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Culturally rich, but narratively hollow and light on action
darkreignn18 September 2022
The trailer for "The Woman King" would have you believe that the film is one constant, nonstop action romp. Alas, you have been misled! But what else are Hollywood marketing departments for than to trick potential viewers. More of a talky drama and less of an action extravaganza, "The Woman King" tells a revisionist, alternative history of the fierce Dahomey kingdom. I am no historian, so, when walking into this movie, I knew literally zero of whatever the true story may be; instead, I simply desired a film with an engaging plot, and well-shot action sequences. "The Woman King" has none of those to offer.

For a film that advertises the brutality of its characters, "The Woman King" is surprisingly bloodless. With action scenes filmed in the typical close-up shaky camera style, this movie, in terms of its action, offers up nothing that you haven't already seen before, and seen done better. During large-scale battles the camera shakes, as if the cameraman himself is having a seizure; the violence is censored and neutered, with a lot of the kills occurring offscreen - because a movie about slavery just has to be dumbed down to PG-13 to become family friendly! Film is a business, after all.

Luckily, you will find some entertainment value - or at least I did - when viewing the culture of the Dahomey tribe. I can't speak to the historical accuracy of what the film portrayed, but I do enjoy movies that show in such detail the culture of people who lived long ago, so I certainly enjoyed the various traditions and rituals that were shown on screen. Alas, I do have a complaint when it comes to this, though: What I thought would be my favorite part of the film, the military training, almost seemed like an afterthought with it taking up only a small amount of screen time. What, then, did the film focus on? Mediocre melodrama.

With actresses that act so well you wonder if they were preordained for success in the film industry, "The Woman King" boasts Viola Davis and Lashana Lynch, two women who consistently give powerhouse performances. And while their performances are well done in this movie, the problem lies in the fact that "The Woman King" has a weak script. Instead of telling a straightforward story about fighting back against slavers, for some reason the movie decides to add plot threads (including an underwritten and unbelievable romance) that I, frankly, didn't care about. So while I enjoyed the acting, I couldn't help but feel taken out of and bored with the movie since the storylines never really grabbed me - a lot of it felt like it was taken out of a comic book or graphic novel, complete with a revenge subplot that was borderline unnecessary in a movie that was already about seeking revenge against those who have enslaved them.

A crowd pleaser through and through, "The Woman King" is receiving both critical and general audience acclaim; with an A+ rating on Cinemascore, I'm sure that most will walk into and enjoy it for the historical epic that it is. However, the bloated plot, weak script, and worst of all, the watered down, unfulfilling, and incomprehensible action kept me from fully finding entertainment value in this movie because, as I often say, when the action in your action movie sucks, your movie sucks. And while "The Woman King" doesn't suck, it's not nearly as good as it would have you believe.
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Failed to Impress
mounishyalamarthi18 September 2022
Started well and ended well. Nothing in between. No story. Awfully slow-paced. You won't miss anything, can be skipped. There were some good acting and strong women with good fight stunts. But, the story was poorly written with too many dragged scenes and with only two to three fight scenes. There is no proper direction and the background score doesn't even exist. Screenplay & Editing was just awful. Trailer tried to hype a bit. Other than the shots in the trailer, there is nothing much in the movie. Could have done much better with characters and more war scenes. Nothing interesting at any point.
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Not as outstanding as I had hoped
mightyyendys15 September 2022
I saw the two glowing reviews here and decided to write mine. I watched the movie today at the cinema and I was left with a slight feeling of disappointment.

First off, the story is engaging and the the plot progression isn't bad. But something just felt missing.

The trailer is a bit misleading but I won't spoil anything here.

Let me start with the bad; the title gives the impression that Viola Davis is the central character but this is not so from what I saw, not really.

Thuso Mbedu's character seems to be the protagonist here and her delivery is nothing short of amazing.

Lashana Lynch is equally phenomenal as a supporting character, even outshining Davis.

As for John Boyega, his outing as the young king is one or the best things about this film. I didn't know the actor had such charisma.

Generally, the acting is good, especially from the aforementioned actors.

Nigerian born actor Jimmy Odukoya is a great villain who wasn't given enough screentime.

I believe the character would have been phenomenal if his backstory had been explored.

The cinematography is below par (I have seen Nollywood movies with better camera work) but perhaps the biggest letdown is the action.

The fight sequences came off as really disappointing as it was easy to see that it wasn't real combat despite the impressive choreography.

The romance was forced and written in such a way that at the end of it all, I asked myself why it was there in the first place.

The musical score is sublime and the songs and chants got my attention.

At the risk of being bashed, I will end my review by saying The Woman King is a good movie that should have and could have been far more.
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This movie has literally everything you'd want in a movie - tremendous action, great villains, self discovery and character triumph
kevin_robbins16 September 2022
The Woman King (2022) is a movie my wife and I caught in theatres last night. The storyline follows an African kingdom with a new(er) king in 1823 who posses the only female army in Africa. The leader of the female Army has a past that haunts her but the respect of her king, enough to be on his council. She strongly urges him to avoid the slave trade and find alternative methods of riches. Meanwhile, those who do believe strongly in the slave trade look to march on the kingdom and bring them down. A new recruitment class to the female army brings brashness, new ideas to defend the kingdom, and the female leader's ghosts back to the forefront...

This movie is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) and stars Viola Davis (The Help), Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad), Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die), Sheila Atim (Doctor Strange: In the Mouth of Madness), John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII-IV) and Jimmy Odukoya (Mamba's Diamond).

