Jacob’s review published on Letterboxd:
As the conclusion of phase 4, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever not only had the challenge of keeping casual fans of the MCU interested moving forward, but also had to honor Chadwick Boseman and his iconic character in a respectable way.
That was my biggest concern going in, would they be able to handle Chadwick’s death in a tasteful way? The answer in short is, yes. I love that this film is very much a tribute to him and the character he flawlessly brought to life, so much so that you can feel his presence in this film through the impression he has left behind. This comes from a beautifully written story that delves into the grief that not only the characters feel, but also the actors who worked closely with Chadwick, showing us their heartbreakingly, authentic emotions.
The performances by the whole cast are one of the highlights of this film, in particular Angela Basset, who I thought was brilliant. I’m sure that a lot of the emotional moments were very genuine and raw, but the range she shows in this film is exceptional. The rest of the cast are all very charismatic as well, I liked seeing Winston Duke again as M’Baku, and Letitia Wright steps in as the main protagonist with ease. I also enjoyed the introduction of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, which gets me even more excited for the upcoming Young Avengers project. Tenoch Huerta Mejía needs some recognition for his performance as well. Namor is a very well written villain with real depth and, similarly to Killmonger, he’s a villain that you can empathise with.
It’s not a coincidence that 2 of the best MCU villains have both come in of Ryan Coogler’s films, with both Namor and Killmonger being very nuanced antagonists. His direction is amazing here, as it was in the first Black Panther. Each shot feels carefully crafted, constructing some great visuals, but also bringing a distinctive style. He captures the mournful tone of the film flawlessly, but also keeps some uplifting undertones as this film not only honours the legacy of Chadwick, but celebrates his life and the performances he gave us as T’Challa.
There’s a selection of different types of action throughout, with some great hand to hand combat that feels quite brutal and hard hitting, as well as a lot of fast paced, energetic sequences. The final act does end up being the typical CGI filled finale that every MCU film has, but it manages to some what distinguish itself in the end.
At 162 minutes, this has a pretty long runtime, which I feel the main story justifies, but it does fall into the trap that some films do where it feels like we get 3 or 4 endings before it has actually wrapped up, but the conclusion we do get is beautiful. That is a bit of a nitpick for a film that acts as a brilliantly somber yet comforting tribute to an amazing actor.