THE WOMAN KING – Review by T.J. Callahan

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The Woman King: To be great you must focus

Inspired by true events, The Woman King is the epic story of an all female band of African warriors, known as the Virgin Soldiers. Led by General Nanisca, played by the force known as Viola Davis, they almost single-handedly removed their enemies from their small kingdom of Dahomey back in the 1800’s.

The Woman King is Wonder Woman, Black Panther, The Ten Commandments, Days of Our Lives and, wait for it….Blazing Saddles all rolled into one colorfully larger than life historical action drama. There are valiant women who train with brains and brawn to protect their West African country from larger empires. There are power hungry rulers, jealous consorts and slavery. There are enough soap opera twists to keep even the battle weary viewer interested. Plus there’s a flawless execution of a Number 6. That’s when the Amazons go a-runnin’ into town a-whompin’ and a-whumpin’ every livin’ thing that moves within an inch of its life. Except the women folk, of course. They take them prisoner, bring them back to Dahomey and make comrades-in-arms out of them.

The Woman King is the brainchild of Maria Bello. Yes, that actress from E.R. and NCIS. When on a trip to Benin she learned of the country’s origin and knew there was a big screen blockbuster in there somewhere. With the help of screenwriter Dana Stevens and the experienced action director Gina Prince-Bythewood, this female helmed production does not disappoint…no matter what your pronouns are. While there are parallels in story and graphics, do not confuse The Woman King with The Lion King, despite Davis’ portrayal of a fierce feline-like fighter.

The Woman King pushes its PG 13 rating to the edge, but even with all the violent battles, we have to wait 90 minutes before any real war is waged. That’s a good thing, because The Woman King isn’t a superhero movie (although you can make a case for it) or a combat movie. It’s the Circle of Life:

“It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life”

My husband Ricky gives The Woman King two 👀’s wide open. What starts out as an awkward, over the top, old school saga settles into a crowd pleasing, stand up and cheer, shout at the screen revival meeting. The Woman King gets an 8.

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T. J. Callahan

Longtime Houston radio personality, T.J. Callahan switched gears from traffic and news reporting as a member of the award winning Hudson and Harrigan Show on KILT to directing you to the right movie theatre as the resident film critic for The Sam Malone Show on AM 1070 The Answer in Houston. Since 2009, T.J. has exclusively critiqued premiering films on such stations as KRMD in Shreveport, La., KILT in Houston, WCKT in Sarasota, Fla., as well as on The Chris X Blayney Show on The Liberty Eagle Radio Network and streaming on Radio Brave. Entertaining and informative, T.J. gets right to the point and lets you know whether the latest epic is worth your time. Listen to her live every Thursday morning at 9:20 central on KNTH. T.J. is also a proud member of the Critics Choice Association, the Houston Film Critics Society and a board member and 2017 inductee to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.