Black Panther Wakanda Forever Movie Review: Tenoch Huerta, Letitia Wright Bring Their A-Game to Marvel’s Most Poignant Film Yet! (LatestLY Exclusive)

Black Panther Wakanda Forever Movie Review: Tenoch Huerta, Letitia Wright Bring Their A-Game to Marvel’s Most Poignant Film Yet! (LatestLY Exclusive)

Black Panther Wakanda Forever Movie Review: With the unfortunate death of Chadwick Boseman, all eyes have been on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on how it handles the loss of the actor and its lead character. Director Ryan Coogler was tasked with crafting a film that not only paid respect to Boseman’s legacy, but also build out Wakanda as well as introducing the new nation of Talokan – and the director fairly succeeds in telling a story concerned with grief, loss and the ability to let go. Black Adam Movie Review: Dwayne Johnson’s Anti-Hero Could Not Save This Rushed and Messy DC Film (Fresh Headline Exclusive).

Right from the opening moments, we are greeted with a heartbreaking scene showcasing the death of T’Challa. Shuri (Letitia Wright) is trying to find a cure, however, is too late in doing so and realises that her brother has passed away. With the nation of Wakanda grieving, we are taken to the funeral of the Black Panther that features a beautiful sequence which hammers home the thought that, even in death, there is something to be celebrated with the Wakandan culture showcasing the same through music and traditional dance beaming up this sentimental affair.

A Still From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Photo Credits: Marvel Studios)

With the nation still grieving a year later and being criticised for not sharing its resources adequately (primarily Vibranium) amongst the world, Wakanda finds itself amidst a geopolitical scenario which puts them at odds with the nation of Talokan, an underwater country inspired by the Mesoamerican culture with Namor (Tenoch Huerta) leading them.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s best quality here is how standalone it feels. It is a proper sequel that’s not concerned with carrying on a plotline from another film and puts its characters at the front and center. In a grieving Shuri who is portrayed with enough pathos by Letitia Wright, there is a good character arc that talks about coming to terms with a loved one’s death. On the other hand, you have Queen Ramonda who is brilliantly portrayed by Angela Bassett and who acts the same way to Shuri in the way T’Chaka did to T’Challa (minus the lying of course).

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The supporting cast is handled with much care too. M’Baku (Winston Duke) remains a scene stealer like always while Danai Gurira’s Okoye is a badass warrior who is given so much more depth this time around. Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia brings a great amount of emotionality, and overall, the Wakandans have never felt more like a family. However, you do have the Talokans too, and Tenoch Huerta’s Namor is the best addition to this film by miles.

A general who will go to any lengths to protect his people, Namor is a menacing foe that is acted out with an intimidating performance by Huerta. Bringing that snobbish nature of the feather-winged mutant right out of the comics, he is an intense antagonist whose motivations you can very well understand. Talokan also looks visually compelling and has parallels with Wakanda. Ditching the name of Atlantis from the comics to avoid comparisons with DC’s Aquaman, Coogler does a good job at bringing personality to this underwater country. While Namor does get a lot of spotlight, unfortunately his supporting cast of Attuma (Alex Livinalli) and Namora (Mabel Cadena), both very rich characters from the comics don’t get to do much over here.

A Still From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Photo Credits: Marvel Studios)

The movie also introduces Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams, but she feels a bit underwhelming and has the same McGuffin effect that America Chavez had in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Wearing a suit of armor that feels heavily inspired by that of Iron Man’s, her story never really kicks off and is just a device so that Wakanda and Talokan can wage war against each other. Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross also feels like an addition just there to sort out some inconveniences with him being a source of Wakanda within the CIA, and his story hardly has any effect on the plot which makes for a disjointed viewing whenever those scenes came up. That brings me to the main issue where the more distinct flaws of the franchise do show up.

There is a sense of choppiness to some of the threads here that Wakanda Forever can’t shake off. Running at about 161 mins, the pacing occasionally takes a hit and even with all that time, some plotlines like that of the Talokans and Everett Ross’ don’t feel fleshed out. It doesn’t always feel effective when dealing with the larger world stuff and there is a bit of that intimacy lost there.

A Still From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Photo Credits: Marvel Studios)

Coogler also noticed some of the criticisms from the first Black Panther where the CGI heavy final fight made for a very rustic feel, he grounds the characters here that help deliver a more hard-hitting fight. That’s not stopping Marvel from Marvel-ing though. There are some very clear-cut issues here with the CGI that sometimes just feel like people acting out in front of green screen. Which is weird because at times the movie is competently shot with some of the scenes being filmed on location, but when it comes to the more high-octane sequences, the ball is just dropped.

That’s not to say the story doesn’t feel strong though. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is at its best when it just lets itself breathe. There are certain scenes here with complete silence that feel extremely powerful. Conversations and dialogues hold weight and no scene is undercut by a funny quip, something that the MCU is very guilty of. Exploring some heavy-handed themes of being a great leader and finding an inner peace among yourself, which reflects heavily onto Shuri’s story, her journey is one that feels poignant. I was never really that heavy on her character because she was mainly used to add some levity, yet Wakanda Forever pushes her in a way that takes its characters seriously. Black Panther Wakanda Forever: Director Ryan Coogler Says Introducing a New ‘Black Panther’ Was All About Honouring Chadwick Boseman (Watch Video).

A Still From Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Photo Credits: Marvel Studios)

T’Challa’s presence is felt throughout, even though he isn’t physically there, and Wakanda Forever proves to be a respectful conclusion to the story of this legend and brings forward new beginnings. Should they have re-casted T’Challa? That argument still holds some weight, but that’s not to say that the introduction of the new Black Panther here is nothing short of splendid. Fueled by another mesmerising score by Ludwig Göransson and an original soundtrack that features the voices of Rihanna and more, this is a movie that will have you tearing up at many moments.

Yay!

Feels Standalone

Tenoch Huerta’s Namor

Nay!

CGI

Plot Can be Choppy at Times

Final Thoughts

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is Marvel’s most poignant and emotionally charged film by a long shot. With Tenoch Huerta being a great introduction and Letitia Wright’s Shuri being a powerful vessel for grief and loss, the MCU has never felt this impactful. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in theatres on November 11, 2022.

(The above story first appeared on Fresh Headline on Nov 10, 2022 11:52 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website freshheadline.com).