A young African king is cast out from his family into an unforgiving world. He subsequently undergoes a journey “through betrayal, love and self-identity” to reclaim his throne, utilizing the guidance of his ancestors and childhood love. The story is told through the voices of present-day Black people.
It should go without saying at this point that Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is one of the most influential people in the world right now. Not just in the entertainment industry. Virtually everything the iconic singer-songwriter puts out gets widespread acclaim and for good reason. She is an expert at crafting music that feels real, raw, and powerful at every chance she gets. Lemonade didn’t get all of those GRAMMY nominations for no reason.
Although the 2019 Lion King remake was a film that I overall greatly disliked, her soundtrack songs for the film were an absolute delight to listen to. Her songs were one of the only things that were keeping me from being bored out of my mind when watching that movie.
What I am trying to get at is this – I am a Beyoncé fan. She makes some incredible music and is an inspiration to millions of people all around the world. That is why I was very surprised when I heard about the release of Black Is King, a musical/visual album of sorts released in the style of a traditional film on Disney+. Just like I had hoped, this is an amazing film and perhaps the most relaxing film of the year so far. It may feel extremely short due to its eighty-five minute running time, but it is nevertheless a visual and musical feast for the eyes and ears.
Right from the opening scene alone, the movie reels you in with its sense of intense power and visual storytelling that only a few people would be able to pull off as well as Beyoncé does here. Every single shot in Black Is King feels important and is put to good use. There was never a moment anywhere in this film where I felt as though a certain scene felt out of place or wasn’t long enough. They all feel like they tell important pieces of the story and they all felt like they belonged.
Something else that surprised me here was how amazing the music was. I don’t know why I was so surprised by that considering that I love Beyoncé’s music. Maybe my mindset was that since this was a film for Disney+, the music wouldn’t be as great as the rest of her discography, but thankfully, that is not the case here. I found myself getting heavily into every last song in the film, with plenty of them actually causing me to tap my feet while watching and listening. I don’t do that often, either. Only when I find a song I really, really like, and this movie has lots of songs just like that.
When it comes to issues with the film, it does suffer from not having a traditional narrative. The film is told entirely from the perspective of music and visual shots with only a few lines of actual dialogue in the form of narration by Beyoncé sprinkled throughout. It can feel like it is a little bit style over substance every once in a while, but gratefully, that is not the case for the majority of the movie.
If you are a massive fan of Beyoncé, this film is more than likely going to give you everything you wanted and so much more. It’s filled with catchy, meaningful songs that will not only stick in your head for days after hearing them but will leave you pondering about the meaning of life, the world, and our universe.
Black Is King is an immensely powerful and massively entertaining film from Beyoncé filled with catchy and remarkably moving music.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Distributed by: Disney+
Release Date: July 31, 2020
Running Time: 85 minutes