Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) lives in the slums of Katwe in Uganda. To say life is a struggle is definitely an understatement. However, everything changes when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches her to play chess and also helps her change her life. Queen of Katwe is a heartwarming story about hope and chasing one’s dreams.
Queen of Katwe finds beauty in the slums of Katwe somehow in order to re-tell this story in an accurate manner. The result is that this is a movie that is tragically beautiful in a place that is full of struggle. I really have no criticisms in the quality of this film. It captured beauty in a place that many may not find beautiful.
There were several extras included with the Queen of Katwe. In many ways, I liked the extras more than I liked the movie. They were informative and definitely worth watching as they connected the film to the original story. Here are the extras that were included with this release:
- Queen of Katwe: Their Story: A three-part supplement.
- A Spark of Inspiration: A look at how Director Mira Nair got involved in the project and what she brought to the film, the real-life story and ESPN article than influenced the film, core story themes, shooting locations, the film’s colors and textures, costumes, and more.
- Those Who Guide: A closer look at the adult cast and the characters they play. Also included are interviews with the real people depicted in the film.
- The Future Is Bright: This piece focuses on the children depicted in the film and actors who portray them.
- Audio Commentary: Director Mira Nair delivers a very insightful track that examines all of the usual nuts and bolts — story, performances, the film’s origins, cast and performances, shooting locations, authenticity, music, making the chess playing scenes — but she also, directly and indirectly, shares the much deeper emotions the process elicited within herself and her cast and crew. A very good track.
- A Fork, A Spoon, & A Knight: A short film from Director Mira Nair that centers on Robert Katende, who is depicted by David Oyelowo in The Queen of Katwe.
- Music: A three-part feature.
- In the Studio with Alicia Keys: A look at the music making and recording process and how the music reinforces the film’s themes.
- Lyric Video: “Back to Life” by Alicia Keys.
- Music Video: “#1 Spice” by Young Cardamon & HAB.
- Deleted Scenes: Graduation, Job Application, Dancing and Rent, Entering the Hospital, Escape from the Hospital, They Can’t Go to Budo, Flood (Extended Scene), and Phiona’s Chess Club. With introductions by Director Mira Nair.
Queen of Katwe is an incredible story of achieving one dreams and triumphing over adversity. While this story is based around chess, it really is a story about life. It is a compelling story and learning the backstory behind it through the extras added a lot of depth to it. That being said, the movie itself dragged a bit. The pacing was interesting and I found myself wanting to like this movie better. I found myself liking the characters, liking the situation and story, liking the themes, but the pacing just wasn’t connecting with me. It felt longer than it needed to be perhaps. All this being said, this is a decent movie with a happy ending. Definitely watch the extras if you get this one, they add a lot. There are some good performances in here so it is worth checking out. Just bring some patience to your viewing experience! Oh, and if you know how to play chess you’ll probably enjoy this movie even more!