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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther Wakanda Forever (2022)

Ryan Coogler returns to the billion dollar franchise Black Panther which is also a mediation on loss thanks to Boseman's death which is also a political thriller of sorts between two countries and the use of Vibratium.

The first Black Panther was a well written poorly executed film (not the directors fault) where Wakanda felt like a street the CGI Rhinos looked dumb and Black Panther fighting himself while losing his costume to show his face is the sort of thing that was okay 20 years ago not today. This film is a huge technical step up from the original...while the geography of the nation still seems weird to me (where do all those other tribes live). This film greatly improves on the physics of the powers of the character involved. We also get an undersea world that while still not perfect is better than the cartoonish Aquaman world we saw a few years ago.

Angela Bassett and Tenoch Huerta give standout performances. I can see Bassett getting a second Oscar nom as the first act of the story feels padded but also gives Bassett a lot to work with. Marvel has completely remade Namor into an entirely different character from the books but Huerta performance makes it work. It's somewhat a shame that the filmmakers didn't make him more of a focus point similar to Michael B Jordan's Killmonger.

The big issue with the film is that it's a black female super hero film with Nakia, Okoye, Shuri, and Riri Williams. All of which having different powers and positions in the story but also all sharing the same bland personality. It's a common problem with modern filmmaking where the fear of giving characters flaws and personalities creates a parade of blandness. These characters exist to serve the plot and to sell different versions of toys.

The second issue I had with the film was Disney's marketing objectives fault.
WARNING: spoilers below
The film has a rather large death count yet all the deaths occur off screen. The climax of the film has the Atlalians(now Takaonians) closing in on the named leads at the edge of the ships. Hundreds of Wakandans had died yet. There is something twisted about making a film about grief and treating hundreds of people like they are disposable and forgettable.

With the third issue being that several scenes in the film are just way to dark and blurry. This is an improvement visually from the first film but it's still an issue. A different filmmaker and studio could have fixed it's CGI shortcomings through a better shot selection but instead it's over and done with and off to the next set piece.

But it's still a good film, while it has it's issues the actual plotting is good. At three hours I wasn't really bored or felt the run time until about 2 hours in. While it lacks the interesting character work it does achieve in telling a different type of Super Hero film.