Film Review: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever




It was Alfred Hitchcock who famously said that “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder”. Which is why, knowing that this new Marvel epic, was 161 minutes long, including a sequence midway through the end credits, I had very little to drink going into this! But boy I need one now!

The question of how long a film should be has long been debated by movie fans and Hitchcock certainly had a point. But think about it for a moment. Gone With The Wind came in at just under four hours, Ben Hur was three hours 42 minutes long, Psycho was under two hours and Toy Story only 81 minutes. Would you want to lose a minute of any of those? Absolutely not! (I’m reminded that when Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released on DVD the cover proclaimed it had the “restored 30 seconds”!)

As long as the film tells its story, has a gripping opening, a sustained and engrossing middle and a satisfying conclusion who cares how long it is? However, it’s those films that drag, have completely unnecessary sub plots and “character driven” scenes that seem to take an eternity that I struggle with. There are times when I just want to yell at the screen “for Pete’s sake just get on with it”.

Which brings me to the latest Marvel epic Black Panther, Wakanda Forever which I have just got home from seeing. The thing is, this one kind of falls in the middle category. There were moments when I was enjoying myself so much and was so invested in what was unfolding before me that I didn’t even think about looking at my watch. However, at other times during its lengthy running time I was sat back in my chair thinking “come on, move it on”. Why does every battle scene have to be in slow motion? Seriously? Why?

The film is dedicated to Chadwick Boseman, a great actor who played the Black Panther back in 2018 and was slated to star in the sequel. Sadly, he passed away in 2020 aged just 43. Thanks again cancer. His untimely death meant that scenes which had already been filmed were scrapped and the story changed to incorporate the death of his character. This probably accounts for the fact that the story is a bit rambling and elongated, but it is a fitting tribute.

The action is spectacularly under cut with a beautiful score (a lovely song by Rohanna plays over the end credits and is well worth staying for) and you can tell that the entire cast is genuinely cut up about the death of their fellow star. It’s as if references to “The Kings” death are actually about Chadwick’s death.

Wakanda, in this film, comes under attack from another “mythical” kingdom of under sea dwellers and the characters in both Kingdoms are well fleshed out. One of those unnecessary side plots involves us ordinary humans looking on and trying to get involved when it’s really none of our business. Martin Freeman is wasted in that regard.

The original film was two hours 14 minutes long and this one is even longer. I guess you could say that you do get value for money and if you like this kind of thing then that won’t be a problem. That said, boy did I need that drink, and the loo. Till next time …

Andy Godfrey

Andy Godfrey is a speaker with Outreach UK and has been in full-time Christian work for many years. He is a founding member of the Mark Kermode Appreciation Society and has a collection of nearly 3,000 movies. He’s also an ardent Bristol City fan.

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