This movie has so much depth and contains a great primary plot and even better sub plots. The writing is remarkable, thorough and very impressive. The character's inner demons are well portrayed as is their struggle to overcome them. The acting is out of this world across the board. You feel for every character; and if anything happens to anyone, you feel personally hurt. The villains were also excellent as is the outcome of each of them. The settings and cinematography is outstanding and there is impressive use of lighting. The action scenes are remarkable and the fight choreography is award winning caliber. My only complaint is an awkward love story that is obviously in here to show maturity and self discovery but I could have done without it.

Overall, this movie has literally everything you'd want in a movie - tremendous action, great villains, self discovery and character triumph. I would strongly, strongly recommend seeing this movie and score it a 10/10. We loved it.
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The King of Better Balance, Only Limited by Time
rgkarim16 September 2022

The Plot: A plot like this has the potential to be too extreme or get lost in one factor that everything else tumbles. Thankfully, The Woman King has succeeded on many fronts with a successful presentation. While nothing revolutionary that we haven't seen before, this film really takes a tired story and sharpens it into a spear of many elements that pulled me into the mix. The battle for slavery in the colony days holds many horrors and the movie really shows how one can make a film about fighting the horrors without going Disney on it. Amidst the overall plot are various subplots that focus on the kingdom aspect, which though not fully fleshed out like Game of Thrones, again holds great management with the time they have, establishing a good pace. It forges a community quite well, and that is the central pillar for this film to work with.

The Character Focus/Utilization: Much of the story's strength comes from the fantastic character focus of the story, and utilizing many people in the right amounts. True, Viola Davis is a main character, but the writers and director managed to extend the stories to other warriors that help give you more characters to attach too. Outside the woman warrior components, other factions hold their own merit, such as the King himself by Boyega, the evil ruler of the opposing empire, and even the love interest that forms later on in the movie. While not the most balanced, it again, keeps the components very well involved and helps spice up the tale we've heard so much.

The Cultural Aspect: Taking those characters and throwing them into a cultural tale was a brilliant choice for me. The Woman King will give you plenty of tribal activities to study and adore, finding themselves potentially captivated by the community's use of song, dance, chanting, and other rituals. Some might be hard, boring, or boastful, I'll admit that when they get a little long, but overall, very impressed with the cultural integration piece to establish the setting.

The Music: Another immersive element, this movie's film score holds two primary styles that might help get you into the setting they designed. No surprise, there is a lot of what sounds like African Tribal music to the works, the drums, shakers, and a few horns helping to give you that stereotypical sound the Lion King made famous for many of us. It works very well in the cultural settings and sometimes extends to other moments that describe the pain well. My favorite was the orchestral work, and there are moments where the theater's system amplify that sound to a very, very, high degree to sell that epic moment. Great use of music.

The Acting: No surprise, the movie has done very well to make the characters come to life in ways I had hoped they would. Not quite in your face feminist and tough, as many things choose to do, this tribe kicks major butt in the female led cast. Lynch is probably one of my favorite characters in this story, her balance is nice to see, and she shows so much in her ability to extend across emotional spectra to make a very realistic character. Young actress Mbedu crushed her role as well, getting a lot more spotlight than I had anticipated, but for the most part gets her acting down pat, including hysterical cries. I quite enjoyed her determination, but again the fact that she was not perfect was an incredible display of direction and restraint to again make fun characters. Of course, Davis is the star of the show and no surprise, she crushes it again. In what might be my favorite role of hers, at least in a while, Davis unleashes the tough woman attitude she wields so well, but then manages to pull some it back and open up her vulnerability. As the movie goes on, she may not cover quite as many levels of emotion her compatriots do, but somehow takes her angle and makes it work so well given the position of her character. Needless to say, but I will anyway, the chemistry is top notch and that's the successful part of all this ordeal is how well they work together.

The Costumes/Make Up: We aren't turning the women into orcs, elves, or donkeys, but they are transforming them into the tribal warriors of a kingdom. This film's use of costume and makeup is subtle, looking like something from a play, but again works so well in what it accomplishes. I loved the warrior looks, I loved the settlers rugged clothes showing struggle, but entitlement, and I loved the makeup evolution deepening on the scene as it brought those cultural moments to life for me.

The Setting: Small shot at this, but wow were the shots beautiful of the coast and plateaus of the kingdom. I'm not sure about all the set pieces and CGI work given the blend to this film, but the cinematography at moments is breath taking to see the world to such a degree as what they got.

The Action: By far my favorite part of the movie, the action of this film proves for the most part that we still have directors who understand dances of death. The Woman King has at least four action scenes I would call worth it, with a few micro moments to fill in the gap. In these moments, you get different feels for the moment, and the variety works very well to give these moments more of a reason than what many actors do. And in almost all the fights, the choreography is insanely good, with acting, moves, and stunt work blending together to really give the warrior's edge. I loved so much about this movie's battling, especially the epic fight about 75% of the way through the movie and feel that the bar is raised again for action choreography to follow.


A Little Scattered: The movie's plot is not perfect though, and like so many films requires more time to really capitalize on all the stories they tried to tell. The Woman King jumps around a bit at times, with several transitions diluted, or limited to these quick asides that in the grand scheme of things did very little to elevate the story. Not being mean, but so many stories does often lead to incomplete usage and there were potential stories that needed more fluff.

John Boyega's Accent: It's a bit cheesy, it's a bit forced, but that doesn't mean I hate it. Boyega does his best with the accent given, and it's not as cheesy as some might have you believe. However, there were better ways to take the character if I'm being honest.

