Published On: Fri, Sep 30th, 2016

‘Queen of Katwe’ review: Disney delivers another underdog story worthy of notice

Disney has found yet another true story demonstrating how the human spirit and determination can take one from the depths of despair to the heights of triumph.  Queen of Katwe, opening September 23, 2016, tells the story of a young girl living in the slum of Katwe and her journey to international chess competitions and a Grand Master title.

queen-of-katwe-movie-posterJust like of Million Dollar Arm and McFarland, USA, the film brings you into the world of young people who are facing challenges based on the socioeconomic status until their unique talent is discovered by an inspirational coach/leader that pushes them to develop their skills and open doors to a brighter future for themselves and their families.  

In general, this is a great family film; however, there are a few factors that make the film difficult to fully enjoy.  The biggest hurdle for me was understanding the spoken word.  All the characters had significant accents which made it challenging for me to understand the dialogue at times, especially in a theater setting where the audience was reacting out loud to the story.  Being bilingual myself, I did not expect this to be an issue for me, but it definitely impacted my enjoyment of the experience.

The only other negative to point out is that the story was a bit disjointed.  Aside from bragging rights, what’s the point of becoming a Chess Grand Master?  

Apparently it led to a better financial situation for young Phiona, but I never understood how/when/why her financial situation improved.  Maybe I just missed it because of the accent issue, but I doubt it.  It seemed much more like editing played a role in my confusion.

All the cast members did a fabulous job as did the wardrobe department who put together quite interesting outfits that helped make the “poverty” element almost another character in the story.  

Director Mira Nair was able to bring out the best in a cast of many young children.  I was very surprised at how well these young actors portrayed the characters.  I never felt like they were inexperienced or rigid as their performances were very natural throughout the entire production.

I’m sure everyone will tell you it’s a beautiful and moving film.  It is.  But, this might be a good one to catch on rental at home with the kids so you can pause, rewind, and discuss as needed.  The images of such extreme poverty will be quite foreign to most young audience members and I expect parents will have to do a lot of explaining as they watch.  

Regardless, be sure this one is on your movie list and find an appropriate time and venue to experience the film with any young people in your life.  

Queen of Katwe receives 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Review By Debbie Sage

Like on Facebook: https://facebook.com/QueenofKatwe

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/QueenofKatwe

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG

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