News

Black Is King First Reviews: Queen Bey Drops A Masterpiece

Critics say Beyoncé's musical film is a timely, visually stunning feast for the senses that reaffirms her status as pop culture royalty.

by | July 31, 2020 | Comments

Barely one month after announcing the project, Beyoncé has dropped her latest visual album, titled Black Is King, on the streaming service Disney+. The surprise new release stems from her involvement with last year’s live-action reimagining of The Lion King and is a complimentary work to her 2019 record The Lion King: The Gift. The first reviews of the musical film, which wasn’t screened early for critics, are unanimously positive, recognizing its visual craftsmanship, timeliness, and how it progresses both its material and Beyoncé’s own career as an artist.

Here’s what critics are saying about Beyoncé’s Black Is King:


How does this project fit into Beyoncé’s artistic reign?

Beyoncé, the master of the visual album, just keeps getting better with each release.
– Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Sydney Morning Herald

The greatest success of Black Is King, with all its ambitions, purposeful revelations and nods by Beyoncé, may be the conformation of its creator and star as the cultural Queen of our time.
– Dominic Patten, Deadline

[It] is a particularly genius sleight of hand only she could pull off.
– Jude Dry, IndieWire

It’s a remarkable addition to the pop world and tribute to her artistry.
– Anne Brodie, What She Said

The product feels like a natural progression in her evolution as an artist… and truly, the outfits are just fabulous — possibly her best to date.
– Anna Menta, Decider

Black Is King doesn’t exactly stand with the best of her previous work — it’s a pleasure but not a landmark — but the Queen Bey goes through it with her head up and her crown intact.
– Steve Pond, The Wrap


Beyonce in Black Is King

(Photo by Disney+)

Is it only for Beyoncé fans?

With appearances from Jay-Z, Kelly Rowland, Pharrell and Naomi Campbell, this star-studded film has something for everyone.
Chanté Joseph, Guardian

The Queen Bey orchestrated visual album is… well, rather excellent and exciting on various fronts.
Dominic Patten, Deadline


How does it honor the legacy of The Lion King?

It bears little resemblance to the Disney film.
Anna Menta, Decider

Beyoncé, who lent her voice to Nala in said remake, is here to offer a corrective… a bold and unique offering that’s brimming with Black pride.
Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine

The Lion King always was and should have been an African-told story. And while Beyoncé’s lens is certainly an American one, her inclusion of Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Cameroonian collaborators drives home this necessity.
Jude Dry, IndieWire

The ties to The Lion King occasionally ground the story in that familiar coming-of-age story, but they just as often feel beside the point.
Steve Pond, The Wrap

Though some sections incorporating dialogue feel a little clunky, the parallel generally works well.
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Sydney Morning Herald

If the public is tiring of Disney doggedly remaking all of its old animations in live action format, finally some original content is coming out of the project as well.
David Smyth, London Evening Standard


Beyonce in Black Is King

(Photo by Disney+)

What else is Black Is King reminiscent of?

Similar in stature and design to Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker film from 1988, Black Is King is clearly structured to be an event release in this time of essentially endless options.
Dominic Patten, Deadline

At times, it feels like Terence Malick’s Tree of Life meets Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.
Jeremy Helligar, Variety


How are the visuals of this visual album?

Black Is King is a visual masterpiece. It’s almost overwhelming.
Anna Menta, Decider

If there is one thing to be said about Black Is King, it’s that it is visually stunning — from beginning to end. The whole thing.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Each scene somehow more spectacular than its predecessor, Black Is King is a feast for the eyes.
Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine

It’s a sumptuous visual feast, from detailed costuming to choreography.
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Sydney Morning Herald

Black Is King is a visual feast; it provides several slow-panning scenes of stillness where we absorb the striking beauty and duality of bright colors against deep brown tones.
Chanté Joseph, Guardian

This visual feast… finds its moments of glory in the strength of its images, which are more arresting than the story or the subtext.
Steve Pond, The Wrap


Black Is King

(Photo by Disney+)

Who else deserves recognition for the artistry on display?

