Disney’s newest live-action drama Queen of Katwe is nothing like most sports movies, or in particular like any other chess movie. It is based on the true story of young chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, who was born and raised in a slum in Uganda, and who saw an opportunity to never let go of again. The rest is history.
Chess being the pawn with which Phiona finds her glory, it is played a lot in the film, but even if you don’t know the rules or understand the moves, the reactions of the competitors themselves and of the audience tells you enough. Yet it is not the game which is at the heart of the movie, but Phiona’s evolution to champion and her journey to gain a better life for her family. The plot is predictable as many sports movies before it, but is at the same time eight steps ahead. It makes you laugh, and then it shocks you, and then it makes you laugh again. Like all great Disney movies, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion.
It is not a story to which many people will be able to relate, but instead shows a world of extreme poverty, as Queen of Katwe does not shy away from the reality of living in a slum. However, it is a Disney film in the end, and the dark and dust is contrasted with the bright colours and music of Africa, showing that there can be happiness within a harsh reality. It’s nice to have a film that has some genuine optimism to it when so many are so miserable. And with the stellar cast of Lupita Nyong’O, David Oyelowo, and particularly newcomer Madina Nalwanga performing wonderfully – and possibly Oscar-worthy – it’s hard not to love their characters.
Queen of Katwe is not as much a sports drama as it is a true Disney family film. It is a predictable yet original feel-good movie, which tells a heartwarming but (above all) inspiring story, saying that even if you think your final move has been made, you should not immediately give up your queen.
More like this: X + Y (2014)