Movie Review: Queen of Katwe

I was planning on writing a review for Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix, but, since I cannot really talk about it without spoilers, I thought I'd wait a few days to give people a chance to watch it. In the meantime, I managed to watch Disney's charming and inspirational movie Queen of Katwe.

I've got to admit that this is not normally the type of film I'd watch in the theaters, even being a massive Disney fan. It's not that I don't think its worthy of watching. It's just in this day of rising movie prices, I have to be judicious in what I watch in the theaters. And, admittedly, not being much of a sports fan, I tend to skip Disney's sports movies. That said, I'm so glad that I did watch it.

The Queen of Katwe is based on a true story about a young Ugandan girl named Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) who overcomes adversity by mastering the game of chess. Her mother (Lupita Nyong’o) tries her best to provide for and protect her family, but they are severely impoverished. Then, one day, Phiona discovers Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a local minister introducing neighborhood children the game of chess. Phiona becomes entranced by the game and soon learns to play the game well. Katende is so impressed that he helps her to master the game and, at the same time, get her the education she needs and deserves.

The film succeeds because of young Nalwanga, who is so refreshingly honest and real. She does not seem like she is playing a role, but really is a girl from an impoverished area of Katwe. She is quite the natural and will be one to watch in the future for sure.

Nyong'o is quite wonderful as her mother who has to walk the line of encouraging her daughter while managing her fears that Phiona might be emotional crushed since she hasn't experienced anything other than hardship. Oyelowo's Katende also walks the line between two different classes in Katwe. While he's not rich, he is not impoverished either. Yet he sees these children who he feels he wants to have the same kind of opportunity as he did.

I loved how you got a sense of Katwe and how life is there. All the people felt real and not like they sent a whole bunch of American actors to play Africans. Because of this, you really root for Phiona. You want her to succeed. You want her to have a better life.

Queen of Katwe is a really wonderful film and I highly recommend it.


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