Friday, April 22, 2016

PRINCE: ANOTHER ICON GONE

courtesy of fanpop.com

The world have lost several notable celebrities these past months, some we are still trying to get over. While still reeling from the shock over former WWE wrestler Chyna, the news came of Prince's death. From the mass outpouring of grief everywhere, it's like losing Michael Jackson all over again.
While not a huge fan of Prince, I really liked  his songs that happened to come my way.- the first being Purple Rain. As a child, I knew him as "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" and I remember wondering if he was related to M.J at the time- to me they seemed alike facially and in some ways.
Its' a very sad thing that has occurred. Only a few days ago- before the tragic news of Chyna's death, there was the news of Doris Roberts' passing; the actress who played the sharp tongued and overbearing Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond. Now we have lost such a talented icon, Prince- gone at 57. Like I always say at times like this... life is fragile and unpredictable and we have to spend it wisely; spread love and more than enough good deeds to prepare for the Hereafter.
The world mourns for this legendary, talented and vibrant singer, who was taken so suddenly. He is already greatly missed and will never be forgotten. Whenever I listen to Purple Rain from now on, I will imagine the little boy scribbling out the lyrics of his first song.
May his soul rest in peace.
Adieu Prince.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE- THE ALIENS ARE BACK!!!







Earth is not for the taking! 

For the generation of viewers who are yet to see the ground breaking INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996), it's advisable to watch that first before this upcoming sequel coming in June 2016.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE 's plot came be guessed  from the title; another battle between the human race and the malevolent aliens who have returned with a much bigger fleet. The movie is set 20 years after the first battle, hence a new generation of fighters in this new war to protect Earth. Steven Hiller (Will Smith) is long dead, the  former president (Bill Pullman) now aged and the scientist we saw at the merciless grip of an alien in the first film, Dr. Brakish Okun (Brett Spiner) turned out to have survived that terrible ordeal after all!
The new generation of fighters includes the former president's daughter, Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), Dylan Dubrow-Hiller(Jesse Usher), the late Steven's stepson and Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Patricia's boyfriend; the three of them pilots in ESD (Earth Space Defense). And I'm happy to note that Jeff Goldblum, another hero from the first movie is in this upcoming sequel, will be reprising his role as David Levinson, except that now he's the director of ESD. Yay.. as this generation of pilots will really need his wisdom and technical know how. Oh, and Sela Ward will be playing the President of The United States. (Yes!) 
I'm all agog for this movie, having watched INDEPENDENCE DAY more times than I can count, I'm more than confident that this sequel is sure to have us at the end of our seats!




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WHAT NOLLYWOOD NEEDS...


