Ricardo Franco’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a historical and political drama The Woman King is engaging, well acted, and thoughtful. As a character piece though, particularly as a romance, it leaves a lot to be desired.
The romance in this felt like when you’re reading a gripping chapter of a Game of Thrones book, you turn the page, and boom, Bran chapter. It really hurt the pacing of the movie for me, and it made the 2nd act feel longer than it needed to be.
I really liked the production design, particularly the sets. This is a setting we rarely see in film and they utilize it very well. There’s a bath/cave set that they use a couple of times and idk why but I thought it was such a cool set.
The action is also great, and Lashana Lynch specifically kicks a ton of ass. She does like a wall run on a cart at one point, and honestly one of the coolest moves in an action scene this year.
The politics of this has been the subject of much talk and here are my two cents.
The Dahomey were slavers and the movie glorifies the Dahomey, so in that sense yes it glorifies slavers. But then so does 300, or any movie about the founding fathers, or The Northman. Weirdly enough though, the folks that are angriest at this movie love those other ones. So in that sense, The Woman King is a good litmus test to see whether people interact with media in good faith or not. Do you hate 300, think it’s nazi propaganda? Do you think Thomas Jefferson was an irredeemable monster? Were you worried The Northman would inspire a new wave of Aryan myths? Then I totally get, and respect you for hating The Woman King. However, if you answered no to those questions but think The Woman King is somehow whitewashing history and super problematic stfu. Conversely, if you answered yes to those questions but thought The Woman King was some great progressive tale, you too are a hypocrite.
You can criticize the movie’s handlings of such heavy themes. It does have boss girls end slavery moments, motivations are over simplified, arguments for why they can’t end slavery sound too similar to what you’d hear from confederates. Etc, etc. But that’s a far cry from boycott the movie because we can’t ever talk about The Dahomey.