The cast's talent can only be seen in fleeting moments. There is a lot of energy in the movie, but it doesn't appear until midway through. Michaela Coel, who plays a soldier in the movie, randomly pops up in bits that leave her character flat. In a scene that feels too short, a tribal chief who utters some of the film's most memorable punch lines gives an ice-cold counterpoint to Wright's rage in a simmering debate over the prospects of war with Talokan. Danai Gurira plays the general Okoye in a sparkling performance that spans the emotional intensity of getting demoted by the queen to the subtle humor of her attempts to blend into an American college campus, but she fades from the story as it approaches its final act.

As with the first movie, this one is weak when it focuses on white characters who don't make a difference. We spend a lot of time in suburban Virginia with a CIA agent as he banters with his ex- wife over US foreign policy, but we don't get to learn more about Talokan.

The fictional culture of the Talokan is rendered one-dimensional, almost exclusively serving as a military entity that is powerful enough to test the strength of the country. The people speak a language. They are playing a ball game related to Aztec culture. They ride whales into battle and use mysterious technologies that seem even more advanced than the ones they use. The movie gives us a delicious glimpse of a fascinating new place but never a full bite, and so the story's emotional stakes fall on Shuri's shoulders.

The first Black Panther set a bar that didn't come close to being matched. As a superhero sequel, it stands as a different kind of accomplishment.

Ryan Coogler gave viewers the space to grieve without abandoning them. T'Challa's death is neither melodramatic nor perfunctory. It serves as a starting point for a deeper look at collective loss.

Shuri knows that a cycle of pain and retribution could lead to a war between Talokan and Wakanda. As the two most powerful military forces on Earth clash on the open sea, she contemplates how anger can consume a person wracked by grief. Shuri is reminded of what it means to keep a legacy while her brother is gone.