In the last quarter of 2020, a lot of Nollywood productions, most of which were already delayed, hit the big screens after cinemas began to open . At some point, there were only Nigerian movies showing in all cinemas, this pushed a lot of movie lovers to see more locally produced films.
With increased viewing of these movies, more people have had lots to say. And for someone like me who relies heavily on movie reviews before making that decision to watch it, these past few months have had me confused. I once read several opinions of a particular movie, and on one hand, a person wrote ” xxxx was such an amazing film, kudos to (Director’s name)” which I believed to be overly sensational and the next one goes ” xxxx was pure rubbish and a waste of two hours of my life”, this one I found unduly vile. You see my confusion now right?
Also, you notice I called them opinions rather than reviews, that’s mainly because these comments did not give me a ‘why’ and did not give an overall picture of the movie — As much as a movie review should be from an individual’s opinion, it should be able to describe the movie in its entirety, with viewpoints of the story of the movie, the characters, their roles, the costumes, set design, cinematography, acting, casting, screenplay and so on. This is what creates a definite picture for potential viewers.
I must add that not all of these viewpoints need to be addressed in a review, but enough of them that give the reader/listener an honest and broad enough picture of the film.
The movie industry in Nigeria is growing, and growing for the better. Over the years, we’ve seen reasonable improvements in many aspects of production, most notably in cinematography, sound, and set designs. These enhancements were not by chance, they were as a result of constant criticism of these said facets of production.
The Nigerian culture generally does not take very well to criticism, that’s why many people don’t take it so well and also why people don’t know how to critique. To the ‘reviewer’, the use of a barrage of hurtful words in your vocabulary is not being critical, that’s you just being an A-hole. And to the ‘creatives’, a comment on your movie having loopholes is not a personal attack, you don’t always have to block everyone on social media that criticizes your work.
Alternatively, saying just nice stuff about a movie doesn’t help anyone; not you, not the reader, not the filmmakers, and definitely not the industry. Yes, it strokes the filmmakers’ egos and motivates them to keep creating but we don’t want to continue seeing average, do we?
And often times, after a critique, the following response is usually something in the line of “Who gave you the right to judge”, you sef do am if e easy — this is such an easy out for stubborn and ignorant people who only want to hear the good stuff about their work. Again, this is down to the culture of not taking criticism well. If I’ve spent NGN 2,500 to purchase a movie ticket, I think I am well within my rights to complain about faults, wherever there are.
To summarize, with the rapid growth and releases of Nollywood films, honest reviews of these movies are important to the development of the entire industry. We’ve seen what winning a Grammy feels like, we can replicate this success at the Oscars.
I’ll talk about conformity to these western standards in a later article.