Beyoncé’s fashion is next-level throughout Black Is King… Shout-out to costume designer Zerina Akers for making Bey look fierce, flawless and Afro-fabulous.
Chuck Arnold, New York Post

Every single outfit that Beyoncé wears is just absolutely beautiful.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

The real star of the visual film, however, is the raw, untapped talent from performers around the world showcasing their rich tradition and culture, history and lineage.
Cydney Henderson, USA Today


What’s the best musical number?

When supermodel Naomi Campbell, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and Beyoncé’s fellow former Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland pop up during “Brown Skin Girl,” a tribute to Black women, it feels transcendent.
Jeremy Helligar, Variety

“Brown Skin Girl” is especially moving, showing Beyoncé, Rowland and Blue Ivy together in a strong visual affirmation of generational black womanhood.
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Sydney Morning Herald


Will Black Is King move you?

I’ll admit, I got emotional when Beyoncé and former Destiny Child’s member Kelly Rowland were singing praises to each other.
Anna Menta, Decider

It is impossible to watch the emotive story unfold, accompanied by Warsan Shire’s poetry, Yrsa Daley-Ward’s writing and warm images of west Africa, without feeling emotional.
Chanté Joseph, Guardian


Black Is King

(Photo by Disney+)

Are there any imperfections?

The uneven music of the original soundtrack, though enhanced by the visual accompaniment, can still be hit or miss.
Jeremy Helligar, Variety

There is one part that I would totally skip if I were to watch it again. The celestial stuff… For me, it felt a little weird and out of place.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

It’s mildly disappointing that more inspiration isn’t drawn from East Africa given that’s where The Lion King is set.
Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine


How important is Black Is King to young Black people in particular?

Black Is King, if nothing else, will perhaps inspire them to learn about the history of their race and the ways in which it has shaped the world.
Jeremy Helligar, Variety

There’s an urgency in the way that Beyoncé is addressing the “black kings,” as if she feels like she’s running out of time.
Anna Menta, Decider

Black Is King is both her gift and her hope for humanity.
Jude Dry, IndieWire


Beyonce in Black Is King

(Photo by Disney+)

Is this another masterpiece for our time?

Black Is King [is] vital to the current conversation in a way that no one could have foreseen, but is most welcome.
Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine

Her visual album has taken on new meaning following the reemergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against police brutality and racism.
Cydney Henderson, USA Today

With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement this year, Black Is King is a timely, powerful declaration of pride.
Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, Sydney Morning Herald

With this vivid celebration, she goes way beyond saying Black Lives Matter to showing the dazzling inspiration of her ancestry.
David Smyth, London Evening Standard

The film is being released at a time when Disney is coming to terms with some of its own racist past.
Steve Pond, The Wrap

What the world needs now is love, sweet, love, and this colorful reminder of the power and glory of Black, here in America but even more so in Africa.
Jeremy Helligar, Variety


Black Is King premieres on Disney+ on Friday, July 31.

#1

Black Is King (2020)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 97.112%
Critics Consensus: Beyoncé is King.
Synopsis: The voyages of Black families, throughout time, are honored in a tale about a young king's transcendent journey through betrayal,... [More]
Directed By: Beyoncé Knowles

