So, I was on a sabbatical from Netflix and enjoying the company of myself, when the children of men besieged me for my opinion of Blood Sisters. My first thought was to flee from anything blood. Blood money, blood moon, Bloody Mary. But I was bewitched by the ask. What do you know: some people do value my movie reviews! So, I decided to watch the Limited Series.
I say ‘decided’ because I’d been weighing whether to continue writing reviews of Nollywood movies or series. I suspect I was developing a loathsome reputation as a Nollywood hater. A delusional romanticist that judges Nollywood productions through a Hollywood lens.
This hurts my feelings. You should never mock a man’s condition. Delusion is not contagious. And it is curable. I am taking my meds. Besides, I like Nollywood.
Okay, that’s a lie. I don’t enjoy most Nollywood movies. Not because I’m too critical – OK, I am – but Nollywood hurts me time and again. It knows I love movies and it sets about denying me that pleasure. Its weapon of abuse is poor screenplays, poor production design and poor acting. But I’m not unmindful of the progress the industry is making. From the middling days of Domitilla and Ta lo pa Chief, it’s now Nollywood 3.0. Suave, spiffy and a pocket-full of cash. So, I return to my abuser. I will make this relationship work. However, on the sword of excellence I fall! I will duel with Mediocrates till he slays me or I slay him.
So, what do I think of Blood Sisters? Let’s start with Entertainment Value, which is what a movie is all about.
1. Entertainment Value – 7/10
A movie or series must be entertaining. That is its only job. It must not be a waste of your time. It could make you cry, make you laugh, educate you or make us reflect. By whatever vehicle it chooses, it must justify its existence by being entertaining.
And Blood Sisters is entertaining. I needed something to put me to sleep so I chose it. It was a bad idea. I stayed up to finish it. Obviously, being a 4-episode series helped but each episode was stacked with enough grist to see the next. Not one, long-winded and insufferable moment. I appreciated that. I’m an impatient guy. Well done, Aunty Mo! Blood Sisters is just atonement for Chief Daddy 2. I accept the offering.
2. Plot (Storyline) – 7./10
Your husband-to-be is an abuser. But you are still going ahead to marry him. Your family is indebted to his family. His family is powerful. The mother detests you. Justling for company headship, your brother-in-law-to-be hired an assassin to knock off your beau. Then you and your girlfriend kill him by accident. On your wedding day. You both flee. There’s a manhunt. You get caught. Your coked-up, lascivious sister-in-law-to-be saved your behinds (and they have big behinds). Turns out your mother-in-law-to-be had also knocked off her husband to conceal her adulterous affair. Oh yea, there’s a decent amount of intrigue in Blood Sisters to keep you watching.
Plausibility is the key requirement of a plot. That means the movie should be plausible (believable). Note that the plot doesn’t have to be rational or logical. It only has to be imaginable. As far as we know, there is no alien race called the Omaticaya, or an element called Unobtanium. But in Avatar, and on the planet Pandora, it was plausible for such existed. Similarly, in Tunde Kelani’s Ti Oluwa Ni Ile, we could believe the premise of the movie – if you sell land that belongs to the gods, there will be fatal consequences.
It may be me and my asinine love for dramatic endings, but I expected the bride and her friend to die. You live by the sword; you die by the sword. It’ll make for a stronger ending. After all, we are all involved in the suspension of disbelief when we watch a work of fiction. But as my wife often chides, ‘Thank goodness you’re not the scriptwriter! Everybody but you love a happy ending!’
Yen, yen, yen.
No Country for Old Men. The Harder They Fall. Queen & Slim. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. That’s how you end a movie. Bad things happen to good people. Ask Pumbaa and Timon.
3. Characterization – 7/10
The characters are the main reason why a movie is enjoyable or not. Identifying with a character is a common reason people love a certain movie. When a character mirrors reality or is probable, we connect with it. We can understand and sympathize with a villain like Thanos. We instantly loathe Warden Norton and love Red in The Shawshank Redemption. We can understand the conflicted Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart and the aggrieved Eniola Badmus in King of Boys. Characters make a movie.
