I’ll Review Anything: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (SPOILER FREE)

After the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman, I was actually shocked that Disney and Marvel would push through with a sequel to Black Panther. I knew they wouldn’t do anything as stupid like recast the role of King T’Challa with another person. So I was incredibly curious in the direction of where Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would go.

Then the trailers started slowly leaking and I was once again surprised as Disney and Marvel made the decision to use this to introduce the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Namor, the Sub-Mariner. With all of this happening, this just doubled my interest in seeing the film. I wanted to see how they were going to fit all of this together.

Now that I’ve just seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, I can say that, well, they did make it work but not all of the pieces feel like they fit together neatly.

Before I do get to the review proper, I do have to mention that this is a SPOILER FREE review. The trailers don’t really show much so revealing some of the major plot points at this time does feel unfair as many haven’t seen it yet. So, yeah. SPOILER FREE review.

King T’Challa has just passed away and the nation of Wakanda is in mourning for their ruler. At around this time, Namor, the leader of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis Tacolan fears that the surface world is getting too close to finding out about his hidden civilization. He plans to wage war against the surface world before he does and this leads him in direct conflict with the nation of Wakanda.

Despite Black Panther: Wakanda Forever being “just another superhero movie” from Marvel, it’s definitely more complex than that. There are a lot of moving parts and story threads that’s sprinkled throughout the film. And I’m of the opinion that there’s too much stuff crammed into the movie’s 161-minute runtime.

This does hurt Wakanda Forever quite a bit as it has to ping from one point to another. They’re all basically woven into a neat story as everything does tie together somewhat. Ultimately, the constant bouncing around from plot point to another does wear you down. I get they were trying to make it more than “just another superhero movie” as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s passing. But sometimes, less is more.

I also have an issue with the way the film tries to condense information to relay to the viewer as it uses quite a bit of montages to do so. It’s hard to explain what I mean without going into detail as this is a SPOILER FREE review. However, it did irk me quite a bit as they kept on using it. Once or twice is fine. Four times seems a bit excessive.

Wakanda Forever also feels very restrained when compared to Marvel’s other movie outings. Most of the time, you would expect a quick quip here and there just to add some humor. You won’t find that in Wakanda Forever. That’s not to say there aren’t humorous and lighthearted moments throughout the film. It’s just that they do take a backseat and they allow the serious moments to remain serious most of the time. I’m not really sure if the people who got used to the old Marvel Cinematic Universe formula will like it because they might be expecting a good old time. The entire film uses a more somber tone and it worked in general.

The more general focused on storytelling and serious tone leads to probably Wakanda Forever’s greatest strength: the acting. The acting here from almost everyone is very strong and they’re all allowed to show a great depth of range here. A lot of this is really shown in Leticia Wright’s Shuri as she was basically the comedy relief in the first Black Panther. Shuri’s more carefree attitude in the first film is practically gone as she was hit the hardest by T’Challa’s passing. Leticia Wright basically has to make the switch from her more lively performance then to a definitely more beaten down one here and she pulls it off masterfully.

I also have to say Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda is also has a few standout scenes here as she has to show strength despite being obviously wounded by her son’s death. Winston Duke’s M’Baku does manage to thread the needle a little as he kind of becomes the doofus but has definitely shown some growth since the first Black Panther. I am a little disappointed by Tenoch Huerta’s portrayal of Namor but only because he doesn’t feel like the all high-and-mighty Sub-Mariner I’ve come to know from the comics. His performance is fine, I guess, but he just doesn’t come off as the way I always thought Namor should be.

I will say the worst performance goes to Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams. Then again, I can’t really say it’s a bad performance as it’s mostly her character that’s grating to me. She’s your typical genius know-it-all who pretty much the catalyst for all of what happens. Think Tony Stark/Iron Man but without the charm to back up her brash behavior. This just makes her come off as extremely annoying. Which does seem apt because, in the comics, she does become Ironheart, the kind of Iron Man for today’s generation. But, like I said, she just has too much gumption for her own good. I do wish she did a better job at making Riri likable. That’s not exactly a good sign because Riri will be getting her own TV series on Disney+ sometime next year.

I also have to talk about the other Atlantis Tacolan characters who pop up during Wakanda Forever as, well, they don’t really do much. You have the female Atlantis Tacolan and the big Atlantis Tacolan. And they are just as generic as they come. I think we were supposed to get invested in them as characters but, as they hardly do anything, I just didn’t care for them.

The special effects and set designs here are generally good, especially when you get to see Wakanda in all its glory once again. There are a few times when the characters do move a little jerky. This is especially true when you see Namor flying around during the combat scenes. When they focus on the Wakandian flying machines, it’s fine because they move like you would think they would. Namor, on the other hand, just looks weird. It does take sometime to get used to it but, until I did, it looked like a special effect to me.

With a lot of the focus coming to the story, it does seem like the action scenes do take a backseat in Wakanda Forever. Don’t get me wrong. The last couple of action set pieces come off as really good as there’s definitely a great scale to the combat. However, the earlier ones seem almost trifling as they don’t have the same kind of weight to them. The early ones are fine but nothing really exciting. Then again, this might be Marvel trying to not make it like “just another superhero movie” once again.

Ultimately, however, I will say I did like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever enough to give it a thumbs up, but not an ecstatic thumbs up. The story is a little overstuffed with subplots and these could have been trimmed down. The action is just good, never great. But it’s the acting that really sold me on the entire movie. Leticia Wright and Angela Bassett probably won’t get nominated for any acting awards here because it’s “just another superhero movie” but their performances are definitely up there. I say give it a watch.

Have you seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? What did you thin of it? Let me know in the comments section below!


One thought on “I’ll Review Anything: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (SPOILER FREE)

  1. Pingback: Five Inconsequential Questions from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | 3rd World Geeks

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