Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Ryan Coogler had his work cut out for him in this sequel: the star of the original film, Chadwick Boseman was gone too soon, so essentially a new origin story for his successor had to be told. The film pits the protective, tech-intense country against a new global player that has similar characteristics.
The main problem is that Letitia Wright is not Boseman; as a supporting cast member in the first film, she was fine, playing his smart-ass and very bright younger sister, but now she shows she lacks the chops to play well the wider range of emotions required of her extended role. She is mostly surrounded by solid supporting performers: Lupita Nyong’o is quite good as an intelligence operative close to her; Angela Bassett is powerful as her mother; Winston Duke is funny as a brutish ally. The good villain, one that dialogues well with the issues of the first film, is played well by Tenoch Huerta Mejía.
The film feels overlong and unfocused, as it gets distracted by a few minor characters that have little bearing in this film but have a role to play in future installments of the cinematic universe and ignores the chance of exploring the protagonist even further. In any case, the value of focusing on strong Black female characters cannot be dismissed.
Aesthetically, the film is polished and makes excellent use of the two inspiring cultures, of each of the two countries, to create striking costumes (the work of costume designer Ruth E. Carter) and sets (by production designer Hannah Beachler). Composer Ludwig Göransson is likewise inspired by African and Mayan cultures in his musical score.
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