After my post about Nigerian Television; my mind then turned to Nollywood. When I was a child, Yoruba films reigned supreme in the Nigerian film industry; in particular, Baba Sala's works until piracy ruined everything.  In the early nineties, things changed. After an influx of Igbo films, some subtitles and some not e.g The Unforgivable Sin (Zach Orji's debut film), Nneka, The Pretty Serpent (starring Ndidi Obi),Living In Bondage (starring Kenneth Okwonkwo, at his best); the Nigerian audience were treated to English speaking ones; Full Moon, Glamour Girls, True Confession, Blood on my hands, Compromise, Dust To Dust, When The Sun Sets (Kate Henshaw's debut), Domitilla, Another Campus Tale, Sakobi, The Snake Girl, Festival of Fire, Goodbye Tomorrow, Mortal Inheritance, Daybreak,  Igodo.. the list is endless. Over the years, we've been  treated to good and very memorable ones; thanks to ace directors like Chico and Zeb Ejiro, Tade Ogidan, the late Amaka Igwe(may her soul rest in peace) and Teco Benson. But these days, we seen to get more flops than good ones.
The sad truth is, it seems there's more emphasis in making money out of the films than actually making good films. Yoruba films are still doing very well, even though there are still flops here and there. But the English speaking ones... there's still a lot of work to be done on it. Most Nollywood films nowadays have improbable to predictable story plots, compared to the early ones most people took for granted when they first came out and have either forgotten or half-forgotten.  I wonder how many people know the story plot of Tunde Kelani's Ti Oluwa Ni Le,  Tade Ogidan's Hostages and Diamond Ring or Amaka Igwe's Violated, To Live Again or Rattle Snake! Sorry to say, but while I'm sure there are still some good movies out there, the earlier films Nollywood offered are a lot better than the ones we have currently. Aside from the predictable and improbable story plots in our drama films, we have a lot of slapstick films that are simply made just to make us laugh. Or the story about a notorious character who gets his comeuppance in the end- funny but still predictable and a lot of over acting by the actors and actresses.
Seriously, more Nigerian scriptwriters, producers and directors should think outside the box! None of the familiar formula- they should explore more deeply on what would make a good movie; a real movie that would entertain the viewers and will still make great sales. Not all movies have a  happy ending so they should quit trying to make that so all the time and less slapstick!
Another thing I feel Nollywood needs... more book adaptations! In the 80s, the classic novel Things Fall Apart came to our screens through a fantastic television adaptation; starring Pete Edochie as Okwonkwo, Justus Esiri as his best friend Oberika. Also featuring was the late Oba Funsho Adeolu as one of the elders and the late Sam Loco Efe in a small role as Okoli, a Christian convert who died after he was accused of killing and eating the sacred python. 
A few years later, we other T.V adaptations;Abubakar Imam's book- Magana Jari Ce and Cyprian's Ekwensi's Jagua Nana's Daughter. The latter was not what I would call an excellent adaptation but it was a good effort all the same. 
We really need more book adaptations.The last one we got treated to was Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun. Not exactly Nollywood but it was a story set in 1960s Nigeria, had a sprinkling of Nollywood actors and actresses and was directed by a Nigerian- Biyi Bamdele (based in U.K presently BUT born  and raised here and this was his directoral debut). 
Hollywood has many book adaptations under its belt, the same with the British Industry and other countries. The books range from classics like Oliver Twist, Pride & Prejudice, Les Miserables to contemporary books like The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood to the Harry Potter franchise.
Nigerian's literature history doesn't stretch back to the 18th century but surely films from our classic books and plays can be made! I came name some that should be adapted.





No Longer At Ease: Professor Chinua Achebe's second book set in post colonial/pre-independence Nigeria; the main character is Obi, grandson of the fiery Okwonkwo in Things Fall Apart. If  Achebe's debut novel can be adapted for the screen, why shouldn't this one be for the cinemas? 







Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀; Nigeria's first full length novel in Yoruba and probably the earliest novel in Nigeria. It was published in 1938, written by D.O Fagunwa and translated into English by Professor Wole Soyinka- The Forest of A Thousand Daemons but the actual translation is "A Brave Hunter In The Forest of Daemons." A tale about a hunter who encounters several supernatural elements in a forest. A rather hard to read book if you're not into literature. Well so is Herman Meville's Moby Dick but check how many adaptations it has!







Efuru: This is something I mentioned in an old blog post; Efuru- the story of a wealthy but maritally/child challenged woman in post colonial Nigeria- should be made into a movie! For heaven's sake- this book was written by Flora Nwapa; Nigeria's first female novelist, she should be celebrated more!



The Passport of Mallam Ilia: Cyprian Ekwensi's  tragic story is another good idea for adaptation. During a train ride, a young man meets an old man (Ilia)  who then narrates a harrowing tale of revenge and the novel ends with a surprising twist after the old man's tale is done. 





The Slave Girl: Buchi Emecheta's novel about a girl sold to slavery by her irresponsible brother after the death of their parents and her time as a slave girl to the day she finally goes back home. 



