There are very few film franchises that can boast as many quality films as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The majority of these films have been embraced by both fans and critics alike. Even so, there are a few films that miss the mark. “Iron Man 2.” “Thor: the Dark World.” And now, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
A year after the death of King T’Challa, the country of Wakanda is still in turmoil. Countries all over the world seek the rare vibranium that is found in Wakanda, without success. When it appears that the rare element has been found in the Atlantic Ocean, the attempt to harvest it is foiled by an aquatic group under the leadership of a man called Namor. Cue the action!
I can only imagine the difficulty it took to devise a sequel to the Oscar nominated “Black Panther” after the unexpected passing of actor Chadwick Boseman. And while “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has many of the elements that fans love it is missing one main ingredient. Heart. Instead of emotion, the film is an ongoing barrage of action scenes, with characters traveling all over the world to track down Namor (Tenoch Huerta). Every familiar character, from Queen Ramona (the amazing Bassett) to her daughter, Princess Shuri (Wright) to the leader of Wakanda’s army, General Nakita (Nyong’o) battle the bad guys, with small bits of Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss thrown in for some minor levity.
A major problem with the film is the pacing. Director Coogler has put together a film that is at least 30 minutes too long, as if he really didn’t know where to end it. Also, the musical score sounds as if it were written for an entirely different film, with no subtlety in the quieter scenes while blaring in others, as if to say to the audience “hey, this is important!” It feels like the producers weren’t sure about financing a stand-alone Submariner film so they kind of blended Namor’s story into this one.
On the positive side, the performances are strong and the visual effects are outstanding. But great effects do not always a great movie make – I’m looking at you, “Avatar” – and the humanity that Mr. Boseman brought to the title character is greatly missed.