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(film review) - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Nobody really knew Chadwick Boseman until he played James Brown. He was an up and coming actor who played Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and many other characters in film. It was only until he played Black Panther, a lot more people took notice. Chadwick Boseman was an incredible actor. Ma Rainy's Big Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods is testament to that. Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 due to Colon Cancer in the middle of the Pandemic, something he was battling for years and before he joined the MCU. Whilst people online were saying horrible things regarding how he looked in a video he released prior to his passing (due to visibly losing a lot of weight) Chadwick kept his illness a secret, even from Director Ryan Coogler who had just finished penning the script to a Black Panther sequel that starred Chadwick Boseman. Ryan Coogler had a task similar to James Wan in the Fast and Furious franchise, but a lot more difficult.
Whilst I agree with recasting the actor because the character is bigger than the actor, Marvel were at an incredible disadvantage due to being 'damned if you do recast and damned if you don't'. People will dislike the film regardless due to what they feel should have went down and how it should have been handled. That said, Marvel took a stance to not recast and Ryan had to re-write a script that had Chadwick Boseman as the star due to shoot in a few months to Chadwick not being the star anymore. A colleague, a friend, taken from us at 43 years old. A rising star. Ryan was in a predicament and did not walk from the project, he stuck with it. Whilst the film will definitely divide the audience on where they stand with the decisions from corporate, ultimately Ryan directed a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman and the film was great, although it could have been just a little bit longer in places. I'll explain.

The film starts off with a cold open and we are in the thick of it. The passing of King T'Challa is immediate and sudden. Wakanda has lost their King and whilst reeling from their loss, the world are equally trying to steal vibranium anywhere they can find it. This leads to the emergence of an underworld hidden civilisation who are led by a person named Namor who wants to protect his people from the surface world. Events lead to a huge battle between the two nations, the people of Talokan and the people of Wakanda whilst Shuri, T'Challa's sister, the princess, mourns the loss of her brother and tries to bury her head in her work.

The only issues I personally had with the movie was that, the film should have been longer. It would have helped to flesh out the characters a little more and give it a bit more meat to characters such as Riri Williams and Namor. I had trouble adjusting to Namor as he was a different type of "villain" to Killmonger and whilst I knew he was not meant to be anything like him, something about him being formidable, just didn't feel formidable enough or maybe his presence did not feel like it carried the weight and baggage it needed to to make me feel a person who is as menacing as he is powerful. Do not get me wrong, there was a scene that occured midway through the movie when there could have been a potential resolve, but something leads to another and I was stressed. So, feeling that, maybe the movie did what it needed to do, but I just felt like there could have been more. With that said, Namor and his forces left the movie feeling unbalanced which made it seem like there was not many stakes. They did something with a specific character I felt was unnecessary and the surprise cameo and "other plot" felt forced and pointless, especially when we do not fully know why it was needed.

Other than that, Angel Bassett deserves something, some recognition to her performance in this movie as she was incredible. Whilst every actor was spot on, performances were top tier, Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett were definitely the standouts. Tenoch Huerta was excellent as Namor. Charismatic, fierce and powerful. There were a few ways he would react and say things that made me burst out laughing because the character was calm but vicious, I just wanted a tad bit more from him to help feel the weight. I am not really sold on Riri Williams and I do not think it was Dominique Thorne's fault, I just felt her character's background should have been fleshed out a bit more as it was pretty surface level.

The cinematography was pretty standard with some cool camera work here and there and the music was excellent as per usual, not to mention the costume design. Director Ryan Coogler had a huge task and he delivered something I would say, is a servicible movie despite the circumstances. Although the movie cannot escape the impact and importance Chadwick Boseman brought to the movie, his presence is felt throughout even when they do not lean into it. A great watch and touching tribute for a King.

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