The Villains Are A Bit Simplified/Extreme: What this means is that the Woman King's great character development arc did not extend to the antagonists of the film quite as well. Where Nanisca, Nawi, and Izogie hold so many layers to them, the other guys are just simply extreme bad guys that are lightning rods of hate to put your ire against. In addition the stereotypical moments really shine in these characters and I had liked more time to give them some depth given the power they held.

Some Hard To Watch Moments: Pertinent to the story? Yes they are, but that does not make some of the moments easy to watch if you can't handle the unfortunate truth of those times. Sensitive fans need to prep themselves for some hard to watch moments that might make the bile in your gut rise. I won't say much, but you've been warned that some details might be hard to watch.

The Final Fight is Poetic, But Not As Climactic: After the amazing fights and usage of the story elements, the final fight was a little bit of a letdown for me if I'm being honest. Sure, there are great moves at times, and there is a bit of edge to the madness, including some awesome moments of justice. But that fight before it was a thousand times better and I had liked a little more f that same coordination to make it feel like the film had not been rushed. Again, it has its own element and feel, but that last fight with so many things happening could have used a touch more time and planning for me to really call it the fantastic end it deserved.

The VERDICT: The Woman King had a lot of potential to be another political movie, but what I got was a great balance of many things that just needed more time to be perfected. While female led, there are plenty of other characters with side stories that work together quite well. It's a movie that pulls culture, visuals, costumes, and acting together to really create the tribe you expect to see. And the pacing of the tale, especially the utilization of action, might be some of the best I've seen in a very, very, very, long time. Sure, handling so much resulted in some stories not having the same kick I wanted to see, and there are shortcuts taken to compact it to 120 minutes like it wanted to do. However, the movie really did make a great theater experience for me and is worth the trip if you've got the time. My favorite movie of the three I watched, this reviewer gives The Woman King:

Action/Drama/History: 9.0 Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5.
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Scintillating Portrayal Of Powerful Women Protectors Driving Change In One Of World History's Most Heart-Rending Times: The Era Of The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
rannynm15 September 2022
The Woman King is a scintillating portrayal of powerful women protectors driving change in one of world history's most pivotal and often heart-rending times: the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yet even through the beautifully-filmed and well-choreographed battle scenes, moments of love triumph and make this film worth watching.

Set in the 19th century in the West African kingdom of Dahomey, The Woman King follows the all-female group of warriors, the Agojie, and their general, Nanisca (Viola Davis) as they fight, not just against the rival Oyo and Mahi tribes, but foreigners who wish to destroy their way of life and take their people. Along the way, Nanisca must grapple with her past... and Nawi (Thuso Mbedo), a young girl among the ranks of the Agojie who turns out to shape Nanisca's future.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood outdoes herself. Beyond being a film that does its bit to rectify historical exclusion of African narratives in Hollywood, The Woman King is a superb crowd-pleaser, with familiar thematic beats of moralism, love, and community and a fresh-enough take on the "historical war film." The sets transport viewers to pre-colonial Benin, and the cinematography, especially the use of light (inside the palace barracks) and color (the earthy tones of Dahomey's villages), further enhances the viewing experience. The background score by Lebo M. And Terence Blanchard draws on traditional West African music. It's simply goosebump-inducing to watch the Agojie charge into battle accompanied by soulful singing and the djembe and marimba. Good Lord - can Viola Davis do no wrong? The highly-proclaimed actress is perfect for the role of the ruthless, defensive, protective leader; the emotional depth Davis taps into is frankly impressive. She hits all the notes - trauma survivor, bereaved mother, sister in arms - impeccably. Davis' character's more conservative, regimented, typically "top brass" attributes are beautifully offset by Thuso Mbedo's portrayal of Nawi, the newest recruit who seems to challenge every rule so carefully enforced by Nanisca (and isn't afraid to confront Nanisca as an "arrogant old woman"). Nawi and Nanisca's relationship flowers in a way that will make viewers say "aww" and though the two tussle every so frequently, the duo becomes the most lovable part of the film - a tough contest. A close second favorite is Izogie (Lashana Lynch), a more experienced member of the Agojie, who is equal parts hilarious, profound, and sweet. My favorite line of Izogie's is essentially, "We all have a lot to cry about; it is better to laugh."

The Woman King promotes liberty, staying true to yourself, standing up for what is right, keeping your head held high (but your arrogance in check), obeying authority while also making wise decisions for yourself, and protecting those you love. Nanisca fights against King Ghezo's (John Boyega) vision to sell their prisoners of war to the Europeans for guns and other "valuable" goods, acting as a strong voice against racism and the commodification of humans.

I give The Woman King 5 stars out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The Woman King releases in theaters on September 16, 2022.

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST!
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A bit disappointing, but Davis shines.
rp-0851516 September 2022
Can take nothing away from the acting performances here, Viola Davis is phenomenal, but I'd expect nothing less from her. The problem is, she's a bit underused. I went in expecting her to be the lead character, as shown in every Trailer and movie poster, however she's eventually relegated to a secondary role. Boyega does a pretty good job as well; one of his better performances.

My major concerns are with the direction and cinematography. Camerawork looked very amateur, and the action sequences (outside of the splits from the trailer) are very underwhelming.

This could've been an 8 or 9 with a better director. But unfortunately, I'd have to give it a 6/10.
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Awards season needs to be on the lookout for this one....
PerryAtTheMovies16 September 2022

Amazing. Spectacular. Breath-taking. Endearing. Empowering. Inspiring. Purposeful. These are just some of the words that come to mind to describe this film.

