*No twists spoiled here…
Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.
How did they do this? How did they go on after the unthinkable tragedy of the death of Chadwick Boseman, THE Black Panther. The thought of it is so daunting, but Ryan Coogler and co. felt like they had to make this as a tribute to him and as way to show the resolve of the fictional Wakandan people. So here we are talking about the newest Marvel, a Black Panther sequel without Boseman, however throughout the movie you can still feel his titanic presence.
Opening with the funeral of T’Challa we are immediately thrown into it and have to grieve with the characters on screen. All of it is done with class and respect and makes it feel like a true African King died. Of course, while watching you have lingering questions of who will be the new leader, will there be a new Black Panther, will Wakanda be able to defend themselves? They answer that quickly with Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) showing the world Wakanda is still not to be messed with. While she is doing that Shuri (Letitia Wright) is dealing with a threat from Namor and his people from the underwater kingdom of Talocan, who have their own supply of Vibranium. They are not happy because someone from the surface world (Riri Williams) has created a device to track vibranium. These two situations are clearly coming to a head but it is awesome to learn more about Namor and Talocan and their history dating back to Mayan Culture.
With all that plot it is fun meeting all the new characters like Namor (Tenoch Huerta), and of course Riri who is going to be In her own Disney+ show Ironheart next year. She is the MCU’s answer to the death of Iron Man and as much as I enjoyed her, she is not Tony Stark. Her suit was cool but it just felt like a cartoon version of an Iron Man suit which was weird to say the least. Namor though was so cool, and felt immediately perfect for the MCU. He can fly because of wings on his feet, he’s a warrior, and fierce protector of his people. I cannot wait to see his character interacting with more people in the universe.
On the technical side I was excited because of how special that first movie was, that I left a little disappointed in this aspect. Autumn Durald Arkapaw was the DP here and it is so interesting that Marvel has found this obsession with the team from Loki. Michael Waldron the Loki writer immediately got jobs working on MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS and SECRET WARS. Natalie Holt who did the music has become a Disney favorite as well. However, Arkapaw did a solid job on this movie, but the cinematography is not what I will remember here. Similar to the visuals from the first movie Ludwig Göransson who won the freaking Oscar for Scoring the first movie, felt like a step down here. I mean the best moment of sound in the whole movie are the two moments they dropped the score entirely during the opening title sequence and during Okoye’s bridge fight. Other than that it just felt derivative and not innovative like he has been known to be. Shoutout though to Ruth Carter who also won the Oscar for the original for Costume Design. She brings it again here and makes it feel like this is a real African nation with their own style.
Stock Up – Letitia Wright
She is the star of this movie and proves she can carry this movie and the franchise moving forward. She is still very funny but her character has gone through so much that she is hardened now and willing to be the hero they need. I still would like to see more of her outside this franchise, but she is a force in this role.
Stock Neutral – Angela Bassett
The absolute QUEEN. Not much you can say about her that has not already been said. She is everything you want in a movie star. Beautiful, powerful, emotional, and impossible to take your eyes off of. She is one of the great actors we have.
Stock Up – Tenoch Huerta
I loved this guy as Namor, he felt perfectly cast. I think he is going to be a massive part of the MCU going forward and brings a latino flavor to the MCU which I love. I am a big fan of him.
Stock Neutral – Ryan Coogler
This guy can clearly make great movies. He has proven that now over a number of films and I think it is time for him to go back to original work. Of course, I love the Creed’s and Black Panther movies but a movie like FRUITVALE STATION is what I want to see next from him. Something unrelated to IP to show you what he can really do. Still though, what he pulled off here is nothing short of special.
*A couple other tidbits
- The Martin Freeman, Julia Louis Dreyfus story did not ned to be in this movie, and it was only there to be a trailer for THUNDERBOLTS.
- Lupita Nyong’o is so so special and brings such a different energy to the role.
- I still love Winston Duke, but I have been a bit disappointed in his roles the last couple years.
- I like Riri Williams but again her story just felt like a trailer for Ironheart.
I think this movie is an incredible achievement, even if I do not think it lives up to the original film. The first movie was a phenomenon and took the world by storm, this movie while good just has a massive Chadwick Boseman sized hole that it is just missing. I know the franchise will go on, but I am happy that we have this movie to honor the original Black Panther.
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