"Black is King" is a movie supposedly based on the morals and story of the 2019 Lion King, connected by Beyonce's music; a visual album. The main theme was that...Black is King (no pun intended).
Let me make this clear: I am not a person of color, and I cannot claim to relate to any of the feelings that the primary audience may have toward this movie. I personally do not believe Beyonce knew that what she was saying and doing could be interpreted as pretentious, preachy, and possibly racist(?). At first, I thought maybe I am just not the main demographic, but after reading a few of the reviews that noted that they were of African culture to any degree, I realized this movie has people completely split. I will not speak on how this movie represents a culture I do not know too much about, simply on how it made me feel.
I will start with positives. The dancing clearly has effort in it and the choreography, and some of the costumes (while mostly flashy) are at least different enough to see the lengths they went to create some sort of identity. There were some nice natural locations in deserts and jungles and rivers, which were colorful. There is also some slight touches of style that were enjoyable in camera angles, feeling like a national geographic movie.
Now the negatives. This whole film is inconsistent in nearly every regard. The editing is well-paced in some scenes, and awful in others (during some dance scenes, it looked like some high budget Tik Tok video fad). The costumes are pretty, but there are so many that it just feels like Beyonce is showing off how rich she is, and the same goes for locations, feeling like she is showing off her house. Self-indulgent really is a fitting word. The changing aspect ratios have no symbolic effect as the smaller aspect ratio is not limited to a single dance number and song. The symbolism is not always spot on, like the part where the boy is a comet, or the baby being sent down the river. The lyrics do not usually match visuals at all like the "jealousy" song. The connections to the Lion King are tenuous at best (and this is a nitpick, but why didn't they use the original Lion King? Most people agree, 2019 Lion King was not great). The poetry, from someone who is usually good at interpreting poetry, does not always connect. It is not enough to use metaphors to describe an entire group of people, you have to do something with those metaphors. Also, some of the dance moves do not seem like they should be shown to families who show young kids this, two of the scenes in particular having very sexual moves, flashing twerking very close to the camera in skin tight clothing. Some movies could pull this off because they handled their messaging more maturely, but I cannot say the same here.
This movie feels like epitome of trying to inspire people by primping out your richness and wealth under the guise of metaphors and humbleness to make only one group of people feel important. A good movie is supposed to make that group feel important, but not alienate the rest of your audience. A white person can watch "Black Panther" or "Queen of Katwe" and not feel weird for being white, a boy can watch "Wonder Woman" or "Little Women" and feel empowered just as much as a girl, and a non-Asian can watch "Crazy Rich Asians" and relate to the differences in cultures because they don't draw too much attention to the fact that they are "Black" or a "Woman", or an "Asian" any more than necessary. "Black is King" does not understand this. "Black is King" made me, at the very least, slightly uncomfortable and a little guilty for being white. I've never had that experience before and I do not want to seem like the victim here. I have stated my case well enough for you to determine if you want to see this yourself or not.
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