Well, it’s that time of year again when you feel like you’re on a fast-track mine cart ride through the Christmas season and the subsequent end-of-the-year period. As a result, there’s almost this mad scramble to catch as many movies before compiling the invertible top ten movies of the year list. It’s with this context in mind that I made a mad dash to my local cinema, trying to find a sole screening amid the general explosion of The Way of Water screenings. But personal and meandering stories aside, have you seen Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.
By its title alone, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever suggests a tension between the titular hero and the empathic eternal existence of the nation they protect. It’s a problem that seems deeply embedded within the film itself. The 30th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has a lot on its mind. It’s working overtime as a tribute to the late Chadwick Bosman who immortalized the T’Challa iteration of the titular hero and continued exploration of Wakanda’s role as an affluent African nation with a desirable resource. The result is a messy, baggy and overlong effort that finds some emotive footing in its fleeting moments.
One such is at the tail end of the film where Shuri (Letitia Wright) partakes in a ceremony where she gets to finally mourn for her brother. With its subdued sunlight and almost flickering use of medium shots, the scene plays like a Terrance Malik scene of nature, which attempts to calm the soul of the new Black Panther. But for every elegant camera move or exceptionably staged action sequence (most notably the final three-pronged conflict that’s edited to a crescendo in a manner befitting the title of the movie), there’s a clumsy moment of filmmaking. The most egregious being a 360 degrees shot that wears out its welcome.
Crucially, the isolative spirit and powerful Afrofuturism themes that fueled the original film get lost in the shuffle. Instead, they’re replaced with a sense of a movie attempting to find its identity amid creaky plot machinations and points that don’t feel as engaging. This is a shame because as a tribute to the legacy of Chadwick Bosman, Wakanda Forever soars.