While I found "The Woman King" to take a long time to get to a point. There was reasoning behind that time. It's a slow, methodical build-up to an incredible story of strength, endurance, love, and loyalty. There's an excellent story to be told here, and there's no reason it should be rushed to tell it.

Every time I saw the trailer for this film I thought two things. First, I'm fired up to see it. Second, it looks and feels very much like "Black Panther", which I wouldn't be surprised if there was inspiration drawn somewhere.

The acting was incredible. I never think about awards when watching films, but I am hoping that Viola Davis wins "Best Actress" for her incredible performance. I also hope the film gets an award for "Best Score", as the music is its own living thing. It had me tapping in my seat, and feeling the moment as it happened on screen. In addition to Davis, I loved seeing the performances of Lashana Lynch and John Boyega, but also everyone chosen to play in this film embodied their roles to perfection.

This film has definitely landed itself in my top three of the year, and perhaps even my number one! Everyone will have their own judgement on the film, but I hope you feel as much of an incredible story and adventure as I did.

Overall, this film is 100% worth seeing in theatres. It's a fierceness that transcends a normal story about warriors. It's about a tribe that stands up and fights for what it believes, and finds inner healing along the way. I truly believe one award nomination will be given to this film.

Thank you for reading my review. I hope it helps you make a decision on this film. Until next time.... Enjoy the show!
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It's not stellar but will probably be well received by some
AfricanBro16 September 2022
Hollywood really needs to be released from the clutches of whoever decided on the so called African accent, never heard it before and it irritated me all movie long. I left the movie feeling conflicted, heading into it I thought it was going to be an exaggerated showing of black excellence or female power, it sorta was but this was more carefully portrayed. It was adrenaline pumping with a lot of action that was spread out to allow time for story and plot. It's slightly predictable though because the characters had threadbare personalities hence easy to read, once they were given an introduction you could deduce a lot of how their stories, hence the movie's as well, were going to unfold.

It should have had a higher rating than pg13 though, because even though there was a lot of bloody fight scenes there wasn't much blood or gore; the fights were well choreographed so I'm not complaining much, the gory could have just made it better.

As I said, the accent really annoyed me, other than that Viola Davis put in another strong performance, one of which we've become accustomed to by her so that was great casting. John boyega and Hero Fiennes Tiffin too, the latter with a role not usually associated with him. Lashana Lynch had the same problem as her previous roles were she slightly overdoes the tough guy role but the internet rushes to her defense claiming it's people who just don't like a strong black lead or something.

If you think about it, it's not a story you haven't heard, only thing setting it apart is it's based in Africa during slavery and for that will probably get a cult like reception from some due to the message it carries, breaking chains and all. Not perfect but still pretty decent and worth a watch.
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Overall a well executed movie
bostonct16 September 2022
Viola is the only recognized name but she doesn't dominate the screen time, and that's a good thing. While Voila has her own storyline, many of the characters have their own storyline. The overall story is unique as it starts with the local tribal dynamics, and not countries. It also touches upon a subject that has been given very little publication time, and that's African's participation in the global slave trade and misogyny. Pretty solid acting, enunciating and timing with just about all the characters; both many and few adding to the overall depth of the movie. Personally, I don't think it's Braveheart and Black Panther as much as more of a person's painful past determining their path, and that goes with a lot of characters; not just Viola's. Coordinate that altogether and you have one fine movie.
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ifyogwude15 September 2022
This movie was very different from what I expected and pleasantly so too. There is so much talent packed into this 2hour movie and it is very obvious all the people involved put real effort into this. Being Nigerian myself, I appreciated the real effort put into sounding like we do....the mannerisms, the accents, the was all beautiful. I understand a bunch of funny people are hung up on the fact that this movie isn't "historically accurate". Please remember this isn't a documentary. It's a beautiful story told in spectacular fashion. Lovely cast, lovely cinematography. Please watch this at the cinema. It's worth it.
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Might not be the most truthful story but still entertaining and empowering
Benslie18 September 2022
Despite this movie having a basic plot description for what happens in this movie, trust me when I say the story for this movie is incredible. The story of this movie doesn't just tell this story of a female-led army but serves up two different purposes. The first purpose of the story of this movie is to help bring light to this piece of history. Before this movie came out or even the trailer how many people actually knew about this kingdom and army? Probably not many people who aren't from that area of the world or from the culture. This is why this story is so incredible because even though most of what you're seeing is false it still makes you want to look up and learn more about the Dahomey and the Agojie. The movie's story does a great job of hocking the audience along for this journey and showing just how badass these women were. This brings me to the second purpose of this movie's story which is to show and empower women to be warriors. Recently Hollywood has been getting better at showing stories of women as more than just a side character and The Woman King thankfully joins those ranks. This movie does not hold back when showing how tough these women are in comparison to the men and it's amazing. Due to this movie having a majority female cast it wasn't the hardest task to show how strong women are and especially show younger girls how strong they can be. Another part of this movie's story I really enjoyed was the African culture it included. I have to admit I'm not the right person to talk about African culture so I can't say how accurate it is but it was still interesting to see it included in this movie during the downtime between action scenes.

