B.I.G

BANANA ISLAND GHOST DISAPPOINTS MAGNANIMOUSLY

Posted on Posted in Movie Critiques

The acronym of this movie spells B.I.G, which rightly describes the main character in areas of physical stature, emotional capability and financial challenge.

Logline: A clueless woman, with the help of a spirit soul mate, has three days to raise a certain amount of money to save her father’s property in Banana Island, or she’ll have to lose this inheritance to an ambitious business magnate.

How does this filmmaker play this all out? Let us see….

THEME

Most expectedly, there is the concept of Phantasm/The Afterlife; there is a ghost in this movie and one with a purpose in life (or afterlife?) – to find the soul mate he never had. There is also the presence of a non-judgemental God, which feels like an imitation of 2003 Bruce Almighty’s God. It is also with this character that the spiritual logic of this movie is vividly explained.

There is the notion of an Inheritance about to be lost to more business minded people. This is a very important theme in this movie, as some people who have inheritance of some sort could relate to the emotions that come with the fear of losing a priced possession. However, in this movie, there is not enough emotional implication to resonate with the audience. We do not get to have a feel of what memories are left in this house till towards the end of the movie when it didn’t really matter anymore.

The filmmaker appears to flirt with the idea that the exploration of Bullying/Self Discovery in this movie is related to the major story. Though somehow, the audience do not get to understand why this protagonist, Ifeoma, acts up severally as a secondary school girl. Not quite sure it is clear, but is this the period her father died, and has this taken a toll on her? What’s worse? She later discovers her worth in her physical stature. For the record, body-shaming is not the only thing women suffer from, and this movie does not even do justice to the intimacy of the condition.

How much more humiliation do women need to endure to be liberated from such stigma? In this movie, the protagonist never discovers any form of intelligence or virtue that saves the day; all her help come from men – too bad.

Hustle is one theme that this story particularly busies itself with, as the protagonist is placed in a situation where, in three days, she would have to raise a huge sum of money in whatever way that she can. She is trapped, and would try anything, though I would like to understand how it genuinely helps, and what she’s doing in the chicken (?) suit. Is the protagonist also a moron? 3/10

PLOT

It is understood that all that Ijeoma engages in in B.I.G is meant to be her ‘journey’. However, too many times, they come off too contrived; the filmmaker quite conspicuously consciously disconnects from the movie’s major objective, as other times, the story switches to several sub-plots of Ijeoma battling with societal views of her person – initially, she’s somewhat seen as a bully in secondary school, later, she is portrayed as a victim of bullying at her workplace and other life endeavours, which her ghost boyfriend helps her to resolve with his stealth acts of causing trouble here and there.

That brings me to the concept of this ghost, which is, to an extent, exciting, though, is almost useless at the point where he’s needed the most.

Seeing that the title of the movie includes the word ‘ghost’, one might want to see, in detail, how this ghost, directly or indirectly, engages in the major objective (RE: Logline). The only time this ghost comes in handy for this is at the poker game. Then again, we only imagine he is helpful, we do not really see him being helpful. This might lead one to wonder if this filmmaker understands how poker is being played, as we do not see any indications that any character here really knows how to play, apart from threats occasionally thrown here and there by participants.

There is no real tension during the game as well, so the audience do not get to genuinely worry for dear Ijeoma.

The most disappointing aspect of this movie would be the point where Ijeoma miraculously arises from the dead in the end. One would even ask, ‘for what reason?’ After the movie has spent so much time exploring how cool it is to be a dead person, what then is wrong with Ijeoma joining the train, and especially as she is now in love with the ghost? Why is she better off alive than dead? What sort of double-standards is this in one movie?

Generally, there is a huge lack of originality in the concepts exercised in this movie, and this is why most of the fun does not really come off as brilliant. One grand example would be the extremely automated Kia car that resembles the concept in Cars, Transformers and many other fine movies. Though, it was quite fun in this movie, even if irrelevant to the major objective.

Don’t even get me started on the martial arts. Those punches sound heavier than the actual infliction. 3/10

CHARACTERIZATION

The only character this filmmaker does a lot of focus on is Ijeoma, our protagonist. Yet she is fully underdeveloped.

Agreed, there are various dimensions to her character, however, it does not erase the fact that they are disturbingly disconnected – where did the idea that she is a fantastic singer come from, and why do we have to watch her get bullied and react in a manner that does not affect her father’s property? Why is she praying for a husband and not mentioning her crush (boyfriend?) in her prayers – other double-standards?

