The director and screenwriter Ryan Coogler has now written and directed both of the “Black Panther” movies. The first “Black Panther”, released in 2018 was a deserved huge hit, with a great story and starring the late Chadwick Boseman who tragically died of colon cancer in August 2020. Imagine the tremendous pressure Coogler was under, trying to match the success of the last movie with a new story, even given the vast embedded audience for the new movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, that this time, might bring in over a billion dollars. It was probably this pressure that is the reason this new installment is only a good movie and not a great one, not nearly as good as the first film.
The story is about a much need metal called Vibranium that is defined as: “Established by Marvel Studios as the rarest metal and one of the strongest substances on Earth, Vibranium is an element obtained upon mining — and not just anywhere. Harboring the ability to absorb, as well as store huge amounts of kinetic energy, it can only be mined in Wakanda, the East African homeland of the mighty Black Panther. Of course, as seen in Black Panther, this does not prevent the metal from being smuggled abroad.” There is a highly gifted young black woman and MIT student who has invented a device that can find this very rare metal, anywhere in the world. This entire story then becomes about the kidnapping of this young woman and the daughter of the Queen of Wakanda by a warring and evil tribe. Unfortunately, this central idea is not strong enough to support what could be considered a great sequel to the original Black Panther. There are numerous action scenes, many involving the wearing of Iron Man-like suits and flying in the air while fighting this warring tribe in an attempt to retrieve the two women who were kidnapped. We have all seen this before, too many times, there is nothing new here. Throughout the movie, there are several tributes to the original Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, especially at the end and this is very well done.
Overall I was disappointed with this average sequel to what is generally considered a great original movie. This film is also way too long at 2 hours and 41 minutes for a story that could have been told in less than 2 hours. The acting is great throughout, with most of the actors returning from the last movie including, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Florence Kasumba, Martin Freeman and the surprise new addition of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
As for Rotten Tomatoes, the original Black Panther received very high 96% ratings with this one only 84%. My rating is a middle-of-the-road 75% rating and a mild recommendation mostly for fans of the original film.