May 25, 2024

The Woman King (English) Review {2.5/5} & Review Rating

THE WOMAN KING is the story of an all-female unit in a West African kingdom. The year is 1823. In the kingdom of Dahomey, King Ghezo (John Boyega) has employed the services of Agojie, an all-female group of warriors, headed by General Nanisca (Viola Davis). They peacefully coexist with the neighbouring Oyo empire. However, this peace is threatened when the slavers from the Oyo Empire attempt to enslave Dahomean women. Nansica and her team rescue them. Angered by this development, King Ghezo decides to go on an all-out war with Oyo, despite the neighbouring kingdom being bigger and more powerful. Nansica also starts training a new batch of warriors and one of them is Nawi (Thuso Mbedu). She has been offered to the king by her father after she refuses to marry a man of his choice. Nawi is perceived as arrogant but wins the trust of Izogie (Lashana Lynch), a veteran Agojie and also of Nansica. The latter realizes that she has a strong connection with Nawi. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

The Woman King (English)

Maria Bello and Dana Stevens’ story is intriguing and stands out from the rest of the period action films as it talks about a chapter that many are not familiar with. Viewers will be fascinated to know about the adventures of Agojie’s and how they commanded respect far and wide. Dana Stevens’ screenplay has its share of plusses as it’s engaging. But the writing is stagnant at certain places as nothing much happens in the film, especially with the principal track involving the feud between the two kingdoms. The dialogues are sharp.

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s direction is fair. To give credit where it’s due, she has handled certain moments with panache. The track of Nawi and Nansica is a bit clichéd and reminds one of the twists in the Manmohan Desai films. But it’s unpredictable and memorable. The training scenes also are worth watching.

On the flipside, for a film titled THE WOMAN KING, the character turning into a king happens much later and is a very small part of the movie. The 135-minute-long film is slow and the narrative takes its own sweet time to unravel. The film never goes on a high, except in the climax. And lastly, it has got a very late release in India and moreover, the way it has got snubbed at the Oscars, its viewership in cinemas might be hit.

Speaking of performances, Viola Davis rocks the show. No one could have done justice to this role other than her and the way she owns the role of Nanscia is seen to be believed. Thuso Mbedu gets to essay a very important part in the film. She has a fine screen presence and her performance is first-rate. Lashana Lynch leaves a huge mark. Sheila Atim (Amenza) and John Boyega get limited scope and are fine. Jordan Bolger (Malik) is decent but the love track is weak. Jimmy Odukoya (General Oba Ade) is okay and the same goes for Masali Baduza (Fumbe) and Jayme Lawson (Shante).

Terence Blanchard’s music is not memorable. Polly Morgan’s cinematography is splendid. Akin McKenzie’s production design is well-researched. Gersha Phillips’ costumes are authentic and stylish. The action is superb though a few scenes are a bit gory, as per the requirement. Terilyn A Shropshire’s editing could have been sharper.

On the whole, THE WOMAN KING tells a fascinating story and is laced with some bravura performances and superb action scenes. However, the delayed release and the Oscar snub will affect its performance at the box office.

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