Kurunmi: Ola Rotimi's historical tragic play set in the Old Oyo Empire in the 18th century. Kurunmi- Generalissimo of the Yoruba Empire clashes with the Ibadan chiefs after the dying Alafin decides to acknowledge the Crown Prince Adelu as his successor; which is against tradition as the crown prince is supposed to take his own life after the Aalafin's death.







Purple Hibiscus: The trials of a wealthy family and the goings on in  pre-democratic Nigeria seen through the eyes of a 15 year old girl. Chimamanda Adichie's debut novel.



There's hope yet for Nollywood!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

GIRL POWER! : MY TOP TEN ACTION HEROINES

These days, in literature, television, comics and of course movies; we get more and more action heroines. We've become more accustomed to strong, independent women who can fight back, think for themselves, stand up for themselves and have better things to do than trail after men who believe it's their main duty to be their protectors. Well, no boys... damsels in distress are slowly becoming a thing of the past! Action heroines slowly began springing up from the 60s and now in this digital era, the list of action heroines have gotten really long. As such, it took a lot of effort to narrow down the list to 10 and some people may not agree with the ranking! Here they are, in my opinion, the top 10 action heroines:



10.    
MAX GUEVARA  a.k.a X5-452

Wonderfully portrayed by a much younger Jessica Alba, Max was one of many genetically enhanced children-trangenics- trained to be super soldiers in the science fiction T.V series, Dark Angel . I was immediately taken in by Max, not just because of her abilities but  her strong personality and her determination to survive, find her 'siblings'  at the same time evading Manticore, the establishment she and the other children escaped from. I would describe Max as diamond in the rough; while she wasn't above petty theft and at times appeared a person with no scruples , she was protective of the people she cared very much about and didn't like using guns if she could help it. But Max also had a vulnerable side, which she rarely allowed to see; most times in the series, her inner thoughts were expressed through voice overs at the beginning and end of each episode. Max was a fighter; going through all difficult obstacles to achieve her goal.



9

                                                               BUFFY SUMMERS 

Buffy Summers played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer  is another action heroine I adore, but not at first sight however. I thought she was a tad sarcastic and cynical for such an important post,  but as the series progressed saw her differently, apart from a fierce ass kicking young woman.  Her 'vampire slayer' status and her doomed love affair with her most significant lover, the vampire-with-a-soul Angel, added more spice to her character. 



8.
BEATRIX KIDDO  a.k.a The Bride a.k.a Black Mamba 


Beatrix (played by Uma Thurman) is more of an anti-heroine. Her first appearance in Kill Bill Vol. 1 was in the aftermath of a massacre in a church, her face all bloodied and a calm voice telling her his action was 'not sadistic'. We immediately sense that this woman would be on a revenge mission and a bloody revenge mission it was! Beatrix did not allow anything or anyone to stand between her and the man she ultimately wanted to kill... Bill; ironically the father of her baby and the man who shot her on the head. Beatrix went through the ordeal of a 4 year coma, being pimped out by an unscrupulous male orderly (even in her comatose state), was able to persuade a retired master  swordsmith to make her one of his much coveted swords before hunting down her enemies, one by one. Before the events of the movie, she had to undergo rigorous training from a misogynistic martial arts trainer; earning his reluctant respect (and an extra technique) in the end.  Her versatility in martial arts, sword fighting, use of weapons and her cold blooded determination to achieve her aim, including fighting her way out of a casket after being buried alive, makes her a very memorable action heroine. 





7.  
                  
                                                            MARION RAVENWOOD

I love this lady a lot because nothing and nobody can shut her up! Played by Karen Allen in Raiders Of The Lost Ark & Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull several years later) 
is a woman you don't want to mess with. Tough as nails, feisty, stubborn, self sufficient and utterly non- submissive even with threats or a  gun to her head, Marion Ravenwood has all it takes to survive in a man's world. Cynthia Rothrock she is not, but she definitely has a way with words and sly tricks. Even after Indy's unfair treatment of her; (he ditched her a week to their wedding), she still managed to have a life of her own and raise her son- first with another man whom she married and then on her own after he died. She is such a spitfire that no one is in doubt that this is a woman to be reckoned with. Definitely cannot be described as a damsel in distress! 







