Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (12A)***
A band of amateurs (12A) ***
Partly an extended wake for the late Chadwick Boseman, partly a mythological reimagining of what a Marvel movie can be, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever comes at a strange time for the hitherto all-conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given that the first film was one of Marvel Studios’ industry-defining crown jewels of the first decade — a billion-dollar hit with a mostly black cast and Creed director Ryan Coogler — a sequel was always going to happen, even when the character was unceremoniously killed off in his very next outing, becoming a temporary victim of the population-culling “crisis” that concluded Avengers: Infinity War. But Chadwick Boseman’s shock death from colon cancer in 2020 forced some big thinking: How exactly do you do a Black Panther sequel without Black Panther?
Rather than recasting the part, Coogler’s response is to write the death of T’Challa (Black Panther’s civilian alias) into the opening scenes of Wakanda Forever and turn the traditional Marvel credit sequence into an homage. hushed to Boseman’s performance. Now the action takes place a year after T’Challa’s disappearance, with United Nations governments still angered by Wakanda’s reluctance to share its supply of the indestructible, energy-rich mineral known as vibranium. Wakanda itself is now a matriarch, led by Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda (T’Challa’s mother), though the film really focuses on her daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright), T’Challa’s little sister. , who took his death particularly hard.
Narratively, it’s a bold move, akin to making the next Bond movie about Ben Wishaw’s Q while they figure out how to replace Daniel Craig. Still, that audacity works for a while, partly because Wright rises to the challenge and partly because it makes the film less predictable, especially as a new threat to the stability of Wakanda (and the world in general) emerges as the Talokan nation. , a previously hidden underwater race of mutant super beings with their own supply of the aforementioned vibranium
Like the first movie, Wakanda Forever works best when it deviates from the tropes expected of a superhero movie. There’s a great sequence, for example, when Coogler – telling us the story of King Talokan (Tenoch Huerta) – serves up a savage accusation of colonialism that could have come out of Terrence Malick’s New World. Elsewhere, however, it feels a bit sloppy. A big kidnapping subplot is resolved by a character following earrings the kidnapped woman isn’t even wearing and a blistering attack on Wakanda is purposely halted by the mugger for no other reason the plot has to give to Shuri and her Wakan comrades in time to regroup and find a way to prevent an all-out war. At nearly three hours, it’s an epic film that doesn’t always justify its length.
And yet, there’s something to be said for how the film, like Wakanda itself, operates almost entirely independently of the larger MCU. It doesn’t tease us with the promise of something interesting happening three movies later, nor does it feel the need to bend the heavyweights of other Marvel movies. He has his own story he wants to tell and is confident enough to believe that audiences will follow the journey.
Like all of Jafar Panahi’s work since the Iranian authorities banned him from making films and giving interviews, no bear is an inventive act of defiance, once again featuring the persecuted filmmaker as a version of himself struggling to get a movie made. In this case, the film he’s trying to shoot is a docu-drama about an Iranian couple holed up in neighboring Turkey as they desperately try to secure passage to Europe. Beginning as a conventional movie, it soon takes on the meta features of This Is Not A Movie and Taxi Tehran via a seamless step-back shot that reveals Panahi directing the action from a distance from a mountainous village near the Turkish border.
It is in itself a precarious place for the filmmaker, who will soon find himself embroiled in another story involving a young couple whose hitherto clandestine affair agitates the villagers. The drama hinges on whether or not Panahi photographed them while documenting village life on a whim, a plot he spins into a remarkable interrogation of the damaging power people attribute to certain images and stories and not to others. The film’s quiet, poignant anger is heightened further in the wake of Panahi’s recent imprisonment.
A sometimes joyful, sometimes exasperating exploration of the power of cinema, A bunch of amateurs focuses on the struggling Bradford Movie Makers, one of the last amateur film clubs in the north of England. With his existence threatened by aging members, falling interest and rising debts, director Kim Hopkins attempts to show how the very act of making and screening films provides much-needed respite from their daily troubles. Judging by the snippets of their work included by Hopkins, there’s not a whole lot of undiscovered film talent here, but that’s beside the point. Doing so provides a creative outlet and a sense of community, though some are prone to delusional bouts of egomania. The appearance of Covid brings with it a surprise silver lining, but Hopkins’ attempts to spin the club’s far-from-certain future into a commentary on the precarious state of the film industry seems a bit strained.
All films on general release from Friday