Tag Cloud

festivals cancelled 45 worst movies Biopics Watching Series book dogs CBS cartoon 2020 The CW television mission: impossible what to watch Comics on TV Infographic Funimation Rocketman finale X-Men Stephen King Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Reality Competition ABC Family all-time deadpool Starz rt archives Masterpiece classics Elton John Extras composers Lifetime Christmas movies LGBT Mary Tyler Moore CW Seed science fiction 007 blaxploitation Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Country name the review Esquire Awards ESPN Syfy Binge Guide BBC Amazon Prime Video scorecard GoT cancelled TV series Lucasfilm screenings dceu free movies TV renewals unscripted adventure OWN discovery children's TV japanese anime robots halloween halloween tv french reviews golden globes TCA Film Showtime The Arrangement Tarantino TCA Awards The Witch El Rey asian-american TCA 2017 Anna Paquin nbcuniversal Logo jamie lee curtis adaptation Freeform stoner venice YouTube Disney superhero Captain marvel Food Network Writers Guild of America FXX Pet Sematary cinemax supernatural south america parents black Amazon harry potter SundanceTV Western MSNBC Pixar DC Comics YA Marathons YouTube Premium Creative Arts Emmys Ellie Kemper Certified Fresh toronto james bond Turner cults RT21 universal monsters batman 71st Emmy Awards Song of Ice and Fire 72 Emmy Awards a nightmare on elm street political drama singing competition Netflix Christmas movies New York Comic Con nfl TV IFC Action true crime satire Women's History Month Disney Channel documentary BET Holiday cancelled television Marvel Studios Thanksgiving slashers independent IFC Films Comedy Central Tumblr rotten movies we love Hallmark Christmas movies justice league reboot VH1 Dark Horse Comics Disney+ Disney Plus theme song 24 frames HBO Go streaming comic books zero dark thirty TV Land Box Office Music Disney streaming service franchise VICE Sundance TV Warner Bros. based on movie Sci-Fi romance MCU Black Mirror Crunchyroll teaser TIFF Summer disaster Columbia Pictures Nominations versus cats tv talk OneApp Awards Tour period drama Polls and Games richard e. Grant Apple TV Plus Character Guide National Geographic Musical Christmas Apple TV+ 20th Century Fox Ghostbusters concert criterion BBC One Peacock docudrama series The Purge Cosplay Emmys Animation Heroines Set visit Sundance Now Britbox FX on Hulu ID Red Carpet 2015 NBC dragons Travel Channel PlayStation aliens Comic Book Marvel Amazon Prime Mindy Kaling Fall TV Shudder scary movies Lifetime kids Epix Cartoon Network Tubi Cannes WarnerMedia directors war Nat Geo Superheroe Teen Ovation GLAAD LGBTQ natural history CMT movies spanish language technology politics spider-man crime thriller Amazon Studios crime Mary Poppins Returns Acorn TV Star Trek anthology The Academy Spring TV fast and furious crossover romantic comedy news blockbuster Brie Larson witnail archives Comedy crime drama Kids & Family PBS Rom-Com Podcast Martial Arts psycho boxoffice TNT History Paramount Pop TV ABC Sneak Peek TCM binge festival Fantasy President Year in Review Classic Film PaleyFest obituary game of thrones San Diego Comic-Con cops Mary poppins christmas movies Film Festival 2016 Quiz GIFs movie Pirates Trivia VOD zombies police drama A&E stand-up comedy Turner Classic Movies diversity Fox Searchlight dramedy See It Skip It talk show WGN Superheroes Nickelodeon psychological thriller doctor who cars canceled Endgame twilight transformers casting 2018 Hulu medical drama sag awards Winter TV remakes Black History Month chucky video on demand Disney Plus 21st Century Fox Lionsgate Calendar Vudu revenge 4/20 best vampires serial killer Schedule comiccon Holidays stop motion australia Toys Television Critics Association A24 canceled TV shows Chernobyl miniseries award winner E3 ghosts laika space American Society of Cinematographers travel facebook hispanic breaking bad emmy awards Super Bowl Family joker Baby Yoda mutant HBO comics Adult Swim Hallmark historical drama NYCC Marvel Television werewolf Television Academy films RT History Trailer Premiere Dates zombie TLC social media CBS All Access italian sequel Netflix Countdown critics Trophy Talk child's play APB Photos Emmy Nominations Apple Rock Arrowverse worst DirecTV MTV DC streaming service SXSW strong female leads cancelled TV shows TBS Paramount Network cooking dc First Look Mudbound Musicals toy story 2019 hollywood USA Grammys mockumentary spinoff foreign TruTV spy thriller thriller renewed TV shows E! HBO Max Winners latino sports Best and Worst CNN Hear Us Out Spike The Walking Dead Election die hard Drama dark BET Awards Pride Month SDCC Opinion hist BAFTA Pop biography Mystery Spectrum Originals Reality spain DGA indiana jones 2017 Star Wars ITV Horror sequels spanish Rocky TCA Winter 2020 Discovery Channel game show animated Tomatazos Sony Pictures ratings football comic comedies AMC DC Universe Bravo Crackle Video Games Fox News BBC America indie FX Avengers video USA Network Sundance FOX Interview elevated horror documentaries sitcom YouTube Red screen actors guild rotten Walt Disney Pictures nature Academy Awards quibi Valentine's Day Shondaland Universal First Reviews green book Oscars