Archive for the ‘Ryan Coogler’ Category

When Peace Conquers War

Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. © 2022 MARVEL.

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, Dominique Thorne, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Running Time: 2 hours and 41 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

When Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died unexpectedly in August 2020, it left a film franchise without a definite superhero scuppering director Ryan Coogler’s plans for a sequel. However not to be daunted the Creed director forged ahead with a lavish sequel retaining most of the original cast except for Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and of course Boseman himself.

The lavish fantasy sequel Wakanda Forever is part of phase four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is certainly a spectacle to behold as Letitia Wright takes a much bigger role as Shuri as she tries to hold the Kingdom of Wakanda together amidst a new threat from an underwater Mayan civilization led by King Namor played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta who has all sorts of evading oceanic abilities.

As Wakanda and the devious Mayans fight it out for the vibranium that is remaining, the conflict gets the attention of the US government represented rather blandly by characters Everett K. Ross played by Martin Freeman and Valentina played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

At 2 hours and 41 minutes, Wakanda Forever is very long and really a lavish tribute to its main late star Chadwick Boseman who made the original Black Panther so riveting, but what is left is a superhero movie without a definitive hero, leaving the middle of the film bloated.

Oscar nominee Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to do With it?) reprises her role as Queen Ramonda as does Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as Nakia, which helps elevate the convoluted plot. Fortunately Lupita Nyong’o lifts the spirit of the film by her excellent acting.

Visually, Wakanda Forever is stunning and is efficiently directed by Ryan Coogler although the middle of the film was lacking and at times, the viewer might be forgiven for thinking they are watching the Avatar sequel with all those blue Mayans swimming around.

As the action travels around the globe from Haiti to Cape Verde to Cambridge, Massachusetts whereby Shuri and the warrior Okoye played excellently by Danai Gurira track down a science genius played energetically by Dominique Thorne.

Viewers must realise that they are watching complete fantasy and in that genre, Wakanda Forever excels and there are some light hearted moments provided by M’Baku played by Winston Duke. What was interesting in Wakanda Forever was the complete lack of male actors in this sequel compared to the original film.

Despite its visual dazzle, the storyline falters and Wakanda Forever only gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Black Panther and follow the entertaining Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Wakanda Usurper

Black Panther

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, John Kani

Marvel successfully diversifies its Avengers universe with an inventive self-sustaining Black Panther film. The Black Panther aka T’Challa who becomes king of the technologically advanced yet exclusive central African kingdom of Wakanda after his father T’Chaka played by South Africa’s John Kani is killed in an assassination.

Creed director, Ryan Coogler assembles an all-star cast for Black Panther including Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) as Black Panther’s love interest, the beautiful and noble Nakia as well as Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) as Zuri along with Angela Bassett as Black Panther’s regal mother and Queen of Wakanda, Ramonda.

Black Panther has to fight off the likes of a crazy South African mercenary Ulysses Klaue dubiously played with a terrible accent by Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) attempting to steal smuggled vibranium from Wakanda at a buying exchange in Busan, South Korea, a scene in the film which is both brilliantly shot and innovatively orchestrated with a virtual reality car chase sequence.

Back on African soil, T’Challa soon realizes that the real enemy is the American born Erik Killmonger wonderfully played by Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four). With the able assistance of his cheeky sister Shuri fantastically played by British-Guyanese star Letitia Wright, Black Panther manages to fight Killmonger in a noble duel about the paternal claim to be the future King of Wakanda.

Director Ryan Coogler ingenuously incorporates lots of African tribalism and cool technology into Black Panther however he does take the superhero genre too seriously by unashamedly politicizing it. This is the Avengers after all, which Spiderman has just joined. Superhero movies are meant to be pure escapism, which is precisely why director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnorak was such a refreshingly funny movie.

What remains to be seen is how effectively Black Panther will be blended into the mainstream Avengers films with the new Avengers: Infinity War opening soon. Chadwick Boseman is not as convincing as the main hero, Black Panther as his counterpart Michael B. Jordan who relishes playing the ruthless villain.

Lupita Nyong’o holds her own and kicks some butt in Black Panther as does rising star Letitia Wright who is an actress to watch out for. Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown has a minor role while Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) is suitably untrustworthy as Black Panther’s best friend and Wakanda protector W’Kabi.

Whether the much hyped Black Panther’s initial success in African cinemas is translated commercially to international audiences globally remains to be seen, yet the effort and rejuvenation of the highly anticipated Black superhero genre is applauded and provides starring roles for a host of African-American stars who have been clamouring for their own identifiable superhero film.

Marvel fans that enjoyed Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers franchise will certainly appreciate Black Panther, despite some uneven performances. At least now there is a guaranteed diversity of fans attending Comic-Con especially since its coming to Johannesburg in late 2018.

For all its vibrant celebrations of African culture, Black Panther gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.


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November 2023
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