So, who is this muppet that dares rate our beloved King of Boys 2 a 6/10?
That would be me, ladies and gentlemen.
You see, I’m not blessed with much good sense. Full of myself I am. Zag when everybody zigs. It’s an affliction. But I’ll be delivered of the malaise someday. I will.
However, in the present, I’m insistent on self-immolation. King of Boys – Return of the King is underwhelming. It’s like ordering a prostitute and a nun was delivered.
OK, that didn’t come out right. I’ll have another go.
It’s like waiting all your life to drive a Bugatti Chiron and when you finally do, it drives like a Toyota.
That’s right. Miss Adetiba took me to giddying heights in King of Boys 1 and let out the air in my balloon in King of Boys 2.
Now, hear me. It is not that KOB2 is unentertaining. It is. I only found it dopamine-deficient for a much-vaunted sequel. A sequel produced by no other than Netflix. Nigeria’s first Netflix Original series as it were.
I have the highest esteem for Netflix. They have pixie dust for fingers. I expect that the partnership with Nollywood will imbue our movies with cinematic excellence. You know, give us a real shot at Cannes, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. It’s not asking for too much. Our music is rocking the world like never before imagined. So, my expecatations are not unreasonable. So, by teaming up with Kemi Adetiba, I expected a product that will travel.
Yea, I get it. Sequels tend to be pitiful. Cue Wedding Party 2, 10 Days in Sun City and Osuofia in London 2. But from where I stand, Kemi Adetiba + Netflix should equal Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
That’s a real word by the way. Ask Mary Poppins.
But before I get to my review, a word about appraising creative work.
Creative work is notoriously subjective. Some bloke might look at Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and feel the truth of the universe unravel in his brain. Me, I stood in front of it and seethed. “This is it? I paid €20 for this?” When I also beheld the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I expected Michelangelo’s painting to fill me with spiritual fervour. That I would look up and be bathed in transcendental ecclesiastical enlightenment. But nothing happened. Rather, I felt like eating pizza.
Yea, art is not for me. I know that now.
So, while I may regard KOB2 as an average flick, the public sentiment is the polar opposite. People are gushing, oohing and aahing about it. I respect that. However, if I aahed or oohed during the series, it’s because I’m in pain.
Now, to the review. Let me start with what I like.
Acting breaks down into two important elements: character and performance. Identifying with characters and their performance is a common reason we love a movie. Think about your best movies and memories of particular characters jump to mind. ‘Red’, and Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. ‘Baba Wande’ in Ti Oluwa Ni Ile. ‘Busty’ in the 2010 Omo Ghetto.
I do not have to move in the underworld to believe the characters of Eniola Salami or Odogwu Malay. It also didn’t strain credulity that Waitrose First Ladies may behave like Jumoke Randle.
The characterisation and performances in KOB2 are superb mostly. The corruptible and duplicitous Reverend Ifeanyi (Richard Mofe-Damijo). The Janus-faced Aare (Akin Lewis). The intransigent younger Eniola Salami (Toni Tones) and the insufferable Chief (Taiwo Ajai-Lycett). In hip parlance, they “killed it”. No overacting or underacting.
Except for Ade Tiger (Titi Kuti) and well, Odudubariba (Charly Boy).
There is something novel about a comely Maxi Priest henchman. But the performance of Ade Tiger was timid. Insipid. His limp body language, speech and disposition belie the authority he wielded. Ladies may like him. But goons won’t fear him. And in Laburu’s world, fear is the currency.
In a similar vein, the performance of Odudubariba was also uninspired. For an overlord of the underworld, his voice carried no power, his mien no foreboding. Just a weird-dressing bandit head. It would have been better if he hardly spoke or spoke through a goon. Or carried out more bloodletting for that matter.
Every good movie must have a heart – the theme. The theme is the movie’s underlying purpose, its premise. For The Godfather franchise, it revolves around “family” and “loyalty”. It’s “revenge” for Wrath of Man. The theme of a movie has to be clear and understandable.
And I like that about KOB2. I judge the theme to be “overcoming”. Overcoming inner demons. Overcoming oppositions. We can relate to “overcoming” being Nigerians.
Perhaps this is not the theme Kemi Adetiba intended. No matter. It only means that the theme of KOB2 works on many levels. And that is awesome.
Don’t you love how Reverend Ifeanyi (RMD) is delightfully duplicitous? How Jumoke Randle demeans?