The same with the ghost: why is it only close to the end of the movie that we discover he can play poker like a pro? When he is alive and a little boy in the beginning of the movie, the only thing that is established is the “curse” his mother places on him to find a soul mate before he goes to heaven.  The little moments in the beginning, before his meeting with his mother, is space enough to establish an addiction to card games that can inform other grown-up acts later on (other than stalking Damilola Adegbite), but with this movie, no way.  Rather, the filmmaker fixates on an old-school radio for fade-in, as little Patrick and a nurse annoyingly simulate slow-motion (when in fact, they could walk normally, and the filmmaker can have an editor create a slow-motion with it)

Patrick, the ghost, has the ability of speaking through speakers so that everyone, other than just Ijeoma, can hear. I wish this power had more relevance than coming in handy in yet another irrelevant scene.

At the scene of his first realization of this new speakers-power, he also disappears and appears at a boutique to steal a dress for Ijeoma off a slender mannequin. It is difficult to believe that this dress is Ijeoma’s size. It would have been nicer to watch him hunt for, say, an XXXL in the clothing lines. I mean, every big girl knows the hustle about finding her size for a pretty dress. If it is really pretty and glamorous, then it is most likely custom made – even Chigurl knows this.

Ijeoma’s player boyfriend (or crush) and boo might not be needed characters in this movie, considering that their end has no real relevance to the main story. The same can be said about the bullying slay queens.

Ijeoma’s mother is nearly displaced in this story despite her importance as the one who knows best the history of this inheritance. It is with this near-displacement that it becomes glaring that this filmmaker lacks proper focus for this story, as Ifeoma’s mother’s later tour guide around the house does nothing to spark the story. Thinking about it, why is it important for the ghost to flash the light she thought wasn’t working in the deserted room? To prove what point? That it is working, and then what? What’s worse, Ijeoma thanks the ghost for flashing the light. I fail to see the relevance of this little fun part.

The business magnate who owns the casino (?) at the end of the movie is seen hungrily packing up a few thousand naira notes from one of the pool tables. This attitude makes one wonder if he is the same person who is willing to buy the house for hundreds of millions and also grant Ijeoma an extra 40 million – completely out of character, or needs development.

At some point during the poker game, also, it seems the DPO can see Patrick, the invisible ghost, when they rejoice at a win. Seriously, it seems what is left there is a corroborating high-five.

It is interesting that the Nigerian Police are being made a parody of. There might be something deep here, but this bunch of comical side characters look like a fresh batch of idiots we’ve already seen in, say, Super Troopers (2001). 3/10

DIALOGUE

A huge aspect of the visuals of this movie cannot alone tell the story, and so dialogue heavily comes to the rescue, allowing this movie fail in every way a movie could possibly fail in its dialogue: on the nose, talking heads, and what have you.

There really are no good memorable lines here, but there’s one I think the audience might find amusing: “I’m practicing my play, ‘broke ghost, useless ghost, animal’”, at the moment when Ijeoma is caught talking to herself. Another would be when Ijeoma says, “I assume that that seven years…kole work?” at the moment she asks for a salary advance.

Other times, the characters are caught simulating Hollywood dialogue. For example, the slay queens bully Ijeoma and call her a ‘hippo’ in her chicken (?) suit. I could swear I have heard that word in many Hollywood movies before in this same kind of situation.

It would have been nicer if this filmmaker had done some research about Nigerian principals for better placement of the principal character in this movie. This principal shouts, and with a foreign accent. It is also quite noisy, unprofessional, and uncalled for. I bet there are various more dramatic ways a principal could summon a child that could have been explored here. This shouting is also too stereotypical; yet, another baseless copy of the meaningful heads in Matilda (1996), Annie (1982), and a few others.

Furthermore, apart from the two leads and the policemen, every character appears to be speaking in a dialect different from even Standard Nigerian English. What’s up with that? 4/10

PACING

This movie leaves the audience with a lot to dream for regarding its major story, and hardly touches on it, rather gallivanting around with fun disconnecting sub-stories. To this regard, it can be concluded that the movie moves slow.

On the other hand, the audience are occupied with a number of catchy scenes, even though not entirely related to what is relevant, so it can be concluded that this movie moves fast.

There are also a lot of long dialogues and a lot of quick action sequences, so it can be concluded that for pacing, this movies hangs in the middle. 5/10

I honestly feel ashamed about this endeavour. If it were more original, I bet a number of nice concepts examined here would have sat in more nicely. 18/50

PERCENTAGE: 36%

GRADE: F

Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.

She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.

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2 thoughts on “BANANA ISLAND GHOST DISAPPOINTS MAGNANIMOUSLY

    1. Thanks John. I think I remember seeing the bunny. It is still irrelevant, though. Maybe if it was relevant, i wouldn’t have been left puzzled. Appreciate.

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