakanda is breathtaking and audiences are easily drawn into its fictional world – as well as that of the Atlantis like nation of Talokan where Namor reigns.

Even with all the aforementioned, my highest admiration is given to director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and his script co-writer Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther, All Day and a Night) for taking what seemed to be a gargantuan assignment and elegantly ushering the “Black Panther” in a new yet satisfying path, while simultaneously paying a beautiful tribute to their fallen friend and colleague.

With all of the #RecastTChallah rallying cries and its controversy, Coogler and Cole were able to introduce a sound sequel that pays respect to Boseman, honors his contributions to the franchise and his legacy, and expands on the mythos while ending on a truly surprising and upbeat note – again I implore you do not miss the end credit scene. With Coogler at the helm, and being what he himself has referred to as Chadwick’s creative partner, it’s hard to comprehend why so many failed to trust his process and know he would definitely do right by his late friend.

This is a film that I believe may change the minds of many of its naysayers, #RecastTChallah criers included, if given the proper chance.

But be forewarned, the film does have a 2 hour and 41-minute runtime – and could have been reduced a bit or had a couple of scenes tightened and more properly explained (i.e., the final fight scene with hero and villain transitions to next scene without explaining how, but not going to spoil so you’ll see it).

Ultimately, I rate it 4 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.

BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER was released today November 10 in theaters everywhere.

Until next thought, Thomasena

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