6.                            
GIACINTA 'JINX' JOHNSON 

Played by Halle Berry in the Bond movie Die Another Day; Agent Johnson is the quintessential action heroine. In the movie, she's a sassy but well trained  NSA operative who crossed paths with 007 and being a liberal woman, wasted no time sleeping with him after he hit on her. Later on, we see that she's not a person who loses her head in an emergency, is quick with her weapon and can hold well under torture. She's also witty besides sassy; exchanging banter with  James Bond and then with Miranda Frost, whom she later battled in an epic sword fight on a plane. Besides that, she's fiercely independent, telling Bond 'I don't like being tied down.' That's more than obvious, this lady is not one to be pinned down by anyone! It's just too bad this character wasn't given her own spin off franchise that was originally planned. 




5. 
PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA (later on General) 

The main female protagonist in the Star Wars franchise is one of the earliest female action heroines, thus a model for action heroines after her. Even after all these years, Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fisher to date)remains an icon. She's royalty yet a woman of action; skilled in weapons' use and combat and  more than willing to join in a fight rather than take a backseat.She coolly faced Darth Vader even at the threat of death, blasted her way through star troopers and went out of her way to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, eventually strangling that ugly beast. Even the way she accepted the bombshell that Luke Skywalker-whom she shared a close bond with- was her twin brother and their mutual enemy, Darth Vader, was their father was admirable. No hysterical screams or protests, just simple acceptance after the initial shock. And her skills as a born leader is shown again in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where she is now a General- leading the Resistance against the First Order. And of course...the Force is strong in her! 


4.                            
GUINEVERE 

Played by Keira Knightley in King Arthur, she's completely different from the previous incantations of King Arthur's Queen, who were usually damsels in distress. From the moment she was rescued from a torture chamber by Arthur and his men, she was revealed to be a young woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind, strong willed, skilled with a bow and arrow and is a trained warrior- fiercely participating in the battle between her people- the Britons- and the Saxons. 



3.

                                                               COLONEL WAI LIN

Played by Michelle Yeoh in the Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, Wai Lin is another very good example of an action heroine. Like Agent Johnson, she  crossed paths with 007, but unlike Jinx, she made it clear to him in the beginning that she had better things to do than sleep with him- yet saying so in a graceful, dignified way.  She was  well skilled in guns but she made more use of her spectacular martial art techniques to defend herself from the bad guys. She also refused to let Elliot Carver use her as bait. The bastard had a gun to her head to make 007 back down but what did she say? "What are you waiting for? Shot him!" 
 This character too was meant to have her own franchise but the idea was dropped, which is a pity. 



2.                  
ELLEN RIPLEY 

Another iconic action heroine in science fiction; played by Sigourney Weaver in Alien (her big break), Aliens, Aliens 3 and Aliens: Resurrection. Ellen is a heroine who had to face a lot of challenges and battles, first of which fighting off a vicious Alien after it killed her colleagues in the first movie of the franchise.She's a woman of guts and steel, ready to sacrifice herself to save others and uses her fists as well as her guns. Anything or anyone that stands in her way, she fights back! 



And now NO. 1... WHO IS... 






                                                              SYDNEY BRISTOW 

The main character in the T.V series Alias, is the ultimate action heroine. Sydney (played by Jennifer Garner), has everything an action heroine should have. Strength, both physical and mental, able to break walls in achieving her assignments and nerves of steel, though she did have her moments of vulnerability. Sydney had to face a lot of heartache and pain  but she had far more strength to face them than she  thought. And she was more than excellent in her fighting skills and use of weapons,  her use of aliases to get herself in and out of tricky situations and going the extra mile to rescue and protect the people she loves.