But despite the incredible story of this movie the pacing for this movie is kind of weird. From the beginning of the movie to the end there is no clear passage of time so it's hard to tell how much time has passed. One second they're training the new recruits and the next it's the final test for the new recruits. This really isn't a big deal and doesn't take away from the movie as a whole but it kind of irks me. I would've loved to have seen them training more and seeing how they become to be these mighty warriors instead of some of the other scenes in this movie that easily could've been cut down or out of the movie and nothing would've changed. But it was hard to tell there were pacing issues when the acting for this movie was spectacular. Obviously one of the biggest names that's in this movie is Viola Davis, who plays Nanisca, and man does she steal the show. Viola Davis plays this no-nonsense leader who just cares about the people in her army while still showing some vulnerability. It's incredible to see her switch between being this serious leader and then showing vulnerability when she's around her closest friend. Another actress who stood out to me was Lashana Lynch, who plays Izogie. Lashana Lynch at first appears like she's going to be the comedic relief for this movie and in some ways she is but she also brings some humanity to this movie as well. With Izogie she shows how somebody can be this tough person on the outside but still be caring to those close to her. The last person I want to shout out is Sheila Atim, who plays Amenza. She doesn't get much screen time unfortunately but whenever she was on screen she was great. All of the actors in this movie did amazing jobs and helped bring the audience into this compound. I just want to quickly say if you ever get bored while watching this movie and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, who plays Santo Ferreira, is ever on the screen keep count of how many times he breaks his accent because trust me it happens quite often.

With this movie being an action movie the pressure is on for the action scenes to be good and thankfully the action scenes in this movie kickass. All of the fighting in this movie is so well choreographed and knows how best to show off the strengths of each character in combat. The most impressive part of the action scenes is the knowledge that the actors all did their own stunts which helps bring the audience into the fights as well. What also helps with fight scenes is the framing and directing of the scenes to make sure they're easy to follow and Gina Prince-Bythewood, the director, did just that. The action scenes still had some edits put in to change the camera angle but you can tell that the directing for those scenes was to make them as clean and in focus as possible. But it wasn't just the fight scenes the directing was great during but the movie as a whole was directed so well. You can see how much passion Gina Prince-Bythewood had for this project and how she wanted to make sure the story was told and seen. Before I wrap this up I just want to rapid-fire shout out some other elements I loved from this movie due to how much it dived into African culture which are the costume designs, production design and the music, done by Terence Blanchard. In the end, The Woman King might not be fully truthful to the real Agojie army but this movie does an incredible job of making people want to learn about them. This is an important movie to check out, especially for women and probably will be an award-season favourite.
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Black Panter - meets Roots - meets the Dora Milaje - meets Mulan - meets Avatar - meets the Amazonians of Wonder Woman
Popcorn-And-Twizzlers19 September 2022
FINAL TAKEAWAYS: Overall #TheWomanKing gives Black Panther - meets Roots - meets Avatar - meets Mulan - meets the Dora Milaje - meets the Amazonians of Wonder Woman

* * * Theme & Story: A- Pacing: A- Character: A- Overall "Paper" Score: A-

* * * Entertainment Factors General Public: Worth the $$$ Film Enthusiasts: Worth the $$$ Dramatic/ Black History Fans: Worth The $$$ Overall "Viewing Experience" Score: Worth the $$$

* * * I think many are naturally drawn to the name Viola, and I mean she is the lead character of this film, BUT... the star for me is Lashana Lynch! SHE was absolutely amazing.

In terms of the story, I appreciated how the film made sure not to fully anchor the events of slavery (because we've been there and done that in films throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s), and instead focused on "oppressors," from both outside and within in, and the relationship to women.

It's definitely a well packed and intentional PG-13 film.

SN: I really love John Boyega! He had an interview on The Daily Show where he mentioned channeling his dad for this role, and putting on the pounds to give that "healthy, paternal king-like vibe", and there was a scene with Santo where he asked For his court to give Santo a seat, and I felt like I saw his dad in that entire moment LOL

OTHER THOUGHTS: Highlights: Lashana MF Lynch! Thematic followthrough, Viola Davis, the fight scenes, the overall Blackness, and the LGBTQ+ representation.

Could've Been Better: Shante's storyline (just a little), and Nawi's character development/cohesion.
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The Woman Who Should Be King
stilloopless117 September 2022
It's been a minute since my last trip to the movie theater, there just hasn't been anything that sparked my interest. A sentiment apparently not just my own. The manager at my theater of choice told me they've been opening late in the day since there hasn't been anything to draw folks in. I fully expected this to continue to be the case unit at least next month until I stumbled across an Instagram post by Viola Davis for The Woman King about a 19th century elite group of female African warriors. Real life Dora Milaje, not only starring but also produced by Davis and her husband? No doubt I HAD to see this film.

The short and sweet of it? The Woman King is an exceptional movie.


Superb acting lead by the incomparable Viola Davis is just the start.

Rising star Thuso Mbedu, Sheila Atim, and Lashana Lynch match Davis' power, ferocity, humanity, and emotion creating the heart/soul/core of the film. Their chemistry and interaction are mesmerizing and the solid foundation that the film is built upon.

Dana Stevens and Maria Bello's script is rock solid and perfectly encapsulates all the strength, warmth, humor, pain, triumph, joy etc. That so many "female" based stories tend to lack and services both the story and actors beautifully. The richness this script has is a true rarity.

Having Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball and The Secret Lives of Bees) in the director's chair is an added bonus. The opening sequence had me glued to the screen and I couldn't look away the entire film. Fair warning, the action sequences are brutal and glorious, completely unwavering in their ferocity.

The cinematography, musical score, sets, and direction all on point. The layering elevates the entire viewing experience.

The Woman King is not just 2 hours 15 minutes of Viola Davis and company kicking ass (thought that wouldn't be a bad thing) it's a grown up, character driven triumph that transports viewers to pre-colonial Benin in a fresh take on historical war films. I can easily risk over hyping from my own enthusiasm, and risk underselling for fear of saying too much. So, I say, if you have the slightest interest in this one, just go. The Woman King needs to be seen/experienced on the big screen. It has all the feels, powerful messaging, and humanity/community we can all use right now.

