Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review: An Emotional Tribute to Chadwick Boseman, Weakened by Future MCU Influences.

I really enjoyed the first Black Panther.
It provided a compelling story, with a great dynamic between its protagonist and antagonist, and made the country of Wakanda a character in its own right.
If Black Panther is not in my top ten MCU films then it certainly comes close.
So, obviously I was looking forward to the sequel from the moment I walked out of the theatre after seeing the first movie.
Most of all, I was looking forward to seeing how the story of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa would continue.
Unfortunately, as we all know, in August 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away from colon cancer.
His tragic passing left director Ryan Coogler, and everyone else involved in the making of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with the monumental task of paying tribute to Boseman’s legacy, while also crafting an interesting story without him.
For the most part, I believe they succeeded.
Indeed, Wakanda Forever does begin by honouring Chadwick Boseman by also honouring his character T’Challa.
The King of Wakanda passes away in the opening minutes of the film, and the weight of his legacy is felt immediately, with the following MCU logo being completely silent and only accompanied by footage of Boseman’s T’Challa.
It was a moving sendoff to both the character and the actor.

Boseman’s prescence is felt throughout the film, despite him not appearing, due to his tragic death.

From here, the film follows how Wakanda moves on from the death of their king, along with the consequences of the world now knowing about them and wanting their vibranium.
This leads Wakanda into the conflict with the hidden undersea civilization known as Talokan, lead by the the film’s antagonist Namor (Tenoch Huerta).
Namor is a compelling villain and he and the Talokan’s first scene is one of the scariest villain introductions in all of the MCU. 

Namor’s first scene is quite creepy.

This leads you to be fearful for the fate of the characters we came to care about in the first film, like Shuri (Letita Wright), Ramonda (Angela Basset), Okoye (Danai Gurira), M’Baku (Winston Duke) and Nakia (Luptia Nyong’o).
Shuri especially is struggling with the death of her brother and the new responsibilities that are heaped upon her shoulders as Wakanda draws closer to conflict with Namor and Talokan.
It is Ramonda and Okoye who stood out the most to me, though, because of the incredible performances from Angela Basset and Danai Gurira.
One emotional scene they share togethor is the best in the movie, in my opinion, based off their acting ability alone. 

Basset and Gurira did an excellent job portraying their characters’ emotions in this scene.

However, although all of this made Wakanda Forever a worthy sequel to Black Panther, there were a number of things holding it back, most of all the film’s reliance on setting up future Disney Plus shows and MCU films.
This is evident with the character of Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who is basically dropped into the story to set up her upcoming show, Ironheart; plot holes surrounding her need to be in this movie be damned.
Worst of all, though, is the suplot with Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), which felt like a gigantic waste of time, with its only point probably being to set Fontaine up for a future Thunderbolts movie.
As for Everett Ross, his decisions in this movie felt oddly strange with how he characterized in prior films, politically speaking. 

I am not sure that Ross’ depiction is completley accurate with how he is portrayed in Civil War and the first Black Panther.

The political decisions in Wakanda Forever are actually pretty hit or miss for me.
Sometimes I thought the characters were making good decisions, while other times I thought they were making bizarre ones.
Along with this, the CGI of the film is a bit questionable at times.
At least it never got as bad as it was in the third act of Black Panther, which is one of my few flaws with that first film.
It is the overreliance on setting up future stories that hinders Wakanda Forever the most, however; as it not only brings the story to a grinding halt at times but also takes away potential screentime from characters like M’Baku, who really needed it.

Wakanda Forever needed more M’Baku.

Overall, though, I would still say that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a good movie, despite its issues.
The character arcs of the Wakandan characters are solid, the acting is amazing, Namor is a great villain who I am interested to see more of and, most of all, the film does an excellent job paying tribute to the memory of Chadwick Boseman.
May he rest in peace.  

US Review: A Double Edged Explanation.

3 and a half stars
Jordan Peele is an interesting director.
He started out doing comedy so it was a huge surprise when he successfully transferred to horror in his first film Get Out, which was my second favourite film of 2017.
So, needless to say, I was very excited to see his next film Us, even more so when I heard the premise.
Us follows The Wilson family, consisting of Adelaide (Lupita Nyong-o), her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), and their children Zora (Shahadi Wright Johnson) and Jason (Evan Alex), as they go on a trip to Santa Cruz.
However, their fun is cut horrifically short when a family of doppelgangers invade their home, intent on killing them.
What follows is an intense battle for survival as the Wilson family fights their doppelgangers.
First of all, I will say that the performances in Us are all stellar.
Lupita Nyong-o steals the show both as Adelaide and her demented counterpart Red, in two very different performances.

The two performances Nyong-o gives are both great, with Red being dementedly creepy, and Adelaide sympathetically human.

And it is not just her because every other actor does a great job as the real person and the doppelganger, pulling off relatable and creepy performances simultaneously.
Another great thing about Us is Jordan Peele’s direction, with him balancing horror and comedy very well.
I remember one scene where the audience and myself were horrified at what was happening on screen, only to laugh seconds later when an incredibly funny joke was made.
The balance is just that good.
I also loved the symbolism and foreshadowing in the film, which were some of my favourite things about Get Out and certainly continues here.
This symbolism and foreshadowing all builds up to the big explanation of the origins behind the doppelgangers, something I had been dying to know for the entire film.
Unfortunately, the explanation we get is a double edged sword.
On the one hand, it brilliantly cements Peele’s social commentary about American society, however, on the other, the explanation makes absolutely no sense.
I was very confused about the logistics of it all when I was sitting in the theater and came up with plot holes every minute while I was driving home.

While the explanation for the doppelgangers in Us does drive home the great commentary, it raises a boat load of questions that hindered my experience.

Finally, there is the way the film ends, which is, in all honesty, very predictable.
Still, these may not be problems for everyone.
If you have a rather large suspension of disbelief you may be able to look past the plot holes of the explanation, and even if the ending is predictable it is still a good one.
It is just that these aspects kind of brought the film down for me.
Us is still a lot of fun though, and Jordan Peele continues to do a great job at creating commentary on American society with it.