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Queen of Katwe: Movie Review

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Who knew a movie about chess could be so good?

Then again, anything David Oyelowo touches is golden. The Golden Globe-nominated actor, whose powerful portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma made him one to get, plays an integral role in Disney's new movie, Queen of Katwe.

Oyelowo isn't the lead in this one though. His talent supports a new leading lady, a young Ugandan actress--you're going to see a lot more of--named Madina Nalwanga. She plays our hero, Phiona Mutesi.

A poor girl living in the slums of Katwe, Uganda, Phiona spends her days selling food in the streets to help support her family. She has no money for school and no real hope for her future. Enter Robert Katende (Oyelowo). He's a husband and father who spends his days ministering to poor kids through a local Christian charity's sports program. It's at the center where Phiona is first introduced to the game of chess and Katende first sees her mastering the board.
Based on a true story, Queen of Katwe explores the uplifting themes of perseverance, courage, family, and faith. Bullied because of her low status and stench, Phiona teaches us that it doesn't matter where you come from. It matters where you are going and how you get there. Hers is an empowering story for young girls, boys, and adults alike.

Director Mira Nair found a gem in young Madina. She lights up the screen. And her young co-stars on the chess team, including her little brother, are delightful. You could just eat 'em up. But, the one who truly will blow you away is Lupita Nyong'o (who won her first Academy Award in 2014 for her role in 12 Years a Slave). Nyong'o is capturing as Phiona's strong-willed, self-sacrificing mother, Harriet.

Rated PG for thematic elements, an accident scene and some suggestive material, Queen of Katwe doesn't contain much in the way of highly offensive content. It's truly family-friendly and upholds the virtues of faith. Scenes show characters praying together and one intense discussion between Phiona and her sister about God.

In the end, Queen of Katwe offers an enjoyable movie experience with a motivating message. It's a must-see for discerning moviegoers.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's