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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

MOVIE REVIEW: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (LIGHT SPOILERS)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever begins with a prayer to the Wakandan goddess Bast. The King is dying and despite technological advances, he cannot be saved. King T'Challa is dead and the weight of this death is felt throughout. Not just because the fictional character died, but because the great actor who played him, Chadwick Boseman, died at the age of 43 from colon cancer.

Director Ryan Coogler, who directed the original film, and Marvel Studios wisely chose not to recast the role and, instead reworked he film as both a tribute to Boseman and T'Challa and as a way for cast and the fictional characters that they play (as well as the rest of the world) to work through collective grief. And it does so in a very tasteful and emotional way. I cried a few times throughout the movie because the theme of loss was so palpable.

Amidst this is a political drama between two powerful nations with powerful resources dealing with how to protect its people from the outside world. One of them being Wakanda with its underground mound of Vibranium and the other being a new power being introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe - the underwater empire of Talokan ruled by Namor, a powerful mutant revered by his people as the feathered serpent god K’uk’ulkan.

Many people don't know that Namor is one of Marvel's first superheroes. Even before Captain America, Namor was on the pages of early Marvel comics. He even predates Aquaman, the King of Atlantis from DC Comics. Like Aquaman, in the comics, he is the King of Atlantis. But, in the movie, they change Atlantis to Talokan, a kingdom of aquatic people of Mayan descent. I thought this to be a brilliant choice not only to differentiate him from Aquaman, but to add depth and texture.

The strength of the film is in its cast. Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda chews up every scene she is in. You can feel her anguish with every word. If she doesn't get nominated for or, even better yet, win an Oscar, I don't know if there is justice in the world. Letitia Wright, as T'Challa's genius younger sister, excellently walks the line of sadness and rage and really brought a wonderful performance. The introduction of famed Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta as Namor was inspired. He could stand toe to toe with Bassett and really gave Namor a level of sympathy. Dominique Thorne, as Riri Williams, is likeable as the young woman in the middle of it all having invented a Vibranium detector. Really, the whole cast brought their A-game.

Hannah Beachler returns as production designer, having won an Academy Award for Black Panther, further expanding her futuristic vision of Wakanda while creating an Ancient Mayan world for Talokan. And Ruth Carter, who won the Academy Award for Best Costume Designer for Black Panther, also returns to weave a gorgeous tapestry. Her work designing all the funeral clothes for Wakanda was quite beautiful. And composer Ludwig Göransson, who also won an Oscar for Black Panther for score, delivers fantastic compositions.

Probably my only quibble was that a great deal of the film seems dark and, being visually impaired, it was difficult, at times, to make out what was going. Talokan was extremely dark that I couldn't appreciate its splendor as much as I would have wanted. But it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the film which I highly recommend.

Be sure to stay for the mid-credit scene for a very poignant and emotional scene. There was no end credit scene.

And check out my MOVIE REVIEW IN #SHORT that I shot as soon as I got home from seeing the movie.


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