We are in a world where entertainments, particularly movies, have come to play a pivotal role in our society. Irrespective of the fundamental role movies play in our society, thoughts of Nollywood movies cause drowsiness in me before the idea of seeing them comes to mind. Although, I spend a great deal of time at cinemas and sometimes, trying to download the latest Hollywood movies, yet, few minutes into a Nigerian movie and I’m off to Wonderland. I often wondered what was responsible for this until I believed that I have figured out the answers. A LOT is wrong with our Nollywood and as a movie enthusiast; I find the movies disappointing each time some few friends are around me and we decide to see one. Upon closer look, I believe there are some problems with the entertainment industry. Which are;
1. Our Movies are too predictable: Probably the most dominant in Nigerian movies; the producers, directors, characters and soundtracks are too predictable that one could tell what would happen in the next scene. It is also too predictable that viewers know how a movie will end before the characters themselves. Unfortunately, majority of Nigerian movies’ producers/directors lack the idea to create a spark between their characters and the viewers. The gap is way too huge (I guess this explains why I sleep off, barely few minutes into a movie).
Predictability on the director/producer’s part: After a successful movie campaign, producers/directors guise under their last success to create/direct a similar story, which is often annoying. True, this is also found in Hollywood movies but ours is so terrible that at the name of the director who, for instance, directed BLEEDING LOVE, must necessarily direct a new ‘blockbuster’ titled BLEEDING ANGEL. Quite funny that such a director/producer’s specialty is on nothing but love that comes with heart wrenching moments of the protagonists (who are likely Ramsey Noah and Ini Edo).
2. On the part of the Characters: Unfortunately, most viewers have come to accept this unconsciously. I could remember seeing the popular comedy sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ almost, if not a decade ago and not quite long, the lead character, Will Smith, played a flawless and emotional role in ‘In Pursuit of Happiness’. Then there was another; young Keke Palmer (Akeelah) who transited flawlessly from a ghetto spelling bee girl (in Akeelah and the Bee) to a churchy, troubling teenage girl (Joyful Noise) whose voice is so amazing that her mother, Queen Latifah, failed to notice she had blossomed into a stunning young lady. The list is limitless with Hollywood acts, compared to our sloppy, unrepentant and undynamic actors/actresses. Take for example; I find it quite easy to conclude most Nollywood movies upon seeing the characters that make them. This is what comes to my mind when characters like this are mentioned in movies:
Aki & Pawpaw: They must play the role of two village scoundrels who do nothing but terrorize their father for marrying a new wife after the demise of their mother. They must play pranks and turn the community outside-in to prove a point to their father. Hence, this must be a movie with some unrealistic comedy.
Mr Ibu: He must play the role of the village clown, who, at 40, is still living with his father and ever caring mother. He can hardly read or write and therefore, has loads of problem with understanding people and what they really mean. Hence, it must be some annoying comedy.
Sanyeri: He must play the role of a typical Oyo man who tries to manoeuvre people and is often being outwitted by his best friend, who seems smarter than him. Hence, it must be a boring comedy.
Jim Iyke: He must play the role of the hot-tempered dude who talks rudely to his girlfriend/wife and sometimes, end up battering her. Depending on the title as well, he must also play the role of prince charming that comes out of the blue to steal the heart of a dejected lady who has long given up on love.
3. On the part of wacky soundtracks: Do we even see foreign movies at all? Some might claim that we just being us; we do not want to fake or thread in the path of others. But what happens when an annoying song, in the middle of a movie, comes up with a dirge when two masked men walk around the fence of Kanayo O. Kanayo or Jide Kosoko? Geez! What happened to the element of surprise? Must we be told when we are actually watching?
