Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released on Disney+ and for purchase in digital formats on Feb. 1, 2023, followed by 4k Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on Feb. 7, 2023. Here’s a review of the 4k Blu-ray Disc as well as Digital 4K streamed on Apple TV 4K.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) embraces the death of T’Challa (who was played by the late Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)) and how the ruling family is coping with their loss while dealing with the many threats Wakanda faces due to his passing.
Building on the initial thread of the loss of T’Challa, ‘Wakanda Forever’ delivers in furthering the story of this fictitious empire that is constantly under attack due to its natural resources (the vibranium). While often falling into the hackneyed dialogue and action found in other MCU titles, ‘Wakanda Forever’ delivers a sufficient amount of original cinematic content that makes it an excellent sequel to Black Panther.
In Digital 4k, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is presented in 2160p resolution with the IMAX Enhanced aspect ratio of 1.90:1 that allows more image on a 16×9 TV than with most widescreen formats. Disney+ currently has 18 titles that utilize IMAX Enhanced to one extent or another. For most, it’s an unnoticeable switch that enhances the viewing experience at home and on mobile devices. Unfortunately, the 4k Blu-ray disc does not offer variable aspect ratios.
The Dolby Vision HDR in ‘Wakanda Forever” renders beautiful skin tones with textural highlights and dynamic contrast that could be called reference quality on 4k Blu-ray where it plays in much higher bitrates. There is also boost in sharpness on the 4k disc as the digital image in 4K was slightly mushy rather than razor sharp.
‘Wakanda Forever’ was definitely color graded for the theater. There are moments in the movie that have a really dark palette that can be better enjoyed in a controlled and limited lighting environment. The moment when Namor slips past the Wakanda security systems and confronts Queen Ramonda at 27 minutes is an example of how dark the movie can get.
Another example of a scene that seems exceptionally dark is in the warehouse where Riri Williams puts on her “Iron Man” suit when attacked by the FBI. The scene gets brighter when the fight is moved outside.
Where ‘Wakanda Forever’ excels is where the colors are vibrant and deeply layered, as in the example of Okeye flying a ship above. What better image to show off your HDR TV?
The soundtrack to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is provided in Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD providing an immersive experience that pushes 7.1 channels and overhead effects with Atmos.
The funeral of T’Challa at about 3 minutes delivers the first surround sound experience worth noting. The bongos and percussion instruments hit all speakers with vibrance and smooth bass.
The incoming ships flying overhead that take T’Challa away activate side and Atmos height channels, placing you in the center of the event.
The Atmos immersive experience might be highlighted in the scene when Namor’s small aqua force hijacks a US Navy ship that is exploring vibranium in the deep sea.
One moment that really activates a fully immersive audio experience is when a young Namor returns to his village to bury his mother. The music composition and ambient noise are almost too overwhelming, but regardless surrounds you in auditory mayhem.
The Black Panther motif, a heavy keyboard arrangement that is repeated several times in the film, absolutely drills the low-frequency range and reverberates in surrounding speakers. The tribal “whoops” often hear during battle scenes channel in from the sides in surround speaker systems.
Bonus features with the digital purchase and on the Blu-ray include Envisioning Two Worlds (10 min 55 sec), Passing the Mantle (5 min 50 sec), Gag Reel (2 min 28 sec), Deleted Scenes (10 min 11 sec), and Audio Commentary from Director Ryan Coogler, writer Joe Robert Cole, and Cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (160 minutes).
Envisioning Two Worlds is an almost 11-minute look into developing the two worlds of ‘Wakanda Forever” that’s a must-watch for set and costume designers. Passing the Mantle is an almost 6-minute featurette that investigates the loss of T’Challa and the legacy left to his sister Shuri.
The video quality of the bonus material is excellent (much better than the handycam footage often found in behind-the-scenes content) with high production cast/crew interviews and interwoven actual movie footage.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was reviewed in Digital 4k UHD format with Dolby Vision HDR streaming on an Apple TV 4k. The displays included a 75” Sony Bravia and 130” projection. The audio was reviewed on both a Sony HT-ST5000 Atmos soundbar/subwoofer and a 7.1.2 channel KEF/SVS home theater speaker system.
With a 94% audience score and 84% rank on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a fan favorite that sets up for future Black Panther films and integrated MCU titles. The Digital 4k, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos deliver a quality home theater experience that impresses the larger the film is viewed. Stay tuned for a review of the 4k Blu-ray presentation.