Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

This is a worthy sequel to one of the best Marvel films. In simple terms, the precocious little sister is left to grapple with the loss of her brother the king. When inevitably faced with an existential threat to her homeland, Shuri (the remarkable Letitia Wright) has to grapple with tradition and her undying sense of scientific logic. Will it be her ancestors or technology in the form of coldhearted logic that wins the day?

Writer / director Ryan Coogler provides some great scenes in Boston where an obscure MIT student named Riri (Dominique Thorne) soon gets a significant role, but not after some street racing scenes that would give the Fast and Furious franchise a run for the money.

There are some structural elements similar to James Bond movies, including title cards to apprise us of various exotic locations around the world and the seemingly obligatory exposition by the villain to explain his motivation. In fact, the very last title card of Wakanda Forever seems to be a direct lift from the very last title card of every James Bond film.

The look of Black Panther films remains tremendous, with magnificent set designs, eye-popping costumes and nearly invisible special effects. Coogler has consistently left to the distaff side the roles of cinematographer. The blue tint of the skin will put you in mind of Avatar, with which this film will soon be in competition.

As Shuri, Wright’s boyish demeanor is appealingly evocative. Angela Bassett reprises her role as Queen Ramnonda, with a consistently commanding presence. The opening set peice is the funeral of T’Challa and that is a confident bridge from the original film. And indeed, the impressive underwater sequences again bring to mind motifs that have been previously embraced and mastered by James Cameron. The direction, story and screenplay by Ryan Coogler is impressive by any measure. Equally impressive is the production design by Hannah Beachler and the long awaited new track from Rihanna, “Lift Me Up.” 

Watch for box office records to tumble.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.