4. We have no genre: Being a lover of movies, I find it easy to fall on any genre of movie, depending on my mood. Still, each time I leave a cinema after a movie, I feel pleased and look forward to seeing movies again. Unfortunately, the our movie industry and its people are terribly stereotyped into feeding us with unrealistic comedies and largely dramas which, in turn has given us nothing but predictable plots and resolutions, which I believe hurt more. I strongly believe that what makes a good movie is not the number of star characters but rather, how the plot systematically beat the imagination of viewers in the course of events. For crying out loud, there are genres such as Sci-Fi, horror, comedy, drama, thriller, fantasy, animations, action, mystery, adventure etc.
5. Too many stars in a movie: It is obvious that the saying “too many cooks spoil the broths” is not applicable to our movie producers. The last time I saw movies of many stars in Hollywood movies were in “The Expendables”, “Fast and Furious” and the crazy comedy, “This is the End”. What we hardly understand is that the Hollywood spends more money on a movie than we spend. The effects of crowding a movie with A-lister actors/actresses are often too huge that the movie suffers and the actors/actresses also suffer as some are being relegated to the background. As almighty and high as the Hollywood is, it suffered the same in “The Expendables”; Arnold Schwarzenegger was relegated while the likes of Jason Statham grabbed the bull by the horn. The best movies of the world today are not best because they are made up of too many stars. Movies such as “In Time, I Frankenstein, A Thousand Words, Hunger Games 1&2, Now You See me, Titanic, 47 Ronin” etc. are examples of what I mean. Our producers must break free from the mentality of gathering too many stars to make up their movies. Although there are few exceptions to this, Kunle Afolayan is someone I respect so much in this regard. Only few Nigerian movies have managed to adopt this ideology. “Phone Swap, Figurine, and The Meeting” are successful movies that I don’t get tired of seeing.
6. Props, Costumes and Effects: Our movies are backward in this aspect when we put Bollywood and Hollywood into consideration. We are one of the very few movie producing countries with wacky effects and props. In place of blood, we are forced to use Ribena and things such as Tasty Time. Maybe these things were bought decades ago by viewers who could not tell what it was. It is important our movie producers understand that blood itself is RED and not in some blackcurrant drink! And about our guns? Bollywood does better movies that arouse one’s conscious as to what just took place in a scene is indeed real or not. This is the 21st century for crying out loud. Last I checked movies are described as ‘’make believe’; sell what is unreal in a manner that is true.
7. Our Movies Kill time: Annoyingly, on a scale of 1-100, I’d say movies that have parts or concluding series are over 85%. I could remember years back when I devoted two straight to watching Lord of Rings 1, 2, and 3. Each part of the movie is well over 2 hours yet, I couldn’t get enough of the trilogy and so were most of friends. Our movies show unconnected scenes and dedicate several minutes on these scenes just because the greed to make more money comes to mind. Clichés of time killing scenes are often seen in an act, precisely club scenes. I feel it is irrelevant for a movie that is rarely up to two hours of normal time to be split into several parts simply because the producers want to make enough money. This is one of the reasons most Nigerians prefer pirated copies to the real deal.
8. Adverts within movies: Honestly I cannot remember the last time I saw this because I stopped seeing Nollywood movies a long time ago. Still, I believe this is one of the time killing machines within our movies. Imagine anticipating a movie and what you would see in the next fifteen minutes or more are nothing but trailers of impending movies and some herbal products’ adverts. Our producers must understand that it is high time they understood the importance of giving their audience what they truly deserve.
9. Video Quality: Most of our movies are produced with little video quality that you tend to question if the movies were shot a decade ago. Somehow, I accidentally previewed the movie ‘Battleship (2012)’ yesterday and I just could not help but marvel at the quality of the movie after two years. The Nigerian Entertainment industry must pay attention to this if they really want fans of the industry keep coming back.
It is futile if we keep producing and releasing tons of movies every Monday morning when we lack the qualities movies need to stand. Though the industry might have been politicised, I believe a better entertainment industry is need to uplift the image of the entertainment world of Nigeria and Africa, since we are perceived as the trail blazer in the entertainment world. We need good movies.
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