Dialogue gives performance and characterisation life. And the dialogue in KOB2 did just that. ‘Storytelling’ is a word many use now, even if they don’t know what it entails. Well, it entails good dialogues or monologues.
I thought the dialogue was long-winded and unnecessary in some places though. Felt like they were put there to fill space. But I guess we like to talk.
Cinematography is the creation of the look and feel, mood and actions in a movie. It is the manifestation of visual storytelling. It is both technological and artistic mastery. Lights, camera angle, camera movement, tone. James Cameron had to develop proprietary camera technology for Avatar. Clint Eastwood put mini cameras in rugby balls to capture unreal action in Invictus. Good cinematography is hard work. But it has huge payoffs.
The cinematography in KOB2 isn’t too shabby. Pretty good, actually. The camera angle and movement. The lighting and grading. They all did justice to the mood of the movie. Good picture, KOB2.
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF: 6/10
In storytelling, “suspension of disbelief” is setting aside our disbelief and accepting the premise of the story as being real. Put it this way, if what happens in fiction is believable to you, you are engaged in the suspension of disbelief.
KOB2 is good because it is not too fantastical. We can bring ourselves to believe characters like Eniola Salami, Odogwu Malay and Aare could exist. To believe the plausibility of the political and criminal intrigues in the movie. Unlike Dominic Toretto driving a sports car through three skyscrapers.
But the suspension of disbelief can’t stretch our imagination too far lest disbelief sets in.
For instance, how can Eniola Salami threaten and speak rashly to the President? The President of Nigeria, by the power vested in the office, constitutionally and unconstitutionally, is one of the most powerful presidents in the world. Even if you made him President, once he assumes power, you best treat him with respect. Or DSS will storm your house at 2 am. Turning into a cat won’t save you.
Second, how on earth can PAs and security personnel be in the room with the Governor when his wife went off on him? How could the PA and security officers be present when the First Lady tried to bribe Laburu with contracts? It must also be a daft First Lady that goes in person to deliver dirt on a rival to a journalist.
This leads to the plot and areas KOB2 should have done better.
The plot is the way the scriptwriter/director creates and organises a chain of events in a narrative. In simple terms, it is the storyline. Purists insist it contains arcane elements like exposition, rising conflict, climax, falling action and denouement.
KOB2 fulfills these requirements. But there are gaps. Big gaps.
For one, it took too long for the series to get going. As of episode 3, I was losing patience. Perhaps it was not unexpected, stretching a movie into a 7h 19m series. Too much talk, too little action. Give me some blood, will ya!
Two, did Boxer betray Eniola or not? And how and when did Eniola parley the resurrected Makanaki, offering him the kingship of “the table”? Sure, it was unexpected. But it also didn’t make sense. I denounce the denouement!
And why is Dapo the journalist so much in our face? The dude should have been nothing more than a side dish. But homeboy is pining for the main course. Insufferable the amount of time he had.
Yea, KOB2 was trying to do too much, fill spaces. You can, er, lose the plot doing that.
SOUND & MUSIC SCORE: 5/10
For a crime drama, I expected to find the sound mixing and design exhilarating. Sound is like the voice of the movie. Through it, we should know if it’s time to be sad, to be happy or frightful. Take our emotions through highs, mids and lows. But the sound design and mixing in KOB2 were humdrum.
Look, I’m not asking for Hans Zimmer to score the soundtrack for KOB2. Just that if you’re going to be doing a 7-hour, 7-episode series, a signature music score would have been great, that’s all. Sound and music score are just as important as the cinematography.
Let me interest you in these iconic music scores. Check out ‘Lux Aeterna’ by Clint Mansell for Requiem for a Dream below. My goosebumps is eternal. And also the Auckland Symphony Orchestra score for Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh, the day we will score music like this!
VISUAL & SOUND EFFECTS: 5/10
Fellas, it’s the Year of our LORD 2021. Can we not create a real gun and explosion scene? Do our shooting and explosions have to be comical? Nuff said.
That’s it, folks. my review of King of Boys – Return of the King. A personal opinion masquerading as objective truth. No matter. If you haven’t seen KOB2, by all means, do. I sense the penny may just have dropped for the big screen in Nigeria. And I’m stoked.
But we must continue to demand excellence. It’s not hate. It’s an imperative if we want Nollywood to put a dent in the universe. If we want our movies to travel like our music.
I read somewhere that Nigerian film producers are miffed at the licensing fees Netflix pays them compared to, say Asia. Something between $10,000 and $90,000. Well, I’ll be writing on that in another post. So watch out for that.