Plot: What’s it about?
With the success of Black Panther and its Oscar-nomintion for Best Picture (among others), it was a foregone conclusion that there’d be a sequel. We all knew it. What we, and the rest of the world didn’t know, was the declining health that would ultimately claim the life of the marquee character. Chadwick Boseman lost his battle with Cancer on August 28, 2020. The entertainment industry and the world were shaken by this news and I’m sure studio heads were wondering what to do now and how to proceed (while trying to be sympathetic to the family). As it turns out, after viewing the film, I think they handled it the right way. Much like Paul Walker in the Fast and the Furious franchise, the show must go on. And, a few years later, here we are with the latest installment in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) continues to mourn the death of T’Chala, she’s ready to carry on. However, the same can’t be said for his sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) who is both sad and angry at his death. His absence creates an issue when Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) shows up in Wakanda with some news. It seems that Vibranium (the material used for Captain America’s shield among other things) has been found in the ocean and the CIA has begun mining it. This puts Namor’s kingdom in danger and he wants Ramonda to send someone after Riri (Dominique Thorne), the student who invented the mining machine, to stop it. If Riri isn’t brought to Namor and ceases mining, the kingdom of Wakanda could be destroyed.
There was a lot at stake for this movie. Certainly the passing of Chadwick Boseman couldn’t be helped, but the overall blueprint for the MCU doesn’t seem to impacted. Part of me wanted to not like this one. I can’t really put a concrete reason out there as to why, I just didn’t think the first one was as good as everyone said it was. Then again I’m used to being in the minority. One thing this film did was to introduce a new character to the MCU in the form of Namor (think of him as the MCU counterpart to Aquaman). He was always a favorite of mine in the comics, so it’s good to see him now a part of the MCU. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever managed to get past the elephant in the room with the main star’s passing, but it also managed to seal up a few plot holes and give us a direction for this particular segment of the MCU. There were a lot of ways this couldn’t have worked, thankfully we’ll never know as they got it right.
Video: How’s it look?
As one of the marquee Disney releases, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever clearly (pardon the obligatory pun) has a lot to live up to. This is the 4K version reviewed though the set contains a fairly attractive Blu-ray, too. That said, the 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image leaves little to the imagination. The texture in costumes, the contrast and the sprawling landscape of Wakanda all look, well, marvelous. Compared to the Blu-ray, the Ultra HD version has a noticeable uptick in detail, contrast and the HDR really help establish the expansive color palette. Like other MCU films, all of which have set the standard visually, I feel that there will be few who won’t be impressed by this visual presentation.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the Ultra HD contains a Dolby Atmos sound mix whose atmospheric soundstage, at times, shakes the room. It’s a bit disappointing that the Blu-ray doesn’t contain this mix and is instead stuck with a DTS HD Master Audio. Granted that sounds – by no means – bad by any stretch, but still…Vocals are rich, sharp and crisp here while the front stage finds itself smack in the middle of the action on multiple occasions. The surrounds, all of them, get in on things and make for a very action-oriented, and active soundstage. You’ll know what to expect when you put the disc in here, folks. It delivers.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Envisioning Two Worlds – If there’s one all-encompassing feature on this disc, here it is. All the bases are covered with quips from the cast and crew. If you want a crash course in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, look no further.
- Passing the Mantle – We get a more in-depth look at some of the characters in the film and how the passing of T’Challa’s character impacted the others.
- Gag Reel – Oh yeah! Prepare to be enter-TAINED!
- Deleted Scenes – Four total, though considering the film’s bloated running time (141 minutes), these were wisely cut and really added nothing to the film.
- Audio Commentary – Writer/Director Ryan Coogler, Writer Joe Robert Cole, and Cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw collaborate for a surprisingly chatty track that has very few dead spaces. It’s an investment of your time, but one that’s well worth it.
The Bottom Line
I had my reservations about this movie. With the loss of the main character, I was curious as to how it’d be approached and handled. As it turns out, I think they did it the best they could. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever remains a pivotal part in the MCU and now that the torch has been passed, we look forward to the future of the MCU.