Film: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Dania Gurira, Winston Duke, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Dominique Thorne
Long live the king… but since the King of Wakanda is dead and so is the brilliant actor Chadwick Boseman, who simply mesmerised us with his portrayal of Black Panther, what options do makers have to continue the franchise? Anoint a new king and let a new actor slip into the part. But then who can replicate the enigmatic charm of Boseman?
So, they let us soak in the inevitable that both King T'Challa, and Boseman are no more. Then they take a chanceand let women call the shots. The queen is none other than Black Panther's mother (Angela Basset). But since as a dialogue goes; “Is there like a new Black Panther you can call to come rescue us?" someone has to follow in his footsteps. Who it will be is kind of obvious in this all women show. The kingdom of Wakanda is ruled by a woman, young princess Shuri is busy experimenting with artificial intelligence and a woman general (Lupita Nyong'o) is defending the realm.
Welcome to Black Panther Wakanda Forever, where might of women rules like never before. Why the young scientist (Dominique ) of MIT, a science prodigy, is girl too and a black at that. And guess what the one behind the camera too is a woman, noted cinematographer Autumn Durald. Of course, Black Panther is not just about busting stereotypes or taking diversity to another level. It's as much a tribute to Chadwick Boseman as a worthy sequel.
As with any Marvel Cinematic Universe, the antagonist has to be as powerful as the lead. So Namor, a man who knows no love, is. Only here, he not only possesses superhuman powers, born with wings on his ankles, revered by his people as Feather Serpent God. And his kingdom has vast resources of vibranium, a metal which can create weapons of mass destruction.
Of course, we know Wakanda too has similar reserves of the rare metal a reason why the US is after them and the scientist who has designed the machine that can detect vibranium. Namor's underwater kingdom, however, is a secret and since he wants to keeps it that way, he seeks an ally in Wakanda. Since Wakanda is the moral centre in the universe full of avarice ridden men and women, it can only follow its conscience the conscientious way.
A face off is imminent and there lies the USP of MCU; the spectacular action. The action sequences especially when Namor's people come riding on whales are meant to take your breath away and boy it's some magic on screen! The cinematography by Autumn Durald and the visual splendour of Namor's underwater kingdom is truly majestic.
Wrapped somewhere in between the stunning visuals and fine screenplay is a significant message on vengeance. Don't let retribution consume you. But the film does, as it's an immersive experience enhanced further by the note of loss and poignancy accentuated even more by fine performances. If Angela is both stoic and vulnerable, Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri packs that rare quality of strength within a delicate frame. She grieves for her brother's loss and when time come measures up to the mantle that was once his. A sharp mind that inhabits an agile body you obviously root for this young warrior. However, you don't abhor her enemy… Thanks to some fine writing by director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole', Namor played by Tenoch Huerta is no devil incarnate but a man who would protect his people and his surreal Aztec city of Talokan, whatever it takes.
Of course, Wakanda can only be protected by Black Panther. Has its gender identity been sealed forever? Well, an epilogue points in a new direction which is as uplifting as the end credits song Lift Me Up by Rihanna. "We need light, we need love…" the world could do with greater empathy. And that makes the experience of watching Black Panther Wakanda Forever uplifting and nostalgic too