The Woman King is a 10.
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Something Different
wrightinchicago-231-67184018 September 2022
I was expecting Wakanda #2, but instead I got a bit of history without the flying cars and spaceships.

The good: -Finally the admission that black African tribes collaborated with EU in the slave trade.

-Big old fight scenes reminescent of Braveheart
  • Viola Davis shared screen time equally with the other actors
  • Thuso is a genuine "IT" girl, she should be given more acting work. She stole scenes from Viola.

-the perfect part for Viola, and yes, she cried in the movie (as did the audience) -The story was fairly easy to follow.

The bad:
  • the changing hairstyles IMO were distracting. One day the hair (wigs) was Nappy Afro hair, the next it was braided, the next next it was tangled and kinky, the next next next it was garnished with jewels. Enough!!

-It became a bit confusing if the Dahomey were actual slave traders because we never saw them imprison anyone and trade with the EUs.

Oh well.

Viola Davis had equal time with other actors, which was a good thing. And who was that hunky mulatto actor (yummy). And do you agree with me that John Boyega bears a close resemblance to Denzel Washington.
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They aim to tell you a story, not teach you history
raygilljr18 September 2022
James Lipton once asked Chris Rock during an episode of Inside the Actors Studio if he would explain the use of the N-word in Black culture to his audience-prompting Rock to look back at him with the terrified wide-eyed response of, "Now I got this job!?"

A similar sentiment surely haunted everyone involved with The Women King, which attempts to tell a 19th century African story to a multicultural audience. The film has received plenty of scrutiny already, both from people skeptical that it could offer an accurate portrait of Africans' role in atrocities and those looking for a beacon of light to be shone on a misunderstood people and their history.

"I knew what it would mean to us as Black people," said the film's star, Viola Davis, in an interview with Vanity Fair. "Something that has never been done before. And what it would mean for Black women sitting in that movie theater. The responsibility is high."

The Women King rejects the notion that its responsibility is to teach African history in two hours. Instead, it tells a tale of pride, dignity, and agency against the backdrop of the fascinating Dahomey tribe. In short: With a stellar cast, filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood (who wrote for A Different World and directed Love & Basketball and The Old Guard) brings the legendary Agoji warrior women to life.

Davis does an amazing job of playing Davis, without ever seeming to embody the persona of a stoic African warrior. Lucky for the film, this hardly matters. The sheer force she brings as an actor provides the essential emotional beats that a more authentic portrayal might have asked her to sacrifice.

Meanwhile, the supporting cast of fellow warriors accomplish an astonishing amount of characterization through slight looks and limited dialogue that distinguish each of them within the unit. But the breakout star is the young Thuso Mbedu, who plays the headstrong recruit Nawi.

At the beginning of the film, Nawi is a teenage girl being married off by her caregiver. Vigorously resistant to the choice being made for her, she's sent to live and train with the Agoji warriors, where she is to take no lovers and bear no children (it's not unlike joining the Night's Watch in Game of Thrones). She's stubborn, but her desire to be a warrior drives her through brutal trials-and helps her become a proud warrior.

Set in 1823, The Woman King finds the Dahomey in a cyclical conflict with a neighboring tribe, enriching themselves with the sale of each other's prisoners to the international slave trade-and King Ghezo (John Boyega) of the Dahomey is being pressured to abandon the practice.

The tribe's most passionate advocate for forsaking the slave trade is Nanisca (Davis), the general who leads the Agoji, which is Ghezo's fiercest fighting force. Her previous experience in slavery traumatized her to the point of clarity, convincing her that the Dahomey must break from the system they've chained themselves to before the tribes devastate each other.

The brutality on display in the tribal war is measured. This is PG-13, after all, and that may be the one thing holding The Woman King back from being an epic, as opposed to merely a very good film (the filmmakers seem to have chosen accessibility over a fiercely accurate, R-rated depiction of war and slavery).

This is in line with Roland Emmerich's "historical" Revolutionary War film The Patriot (2000). Both movies use loosely tied-together backstories within an authentic setting, while shoehorning an egregious love story into the plot (again, chalk it up to the accessibility factor).

The Woman King sidesteps the accusations of its loudest prerelease critics, who demanded that all warts be shown in its depiction of the French and African tribes and the slave trade. The trailer elicited quite the backlash from people who claimed that the film would depict the "noble" Africans murdering their "evil" white oppressors.

Not so much, it turns out. In The Woman King, the Africans are shown with relative historical accuracy concerning their own brutal war tactics, slavery for profit, and attitudes towards women. And as for the French slavers, they're not demonized beyond the understanding that the slave trade existed.

In other words, The Women King is directed at a Black audience, but it's a movie for everybody. And if its existence causes people with racial animus to inadvertently study African history? Cool.

Ray Gill Jr-Willamette Week.
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A Not-Oversimplified film on African Slave trade
pickoffking17 September 2022
The movies weaknesses are some of it's technical aspects. The direction is just ok and the editing at best does it no favors. The fight scenes in particular were essentially uninspired and typical, and over edited. For the first third or so, I couldn't always make out a word at time like the sound mix was bad, though could always be the theater sound system itself. I also felt the runtime a bit, which for a guy who loves The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Rober Ford is saying something. Maybe lose 15 min, mostly 1 unnecessary sub plot. The aforementioned editing didn't help in this area either.

