Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis’ latest film The Woman King is making a splash among critics and audiences alike since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival last week. Now, with barely a day showing in theaters, the hype surrounding it is at an all-time high.
Sitting at a whopping 99 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with hundreds of verified ratings, it seems like The Woman King has escaped the plague of review-bombing that has affected movies about female empowerment in recent times. It has also scored a 93 percent on the Tomatometer based on 90 reviews by critics so far. Not too shabby.
Directed by Love & Basketball and The Old Guard‘s Gina Maria Prince-Bythewood, and penned by City of Angels and Fatherhood‘s Dana Stevens, this historical epic tells the story of the all-female tribe of Agojie, who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Across the board, those who have seen the film praise Viola Davis’ performance, as well as the movie’s dynamic action sequences and emotional pull from its ensemble of female characters. Los Angeles Times‘ Justin Chang argues that The Woman King “rises to the challenge of using an old-fashioned template to deliver a floodtide of exhilarating new images.” Manohla Dargis, For the New York Times, agrees, saying the movie is “a sweeping entertainment,” but also “a story of unwavering resistance in front of and behind the camera.”
The movie has received criticism however for apparent historical inaccuracies when it comes to Dahomey, the kingdom the female tribe at its center is sworn to protect. According to critics, who cite history, Dahomey was involved in trading slaves for goods to white colonizers, arguing that its reign should not be glorified in a Hollywood film.
Starring alongside Davis, the stellar cast of The Woman King also features No Time To Die‘s Lashana Lynch, Star Wars‘ John Boyega, The Underground Railroad‘s Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim, as well as the After series’ Hero Fiennes Tiffin.
The Woman King is currently playing in theaters.