Title – Queen of Katwe (2016)
Director – Mira Nair (Vanity Fair)
Cast – Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o
Plot – Based on a true story. Impoverished Ugandian teenager Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) is introduced to the wonderful world of chess by kindly teacher Robert Katende (Oyelowo) and Phiona quickly finds her life turned upside down by the possibilities that her ability with chess brings her a whole new outlook.
“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong. You belong where you believe you belong. Where is that for you”?
Review by Eddie on 03/07/2017
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such potent material be hampered so badly by average acting and an equally average script and while Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe still gets extra marks for being such a nice and inspiring true story, this Disney effort feels like a big missed opportunity.
Delivering dialogue that’s clunky via amateurish acting, scenes that are shoddily edited and placed together and a general feel as though this tale is building up to a moment that never even comes, Katwe squanders the tale of young Ugandan chess master Phiona Mutesi in an overlong film that wants to tug at our heart strings but can’t do so due to its execution.
Nair is a director with some decent runs on the board with films like The Namesake and Vanity Fair and while Katwe includes notable cast members like Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and the ever good David Oyelowo, the two performers can’t elevate the films supporting cast, made up largely of unknowns and by the end of proceedings it feels as though only Oyelowo walks away with the ability to say he could hold his head up high.
It’s always harsh to pick on a first time performer as a point of blame but newcomer Madina Nalwanga struggles to bring the difficult role of Mutesi to life and her often emotionally void presence that is bereft of any engaging elements mixed with a disappointing collection of key scenes delivered without an ounce of conviction really kill the chances Nair and her team had of bringing the underdog story of the impoverished and uneducated Mutesi to life, even though the story itself and surrounds of the slums of Uganda hold much life that could’ve come bursting onto the big screen.
Final say –
An inspiring true story that’s unfortunately told without an ounce of inspiration itself, The Queen of Katwe may appeal greatly to those that count chess as a favourite past time and some die-hard Disney fans but this Disney sports film is easily one of the mouse house’s most disappointing feel good sport themed movies in sometime and goes to show that casting and script work makes or breaks movies no matter the foundation.
2 smelly chess opponents out of 5