It looked like much of the outdoor photography at least was shot Africa, big plus. The actors are all in. Boyega nails his part without overdoing it as a king. The main warrior women are interesting and very distinguishable. All did terrific jobs and sell being great warriors, especially the ones playing veterans. They all seem invested and help make the movie worth it.

Big positive: if you're looking for a movie going for woke points, this isn't the movie for you, meaning go see it. You'll learn something. The main conflict is dealing directly with the internal problem of Africans slave trading other Africans. It's the main point. Even the 'good guy' tribe is dealing with having sold its own, and are the good guys because they desire to turn from that path, not because they are unrealistic flawless idealists.

The white slavers do play a small part, and are Portuguese slavers from Brazil; another welcome touch.

The realistic way they dealt with the issues is the film's saving grace and it deserves to be seen to show Hollywood that black actors deserve more than to be randomly chucked in as Achilles or Nordic chiefs for social points. Plus, negatives aside it is pretty good and worth seeing. Give this film your money, it deserves it.
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An honest review from an honest audience
lifesoccer-1256418 September 2022
I Believe that this comment section shows the great divide between the audience and the critics. I thought this movie was outstanding. I was a bit skeptical walking into this movie thinking that it was just going to be another "garbage politically correct period piece" but the morality of this movie was complex, the characters and the acting was outstanding, the action was riveting. And keep in mind I was at an NCG theater in Marietta GA with almost an exclusively black audience and everyone loved it and even clapped at several times throughout the film. This movie deserves so much better than the reviews it's getting and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.
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Understanding the movie and the history
abigaelw-2030018 September 2022
Overall if you haven't seen this movie and are criticizing it for slavery depiction or feminism ect.. you need to watch it. It did a brilliant job of NOT bringing in political modernism and telling the story of this tribe which has women and men warriors unlike other tribes that just focused on men and its story from the year 1823 (when they were at war with other tribes & such) The balance was really great.

Slavery: they talk about it. They condemn it. The tribe does it and talks about how they have done it. Viola Davis character talks about how they need to stop doing it. The movie does NOT glorify or shy away from the brutality that it was.

History: there is a beautiful article explaining the history inine with the movie with historians. Look up: time the woman King true story.

Anyway it was a good movie that made you care about all the characters and forget about the time.
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As good as any of those emotionally rousing battle epics of the 90's
tpcorbridge17 September 2022
Genuinely excellent. Films that are written, directed, and especially acted well enough to earn tears and cheers should be forgiven of historical inaccuracies and small narrative missteps like the romantic subplot. This is a modern story for a modern audience, particularly an American audience, and that should also be taken into account when we consider historical accuracy. As an emotional power-ballad about the strength of black women and the need to fight for honor, respect, and virtue, this film rocks. The entire cast is superb, the emotional climaxes are earned, and the film's heart is in the right place.
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An interesting twist on history
Emilysmccourt19 September 2022
It is an interesting thing to rewrite history so that the power is given back to the people who were introduced to the cycle of slaving and being enslaved by countries that would oppress them and destroy their development for centuries to come. The movie encourages some of those conversations, and while it's a little clean, it doesn't shy away from what it is. Anyone who is frustrated by the adaption, is hopefully also frustrated at all of Tarantino's adaptions which do exactly the same thing.

A great action movie, featuring a mostly black-female cast, and helmed by a black woman, which is almost never seen in this capacity. Well worth the watch.
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Hollywood is colonizing actual African history
benjaminskylerhill18 September 2022
If The Woman King's only issue we're the fact that it presents itself as a "true story" yet is about as historically accurate as Space Jam, that would be one thing. (I'll get to this later.)

Unfortunately, aside from the committed performances from most of the cast (especially Viola Davis), this is also one of the clunkiest narratives I've seen put to screen in some time.

The romantic subplot is rushed and entirely without substance or feeling. The central young woman Nawi supposedly has a traumatic past that we are barely told about, and she has no character growth at all. She wants to be a soldier, so she does. She's arrogant and disobedient at the beginning of the film and continues to be like this to the end.

Davis's character Nanisca has an arc-at least on paper. She is emotionally closed off due to trauma and then decides not to be. But this change happens within two minutes of screen time and occurs off screen. It's kind of hilarious how unearned it is.

The story has no actual fleshed-out antagonist. There are a couple of villainous persons but their goals are vague at best and cartoonish at worst.

All this could occasionally fall to the wayside if the action sequences were good. But this film has some of the worst action I've seen put to film this year.

Nearly all of the fight scenes are exceptionally clumsy in how they're shot and edited. Far more often than not, the shots consist of our heroes swinging at someone off screen or so visibly for away from them that it's obvious to anyone with functioning depth perception that no actual strike took place.

Equally as often is the occasional shot in which the enemy soldiers literally-and hilariously-just patiently stand there waiting for the good gals to come take them down.

Okay, now for the elephant in the theater: the insulting historical "basis" for the film.

For a movie that wants to bemoan the evils of colonialism, the filmmakers really are colonializing the culture of nineteenth century west Africa.

How? By paving over the Dahomey's centuries-old historical acts of human sacrifice and voluntary brutal enslavement of both their own and foreign people. The writers slap their 21st century feminism on top of a historically brutal culture and call it a day.

In reality, the Dahomey would have scoffed at the idea of ending the slave trade, as they only stopped trading slaves in the mid-19th century because the British forced them to stop. But this film depicts most of them as freedom-fighting abolishionists and acts as though the slave trade didn't exist until Europeans invented it. This is nonsense.

Imagine if there were a film made today about the American civil war in which the confederates were portrayed as freedom-fighting abolishionists who had slavery forced upon them by the north.

