At The Movies: ‘Wakanda Forever’ and ever, amen
BY PAUL WILLISTEIN
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a super superhero action movie.
The sequel is not quite up to “Black Panther.”
How could it be?
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” doesn’t have Chadwick Boseman, one of contemporary cinema’s great actors.
Boseman’s all too brief acting career was notable for his passionate acting and versatility. Boseman was an Oscar actor nominee for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (2020). Boseman portrayed Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” (2017); James Brown in ”Get On Up” (2014), and Jackie Robinson in “42” (2013).
Boseman played the lead role of T’Challa in “Black Panther” (2018).
Boseman (Nov. 29, 1976 - Aug. 28, 2020) died before production began on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler was writing the screenplay for the sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which he also directed, when Boseman died.
Coogler vowed that another actor would not take over the role of T’Challa.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” begins with the funeral of T’Challa. The opening scene sets the tone for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” with mentions of T’Challa and the presence of Boseman hovering over the movie.
Perhaps to fill in for the absence of Boseman’s dynamic screen presence, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is an ensemble piece. While the lead actors are excellent, the preponderance of actors doesn’t give enough screen time to each, with the result being that there is not a lead actor for the movie-goer to concentrate on for a good portion of the lengthy movie.
The screenplay, which Coogler co-wrote with Joe Robert Cole (screenwriter, “Black Panther”; Primetime Emmy nomination, “American Crime Story,” 2016), is segmented by its jumping from character to character and also by its globe-trotting settings, the latter not unlike a James Bond movie. In additon to the fictional African nation of Wakanda, there’s Haiti, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Boston, Mass.
There’s also the underseas world of Talokan, led by King Namor (Tenoch Huerta), a fictional ancient city that resurrects the Atlantis myth and is somewhat of a mirror image of Wakanda.
The storyline sets up a rivalry between Wakanda, led by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and Talokan.
A subplot involves the CIA, as represented by CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Andy Serkin) and CIA director Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louise-Dreyfuss), tracking the two warring nations. For gravitas, the real Anderson Cooper weighs in with televised CNN reports.
The visuals in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” create an impressioin of pre-colonial Africa tribes meets “Star Wars.”
The images of the Wakanda city, the spaceship fighter planes, the weaponry and the overall production design create a world of its own, apart from Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, as well as “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and other science fiction films.
Battle scenes, whether between two rival characters, or hundreds of opposing sides, are truly jaw-dropping to behold.
Credit a worldwide battalion of Computer Generated Imagery artists, and:
Director of Photography Autumn Durald Arkapaw (Primetime Emmy nominee, cinematography, “Loki,” 2021);
Production Designer Hannah Beachler (Oscar recipient, production design, “Black Panther”; “Lemonade,” TV special, 2016);
Costumer Designer Ruth E. Carter (Oscar recipient, “Black Panther”) with costumes that are stunning and gorgeous, especially those of Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and
Composer Ludwig Göransson (Oscar recipient, original score, “Black Panther”), whose score is soaring and effective.
Coogler (Oscar motion picture nominee, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” 2021; director, “Creed,” 2015; director, “Fruitvale Station,” 2013) balances the film’s multiple cast members, plots and locations. Coogler brings to the fore excellent character development dialogue scenes and interesting philosophical statements about the world of Wakanda.
Angela Bassett is riveting in the role of Queen Ramonda. She commands every scene she’s in. For fans of Angela Bassett, she is one reason to see “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Letitia Wright is a revelation as Shuri, younger sister of T’Challa. We won’t say more, keeping with our no spoilers policy for those who haven’t seen a movie. Wright has an on-screen presence that is inspiriing. You feel her emotional resonance as she mourns the loss of her brother, yet musters the courage to carry on in his stead.
Also memorable: Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Dominique Thorne (Riri Williams), Winston Duke (M’Baku), Florence Kasumba (Ayo) and Michaela Coel (Aneka).
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is the 30th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans of the MCU and “Black Panther” won’t want to miss it.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,”
MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for sequences of strong violence, action and some language; Genre: Action, Science-Fiction; Run time: 2 hours, 41 minutes. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous:
Director Ryan Coogler included footage of Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa from “Black Panther” at the conclusion of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The song, “Lift Me Up” by Rihanna, is a tribute to Boseman. Stay for a mid-credits scene for a big reveal. Again, no spoiler here.
At The Movies:
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was seen in the Dolby Theatre at AMC, AMC Center Valley 16. There are some spectacular scenes and effects that would make the movie-going experience even better in the 3D format.
Theatrical Movie Domestic Box Office,
Nov. 18 - 20: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” continued for a second week at No. 1 with $66.4 million in 4.396 theaters, $287.1 million, two weeks. “The Menu” opened at No. 2 with $9 million in 3,211 theaters. “The Chosen Season 3: Episode 1 & 2” opened at No. 3, with $8.7 million in 2,021 theaters.
4. “Black Adam” dropped two places with $4.6 million in 3,372 theaters $157.1 million, five weeks. 5. “Ticket to Paradise” dropped two places, $3.1 million in 3,268 theaters, $61.5 million, five weeks. 6. “She Said,” opening, $2.2 million in 2,022 theaters. 7. “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” dropped three places, $1.9 million, in 2,307 theaters, $43.1 million, seven weeks. 8. “Smile” moved down three places, $1.1 million in 1,569 theaters, $104.5 million, eight weeks. 9. “Prey for the Devil” dropped three places, $919,504 in 1,389 theaters, $18.3 million, four weeks. 10. “The Banshees of Inisherin” dropped three places, $729,037 in 812 theaters, $7.1 million, five weeks.
Movie box office information from Box Office Mojo as of Nov. 20 is subject to change.
MPAA rated PG-13: Steven Spielberg directs Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Judd Hirsch, Seth Rogen and Lehigh Valley native Oakes Fegley in the drama. Spielberg tells the story of his life. It’s based on his teen years as a budding young film-maker.
MPAA rated PG: Don Hall and Qui Nguyen direct the voice talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Ludy Liu and Dennis Quaid in the Animation Action film. A family of explorers must discover how to get along.
MPAA rated PG-13: J.D. Dillard directs Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors in the Drama. An African-American United States Navy pilot becomes a celebrated soldier in the Korean War. The movie is based on a true story.
“Bones and All,”
MPAA rated R: Luca Guadagnino directs Timothée Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Taylor Russell and Kendle Coffeey in the Horror film. A young woman meets a drifter in 1980s’ United States.
Movie opening dates from Internet Movie Database as of Nov. 20 is subject to change.
Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes