Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the highly anticipated action drama The Woman King finally hit the screens on September 16, 2022. Written by Dana Stevens and based on a story by Maria Bello, the film follows a group of Agojie warriors , an all-female soldier group from the West African kingdom of Dahomey. The Kingdom was recognized as one of the most powerful African states in the 18th and 19th centuries. With Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, as well as Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim, among many others, making up the cast, the film seemed destined for success.
However, since its release, the film has received mixed reactions from fans and critics. While many praised the film, considering it an outstanding cinematic masterpiece, others had many issues with the film’s setting and depictions in the script. The film, like any other, seems to have its positives and negatives, be it idealization or breaking stereotypes. Viewers quickly took to social media to share their thoughts on The Woman King. Here’s what they had to say.
An exceptional film
Sony Pictures release
The first impression for many viewers was that the film was “cinema at its best”. The moving and gripping narrative was praised by many, and the film was seen as providing a decent portrayal of history and culture. @YeahImFamous, expressing their viewers on Twitter, said:
“The Woman King is just…cinema at its best. Our history and our culture are even more beautiful when presented directly on the screen. Everyone, please go see greatness. I salute @violadavis @JohnBoyega @ThusoMbedu & cast 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 #TheWomanKing”
Others called the film a “spiritual experience” and credited the film with its ability to appeal to the emotions of its viewers and even move them to tears. Fans of The Woman King also loved the film so much that it warranted repeat views within the same week. Many also appreciated the questions that the film’s script may have raised. User @sandylocks wrote:
“Yes, of course I went to see The Woman King for the third time this week! Yes it’s that good!! Yes, it awakens our thirst for new stories. Yes, it raises timeless questions about intra-African complicity. And yes these performances are breathtaking. See it. And then we talk. »
Viewers of The Woman King were blown away by the performances of the cast. Much praise has been given to actresses such as Lashana Lynch, Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The sounds, cinematography, and costumes, coupled with the cast’s performances, garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews for The Woman King. Twitter user @LukeHearfield wrote:
“Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic The Woman King is a hugely entertaining piece of cinema. Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu deliver ferociously good performances. Everything works: score, costumes, sets, sound & cinematography. Make sure to see it in the cinema! #TIFF22″
It wasn’t just fans who were captivated by the Warriors’ on-screen performances. John Boyega, who plays King Ghezo in The Woman King, also praised the performances of his female co-stars. Boyega said he found the actresses “inspiring” given that they spent up to five hours a day in grueling workouts in preparation for the historic epic.
Sony Pictures release
However, not all reviews of The Woman King were positive. A significant number of viewers had multiple concerns regarding the setting of the film and the decisions made by the producers. The choice to make the Dahomey tribe the center of the plot drew most of the heat. @EqualityEd, taking to Twitter, said:
“Let’s be honest people. It’s a film about an African tribe famous for selling slaves to Europeans that has been turned into a story of female empowerment by two white female writers. You don’t have to be very “awake” to see the problem here.
Due to controversy over her depiction of the Dahomey tribe and her role in the slave trade, actress Viola Davis, who plays General Nanisca in the film, also became the center of negative reviews. User @ThePencilPimp, expressing his opinion on the tribe’s history, said:
“Viola Davis can cry on screen all she wants in the agitprop movie #antimale #antiwhite #TheWomanKing.
Just remember it was HIS character’s tribe that sold OTHER BLACKS to the “Colonizahs” and we were sold at a low price. She sold our ancestors for cigarettes, liquor and guns.
Critics also criticized the film for simplifying Dahomey’s complicated history. In doing so, and portraying Dahomey’s female soldiers as African liberators, the film is criticized for missing a crucial historical reality.
Opposition to boycott
Sony Pictures release
Despite calls to #BoycootWomanKing, a segment of viewers came to the film’s defense. While it has its pitfalls, The Woman King has also been credited as a film that presents female soldiers in a nuanced way, giving them individuality and focusing on their struggles and their humanity. Twitter user @lmona823 wrote:
Instead, learn more. The film delves into the horrors of the slave trade and how it affected black women, in particular.
It does not glorify slavery, it condemns it. »
Viewers were also very critical of those who expressed their thoughts without having watched the film. Arguing that the film should at least be watched before views are formed, @NandoGigaba said:
“Go watch #womanking and come back with an informed opinion.
most of you are talking about how people aren’t informed or don’t do their research on the tribe and its history. you mean like discussing a movie you’ve never watched and having opinions about it? »
The Woman King has clearly received a lot of negative and positive opinions. If you haven’t watched the action drama yet, the film is only available to view in theaters at the time of writing. However, it will debut on streaming services in the coming times.