This would be rightly condemned, so why aren't people enraged at the convenient erasure of uncomfortable history that is propagated by this film?

It's a largely incompetent piece of filmmaking, and it's an insulting, culturally offensive piece of writing.

It's shameful.
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Historical editing
Grey2black17 September 2022
When I went into this movie, I already knew very well the history surrounding the Agojie and the actions done by the African kingdom of Dahomey. But because I've almost always appreciated and liked the roles that Viola Davis chooses, I gave it a try.

After Viola Davis declarations about what it would mean if people didn't went to see the movie, a big part of me wanted nothing more than to not even see the movie. But I took her statements, as her making a huge mistake, that might hurt an actual good movie.

And as it turned out, I wouldn't have lost anything if I hadn't watched this movie.

From Viola Davis, to Lashana Lynch Izogie and others. The performances were for the most part solid, and the natural beauty of the African continent all helped to make the movie tolerable.

However try as they might, and they did try, history didn't happened that way. Not exactly. The Woman King gives you the Hollywood edited version of history, but it doesn't give you the actual history. The ugly side of the tribe that Nanisca (Davis) is portraying.

It's understandable why they did what they did, seeing the times they were living, and the movie should've owned that, instead of trying to embellish the truth. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would've understood, or at least tried to understand what was happening historically in that period of African history.

But apparently they are too ashamed to own to their own history. Maybe because the actresses and actors, didn't even bother to study the history of what they were going to be portraying.

The movie is not good, not really. It's watchable, not just because of the performances but also because of the beauty of the African continent, and also in part the culture as well. However they could've cut twenty minutes to the movie and you'd have lost nothing.

It has too many moments that are slow paced, and then it just puts in the fifth gear and doesn't slow down. To the viewer that doesn't know anything about what they're watching, they might be deceived into thinking they saw a a movie about female empowerment, and how to fight against oppression to preserve one's freedom. Because that's what the movie tries to sell.

And it's really because of the embellishment of a hard reality, that was the reality of those times, that I couldn't really appreciate this movie. It would be like applauding inaccuracy for the sake of creating a nice story, instead of owning the truth and show how many times sacrifices and hard choices need to be made.

I completely understand how some people might be more than willing to close their eyes to those things, but the dual standard isn't lost considering other historical movies were also a target of great scrutiny. And if memory fails you, then remember the criticism done about Kingdom of Heaven for not accurately portraying the Islamic side of history.

So if all other historical movies have been subjected to critic of their historical accuracy, then The Woman King doesn't get a free pass. At least not from me.

And then there's the story of the movie itself. Completely predicable from beginning to end, some of the dialogues were cringe as cringe can be, and some actresses like Viola Davis tried to sell their roles so hard that it came out as far over the top.

Twelve Years a Slave was a great movie, however The Woman King is not. It's watchable in a way that you can see it and pass the time, but without ever getting pulled into the story.

This movie will add nothing to the career of the actresses and actors in it. And it will add little to viewer, that spends the 135 minutes watching it.

And so there's no doubts, this movie lost me because a) the story wasn't good enough b) the story is too predictable c) some performances are just too over the top and d) the historical inaccuracy is unforgivable.
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If you're going to tell the story, tell the truth
souplahoopla19 October 2022
There is a real need and thirst for African 'origin' stories in Hollywood. And quite rightly so. It appears to me that every black lead at the moment is either there to shoehorn themselves into an originally white cast role to tick a box, or a role where being black is their entire personality. Sometimes that's important, like Hidden Figures, or The Help, but should hardly be the standard. People of colour deserve their own stories. Hollywood is just lazy to be frank. But to take a tribe that were notoriously bad as warriors, and noted as incredibly happy to sell people into the slave trade, probably was as an ignorant miss as you could get at this time. They are famous for losing the majority of their battles, and participated heavily in the slave trade. But this movie paints them as proud black defenders. Which is not true. Which a descendent later apologised for. Which is a shame because i love Viola Davies.
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Opportunity Lost to an Agenda
daver621 October 2022
I enjoy history and like to see accurate representations in films. I will say straight away that I intensely dislike films that have an agenda and are incredibly historically inaccurate as a result, e.g., Braveheart, 300, The Patriot. However, I can easily accept and enjoy films a bit historically inaccurate as films primarily exist to entertain, i.e., most Hollwood historical films.

Unfortunately, TWK falls into the former category. If they had stuck to the real story, then it could have been an interesting film about a little-known African Kingdom, particularly with the lovely images of Africa. Instead, they decided to make it as a black female empowerment, anti-European propaganda piece. Sure, slavery is central to the film but with a twist, in that slavery was in place to make money from Europeans, for which Dahomey reluctantly supplied slaves to feed a European need. The truth is that Africans had been supplying slaves for thousands of years to Arabs, Egyptians, Romans, etc, and keeping hundreds of thousands for themselves. Europeans had a relatively 'short' involvement with the African slave trade, and Europe's largest contribution (primarily British) was to end the African slave trade, against the wishes of African kings and slave traders. The female warriors are shown as some sort of Spartan elite, which they were not, as they primarily attacked and seized women and children as slaves and were easily defeated by the French in hand-to-hand combat. In fact, the French lost 6 soldiers killed whilst the Dahomey warriors, including the female 'elite', lost many hundreds killed. The female warriors and their general were misrepresented in the same way that the Waffen SS would be misrepresented if portrayed as peace-loving pacifists!

A good film could have been made of court intrigue or the impact of Dahomey slavers on raided villages, but no, propaganda and politics rules the roost in Hollywood.
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