The characterization in Blood Sisters is not too shabby. Uncle B (Ramsey Nouah), the henchman. You could count the number of words he spoke in the movie, yet you knew what he was about. The Ademola couple (Gabriel Afolayan and Kehinde Bankole). What libidinous pair! These randy duo can shag in front of an altar! What vixen of a wife Kehinde Bankole was! Her dialogue, appearance and questionable morals were credible. The small physical frame of Gabriel Afolayan and his unremarkable presence matched the character of a weakling. Even I won’t make him head a company of ants.
On many occasions, I got angry with Sarah (Ini Dima-Okojie). How can she be that clueless and weak! You felt she was going to screw up everything. And that was precisely who she was meant to be. A lost person without Kemi (Nancy Isime) who was strong for both of them.
I hear this Nancy Isime chick bench presses 100kg easy. Bet she can lift me up before the LORD.
Now, here’s a peeve. Whose idea was it to always dress Uduak Ademola (Kate Henshaw) for the Met Gala? Even when she’s in her house? Come on, guys! Don’t strain our credulity. Yes, there is such a thing as creative license. But there is also such a thing as good art direction. She can look wealthy without looking like a prize idiot.
I also have a bone to pick with the character of Blade, the assassin. My, you could make out the guy from a mile away! He was manifestly a goon, angry and artless. Thankfully, I have never met an assassin and hope never to, but I bet you never see them coming.
That unseemliness arose because of untidy and weak scripting in the arc. I suspect that because the writer wanted Kola Ademola(Deyemi Okanlawon) to make out the assassin in other to duel with him, thereby showing the former’s physical ability, he wrote to make the assassin obvious. Come on, amigo, you are better than this!
4. Art Direction/Craft – 6.5/10
One of the reasons we enjoy Hollywood movies is their attention to details and craft. If a head is decapitated, even if you have not seen a decapitated body before, you’ll believe the effect. The fight sequence in the Jason Bourne movies was gritty and involving. The sinisterness of Paranormal Activity will tingle the hair on your neck. Because effort was put into making everything credible.
How I love the shack set ablaze in Makoko! Simple and credible. The fire burns on Uncle B and the gash on Sarah’s thigh were very well executed. Kola also got into a waiting helicopter and the helo lifted. It was convincing even if in fact there was no passenger in the helo. I am stoked at the attention to detail and improvement in craft Nollywood is exhibiting.
But I must dock Blood Sisters points for some careless lapses.
Can anyone explain to me how Kola Ademola’s fila didn’t fall off while he fought Blade? The fila was snug right on his head. What are you, Steven Seagal?
‘Oh, snap, we missed that.’
Yes, you did, Mr. Continuity and Art Director.
Also, I don’t know about ya’ll but my voice mail stopped working since 1869. So how come Uduak and Sarah are able to leave voice mail messages? MTN, Airtel, Glo, is there something they know that I don’t?
You might all think I’m nitpicking. No, I’m not. The problem is my eyes. Despite my efforts to restrain them, they can’t unsee these things. It’s why I wear glasses.
5. The “It Factor” – 5.5/10
What is the “It Factor”? It is simple. It’s when a movie is unique, groundbreaking or blazes a new trail. It could be in the form of cinematography, directing, editing, effects, sound design or scale of the production. Remember the monochrome visual style of Sin City? Or the eclectic music score of Django Unchained? The Harder They Fall? Bet you didn’t expect to hear rap music and a Fela track in a black-oriented American Western set in the 1800s. That is “It Factor.” It’s going above and beyond. It’s notoriously difficult to achieve, even in Hollywood. Therefore, it is perhaps unkind to expect a Nollywood movie to rate highly on it. But still, I’m hopeful. It’s Nollywood 3.0.
The indices by which a movie is appraised are as subjective as they are varied. So, feel free to toss this review on the ash heap. I’ve not gone into technical details, because let’s face it, audiences don’t consume cinema like movie critics do. They don’t go ‘Oh, I love the story arc and suspension of disbelief of the movie.’ Only party poopers like me do that. The only feeling audiences feel when they watch a movie is whether they like it or not. But I was minding my business when you children of men asked me for a review. So, deal with it!
I’ll probably not watch Blood Sisters a second time. But it is enjoyable. There are very good moments in the series. It’s been a while a Nolly flick made me feel some emotion. Sarah and Kemi did. Bravo, yous two!
And now that EbonyLife has set the stage for a sequel, it’d better be better than the first!