The Woman King (2022) Review: Epic Movie?

The Woman King begins in a calculated and aggressive manner. The opening sequence of the movie is a master lesson in visual storytelling since it vividly depicts a horrific combat from its abrupt start to its gloomy conclusion. Not only does it give director Gina Prince-Bythewood another chance to show why she's a competent action director, but it also introduces the main all-female army of The Woman King, establishes the main conflict of the movie, and introduces nearly all of the key characters you'll need to know for the two hours that come after. The Woman King's opening scene is all the more amazing since it accomplishes all of this in only a few short minutes.

The Woman King (2022) Review: Epic Movie?
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

The Woman King (2022) Review: Epic Movie?

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The Woman King: General Review

The whole 135-minute running duration of The Woman King has the same degree of remarkable artistry as the film's unforgettable violent prologue. Because of this, the movie sometimes gives the impression that it is set in a time that is deeper in the past than it actually is. In that time, all the big Hollywood studios routinely released historical epics that were, if nothing else, consistently well-made and dramatic.

These days, it seems harder and harder to discover those elements in the majority of current blockbusters. Thankfully, The Woman King serves us a reminder of what a midsized blockbuster can and ought to be. Prince-Bythewood, who is the movie's director and is already one of Hollywood's most undervalued directors, does this while bringing to life a cinematic narrative that most surely wouldn't have been made ten or fifteen years ago.

The Woman King: The Story

The Woman King (2022) Review: Epic Movie?
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

The Woman King, which takes place in the early 1800s, centers on King Ghezo of Dahomey and the Agojie, an all-female army tasked with guarding the West African realm (John Boyega). The movie follows the Agojie as they lead Dahomey into a protracted conflict with the neighboring Oyo Empire after the latter tries to increase its control over Dahomey by demanding that more of the kingdom's citizens be sold into slavery. The Agojie are led by the fierce General Nanisca (a reliably commanding Viola Davis).

The Woman King spends the most of its first half on the traditions and ties that tie the women of the Agojie together, but the struggle between Dahomey and the Oyo Empire quickly turns out to be more personal for Davis' Nanisca than she anticipated. The movie does this by introducing Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), a young girl whose father ultimately offers her up to the Agojie as a new recruit since she shows to be so opposed to the basic notion of an arranged marriage. Then, via Nawi's eyes, the audience is taken into the all-female world of the Agojie, which includes two of its powerful members in the intimidating Izogie (Lashana Lynch) and the astute Amenza (Sheila Atim).

The Woman King review: Scenes

The Woman King (2022) Review: Epic Movie?
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing

However, despite how wonderful the Agojie are, The Woman King doesn't portray the fight between their nation of Dahomey and the Oyo Empire as being as straightforward as it first seems. The fact that the Oyo Empire and its commanders have also amassed enormous fortune by seizing and selling their fellow Africans into slavery complicates Dahomey's rage at the empire's participation in the slave trade. The Woman King's main action sequences and set pieces are inspired by the struggle between Dahomey and the Oyo Empire, but it soon becomes evident that the slave trade itself, rather than the Oyo Empire, is the movie's real adversary. This truth weighs heavily on Davis' Nanisca.

The Woman King is frequently captivating when it concentrates on those elements of its plot. The same cannot be said for the scenes in which the movie diverts its attention to pointless subplots, such as the romance that develops between Mbedu's Nawi and Malik (Jordan Bolger), a half-Portuguese, half-Dahomey man who travels to Africa with Santo Ferreira (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), a friend whose family became wealthy through the slave trade. The concentration on Malik and Nawi's relationship in the second half of the movie is only somewhat grating since their moments lack the necessary romantic fervor or thematic significance to seem justified.

The Woman King's characters bear shame and ancestral anguish, and Prince-Bythewood and Dana Stevens' script makes an effort to literalize those feelings through a twist that initially appears to contradict all sense. It does, however, culminate in a long, steady shot of Davis at the end of The Woman King that makes the entire subplot feel, if only for a minute, utterly worth it. However, the tale that arises from it constantly strains against the limits of plausibility. Such is the force of Davis, a talent who can infuse whatever role she portrays with regalness, grit, and tenderness.

Sheila Atim, who plays Amenza, Nanisca's deputy and most dependable friend, also makes an impression in addition to Davis. In contrast, Lashana Lynch almost single-handedly steals The Woman King from beneath her co-stars with her performance as Izogie, the lovable yet formidable Agojie warrior who quickly adopts Nawi in the opening part of the movie. Lynch's role in The Woman King establishes her status as one of Hollywood's most promising up-and-coming actors once and for all, if her scene-stealing performance in No Time to Die last year wasn't enough.

The Woman King's many action sequences are able to flow cleanly without ever utilizing any cheap gimmicks or attention-grabbing camera techniques because to Prince-strong, Bythewood's self-assured visual aesthetic. The Woman King's rich aesthetic, created by the filmmaker and her cinematographer Polly Morgan, only serves to highlight its rich use of the colors brown, crimson, black, purple, and green. The Woman King's goals never outstrip its capabilities, which means that movie mostly lacks the distractingly subpar VFX shots that have been all too prevalent lately, unlike a number of other blockbusters that have been published this year.

The Woman King ends up becoming a far more uneven movie as a result of its attempts to cram as much of its subject into its narrative as possible as it may have if it had instead chosen to only concentrate on the political and personal difficulties of the Agojie. The Woman King would have, at the very least, been able to avoid some of the pace issues it has during its second and third acts if some of its superfluous diversions had been cut. Despite this, the movie's shortcomings hardly diminish how entertaining it is or how powerful its most moving scenes are.

THE WOMAN KING (2022)– Official Trailer (HD)

More than anything, Prince-Bythewood has created a movie that seems simultaneously startlingly current and classic by applying her superb command of cinematic language to The Woman King's narrative. The Woman King is not a movie that will make you long for the days when period epics like it were commonplace; rather, it has the capacity to make you wonder what kinds of movies viewers may see in the future if Hollywood were to start making greater investments in films like it once more.

On September 16, The Woman King will be released in cinemas.


Freelance writer with a passion for EarlyInfo Website. Keeping up with the latest news, pondering on the essence of life, and thinking about new business opportunities. Most productive when Drink Coffee.

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