Queen of Katwe

(2016)

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Title:
Queen of Katwe
Release Date:
23rd September 2016
Runtime:
124 min
MPAA Rating:
PG
Genres:
Directors:
Mira Nair
Writers:
Tim Crothers, William Wheeler
Languages:
N/A
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

A young girl overcomes her disadvantaged upbringing in the slums of Uganda to become a Chess master.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 88%
IMDb Rating 7.1

Casts

David Oyelowo as Robert Katende
Lupita Nyong'o as Nakku Harriet
Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi
Martin Kabanza as Mugabi Brian
Taryn Kyaze as Night

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dibeyendu 10th October, 2016

Strong depiction of urban slums

Mira Nair returns to Uganda once again, three decades after she made Mississipi Masala. This is a much better film. While Mississipi Masala centered around an upper middle class Indian-Ugandan family, Queen of Katwe is set in the slums of Uganda. Nair doesn't attempt to go easy on the slum visuals here. The filth and squalor are in your face here, from beginning to end. I haven't seen a film depicting poverty in this way for a long time. Even Slumdog Millionaire wasn't so strong. Otherwise Queen of Kawate is a fairly predictable story of an under-privileged girl rising to success against the odds. The medium of her rise is chess. She's the pawn who turns into a queen, as sometimes happens in chess. The performances are uniformly good, especially given that most of them are child actors (Mira Nair's first film was Salaam Bombay and she is pretty good at handling children). I found the end credits rather moving, where the real characters pose with the actors who played them on screen. All in all a very warm, watchable film.

Reviewed by sesht 10th October, 2016

Much, much more than chess

In the recent past, there was another engaging movie made on a chess prodigy, starting Tobey Maguire and Peter Sarsgaard, directed by Ed Zwick, called Pawn Sacrifice. It was amazing, as much a character study, as it was about chess, & absolutely engaging from beginning to end. It was also purportedly based on a true story. It had flawed characters in the middle of it all, and the subject matter, in spite of the mainstream audience friendly rating, was dark, and bleak, at best. Here's it's anti-thesis then, having more in common than the recent biopics Pele and Race (the 1 with Jesse Owens), in a very good way. I've usually felt myself grow, & stay, a little distant from most of the characters in most of director Mira Nair's works, but I'm glad to say that this is perhaps 1 of her best works in a long, long time. It's not just the main protagonist that we end up rooting for, most of the time, but also her friends, fellow 'pioneers', family & teachers. The characters played by David 'Selma' Oyelowo, & by Lupita '12 Years a slave' Nyong'O are as strong, and Coe to the central plot, as the main protagonist's. I did not expect that, and it reminded me of how the role played by Jason Sudeikis, & Jeremy Irons in 'Race'. A very pleasant & feel-good,contextual memory to harken back to, imho. A classic, inspiring, rags-fortune saga, with 1 of the best parts of the movie being the relentless focus kept on the squalid living conditions continually inhabited by the main characters, the setting & the surroundings seeping into audiences' skin. +, not painting the main protagonists as all good, highlighting their flaws in the open. All the time. Another great strength this movie has going for it is the amount of time spent in building up the tale, without hurrying anything, allowing us to get to know the milieu & the characters intimately in a leisurely, realistic manner, and that makes everything that comes after all the more impactful. The run-time is a pleasure in this case, since all I wanted to do was to spend more time with our main characters. Also, nobility is dealt with in a matter-of-fact manner, and u give that refreshing as well. The score, location work, set design, editing and cinematography all complement the narrative ably, as do all the performances. Some of the chess games themselves are well fleshed out, & allow us to get into both the spirit & the nuances of the great game. Another great thing about those is how the makers have found ample opportunities to inject real-time, contextual humor, without ever losing focus on the main tale being told, which involves delving into quite a bit of darkness. Which is all-pervasive, like life usually is, for ppl born into, & kept in squalor, the way our key protagonists are, for most of the running time. Have 1 complaint though. Not being able to get a handle on the political climate of the place, though we all know that the main reason for all the squalor housing the under-privileged. But perhaps the makers wanted us all to focus only on the main theme of the flick. And forget all else, though important. Not to be missed, & worth repeat viewings.

Reviewed by saurabhkala 10th October, 2016

A Story That Could've Easily Gone Mundane

Queen of Katwe is one of those movies that in spite of the numerous human and technical glitches still manages to make you smile, a smile filled not with the pride an underdog-achiever infused in you, but with a subtle sense of self-discovery. At the outset, I'm not a fan of Mira Nair movies, and the opening scenes of QoK, with the actors speaking an unnaturally forced English, emboldened the same. I somehow thought it'd have been a better had it been a local language production, as it would have added much authenticity to speech and actions (which I still believe). However, it is a story beautifully told. It is not a mundane victory-against-odds story, where the protagonist is pictured as bearing the burden of the odds on his shoulders and still finding a way through unimaginable hard work and grit. Here is a naturally- gifted teenager who has her shortcomings, which are showcased beautifully in the movie, but one that still finds a way with the help of a teacher who makes her realize her potential. Though poverty was a backdrop of the story throughout the movie, I like how it remained only a backdrop and never took the center-stage, or it'd have resulted in a mundane victory-against-odds story. The storyteller touches upon the idea of how debilitating the poverty was, but never delves into it to the extent that the main motive of the story blurs. Another part I liked specifically was when Phiona faces a sense of entitlement after coming back from Sudan. This new dimension in the story was smoothly introduced in the screenplay and beautifully woven in the proceeding story. Special mentions for Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo.

Reviewed by jonbower 10th October, 2016

The people are the story

Queen of Katwe goes far beyond the usual cliche movie: underdog overcomes adversity to win championship. Here, wonderful actors depict real people struggling with the realities of their lives: single motherhood, overcoming poverty, feeling out of place, and the challenges of playing high level chess. Particularly compelling is the story of Phiona's mother who lost her husband and struggles to provide for four children by selling cooked maize in the market. The actress who portrays her depicts her strength, and also her limitations with integrity. A wonderful performance. Of course, Phiona's story as a chess prodigy from the slums of Katwe, Uganda is harrowing, inspiring and insightful. The movie doesn't settle for a trophy as the outcome, focusing on the impacts on Phiona and her family along the way. The story of Phiona's coach is as inspiring as her story. His sacrifices, his wife's sacrifices and his challenges providing for his family as he tries to help the children of Katwe is a movie unto itself. That's why the whole thing is so satisfying. It is an amazing story of real people, only lightly changed for film-making, well acted and compelling.

Reviewed by mystiquem 10th October, 2016

Inspiring, Cinematic ... Must Watch!

I loved that the movie wasn't typically Disney. There were different flavors to the movie. it was beautifully heartbreaking & inspiring! Lupita Nyong'o to me is "pure gold", I'd watch the movie over and over again just to see her. Every time she stepped into the frame you could feel a swell of emotion. The movie was shot beautifully some moments though seemed a little over dramatized. I think Disney has shone a seemingly fair light to the African situation and you can't help but empathize with their situation. I believe the movie could have been crisper. The addition of the end credits was a very welcome, fresh idea. As intense as the movie was, i guess it eased into a cheery conclusion Overall, I'd recommend watching the movie; I'd watch it as often as I can.