The Woman King

I love Viola Davis so I have been wanting to go see her latest movie, The Woman King, for awhile now, but it was a long one and my schedule just did not accommodate it. Until this weekend, that is.

The Woman King is a fictionalized adventure featuring the Agojie, a group of warrior women who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th to 19th centuries. Though the Agojie were a real group, the story told in The Woman King is not real. Viola Davis played General Nanisca, one of the leaders of the warriors, and she was involved in training some of the new women looking to join the king’s guard, including Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), whom Nanisca took special interest.

The cast included such top notch actors such as Lashana Lynch, Shelia Atim, John Boyega, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Jimmy Odukoya, and Adrienne Warren.

The whole film, all I could picture was how this was so much like the Dora Milaje from Wakanda in the Black Panther mythos of Marvel Comics. I can only assume that the creation of the Dora Milaje from Marvel was heavily based on the historical group of the Agojie. In fact, I kept thinking and comparing Viola Davis’s Nanisca to Danai Gurira’s Okoye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This movie had a definite epic feel to it, as it featured some amazing battlefield wars with the Agojie and whatever group they were fighting, especially the slavers that had come for some of their people. The battles in The Woman King made me feel like I was watching the battles from Braveheart in scale. These scenes were wonderfully directed and shot by the film’s director, Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Viola Davis never fails to be outstanding. Even in the role of an African warrior, Davis is able to tug on your emotions and find the deeper aspects of her character. Thuso Mbedu was also very good in this movie and shared some powerful moments with Davis.

There was some great music in the film as well, with the score providing a strong backdrop to the action and some excellent moments when the warriors burst into a dance. The end credits song, “Keep Rising” (featuring Angelique Kidjo) had me bopping my head so hard that I needed to immediately pull out my phone and purchase the song on the iTunes store.

The Woman King might have been a touch too long, but the action scenes are worth every second as are some of the training scenes, such as an obstacle course that was full of tension. Vila Davis and Thuso Mbedu were outstanding in their performances and the Agojie were amazing in their fight choreography through their mostly practical stunts. The Woman King is really good and made me want a Dora Milaje Disney + series or a feature film.

4.25 stars

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