A few months ago a film entered theaters that got people talking. It was a movie focused on the African warrior women, the Agojie, who protected the Dahomey Kingdom in present-day Benin. That sounds like a really great idea, right? Well, the result was anything but.
The Woman King, featuring a predominantly Black cast and a Black director, is a movie that rightfully should be celebrated but its generic storytelling that was predictable at roughly every turn left me feeling hollow as I watched the film.
The story itself was so unbelievably bland and the acting was okay but not as worthy of the praise I’ve been hearing. There was a shoehorned romance between the main character, Thuso Mbedo’s Nawi, and a half-Dahomey, half-Portugese man played by Jordan Bolger (The Book of Boba Fett) that felt so ridiculously unnecessary. The action scenes were fine but at times it felt like the warriors were doing fancy stunts and tricks with their weapons entirely for spectacle instead of convincing me of their warrior prowess.
And honestly, I’m not surprised this movie wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. The two writers who brought this story about African warrior women, the original Amazons, to life were, I hate to be blunt, two white women. In an age when Black writers are allowed to tell their own stories in cinema, it definitely feels a little tone-deaf to not have a single Black woman in the room to help oversee this story. And you could tell.
The overall tone felt like a soulless, stereotypical depiction of Black excellence that the writers thought would be impactful rather than something that felt naturally impactful. And once again, the choice of having an African warrior woman fall in love with a Portugese slaver (it doesn’t matter if he was half-Black) felt overwhelmingly tone-deaf. Of all the dudes she could’ve liked… *shaking my head* It was like something straight out of Pocahontas which definitely did not fit the tone of this movie.
Meanwhile, most of the African men in this movie are depicted as either rapists or barbaric villains. Not a great juxtaposition.
All in all, this movie did not meet my lofty expectations at all. In fact, I’m honestly peeved that it’s getting so much praise because it just wasn’t that good. I mean, this movie may get nominated for Best Picture and that just feels wrong to me. But oh well, there are always movies that aren’t that special that get nominated for Best Picture. This will be one of those movies.
I’m giving this 3 out of 5 stars and 77 out of 100. If you happen to watch it, I hope you enjoy this movie more than I did.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a lovely day.