Movie Review: God’s Country

The new movie “Gods Country”, starring Thandiwe Newton, opens with Sandra, played by Newton watching the wooden coffin containing her mother enter a crematorium. We later find out that her mother died of lung cancer. One major premise behind this story seems to suggest that people can sometimes get very reckless or even empowered after dealing with the death of a loved one. However, the recklessness depicted in this story seems to be at times out of place and one of those cases within a screenplay where someone could easily question – “no way anyone would do something like this”.

Sandra is a small college professor who lives in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Montana. From the bleak depressing surroundings, anyone watching this movie will wonder why anyone would want to live in a place like this, where there is so much of absolutely nothing, for many miles. Her home is small and modest as is her life – unmarried, no children, all alone. Then a minor incident involving hunters parking their big red truck on property leads to a series of events where any normal person would just call the police and say something like, “there are hunters parking their truck on my property, can you please come and talk to them and get them to park their truck somewhere else”? Instead, Sandra confronts two very dangerous men with guns and we cannot help but wonder, would any woman do this? Why risk your life over someone parking their truck on your property? This is a matter for the police to handle, I will just call them and this matter will be over. If they continue to park their truck on my property, then it will eventually become a problem that is not worth confronting, considering the people involved who are very dangerous. Instead, this story becomes far-fetched and not believable very quickly leading to a series of events that at times are so off the wall, that they become too unbelievable for any viewer to accept.

The acting throughout these two hours is very good, especially with Thandiwe Newton who provides a mostly subdued and depressed personality with some scenes of extreme anger that show her acting ability. There are some additional side stories and twists and turns within this above-average screenplay, but not enough to offset what is an unbelievable story from the start, because fundamentally, no woman on her own would ever do what Sandra does in this story.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for God’s Country are a too high 86%, with my rating a solid 75% mainly due to the acting of Newton, with a very mild recommendation.

Movie Review: The Woman King

As with all movies like “The Woman King” that involve many scenes of intense hand-to-hand combat using swords and other weapons. Anyone who sees this film will admire the work that went into training all of the actors to both be able to pull off the necessary believability during the fight scenes, but also to make sure that nobody gets badly hurt or killed. Even while using swords and other weapons that are not real, there can always be a mishap along the way while shooting so many intense scenes and the inevitable multiple takes that are necessary with all action movies. The choreography of the fight scenes in this movie are almost as real and well produced as those in “Braveheart”, released in 1995.

The star of The Woman King is Viola Davis in probably the only intense action movie role of her career. This is the story about women warriors in West Africa in 1823, who train young women to be the best soldiers. Their story is about one thing. If you want peace, especially within an African tribe in 1823, then you can only achieve that with strength by aggressively defending your tribe by killing all enemies before they can kill you. This has been a harsh life reality for centuries. Complacency or passivity will get you killed.

There are many very impressive scenes of hand to hand combat, mostly with swords in this film, especially with a young warrior named Nawi, played by newcomer Thuso Mbedu along with Nanisca played by Viola Davis. The screenplay is simple and very well told, with a surprise side story that provides a very well done emotional ending. This is one of the rare times when I have heard the audience I was in applaud at the end.

I agree with the very high Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 94% and the audience rating of 99% and highly recommend this film.