Black Is King

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Black Is King Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Stunning musical has strong message of empowerment.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Black Is King empowers Black people to appreciate and take pride in their ancestry and culture, as well as their skin color, hair texture, and more. Values of home, family, and respect run throughout the film. Positive messages lifted from passages in The Lion King, previously recorded speeches, Beyonce's own voiceover narration, and the songs themselves tell viewers to be confident, follow their own path, not be "led astray," find balance in life, be dedicated to their families, ignore racist talk, overcome societal obstacles, learn from their ancestral past, aim for gender equality, and focus on the future.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Beyoncé is a role model to many. She collaborates here with African and American musicians and dancers who all have their own loyal followings. Communities of adults care for kids, especially parents who put their children's lives before their own and focus on making improvements "for the next generation." Songs speak of the power, strength, and beauty of Black women, men, and children. "You can't wear a crown with your head down."

Violence

In one sequence reminiscent of when Simba and Nala wander off in The Lion King, a young boy ventures too far and finds himself in a scary and potentially dangerous situation, teased by a man wearing a snake and surrounded by faceless people on motorcycles in a dark wood. In other scenes, men wear menacing masks and costumes, and people make potentially frightening faces. A baby is sent off for his own safety in a basket on a river and falls over the edge of a waterfall. A funeral scene shows people carrying a casket.

Sex

Some risqué outfits and dancing.

Language

"Damn."

Consumerism

Disney, The Lion King, Beyoncé, and collaborating artists are all involved in consumer products (namely, The Lion King: The Gift). Several sequences glamorize extreme wealth.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite the Disney label and references to The Lion King, Beyoncé's Black Is King isn't made specifically for kids. Yes, its empowering messages and celebration of African culture will undoubtedly be encouraging and educational for young viewers, perhaps especially teenagers. But those messages are wrapped up in musical numbers that feature mature themes related to family, power, and death, as well as some risqué outfits and dancing and a few potentially scary images -- especially one sequence in which a young boy appears lost and in danger. "Damn" is said. Beyoncé fans and others are likely to flock to this film for the music, the elaborate costuming, the guest appearances, and the search for meaning, references, and symbolism in every word and image.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylizkats August 2, 2020

Powerful, beautiful piece

Giving this a 13+ age rating seems insensitive at best. Blue Ivy Carter is 8 years old, which is apparently too young to view the film she herself performed in.... Continue reading
Adult Written byJordan88 August 2, 2020

Beautiful

Pride that's all I can say and feel when I watch this movie
Teen, 14 years old Written byBeyoncejollof September 9, 2020

OMG THIS IS THE BEST

this movie/musical is the best I don’t get why the heck they rate this 13 and up but basically is your child know what africa is than your gold.


(B.T.W common... Continue reading
Kid, 0 years old August 2, 2020

What's the story?

Billed as a "visual album" that was written, directed, and executive produced by Beyoncé, BLACK IS KING offers a series of music videos linked together by common themes and recurring characters, ideas, and settings. Dialogue is pulled from The Lion King and elsewhere to construct vignettes that follow a young boy from infanthood on his search for identity. We see how family, community, ancestry, culture, fate, and self confidence all play a role in your life experience. Narration and lyrics instruct young Black people to stay true to themselves on their path, rely on their loved ones for support, and overcome setbacks and obstacles, including racism. Set in unspecified locations in Africa, the film's main message is to empower Black people to appreciate and take pride in their African heritage and culture.

Is it any good?

This visual album is a stunning tour de force. It would be hard not to appreciate the work that went into Black Is King, evidenced by the colossal list of collaborators in the end credits and Disney's touting of its year-long production across multiple continents. The effort is on full display in the finished musical numbers, with their detailed choreography featuring diverse casts, unique interiors, gorgeous exterior settings, and plenty of symbolism. And then there are Beyoncé's glamorous get-ups, dotingly filmed from every angle.

The film can easily be digested in pieces/multiple viewings, divvied up by musical numbers. Some of the most memorable come in the second half of the film. Black Is King also radiates labor of love. Beyoncé dedicates it to her son "and to all our sons and daughters," as well as "the Black diaspora across every continent," which has faced "insurmountable odds. You inspire the world." This expansive acknowledgement may explain why the film doesn't seem to want to be specific about African nations or cultures but is instead focused on a widely inclusive message of self worth and Black empowerment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main messages of Black Is King. What are they? How do they apply to your own life?

  • What aspects of African culture did you recognize in the film's stories, settings, and wardrobes?

  • What connections did you notice between Black Is King and The Lion King?

  • Which song did you like best, and why? Were you familiar with any of the artists besides Beyoncé who appear here?

  • What character strengths are on display here?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love African American stories

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate